Koh Yao Noi, Thailand
February 10, 2015 – February 14, 2015
After our first tropical island getaway we were excited to explore a few more islands over the next couple weeks in order to get a better idea of what Thailand’s islands have to offer. Our next destination was the island of Koh Yao Noi, this time on the western side, or Andaman Sea side (that’s the Indian Ocean side), of the Thai peninsula. So we boarded the high speed catamaran from Koh Tao to the mainland and took a bus across the peninsula to the town of Phang Nga, spending a night there we once again boarded a boat, this time one of Thailand’s classic longtail boats for an hour and a half ride through Thailand’s Ao Phang Nga National Park to Koh Yao Noi.
The scattered islands of towering rock are all over Thailand but the Ao Phang Nga Park is a particularly good place to see them, and our longtail took us right through the middle of them. Along the way we passed one of the many floating towns famous around Thailand and Vietnam.
Arriving at our destination, the island of Koh Yao Noi, one of thousands of islands in a large archipelago, we took a tuk tuk from one side of the island to the other and our beach resort of bungalows along the water. Our small resort was one of several small sleepy resorts along a crescent bay.
Our accommodation was a small wooden bungalow on stilts with woven reed walls. A bed with a mosquito net, a small desk and a simple bathroom, and a fan for the heat rounded out the amenities. We would be staying in plenty of these tropical hut bungalows in Thailand and become quite familiar with them, and this was one of the nicer ones.
The bay in front of our hotel turned into a tide flat at low tide extending easily a few hundred yards out from shore, and a shallow pool of hot water at high tide. With some of Thailand’s iconic pillar of rock islands sitting just off shore, it was a great place to relax in a hammock and go for a dip in the water every now and then to cool off.
Seeking a little excitement from our slow paced resort we rented kayaks for the day and went north along the island’s shore towards another small island called Koh Kudu just north of Koh Yao Noi, which was said to have a beautiful perfectly round lagoon. Exploring beaches along the way, we paddled north for a couple hours until we spotted a separate island just ahead. There we did find the rock lined lagoon and a perfect little beach. A picturesque place to relax for a few hours and swim in the calm turquoise waters.
The following day we were determined to do more exploring, but being tired of paddling decided this time to rent a motorbike and explore the island of Koh Yao Noi itself. The island is big enough to have a few loops of roads, mostly along the water’s edge. The roads are only lightly trafficked and there are miles of empty beaches, small restaurants and coffee shops scattered around the island. This is a place where locals still leave their motorbike keys in the ignition. We found several large fields of rubber trees each slowly dripping their liquid gold rubber into little half coconut collectors. Scientists have long been working with synthetic man made rubbers but they haven’t quite duplicated the real thing, the real stuff is still better and still very much in demand. You can spot rubber tree fields all over southern Thailand.
We found Koh Yao Noi to be quite relaxing when we wanted it to be and to have lots of places to explore. The laid back guesthouse with surprisingly good wifi was great for researching future destinations and we appreciated the good restaurant and honor system for guests to track their expenditures. However, the beaches themselves on Koh Yao Noi were just a bit lacking. With our beach being a massive tide flat at times it just didn’t offer the perfect tropical beach we were looking for so we packed up and headed further south to the Trang islands in search of the perfect beach.