For our fourth day spent in Railay, Krabi, we decided on a kayaking tour and an afternoon of snorkeling. The tour was 2100 BHT and was booked a few days earlier via yourkrabi.com. It was just us and a French couple and the guide was very kind and informative.
This vacation in Thailand was for me a vacation of firsts, first flight with Qatar Airways, first time in northern Thailand, first time in Krabi, first snorkeling experience and now, in Hong islands, first kayaking experience. I can’t swim and I admit, I was a bit freaked out at the though of floating around in a kayak in the open sea, who knows how many tens of meters deep. So I strapped on a life jacket, a hat, a lot of sunscreen, beach shoes, happy mood and strong arms, ready to help me paddle.
This recipe seemed to work, because it was a very successful day. Paddling in a kayak can be extremely fun, dynamic and can really bring out your competitive spirit. Or, at least, that’s what happened in my case.
Kayaking on Hong island
The sea was extremely calm, it seemed like the only waves were produced by our paddles or some long tail boats that passed by us. It was amazing to be close to the chalk cliffs and be able to see pretty tropical fish with beautiful colors, sear urchins and some corals. It was surprising to see that so far from the beach you could still find a swimmer snorkeling and diving.
You can circle Hong islands with a kayak in about an hour, this includes plenty of rest stops to admire the cliffs and the mandatory visit to the lagoon in the center of the island. The tour guide was explaining to us that Hong means “room”, and that makes sense especially when you get to the lagoon which is surrounded by tall walls.
The entrance in the lagoon is quite narrow, but equally spectacular and dramatic. When we wanted to enter it, a long tail boat was preparing to exit and our guide signaled to the boat “captain” not to make too many waves as we’re around as well. Inside the lagoon, at high tide, the water would reach your knees, but we caught it at low tide so it was just barely above our heels.
Hong islands come to life
We “parked” our kayaks and strolled around paying close attention to the soil around us. Even with such a low water level, it was teeming with life: crabs, starfish, tiny fish who seemed to be lost. The cliff walls around the lagoon were full of crabs as well. I was a bit afraid that one of them might even fall inside our kayak, because in that case my fate would be sealed. I would have ended up in the water, probably underneath the kayak. The good news is that I would have learned to swim. The bad news is that would have happened under duress.
The second stop of our tour around the islands was on one of the beaches of the largest of the. There were plenty of caves and next to the chalk cliffs, jungle. We had about 30 minutes to rest and relax, just right for a walk down the beach, mesmerized by the scenery around us. While we were enjoying our time on the beach and in the caves, the guide hopped on a swing tied up in a tree at the edge of the forest.
I grabbed my snorkeling equipment, without letting go of the life jacket, and headed towards the beautiful white sand beach. I have to say, this was one of the the most amazing beaches I ever step foot on. The water was up to my chest, but was completely full of banks of tropical fish. I was so happy I don’t have to go out at sea to see them, but instead they came to me. There were yellow, white and beige fish, who had the bad habit of nipping you if they accidentaly confused you with some food.
The hours I spent here were an excellent occasion to practic my snorkeling, but also to get one of my first lessons in swimming, especially since the water wasn’t that deep. I successfully passed both “exams”, which transformed this day into one of the most beautiful, dynamic, productive and memorable days of our vacation in Thailand. For a person who was never able to swim, I was impressed that I finally got my first taste of it and gave me an inexplicable feeling of happiness. This tour was the second most relaxed and relaxing that we had in Thailand.
In one of our short tanning sessions on the beach, we were joking it would be funny if from the jungle behind us a lizard would come out and spook our friends who were closer to the tree line. Minutes later, we hear some ruckus behind us and some excited people and what do we see? One monitor lizard, the less agressive cousin of the Komodo dragon, casually strolling out of the forest and then stopping dead in its tracks when the entire beach gathered with cameras and phones. I think it was at that point it decided that it probably had business in another part of the island so he turned around and disappeared into the dense vegetation.