The highlight of this day was a 4 island snorkeling cruise around Railay ending with a sunset dinner on a boat. The tour was booked from yourkrabi.com for 2100 THB and, next to what I already mentioned, also included refreshing drinks, professional snorkeling gear, life jackets and lifebuoys – excellent for those unable to swim, but brave enough to get in the water and do some snorkeling. Pickup at Railay is at 13:30 so the tour can begin at 14:00 and ends at about 19:30.
The four islands: Koh Poda, Koh Gai (Chicken Island), Koh Tub si Koh Mor
Visiting the four islands on the Krabi coast is a very popular activity and is serviced by many tour operators. In fact, they are so close to the Railay coast you can see some of them from the beach far on the horizon.
The round shaped Koh Poda is famous for its white sand beach and its crystal clear turquoise waters. The tall cliff in front of the island is very popular on postal cards and is often mistaken for James Bond island near Phuket.
Koh Gai or Chicken Island got its name from the limestone tower karst that looks like a chicken’s head. The waters around this island are excellent and snorkeling is fantastic, with coral reefs and tropical fish of all shapes and sizes. You can also see sea anemones with their inseparable Nemo-looking friends.
Koh Tub is an at least unusual island. A strip of sand joins the two sides of the island together and you can walk across it at low tide.
In tours without an included dinner, you can visit these islands and take a stroll on their beaches. The tour we took was centered around snorkeling, so we only cruised along the islands of Poda, Chicken, Si and Ta Ming, but even so, these four islands are incredibly beautiful, even only seen from the sea.
Sunset Dinner Cruise and crash course in Snorkeling
The Sunset Dinner Cruise motto is “An unforgettable day”. I totally agree with them, I really did not believe that a tour designed for snorkeling enthusiasts can be so fun and entertaining for someone who doesn’t know how to swim.
The meet-up with Michael, the guy/owner running the tour, is at 13:30 on the Railay beach, but they offer pick up options from multiple beaches. After a short long-tail transfer, we reach the tour boat and we set out for a few hours to explore the sea. You are not being pushed to do anything you don’t want to do – you can do as much or as little as you want from what the tour has to offer, you just have to feel good, relax and enjoy the view. After a few snorkeling sessions, you can watch the romantic sunset on the Andaman sea, while the bravest can take a turn at cliff diving from 10-15-20 meters high. Michael will be there every step of the way, encouraging those who had the courage to climb but suddenly turn too afraid to jump. Going back to Railay, at night, actually comes with a pleasant surprise- the boat will stop next to the cliffs where the sea is calm and you are shielded from the light pollution from the nearby islands, in order to observe the bioluminescent phytoplankton.
The tour boat is named “Pla Luang”, but Michael keeps calling her “junk”. At its origins, it was a merchant ship, transporting cargo all across the South East Asia. It actually means “The Honorable Fish” and its retirement it has served thousands of tourists who came to Krabi to enjoy the views and the warm and clear waters. Michael is an Australian from Sidney and he was telling us he sold everything he had some 6 years ago and with that money he came to Thailand, bought the boat and started his own business.
I had no idea a snorkeling tour can be so relaxing and that a business owner can be so involved and friendly with his customers. I was absolutely convinced I would get bored seeing everyone else jumping in the sea and coming back with amazing stories about what they saw underwater. But that lasted only until Michael asked me to take a life jacket, snorkeling gear, grab a life buoy, jump in the water and enjoy the wonders of the sea.
All I can say is that, if you’re around Krabi or Railay, make sure you book one of Michael’s cruises, you won’t regret it.