As with all great adventures, our half-day tour of Koh Hong started with an inspiration. In this instance, it was a sunset and a recollection of a certain “Koh Hong”, featured in an Unseen Thailand list of lesser-known tourist gems around the Kingdom vaguely resonating in my memory.
There was a sign on the beach – I would later learn that there is a longtail boat “association”, if you will, that services the handful of resorts that line this beach. A Hong Island tour, including Pakbia and Lading islands, is listed at THB1,700 (~US$53) for up to two guests, THB2,300 (~US$ 72) for three to four, and THB2,800 (~US$87) for five or six guests. National park fees are THB200 (~US$6.20) per person (foreigner).
The inspiration: the silhouette of Koh Hong (image center) at sunset, as seen from Tubkaek Beach in Krabi.
Salty sea breeze, an overcast sky, and the gentle rocking of the long-tail boat – one of the better scenarios to wake up to.
After encircling the island, we followed the contour of the island until our captain straightened out the boat and headed towards the rocks.
The dramatic entrance to the lagoon; the towering rock hinting at the breathtaking scenery up ahead.
The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it narrow entryway opens up to a a tranquil lagoon, hidden from the outside world.
This aerial image shows the hidden nature of the lagoon at the top, slightly off-center to the right. (Image credit unknown)
After a gentle loop around the lagoon and the tropical serenity properly absorbed, we headed back out via the natural gauntlet.
Phang Nga Bay’s claim to fame is its limestone karst-studded seascape. Shame the skies didn’t open up on the day for that quintessential postcard shot.
A quick jaunt brought us to the national park headquarters on Bi Lae beach. We coughed up our THB200 per person to the park rangers here.
You can also rent a kayak here to row out to the lagoon, exploring nooks and crannies in the scraggly coastline along the way. We didn’t ask how much though.
There’s a nature trail less than a kilometer long. At the start of the walk lay chilling reminders of the Boxing Day Tsunami that devastated the region in 2004.
The path was well trodden and easy to follow. Rather uneventful, but it was nice to stretch the sea legs surrounded by lush foliage.
The trail ended up on the beach, not far from where we began. It was not deserted by any stretch of imagination, but it wasn’t packed.
The beach was quite long, with visitors scattered evenly along the soft sand.
On our way to the second stop, we noticed quite a few kayakers in the water.
We must’ve passed at least three of these swift nest caves that day, delicacies which are known to be fiercely protected by the collectors.
We skipped the second stop – Koh Lading – as it looked to be more of the same. Instead we asked the boat captain to take us to the final stop of Koh Pakbia (pictured) in the hopes we could settle down and relax in one spot for longer.
The sun managed to shine through on our last stop. Of all three islands, this one was the smallest beach, but also with the least number of visitors. There were no more than eight people here the whole hour or so we were here. Lovely.
The captain had some masks and snorkels. No coral, but there were some fish to look at as we had a leisurely swim in the tropical sea.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. We arrived back on Tubkaek at around 2 p.m., which left us enough time to have an entire evening of beaching and admiring the Krabi seascape from the beach.