The morning was my favourite time of day during my stay in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. There was something magical about waking up in the heart of a village, nestled in nature. The aquamarine waters of the Andaman Sea were just footsteps from my bungalow and some of the world’s most famous beaches a short boat ride away. Koh Phi Phi is a playground for explorers so a Phi Phi Island snorkeling tour is the perfect way to spend a day while in this breathtaking part of Thailand.
Phi Phi Island Snorkeling
At first light, I wandered down to my usual breakfast spot to watch the sunrise. Fuelled up for the day, I then joined the Early Bird Tour (7.30 -11.30am). Our group was a great mix of couples, singles and men and women of all ages. There were about 15 of us in total. After grabbing our flippers and snorkels, we squeezed into a trailer attached to a tractor. The tide at Phi Phi is at its highest at about lunchtime, that means the tractor transports guests out to their boats in the morning.
Once in the speedboat, we made our way out to Maya Bay, the main beach of Phi Phi Leh Island, where The Beach was filmed. As the driver cut the engine and we drifted in the shallows, the limestone karsts rose up, enveloping us to each side. The colours were much more vibrant in person than on the postcards I’d seen. I stepped out of the boat with a splash, the warmth of the crystal clear water took me by surprise. As I was wading into shore slowly, a handful of long boats and other speed boats began to pull up next to ours. I could see why this was an early bird tour; it was a popular spot. I took a wander to each end of the beach, taking photos with the other tourists and found a spot in the morning sun, midway up the stretch of sand. I propped on my elbows and just enjoyed the view back out towards the sea. Others swam and posed for pictures and giggled among themselves. Despite the growing crowd, it was a peaceful scene in an idyllic setting. After an hour of relaxing, we boarded the boat again and pulled in further out in the bay to our first Phi Phi Island snorkelling spot.
Update: Sadly, Maya Bay has been closed to visitors since my visit. However, there are still plenty of other Phi Phi Island snorkeling spots to visit.
Ao Ling or Monkey Beach
We went on to visit the Viking Cave and Ao Ling (Monkey Beach). I have to admit, I felt a little uncomfortable when pulling into Monkey Beach, not because of the presence of the monkeys, but more the way tourists and some guides were using them as props for photos. They were also feeding several junk food and cans of soft drink which made me even more uncomfortable with our presence there. I was happy to move on and wouldn’t recommend approaching the monkeys if you do pull in to Monkey Beach.
The highlight of the day for me was swimming in Pileh Lagoon. By the time we got to the lagoon, there were a number of other boats slowly sliding on the surface of the water through the bay’s shallow entrance. The skill of the crew was incredible. Once we got into the main lagoon, we found our own private spot for a dip. As soon as we had pulled up, I was leaping off the front of the boat, coaxing others to follow. The water was warm and an incredible greeny blue. I floated on my back taking in the beauty of the rock walls rising around us coloured by lush green foliage.
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller. She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health. As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Skye created The Fit Traveller as a beautiful online space and community where people feel inspired to escape the desk to move and explore more.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her insatiable appetite for adventure.