Updated: September 2019
My amazing Thai-stralian travel companion, Apple, and I decided to book a full day snorkel trip to a few of the surrounding islands in Phi Phi Leh, Thailand. Because when in Thailand, it’s allllll about island hopping! However, when visiting the main Koh Phi Phi island, you’ll literally find hundreds of tour companies offering the same trip.
Pro Tip: Don’t go with the first company!
Shop around and see who offers you the best price. Most companies will be willing to lower their price if you know the “going” tour rates. There’s no need to book in advance or online, simply hit the street vendors and look around for the one that you like best.
Want to start planning your trip? Use my experience of island hopping the Phi Phi Leh Islands as a guide!
Bring on the Snorkeling
Apple and I got into our bikinis, packed a day bag, and went straight to the beach to board our Thai longboat for a full day of snorkel adventures! The longboat was full of travelers from all over the world and we made quite a few friends with our boatmates.
The first stop? Bamboo Island! The island felt completely deserted with only a number of boats in view…talk about paradise!
We spent about an hour there, had a light lunch and soaked up the sun. Apple and I did a bit of exploring on the island enjoying our beautiful surroundings of crystal clear water and powder-white beaches.
We slowly walked back to the longboat and soon realized our guide was struggling to start the engine! The Thai solution? Fit three longboat loads of people onto two.
Let’s just say it made for an interesting and, to be quite honest, soaking wet trip across to the next island! We were all hiding behind whatever objects we could find—life vests, our bags, our friends…anything to keep the cold water from spraying us down and having the wind chill us!
Prepare to See All the Sealife!
Our next stop was at Pi Leh Bay. The dramatic fjord-like bay has steep cliffs that hide an inlet, only accessible at high tide. The water was so clear and shallow all we had to do was hop off the boat and we were surrounded by a beautiful reef full of tropical fish.
We made another short stop at Loh Samah and passed the 2 small rocky outcrop islands of Bida Nok and Bida Noi. We popped into the water frequently to explore life unda da sea! I swam with all kinds of fish, including the beautiful angelfish, and even saw a sea cucumber—such fascinating little sea creatures!
One thing to make sure of when you’re in the sun and constantly dipping into the water? Reef-safe sunscreen!
We rounded the cliffs to the jewel of the Phi Phi Leh collection, Maya Bay. Maya Bay is famous for the movie The Beach starring Leonardo Di Caprio. I had never actually seen the movie but, apparently, there’s a bit of Hollywood magic added to the film to make the bay appear like a closed-in lagoon.
Honestly, I don’t think they needed that movie magic because it’s stunning on its own!
After a short ride, we joined a bunch of other tourist-filled longboats and were then told to “jump in!” The boat had to stop about 100 meters out from a narrow opening in a cliff where we would have to swim in order to get to the beach.
We found a net at the cliff opening that we had to climb up to get to a staircase to walk to the actual beach. The tide was so strong I actually got pushed up against the reef…battle wounds to prove it!
That said, be mindful of the tide and possible rip currents because the water can be VERY strong!
It’s hard to describe, but it felt like we were on a mission to discover a hidden treasure. After a bit of a walk, we finally arrived at the beach. And let me tell you: it was all worth it.
Make Sure to Breathe in the Sunset
Despite the increased amount of tourism the film brought to Maya Bay, it was an absolutely stunning beach—super fine sand and crystal clear water. Plus, the bay opens to the Andaman Sea in a glorious vista.
After rolling around in the sand and letting ourselves get carried out by the ocean current, we made our journey back to the boat.
We left Maya Bay just in time to watch the sunset as we crossed the open ocean heading back to the main dock. Again, I’m a huge sucker for sunsets. It was beautiful watching the shaded figures of longboats pass in front of the sun setting far off across the ocean.
It was an amazing day full of ocean adventures. We later found out that there are different types of boats you can take out for similar tours, so if a rickety old low-sitting Thai longboat with a high likelihood of a breakdown isn’t your style, there are bigger luxury boats that will be sure to tickle your fancy.
And, always remember, don’t drink and dive!
Are you heading to Thailand soon? Particularly the surrounding islands in Phi Phi Leh? I’d love to hear what you have planned…and all about your experience thereafter in the comments below!