Koh Phi Phi – gorgeous small island, amazing diving

From the town of Krabi we took a ferry west to the small island of Koh Phi Phi that had me enchanted before the ferry even reached the dock. Tall shear rock face and mountains compose this tiny island and the surrounding smaller islands to create a wonderful landscape of ocean and jagged rock. Once docked we navigated our way to the guesthouse and I immediately came to a conclusion – this is my favorite Thai island.

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The actual town on Koh Phi Phi is incredibly small and has no roads. Located on a narrow strip of land between two sandy beaches is a maze of brick pathways that are busy with pedestrians and bicycles and packed full of souvenir stalls, dive shops, and restaurants.

This car-less casual atmosphere is what first won me over, and my admiration of the island was only further enforced when we visited the beach. Our regular beach bum routine was once again activated and we spent at least a few hours each day laying on the beach sipping fruit shakes, swimming in the ocean, and frequenting the cheap food stalls in the area.

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The evenings in Koh Phi Phi were polar opposite to the calm and relaxing day vibe as the beaches lit up with fire shows and blared music across the bay. In front of most beach bars local performers flung blazing batons in the air and juggled flaming sticks to the amusement of on lookers.

Within the first evening we deemed a small food stand to have the best (and cheapest) pad thai in the area, but because they only had two plastic tables that were always full we made a habit of eating our meal in our bungalow hammocks. From our hammocks we swung in the cool evening breeze sipping beer and comfortably eating dinner to the sounds of the party on the beach (which unfortunately continued on half the night putting my earplugs to good use).

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The diving near Koh Phi Phi was fantastic and full of life. Our first dive was on a nearby island called Bida Nok that impressed me with enormous fan corals and a variety of marine life. Our dive guide pointed out many scorpion fish that basically look like rocks with eyes and we saw sting rays in the open as well as in the sand hiding that basically look like sand with eyes.

I saw my first sea snake, very exciting, and also two huge moray eels with thick bodies and pointy little teeth. For our surface interval we ate lunch in Maya Bay where just to the right sat the sandy bay that the movie “The Beach” was filmed.

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Our second dive was near Maya Bay and proved to be as exciting as the first. Right off the bat we spotted a sea turtle munching on some sea weeds, followed by a brief yet exciting black tip reef shark sighting.

Unfortunately I didn’t see the shark as long as the others did because I was preoccupied with the artistically designed clown trigger fish, but got a good glimpse just as the shark darted away over the corals and out of sight. Our guide found a massive lobster hiding in a crack in the rock, his front ‘antennas’ were at least three feet across.

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On our final day in Koh Phi Phi we hiked to the top of a mountain to check out the viewpoint. Our efforts were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the entire island and a shocking realization of how small the town really is. The charming town and beautiful beaches have completely won me over but now it’s time to continue to make our way back to Bangkok for our flight home. Moving north we will take a ferry to Phuket for our last new destination of the trip.

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