Island hopping is arguably the best activity to do when in Krabi, Thailand. From Ao Nang Beach, there are a number of options to choose from. It can be hard to decide which island hopping route to pick. While in Krabi, you will undoubtedly see offers for trips to the “4 Islands” around Krabi and the Phi Phi Islands in the middle of the Andaman Sea, midway between Krabi and Phuket.
If you’re short on time and want to see it all, an island hopping boat trip that offers both the standard 4 Islands route near Krabi plus the Phi Phi Islands is a great way to see a lot in a short time frame.
Choosing Your Tour
I recommend booking a tour that meets the following criteria:
- Visits the 4 Islands near Krabi as well as the Phi Phi Islands
- Treats wildlife ethically
- Avoids the crowds
To avoid the crowds, your best bet is to opt for an early bird or sunrise tour. This will put you ahead of the schedule of the majority of the other tourists on the islands.
We went with Krabi Ezy Trails for our day tour (THB 2,500), but you may find other options or even be able to hire a private boat for the day.
What to Expect
Your tour provider will let you know what is included in your day trip, but in general here are some things you can typically expect:
- Snacks throughout the day
- Buffet lunch of meat, veggies and fruit
- Snorkeling equipment
- Life vests
- Water throughout the day
- Hotel pick up and drop off
You should bring your swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, waterproof bag and any personal items you usually need for a day in the sun.
Krabi Island Hopping Itinerary
Your tour provider will tell you which stops are included, but this is the most typical combination of the Krabi 4 Islands and Phi Phi Islands tours.
- Maya Bay: This is the bay from the movie “The Beach”. It is closed during part of the year for rehabilitation, and if it is during your visit, you’ll get a view of the beach from the boat instead of getting out onto it. Frankly, I think this is better anyway, as Maya Bay is insanely crowded when all the tourist boats are there at the same time.
- Pileh Bay: This was my favorite stop, surrounded by tall limestone cliffs. We swam, jumped off the boat and took a lot of photos.
- Viking Cave: This is where you can see where the swiftlet birds live. Their nests are harvested to make birds’ nest soup, which is popular in Chinese medicine. This is the same type of birds’ nest used for soup from the Gomantong Caves in Malaysian Borneo. Note that you don’t actually get out of the boat here. Instead, your boat will stop in front of it and your guide will explain to you the birds’ nest harvesting practices.
- Monkey Beach: This beach is home to many wild monkeys. You will certainly see them during your stop. Note that like at Viking Bay, you will most likely not get off the boat at this location. Additionally, Monkey Beach is ethically questionable. Please see the section below on Animal Ethics for more information.
- Loh Samah Bay: This snorkel stop is a great place to see giant clams. They camouflage very well with the coral reef, but if you look closely you will find them everywhere!
- Bamboo Island: This white sand beach is the Thailand of your dreams. The beach is expansive, the water is a perfect turquoise, and there are plenty of spots to relax in the sun or in the shade. This is a good spot for a picnic lunch and some swimming or just lounging on the sand.
- Koh Kai: This is another place where you probably won’t be getting off the boat. Instead, your guide will point out how the land looks like the head of a chicken.
- Koh Mor and Koh Tap: A sand bar triangle connects these islands with Koh Kai during low tides. During high tides you can’t walk between them, and the main beach is crowded with everyone all in one spot. That said, if you wander a bit you can find some secluded spots. This is also a nice opportunity to see several of the traditional longtail boats all lined up along the beach.
- Koh Poda: The last stop of the day, Koh Poda is a great beach for swimming and lounging, much like Bamboo Island.
When we stopped by Monkey Island, I was eager to see how Krabi Ezy Trails would treat the wild animals. When our guide tossed a few banana chucks into the water, soliciting the monkeys to jump in and swim to their treat, I was a bit disappointed. I found myself in a bit of a Monkey Mia type predicament.
On the one hand, a few small bits of banana is way better than cans of soda and cookies, which many of the other tour companies do. Bananas are part of the macaque’s natural diet. Additionally, our guide explained that the monkeys still forage for their own food. This means they don’t rely on the tourist boats for all of their food. That’s a good thing since it indicates the animals are still behaving in line with their wild instincts.
On the other hand, it’s just not ok for humans to feed wild animals. At best it teaches them to come to humans for food instead of their natural sources. At worst it introduces unnatural foods into their diet. In the case of tossing cans of soda to the monkeys like we saw on our 2014 trip to Phuket, it also leaves trash in our oceans.
While giving the monkeys banana chunks is better than what we saw in 2014, it’s still not ideal. Unfortunately, I think the only way to avoid this on the boat tours in Thailand is to hire a private boat and explicitly request to not visit Monkey Island or at least not feed them. The company we booked with is one of the most eco-friendly option, and they still fed them.
Read more: Our Adventures in Thailand 2018
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