Koh Phi Phi
Phi Phi is the daddy of Thai islands, being a well established destination for families, backpackers and honeymooners alike. I was expecting a quiet beach vibe, with a small corner shop and a few beach huts. I was wrong. The island is its own mini city, with 7-eleven, markets, restaurants, resorts and lots of bars. The beach on the town supports backpackers party bars, that get messy til sunrise. Other beaches are sprinkled along the south east coast, leading to Long beach. Along here the resorts thrive, having idyllic wooden bungalows, private sand and views to die for. The walk round to long beach isn’t short, but I like a good walk and the beach is so much better -no cigs or beer cans here. On Phi Phi, cheap living comes in the form of heavy duty cocktail buckets and pizza slice stalls. Hangovers are cured by snoozes on the beach and a fresh swim. Want to do more than sit around? Paths run through the island to beaches much further afield or there are a few lookout points, where you can snap the island from above or simply watch the comings and goings of fishing boats.
A quick nip from Phi Phi or the mainland, Lanta is massive. As far as I know, there’s not a huge amount to do wherever you stay, but I didn’t come to the Thai islands to do anything. We stayed in the backpacker area, just across the road from Klong Kong beach. The sand is a little chunky but good enough. Bizarrely, the sea is full of rocks, or, more accurately, the sea is a rock. Under the water, what looks like big flat stone is filled in with dead coral, which makes for an uncomfortable swim. Head for the rock pools instead, or use the pool supplied by one of the
beach bars. So if Lanta isn’t doesn’t have great sand or swimming, what does it have? Head to the beach at night and you’ll see. The entire beach is full of beautiful little bars and huts, where you can eat on the sand, have a cocktail by candle light or watch the locals practice their fire spinning. Nice.
After Koh Rong (cambodia), Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta, I thought I’d seen islands, but wow, Koh Lipe is an island! It forms part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, and sits in the Andaman sea just north of Malaysia’s Langkawi. Locally dubbed ‘Thai Maldives’, the beaches of Lipe are immaculate. The island isn’t huge, so there’s really only three beaches; sunrise beach, sunset beach, and Pattaya beach. What more can I say other than we sat on a beach and it was bloody fantastic. The sand is white, fine and compacted flat, the sea is so warm, clear and there’s barely a wave, and the sun tops it off for a perfect scene. Down the centre of town is ‘walking street’, filled with bars, shops, and enormous seafood. Honestly, skip the northern islands and head here.