In addition to fiery jump ropes and Muay Thai bars, Koh Phi Phi also offers beautiful snorkeling, scuba diving, and other aquatic adventures. Originally, Sam and I had planned to sign up for a booze cruise around the island on our second day there. Our hostel offered one that had an open bar for 1600 baht, but my roommates said they had found one for 600 baht that was BYOB when they visited, so we were on the hunt for a bargain. That is, until we split about 3 buckets and danced on the beach until 2:30 AM. Deciding that we were physically in no condition to even see alcohol for at least 24 hours, we decided to spend a relaxing day snorkeling around Koh Phi Phi Leh.
After a life-saving overpriced western breakfast, we went down to the pier to see what kind of day trips we could find. Thinking that we were getting onto a nice, large, SAFE boat, we were excited when we successfully bargained with a boat captain to get a snorkel trip around the island for 600 baht per person.
Subsequently, we were a little confused when our boat captain turned out to be a mere water taxi driver and our water chariot turned out to be a tiny little long tail boat. As if purposefully trying to add dramatic effect, the driver then tossed two unsanitary-looking pieces of “snorkel equipment” that had been promised onto the murky boat floor. Longtail boats are the boats that you see on Pinterest when you look up beaches in Thailand. They’re boats with literally a longtail end, and they’re pretty freaking small when you consider that you’re taking them on the Andaman Sea. However, we were really too hungover to do anything about it, so we said Mai Pen Rai and hopped aboard.
Disclaimer: According to our British hostelmate there actually is a snorkeling cruise on a real ship that you can find in the harbor, we just messed up and took the wrong bargain.
Did I say longtail boats are small? They’re even smaller when you realize that it’s Monsoon Season, you’re 4 kilometers from shore, and massive waves and ugly rain clouds start rolling by. I wasn’t so much concerned for my safety as I was for the safety of my cell phone and camera, but I think Sam may have found religion about 6x on that trip.
Safety concerns aside, it really was a nice ride. First the driver took us to Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh, the bay from the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. However, we were too cheap to drop 400 Baht to step foot on the beach, and it was wayyyy too wavy to snorkel, so we opted to skip it. So not worth the Instagram.
After that the driver took us to another bay, which was much calmer, and we hopped out to snorkel. Unfortunately, as it was really rough out, snorkeling wasn’t too great, but it was nice to swim, and we did see a few little tiny fish. Classic Thailand, the driver didn’t even have a ladder for us to get back in the boat, so when it was time to go this little 80 lb Thai man physically pulled us back in the boat. The size and strength of Thai people never ceases to amaze me.
Our final stop was Monkey Beach around the other side of Koh Phi Phi Leh. This beach was exactly that, a beach with monkeys. Although there really wasn’t much of a beach, maybe because the tide was in? Regardless, tourists from other groups were hopping in the water to swim and take pictures with the monkeys. Sadly, we even saw a monkey grab a can of beer from one of the booze crusies. While people laughed and took pictures, I’m sure that poor 15-lb monkey was well on the way to being drunk, confused, and miserable.
After all of that rocking and bobbing around Koh Phi Phi Leh we returned to shore. The whole trip was around 3 hours, and we basically hired our own private longtail to take us island hopping. With a bigger group it would probably be much cheaper, and in nicer weather it would be great. I’d definitely recommend trying it, but preferably not after a night out on the town.