The Phi Phi Islands are located in Thailand, between Phuket and the western Andaman Sea coast of the mainland. Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh are the two main islands. The rest of the islands in the group, including Bida Nok, Bida Noi, and Bamboo Island, are not much more than large limestone rocks jutting out of the sea. Phi Phi Leh was the backdrop for the 2000 movie The Beach and is also the location for the Viking Cave. Phi Phi Don is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants, although the beaches of Phi Phi Lee are visited by many people as well. There are no accommodation facilities on this island, but it is just a short boat ride from Phi Phi Don. During the 2004 Tsunami much of the inhabited part of Phi Phi Don was destroyed. After the tsunami, approximately 70 percent of the buildings on the island had been destroyed and approximately 4,000 people were killed.
We arrived in Thailand on Sunday and just spent the day relaxing at the pool. After 22.5 hours on an airplane and 12 hours in an airport you really aren't up for much activity. That evening we walked down the beach and around the area to explore some of the shops, restaurants and local hangouts.
Monday morning we left our hotel at 8 am and set off for a tour of the Phi Phi Islands. We decided on a speedboat tour rather than a local transportation type tour. Can you imagine cruising the open sea waters on this?
It took almost an hour to get to our first stop. During the ride our tour guide told us all about the islands and fed us some awesome fresh fruit. Our first stop was a lagoon where we were to go snorkeling. This was my first view into the lagoon area. I can't even describe just how beautiful and amazing it was.
At the lagoon we (okay Matt) took lots of pictures of the limestone formations and then jumped into the warm water to snorkel. The fish were right up against us when we were in the water.
We then hopped back into the boat where we went around to swim in another lagoon. After we were done swimming we went to go see the monkeys. On the way there we passed the Viking Cave.
This cave is covered with saliva bird nests, which are harvested and used in bird nest soup. (Click the link. Very interesting reading)
So back to the monkeys. Our boat went right over to the side of the one island where there were at least 20 monkeys playing, climbing in the trees, sitting on rocks and sleeping. Real monkeys, in the wild. Our tour guide had brought peanuts to try and feed them. He said they get sick of bananas. Don't try to take any of their food though. They get a bit angry and will hiss and try to bite you.
After our little monkey feeding session we went into the open waters and snorkeled again. The fish were totally different than in the lagoon. We even got to see a Nemo fish! Talk about beautiful. I have to admit. I was hesitant to get in the water at first. I was afraid of what may have lived in the water, but I am so glad I did. Definitely better than when we snorkeled in Mexico or the Bahamas.
After some more fresh fruit we then went to a part of the island where we could actually get out and walk around. Some people stayed on the beach (I think it may have had something to do with the amount of topless sunbathers there were on that beach) while others followed the tour guide into the island for a walking tour.
This island is guarded by rangers who live in this house for three weeks without any electricity or running water. Supplies are brought from the mainland and their main job is to protect the park.
At the bottom of our walking tour there were boats lined up all along the beach. It was very cool.
At this point we hopped back into the boat and went to another part of the island for lunch. While we were there we watched them take the small wooden boats to a supply boat farther out in sea and then bring back the supplies and load onto a tractor.
Our lunch consisted of soup, rice, noodles and chicken wings. The soup was so good I had to have two bowls.
Afterwards we had time to walk around this part of the island. Everything was just so beautiful.
The last part of the tour consisted of going to a small beach where there wasn't anything to do but sit in the chairs and relax or swim. I actually took a bit of a snooze. Believe it or not this chair was like a luxury bedding sets.
Amazing, amazing tour. Now I need to rent The Beach so I can say "I've been there!"
You can see tons more pictures from this part of our trip here.