Just off Ao Nang’s coast, visiting the four Islands is the closest, easiest and most popular way to get a true idea of what a tropical island is. If you only visit one place in Krabi, then these Islands, the ones that can be seen on the horizon from the beach, must be at the top of your list.
Explore unique limestone islands by a traditional long-tail boat. Swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing and photography are the main activities you will be able to enjoy. Expect plenty of sun, turquoise water and white sandy beaches lined with palm trees.
The Four Islands that make up the tour are:
Koh Gai, named Chicken Island because of its rock formation that looks like the head of a chicken. One end of the island consists of steep cliffs, while the other end has beautiful beaches along a peninsula. This peninsula gets flooded at high tide, creating a small island. At low tide, you can walk between Koh Gai and Koh Tup.
Koh Tup, is only a few hundred meters from Koh Gai and linked to it by a sand bar that is above the surfaces at low tide known in Thai as “Talay Whak”.
Koh Mawr, a small rocky island with cliffs jutting out of the sea and lush vegetation on top.
Koh Poda, a large Island with a coconut plantation at the center. The boats park at one end of a long beach where you can find toilets and some kiosks selling snacks, mostly Thai food such as grilled chicken and Som Tam (papaya salad), fruits and drinks. This part of the beach can get quite busy, but you can walk for about 20 minutes down the beach, it is really well worth the walk and you will almost certainly find sections of peace.
Phranang Cave is a sacred place to the sea gypsies in the area and you can see many shrines in there. The cave, on the East side of the Railay Bay is famous for its wonderful stalactites and stalagmites. Since ancient times, Phranang (meaning “Princess”) Cave has been where fishermen, before going out to sea, have made offerings to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva (known as the “Siwaleung” or “Palad Khik” in Thai).
The fishermen, who say the cave is the home of a mythical sea princess, believe their offerings will bring them success in their fishing and protect them from danger, but what is more remarkable is that the cave contains a large collection of carved wooden phallic symbols, offerings and other objects believed to help with fertility.
East Railay Beach is the docking point for boats arriving from Krabi. The East Beach is primarily covered in dense mangrove which is unsuitable for swimming. On the Northern end of the waterfront there is a commercial area along a promenade with many restaurants and bars and various services including a Muay Thai school and lower-priced resorts than in West Railay.
West Railay Beach, connected to the East side by paths through the large resorts or by trails through thin jungle cover, is the primary destination for beach-goers. The beach is flanked by high limestone cliffs on either side. The focal point of West Railay Beach is centered on a short walking street lined with restaurants and shops.
Ton Sai is the place to be for climbers and backpackers with a more rustic character than the glitz of West Railay and the shops and restaurants of the East Railay boardwalk.
What to do:
- Explore Chicken Island, where you can enjoy snorkeling and swimming with colorful fish
- Visit the Tup Islets, an unseen highlight in Thailand where the sea is gradually separated by a sandbar on which you can walk when the tide recedes
- Discover Poda Island and its lovely white sandy beach, ideal for sunbathing and exploring colorful corals and reef fish
- Visit Phranang Cave Beach, located on the Railay Peninsula and famous for its fisherman cave and wonderful lagoon
- Discover Railay Beach, one of the best beaches in Krabi with its lovely view and nice restaurants to chill out