We were picked up in a minivan at about 8am, and delivered us to the pier where our ferry awaited. It took about 2 hours, but time flew by as we watched the flying fish leap out the sea. Spotting them became a fun way to spend the time. Once we arrived, we needed to pay a small port fee, and then we walked a short distance to our hotel. We chose to stay at the Phi Phi hotel, which is close to the docks and quite central to the stalls.
If I’m being technically correct, everything is central to stalls. The whole island is so small you can walk the it flat in less than 20 minutes. There are no cars on this island, but occasionally you need to leap out of the way of bicycles.
There is a pier side, where the boats and ferries enter Phi Phi, and there is another beach side, which contains a lot of partying back packers. We had booked 3 nights here and I immediately felt like I could have done 5. After settling into our room, we ventured out to look for day trips. As you know by now, never just settle for the first one, there will be cheaper trips as you walk along. We eventually settled on an longtail island hopping tour for the following day. It cost 400baht per person, including snorkeling gear and lunch. Next on our agenda was food. I have always been a very cautious eater, so I stuck to a giant slice of pizza (I ended up enjoying this so much, I had it all 3 nights!).
The next morning, we made our way back to the stall that sold us the tour, and we were guided to the back of the shop, which opened up onto the beach. We climbed aboard the longtail with all the other tourists, and set off. Our first stop was Shark point. I was quite nervous as this was going to be my first proper snorkeling experience with fish to see, but as soon as I got in the water and began snorkeling, a complete sense of tranquility came over me. I was in love with this new world! We saw starfish, parrot fish, sergeant majors,and the winner for me? Nemos! (clown fish). From there, we headed off to a few other spots (Bamboo island, monkey island, gypsy caves, an enclosed lagoon).
Our last stop on this tour was Phi Phi Leh. This is where the film, The Beach, was set. Phi Phi Leh was a beautiful spot, but it was ruined with the high boat traffic volumes. The whole shoreline was crammed with long tail boats, and speed boats filled up the lagoon section. After relaxing on the beach for a while, we eventually departed for Phi Phi Don. Our driver/captain/operator stopped the boat as the sun was going down, so we could enjoy the beautiful moment. I would definitely recommend an island hopping tour for anyone visiting this awesome island, though if you are a small group of friends, pool your cash together and hire a private longtail and driver for the day.
When we arrived back at the island pier, we quickly departed in search of a tour for the next day. I had fallen in love with the idea of seeing the reef sharks at shark point, so we booked the early morning shark snorkeling tour. This trip was amazing, as there was only one other person with us on this trip.
We snorkeled above black tip reef sharks, and had the waters to ourselves. The rain started coming down towards the end of our excursion, and the swell started getting bigger. We headed back to the island, and refreshed in our hotel. The next Phi Phi bucket list item to check off was the island view point. I dragged my partner to hike the mountain (In the humidity and with my unfitness level, this was a hard task!) I struggled up all the stairs, and sweated my way up the incline until we reached the viewpoint.
This hike is what made me change into a more active lifestyle. I vowed to get fit and redo this hike someday. It was an incredible view. My only regret was not having a better camera at the time. It was quite sad to think that people used this spot as a safe haven during the tsunami, it must have been awful to watch everything get washed away below.
That night we had our last slice of Phi Phi pizza, a Thai massage, and a delicious cocktail at one of the bars. We also watched a fire dancer on the beach, and took in all the island buzz for our final night. One of my favorite signs was next to a restaurant. it gives me the giggles every time I go through my pictures. I had an absolutely amazing time on Phi Phi Island, and I cannot wait to come back here in the future and redo that hike, but Ao Nang was waiting for us, so we boarded the ferry and watched that beautiful island fade away.
Just a follow up to this trip:
- I loved the snorkeling so much that I have since completed my open water Padi scuba course – highly recommend doing this before going to nay tropical destination.
- After I came home, I did a bit more research on Phi Phi Leh, and read somewhere that a company did small overnight camping trips. I’m not sure if it is still operational, but I would definitely look into it if you going that way.
- Take a bottle of water with you if you decide to do the walk to the viewpoint. It is uphill and humid!
- I have since learned that the original inspiration for The Beach was believed to be El Nido, in Philippines. I’m heading there December 2016, so I will be able to compare.