Under a steady breeze we were hoping to do the 20 nautical miles under sail. But after a little over an hour of tacking against a tide and a dying breeze, we relented and turned on the Beta motor.
We arrived about 4 hours later at peaceful Koh Rang Yai, a small but pretty island with a 1-km stretch of beach (N07°56.942' E098°26.866'). So of course, the tourist boats bring their throngs here in the afternoon to swim and turn bright red on the beach. And perhaps to spend a lot of money at the pearl farm's shop!
The next morning we took our cat Chanty ashore and she experienced her first nervous ride in the dinghy. Surprisingly she was also nervous once ashore, as she listened to the waves crash in, another scary first for her. (She didn't know what she signed on for with us!) But once back at anchor, she quickly adjusted to being a typical cat.
It's a sea cat's life
In the windless afternoon, we motored north for a couple hours up into Phang Nga Bay to a long stretch of an island called Koh Phanak (N08°11.368' E098°29.190'). The Bay is an area where huge fairytale vertical limestone rock isles protrude out of the sea, many with caves and passageways eroded throughout.
Heading up to the magical Phang Nga Bay isles
Once anchored, we hopped in the dinghy and went exploring. At first, there were many daytrippers spilling out of the tour boats and into blow-up kayaks also exploring. We dinghied in through a tunnel about 150 m (500 ft) long, at times in total darkness (but we had a flashlight) with wee bats hanging all over the ceiling. We came out to an interior lagoon open to the sky, completely encircled with vertical cliffs stretching to the sky.
Not quite the Tunnel of Love
These interior openings in the mountain are called hongs which is Thai for room. We couldn't stay long so we had to return through one spot that was narrowing and low from a rising tide.
Can we make it!
After exiting the tunnel, we headed out and around towards the north end of the island where we next found a cave-type opening about 2 m above water level. We tied the dinghy to the jagged rock face and hoisted ourselves up to the cave and walked along through the inside corridors coming out to a ledge, looking right into another interior lagoon or hong, again surrounded completely by steep verdant cliffs and open to the sky.
We returned to Sea Turtle wondering how many more yet to be discovered hongs were hidden away in these enchanting mountain islands.