In true fashion, we booked a four island tour just 12 hrs before we were to be picked up. There were 9 of us that went on the tour (5/2) and to start, we were brought to the other side of the island on a songteaw to catch a longtail boat. Note to self – taking a longtail boat for a full day snorkeling trip is half the cost of taking a speed boat (650B vs. 1300B or ~$20 vs ~$40). When we got to the boat, two of our friends Andy and Natasha from our last hostel we’re already on the boat so we were able to spend the day with them as well!
The tour brought us to 4 islands: Koh Ma, Koh Ngai, Koh Chuek and Emerald Cave. We snorkeled on two of the islands, toured the Emerald Cave on another and then had lunch on the last (Ngai). The islands were beautiful and were similar rock formations that we saw in Ao Nang/Krabi/Phi Phi. Even though the water wasn’t as clear as Koh Rok, it was beautiful! We were snorkeling around cliffs that suddenly drop down to the water, it was sweet. I’m true fashion, one of the first cool things I saw was a sea snake. Of course! We also saw an eel in the same spot but it was deep in the coral so we could only see the end.
The reason we did the tour was to see emerald cave. This cave was wild. You pull up on the boat and an anchor is dropped. No snorkeling so all we needed was our life jackets. We all got into the water and started swimming towards the cave to ultimately swim into 80m of darkness. We were surrounded by many other groups who were headed into the cave as well. These boats were fancy speedboats and the groups getting off of the were floating while holding onto a long piece of rope to be guided into the cave by their guide with a flashlight.
Our guide essentially just said “go for it!” And told us to go ahead. This worked out well as he was behind us to make sure no one got left behind however that was until we eventually got ahead of the groups with flashlights and it was pitch dark and we were all floating there not knowing where to go. People were yelling “we need a light!” (Including me haha) but then at that same point we could start to see the light from the other side. We then booked it there. It was such a cool experience to head through the caves, just floating and swimming, to a place we had no clue for what to expect. Check out these videos and photos to see what it was like:
I wish I could say that we were the only people there buuuuut it was so packed. Our guide has also clearly done this a few times because he took our picture right away and then had us jumping for a group photo (that turned out really good)! We were maybe in the cave for 5-10 minutes and then it was time to head back through.
The cave and the ease of the swim back relied on the tide and as we were there, whether it was true or not, our guide said we needed to head back because of the waves and the rising tide. It took us a few moments to get into the cave because the waves coming at us were pretty big. Almost instantly you could tell how the waves were changing because you were hovered up and they were more powerful. We (sort of) had more light this time because we could see groups coming in but it was still really dark. As we made our way back to the entrance (now the exit), the water was amazing and truly was emerald. No wonder – emerald cave! The guides made sure to tell us to be careful because as the waves came in, they push you up and at the entrance of the cave, there is a small opening and now that the tide was higher, that opening was smaller. These videos show you how tight the gap was heading out. It really was safe – we swear! But it was a wild experience. I highly do not recommend the cave to anyone who is castrophobic or anxious in the water or tight/dark spaces.
We had lunch late so afterwards we headed back to the pier and back to the hostel. At this point we were exhausted and easily had over an hour ride back to Koh Lanta, which on a longtail boat is a looooong time.
By the time we got back to the hostel, it was 4/5PM and we showered and headed down the shore for happy hour drinks and dinner with a sunset. Rachel teaches in Bangkok and has spent a lot of time on Koh Lanta so we headed to her friend Bang’s bar. They had the best fresh mango daiquiris 👌🏼
Dinner was great, tasty Pad-Kraw-pao Kai-dao mai-suk (fried chicken with chilis and basil with an egg, over easy) One of my faves.
And then afterwards we were treated with more fire dancing at Bangs (although less high tech as Phi Phi). Charlie, again, got more attention from the guy and was able to hold one end of the Chain to help spin the fire. Thai people love him! It’s hilarious to watch it all unfold ever since the Cabaret show in Chiang Mai.
It’s amazing what a full day in the sun does to you so quickly after dinner and the fire show, we headed back on a tuktuk to pack and get ready for our second to last stop of Koh Chang (Elephant Island) the next day.