During our stay in Koh Phangan, we went on a day trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park. We booked the trip with Orion by buying a ticket at the reception of Seaview Rainbow, the resort where we stayed. The price is ฿1900 per person (including the optional kayaking trip), but when arriving at the boat you have to pay the entrance fee for Ang Thong National Marine Park as well, which is another ฿300 per person.
The day trip started at 8h30, when a taxi came to pick us up at our resort. He dropped us off at a small pier where the Orion boat was waiting. On board we were presented a light breakfast of cookies and fruit (can’t do anything wrong with that!), and coffee, tea, water and soft drinks. Off to Ang Thong National Marine Park!
First stop was Koh Wao or Koh Tay Plow (according to the website, not sure which one we did but it was a little bay) for some snorkeling. Snorkeling equipment (mask and snorkel) is included in the trip, but we brought our own, bought during our diving course with Roctopus on Koh Tao. We saw some beautiful fish and spiky black sea urchin, and jumped and slid in the water from the diving board and slide on the top deck of the boat. I think we were about 40 minutes in the water when we were called back on the boat, as it was about to leave for the next stop. Although it seems quite short, we felt like we had seen everything there was to see. Getting back on board, we were offered a beach towel, which we thought a nice gesture.
Time for lunch! While we were in the water, the staff set up a buffet of rice, some spicy curry, a kind of sweet and sour sauce with vegetables and chicken in breadcrumbs. Although the curry was way too spicy for us and Brecht wasn’t a fan of the chicken, the rice with sweet and sour sauce was quite tasty. We filled our tummies: some power food for the kayaking trip that was coming up. While kayaking, we explored some rock formations and caves: really cool! I only ever have been kayaking on a lake, so this was quite exciting.
I don’t know which beach we departed from, but I’m certain we ended up at Na Tap Beach at Koh Mae Koh, as this island is quite special. Ever seen the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio? This is the island where that special beach from the movie is supposed to be. Except in real life there isn’t a beach, only the stunning emerald lagoon called Talay Nai, surrounded by steep limestone cliffs. You have to climb some steep stairs to get to the viewing platform (maybe a 10 minute climb), but it’s without a doubt worth it! It’s always a good idea to bring some water, as we are not used to these boiling hot temperatures. Unfortunately you are not allowed to swim in the crystal clear lagoon (better not spoil the beauty of it), but you can cool down in the water on the outer side of the island.
Last stop of our day trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park was Ao Ka Beach at Koh Wua Ta Lap. Here we had to choose: a 500m climb to the viewpoint, hike to the limestone caves or relax at the beach. I was leaning towards the relaxing at the beach option, but Brecht was determined to climb to the viewpoint, as the view was promised to be breathtaking. I brought my hiking sandals anyway, so thought “OK, why not?”. After 100m of climbing (it was really steep, I wouldn’t call it hiking), I regretted my decision. Fortunately we all got a bottle of water from the staff while leaving the boat, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived it. This climb is not for pussies, I almost gave up, but Brecht coached me to the top. I have never sweated this much in my life. As they warned us beforehand, the last 10m we had to rock climb to the viewing platform, so please don’t wear flip flops! As we reached the platform all I could think was: “How on earth am I ever getting down again?!”. Once I had found my breath after the climb, the view of all the Ang Thong Islands took my breath away again. It was definitely worth it, although I’m not sure I felt the same way when I just arrived on the platform.
After some relaxing and cooling down in the water, the trip was over and we headed back to Koh Phangan. We got some hamburgers with tuna, vegetables and leftovers from the chicken from lunch. Fresh pineapple and watermelon were served all day long as well: refreshing!
At about 18h30 the taxi dropped us off at our resort again. We were tired but satisfied. The trip is really worth it as you get to see some beautiful (hardly touched) nature. We were pleased with Orion as the tour operator: the staff was friendly, the food was OK and overall we had everything we needed on board.