James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay
James Bond Island is a famous landmark in Phang Nga Bay. It first found its way onto the international tourist map through its starring role in the James Bond movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. A distinctive feature of this famous bay is the number of sheer limestone cliffs that vertically jut out of the emerald-green water. The bizarre, why-doesn’t-it-fall-over outline of James Bond Island or Koh Tapu (meaning Nail Island in Thai), lies next to the equally well known Koh Ping Ghan (sometime spell ‘Ping Gan’ or ‘Ping Gun’). The entire area surrounding this island is indeed spectacular, but it can get crowded with tourist boats in high season.
Phang Nga Bay covers an area of 400sqkm and is home to some 100 islands, many of which could feature in The Guinness Book of Records either for their beauty or for their freakish shapes. James Bond Island, with its signature rocky pinnacle, has been a major attraction ever since it featured in the 1974 Bond movie. Luckily it is under national park protection and as a result no boats of any kind are allowed to go too close to the island because of its precarious position – big on the upper part and relatively slim at the bottom. The two best ways to view James Bond Island are from boats or from the small beach on Koh Ping Ghan. Koh Ping Ghan is another sample of how the Mother Nature works her magic. Basically it’s a very high leaning rock that has some small caves inside. It’s pretty amazing and fun to check them all out. On its crowded eastern beach, there are stalls and stands selling knickknack souvenirs, mostly made from shells and woods.
This area is a popular destination for sailing as well as kayaking. Most of the organized tours to James Bond Island are combined with a visit to other popular islands and usually include a stop for a seafood lunch at the charming Koh Panyee – a nearby Muslim fishing village on stilts. Even though tour companies usually hand out plastic bags to protect your camera it really is best to bring along a snap-shut waterproof camera bag. If you want to have more freedom, you can rent a long-tail boat from Surakul Pier in Phang Nga for less than 2,000 baht for a good three to four hours. The boat can carry up to ten people.