Phi Phi Islands

Ideal for partying and snorkling

Phi Phi Island is Thailand’s island-superstar. It’s been in the movies. It’s the topic of conversation for travelers all over Thailand. For some, it’s the only reason to touchdown in Phuket. Even with all the hype, it doesn’t disappoint. Phi Phi’s beauty is a large chunk of the allure. The islands, when approached by boat, rise from the sea like a fortress. Sheer cliffs tower overhead, then give way to beach-fronted jungle. It’s love at first sight. The second part of the why-we-love-this-place story is attitude: few places on the planet are this laid-back. Of the two islands located near Phuket and Krabi, one is completely free of human inhabitants (Phi Phi Leh), and the other is without roads (Phi Phi Don). There’s no schedule, no hustle-and-bustle, no reason to be in a hurry.

Phi Phi consists of six small islands 46km south of Phuket. Fine sandy beaches give way to soaring limestone cliffs to form spectacular scenery. Add crystal clear water, a refreshing lack of roads, plus a laid-back lifestyle, and it’s easy to see why Phi Phi is one of southern Thailand’s most popular destinations. The smaller, uninhabited island of Phi Phi Leh is a big tourist attraction. Surrounded by sheer limestone walls dotted with caves and passages the island’s shallow blue-green lagoons and coral gardens are a snorkeler’s paradise. The island also has two magnificent beaches, Loh Samah and Maya Bay – used as a location for the Hollywood film The Beach. Longtail boats make the many secluded beaches around Phi Phi Don accessible. Diving and snorkeling at Laem Thong and Hua Rah Ket is excellent. Many dive companies offer all-inclusive trips.

Despite its worldwide fame and its popularity with many visitors, Phi Phi Islands still hosts a few hidden beaches. Small or medium sized strips of white sand known and frequented only by a few visitors always trigger the excitement of all those who dream about exploring new places of outstanding natural beauty. All the ‘secret beaches’ introduced on this page are located on Koh Phi Phi Don, the main and only inhabited island of the group. Phi Phi Don Island houses a fair deal of nooks and crannies hidden all around its indented coast. Wear your explorer hat and get ready for an adventurous journey to some beautiful Phi Phi beaches you’ve never heard of.

Nui Beach is settled in a tiny cove located to the south of Lana Bay on the west coast of Koh Phi Phi Don. Framed by tall karsts which offer excellent rock climbing opportunities, it is a renowned field among snorkelling enthusiasts. A few limestone karts – including one of Phi Phi’s landmarks, Camel Rock – jut out from the sea right in front of the beach, adding to its exotic feel. You can get there by long-tail boat from Loh Dalum for a few hundred baht, or by hiking through the jungle from Loh Lana or Loh Bagao, although the trail is steep and tricky.

Moo Dee Bay is a 300-metre long strand hidden toward the southeastern tip of Phi Phi Island. It is bordered by a coconut grove to the south and thick rain forest to the north. Snorkelling is great at both its ends and there’s a unique bar/restaurant run by local Rasta men which somehow take beneficial advantage of the remoteness of the beach and of their dominant position. Two options are available to get there: for the lazy among us, a long-tail boat will bring you to Moo Dee in 10 minutes from Tonsai jetty (boats are also available there to get you back to the village), or you can walk there on the large path that passes in front of the stairs that lead to Phi Phi Viewpoint at the back side of Tonsai Village. This hike is not too difficult and takes about 45 minutes.

Lana Bay consists of a 500-metre long beach hidden in a square-shaped cove located on the west coast of Phi Phi Don. Both sides of this rather deep cove (there’s about 600 metres from the entrance of the cove on the sea side to the beach itself) feature granite and limestone karsts as well as dense foliage. Lana Bay is relatively shallow (two-metre depth), which permits good snorkelling at both its ends in its crystal clear waters. As apart from an abandoned hotel under construction there’s no businesses on Lana itself, you have to take a 10 minute walk in the hinterland to reach a small village which hosts a good choice of bars and restaurants.

Viking Beach is a tiny spot located between the eastern end of Tonsai and Long Beach. The two beaches are separated by a small rocky cape covered with lush vegetation which houses Viking Natures Resort. The resort’s restaurant is right on the eponymous beach and offers the perfect spot for lunching or dining in very quiet and idyllic settings. Snorkelling is great on the two sides of the 25-metre beach, and the foliage offers cool shading. The short trail through the jungle to get there is not that difficult; it starts at the back side of the Arayaburi Resort and ends at Tonsai East.

Phak Nam Bay (aka Relax Bay) is located just south of Loh Bagao on the east coast of Phi Phi Don Island. This 400-metre long beach offers the ideal spot to take a holiday off the beaten track at one of the two accommodation choices it houses: Phi Phi Power Beach Resort and Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort. Stuck between the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea and the various shades of green of the rain forest, Phak Nam Bay is really a tranquil place to be. The main way to get to Phak Nam Bay is obviously by long-tail boat yet, if you stay in Laem Thong or Loh Bagao, you can reach Phak Nam Bay on foot through the jungle; please note that the is trail is rather steep.