|The Islands of Krabi|
Krabi is famed for the extraordinary beauty of its beaches, yet few people realise that in fact there are only three spectacular beaches on the famous peninsula that attracts so many people each year.
The great majority of the Krabi coastline stretches north into Phang Nga Bay or south behind Koh Lanta and is dominated by muddy shores and mangrove swamps. The other note-worthy beaches of Krabi, numbering less than a half dozen, are all on off-shore islands. Without counting the Phi Phi islands – which, despite the distance off the coast, are also a part of Krabi province – there are three groups of islands in Krabi.
The first group is seen offshore from the main tourist centres at Ao Nang and Phra Nang. This is called the Koh Dam group after its two large members, Koh (island) Dam Hok and Koh Dam Kwan. These two, each of which offers one spectacular beach, are surrounded by about ten smaller, all-rock islands that have no real beaches. During the tourist season longtail boats run hundreds of tourists from the mainland to these islands each day in a 30-minute sprint. Despite that they are not lonely get-aways, they are still worth seeing for the unusual shape of both beaches creates a special beauty here.
The second island group, Koh Hong, is to the north and further afield, taking more than an hour by longtail. There is only one beach on the main island, and this too is stunningly beautiful. Koh Hong is named after the ‘hong’, Thai for room, in the middle of the island. This began as a cave system that collapsed inwards and eroded to sea level, leaving only a large lake with a small passage to the sea. At high tide longtails can enter this strange rocky arena, and one can swim in water a metre or more deep.
The last group of Krabi islands is a gathering of towering, rocky sea mountains that afford little space for beaches as their vertical rock walls drop into the sea. These are a little north of Koh Hong, and again can be toured by longtail in a day trip from Krabi. They are generally referred to by the name of the most interesting island here, Koh Pak Bia, which sports an unusual mini-beach.
Amongst all of these islands there is only one with accommodation, Koh Dam Hok. The bungalows here, which are set back against the karst mountain cannot be seen from the beach, are of a good standard. They are run by Krabi Resort at Ao Nang, from where bookings can be made. There is a restaurant here that is also open to day visitors.