Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Snorkeling at Thailand's Racha Yai Island

Snorkeling off of Thailand's Racha Yai Island

My original Phuket dream boat trip was to Phi Phi Islands (pronounced "Pee Pee") which is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. However, it seems that monsoon season is not the best time to go, especially if you are prone to seasickness. The speedboat ride takes much longer, and the seas are rougher. Considering that I was getting motion sick reading the snorkeling company's emails during the car ride to the airport, bumpy boat didn't seem the way to go. Instead, we opted for Racha Yai island where the snorkeling is reputedly better than at Phi Phi anyways. Racha Yai is still relatively undiscovered and pristine, too.

Getting ready to climb aboard the speedboat in Phuket

The day started with Aloha Ocean Adventures picking us up from the hotel and driving us to the southern tip of Phuket. From there, we boarded the speedboat for the 40-minute, 14-mile (22 km) trip south to Racha Yai. Even though I took a motion sickness pill before we boarded the boat and kept my eyes focused firmly on the horizon, I still got queasy. Perhaps it was the 10-foot swells that obscured the horizon in the distance. Thankfully, the waters quieted once we reached Racha Yai. Our guide was great explaining how to use the snorkeling gear and making sure everything was adjusted right. Figuring that being in the water was better than getting sick on the gently rocking boat, I was eager to jump into the secluded bay.

The guide gave my oldest boy bananas to feed the fish. Hubby opted to just wiggle his fingers in front of his face to attract them. Since we had the boat to ourselves, my family was able to set the pace. After about 45 minutes, other boats started showing up, and my stomach was still roiling. So, we all climbed back on board and headed to a beach on the eastern side of the island. The crew had prepared a platter of tasty tropical fruits, but alas, my queasiness and my family's pickiness kept us from eating any of it. However, the kids dug right into the cooler of drinks and the basket of chips and cookies.

We got off the boat onto a pier. It was just a bunch of hollow, plastic rectangles lashed together and floating on the water's surface. Walking on it felt like one of the challenges from Wipe Out, and I was glad my daughter still had on her life jacket. Moving quickly was the key.

Building a sand castle pile

We had a lot of fun playing in the sand and just wading into the calm waters. For a while, we watched a little hermit crab make his way across the beach. My girl had to use the bathroom, but there wasn't one nearby. After years of telling her not to pee in the pool, I told her it was totally okay to do it in the ocean. She questioned the propriety of this suggestion.

Everybody's got a water buffalo, Yours is fast but mine is slow.

Then, it was off to lunch. Racha Yai is still undeveloped and without any paved roads. So, we jumped on the back of a covered wagon pulled by a tractor and made our way uphill to the Ban Raya Hotel. The view was delightful, and the food was delicious. We had the option of playing in the pool or hitting another beach. We picked the beach.

Beautiful view towards the west from the Ban Raya Hotel
Look at how blue that water is!

Racha Yai island is quite small, and we could have easily made our way around on foot. But the tractor wagon was waiting for us again to take us to Siam Beach on the island's northern side. It's supposed to be an isolated, powdery, white sand beach. But when we got there, it was high tide, and the little strip of available sand was packed with the handful of people on the island. There also seemed to be more huge chunks of coral on the ground and under water that you had to watch out for.  The most memorable part of our time here was my hubby's Baywatch moment when he carried two women back to shore.

Siam Beach on Racha Yai

The tide is high, but I'm holding on...

My younger son was still hoping to get in a little more snorkeling, so we made our way back to the floating pier and onto the boat. After it pulled away from shore a little more, we all jumped into the water. Before I had all my gear on, I could already hear my boys and their dad yelling about a blue starfish they saw. I think I enjoyed this time more. My stomach had finally settled down, thank goodness. My daughter was more comfortable in the water, too. Floating above the coral and watching the fish and eels swim by was spectacular. Totally worth all the seasickness!

Related Posts
This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox and Photo Friday at Delicious Baby. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration. 


  1. I love that you got transported in a covered wagon, so cool! Beautiful photos, I would love to visit Thailand one day!

  2. The water looks so blue with the trees in the foreground and the sea in the background.

  3. What an adventure, Michele! I loved reading about your snorkeling experience and am now officially jealous :-) Beautiful location!

  4. How cool! I love your adventure and glad to hear that despite the seasickness, you made it through. What a great place to snorkel - undeveloped abnd uncrowded. Great family picture!

  5. It looks gorgeous. I did my dive course at Phi Phi, it is beautiful but you made the right call with this destination if it minimized your sea sickness (although it sounds like it was still challenging.)

  6. Turtles are also common. There is a nice variety of hard and soft corals, anemones and sea fans. www.khaolakexplorer.com


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