We spent the last two and a half weeks before my trip home with some absolutely amazing island hopping in the Andaman Sea along Thailand’s west coast.
We decided to skip the coast’s best-known beaches at Phuket and Krabi, but went all out setting up a dream itinerary:
Three days and three nights on a private boat, sailing and exploring islands on the way from Phuket to Ko Lanta.
A week taking in the beautiful views, tasty food and charms of Ko Lanta.
Another week getting our dive certification on and around the sun-drenched, white-sand beaches of Ko Lipe.
Certainly the most expensive bunch of travel we have done our entire trip, but we were helped out by an incredibly generous gift from Roman’s mom (thank you Petra! ), and it was all so amazing – I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I could!
We booked the boat with Phuket Boat Charter. The price was all-inclusive and covered the crew, including a chef, all food and drinks to our preferences and drop off at the island of our choice. All we had to do was meet Markus, the Swiss skipper, at the dock at the appointed time, and our adventure would begin.
We had booked the charter while we were still up in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province on the east coast, so we caught a VIP night bus (insanely decorated in deep blue and painfully bright neon – I felt like I was inside a black lit fishbowl – but comfortable enough, especially once the lights were off) from outside of Ban Krud to get down to Phuket.
The trip was easy enough and we found a room at dive shop called Crystal Clear. Their rooms were off of a stairwell at the back end of a lightly populated bar serviced by a somewhat intense lady-boy. The rooms themselves beautifully cool and clean in all white with a lovely, fluffy duvet on the bed that reminded me of Switzerland. We were staying in a part of town called Chalong, away from Phuket’s beaches but close to the dock and, conveniently, the immigration office where we had to extend our visas.
After a day and a half to rest up from the overnight drive and sort out admin, we woke up early and headed to Jimmy’s Lighthouse where we’d arranged to meet Markus. He and his cute Thai girlfriend (her name escapes me at the moment. She was totally sweet though. Maybe I’ll remember after some coffee…) were both totally easy-going and sweet and made us instantly comfortable. We took off our shoes (wouldn’t see them again for days!), loaded our bags and ourselves into an inflated dinghy and headed out to meet our boat.
The Aquila is a trimaran, a sailboat with three hulls. The central hull is the largest and holds the control room, a simple kitchen and dining room, space for the crew. The smaller outside hulls are bedrooms with private bathrooms, simple, but nice enough since the real place to be was on deck, which ended up serving as a superb out-door dining room, bar, lounge for reading, napping and sunbathing and pool-side.
Roman and I were both agape as we boarded the ship, gleeful at the realization that this was going to be our home and life for the next three days. Markus introduced us to his daughter, Narita, who was a fun addition to the party, and Uan, the chef who doubled as crew when an extra hand was needed, and invited us to relax at the breakfast table while the crew got us out of the harbor and on our way.
That pretty much set the tone for the whole trip. The crew was totally friendly and easy-going and the atmosphere was so relaxed. It felt like hanging out with friends. But when it came to meals, equipment prep and the like, we never had to lift a finger and we ended up feeling totally spoiled by Markus and company.
So, that first morning we sat on deck with a lovely breakfast, enjoying the morning sun glimmering off the bright waters of Phuket’s harbor as the island pulled away from us and we headed towards our first destination.