Koh Yao Noi
Koh Yao actually consists of 2 main islands - Koh Yao Yai (Big) and Koh Yao Noi (Small). The small island has the main population, though you can also visit the bigger island. Koh Yao Yai is big - about the same size as Koh Lanta. Koh Yao Noi is less than half that size, but anyway too big to really explore on a day trip with my parents and 2 kids. You can rent a motorbike on the island for about 200 Baht a day.
* Update .. is 2012 we had a great day out at Koh Yao Noi - see Koh Yao Noi Day Trip from Phuket 2012
April 2011 - Another trip to Koh Yao Noi and we rented mopeds - great day out! See Koh Yao Noi by Moped
The ferry to Koh Yao Noi leaves from Bang Rong, on the NE coast of Phuket. Coming from the south on the main airport road, turn right at the Heroines monument, and drive another 10km or so. You pass the entrance to Bang Pae on the left and after another few km come to the Bang Rong road on the right. Ferry departs at 8am, 9:30am, 11am. The last one back to Phuket is 4pm. If you want a full day, start early! We thought there was a 10am ferry, arrived before 10am and thus had a 1 hour wait. Luckily, there is a small restaurant there floating in the mangroves where we have eaten before (see Bang Rong Floating Restaurant). The ferry is not huge. An oversized longtail with a roof. Along with about 30 people were several motorbikes. Other large baggage was loaded on the roof. Last year one of these ferries sank in rough water during a sudden storm due to overloading. I noticed that a uniformed officer (coast guard?) was on hand to make sure everyone had a life vest... The ride to Koh Yao Noi took about an hour. The scenery is great on the east coast of Phuket. Koh Yao Noi is on the edge of Phang Nga Bay and you can see some of the limestone rock formations across the sea. It was a sunny old day. We sat outside with the motorbikes (all seats inside were taken, see below). Aside from us, there was an English couple heading over for a day trip. They were Phuket fans and (as we do) enjoyed renting a bike and exploring the back roads. Pictures on the ferry below:
Once there, we found several tuk tuks on the pier ready to take people around the island. We chose the most beat up looking one, and agreed a 200 Baht fee to take us to a beach. We were not fussed where exactly, just A beach where the kids could dig in the sand. Stopping off at the islands 7-11 for a drink, we rattled along the tidy road through the village and then through the fields and trees until we reached the shoreline on the east side of Koh Yao Noi with views over towards the islands and limestone formations to the North of Krabi. Along this coast there are several small resorts such as Lom Lae Beach Resort, Sabai Corner etc.. We found a stretch of beach. Nobody else there. Nice beach although the tide was quite low and there were rocks just under the water, making it hard to even go for a paddle. What is important here is the peace and quiet. Just a small dirt road. Saw a handful of vehicles in the few hours we were there, and had a kilometer of beach to ourselves. Kids played in the sand. We walked along the beach picking up shells. The view across the sea was great, looking across to some small islands such as Koh Hong, just to the NW of Railey beach (Krabi).
We ate some decent food at the Lom Lae resort, where they didn't seem to have any guests for their bungalows. They were charging 1500 Baht, though I think low season would be much cheaper, and this coast is protected from the SW winds during the summer, meaning no big waves on the beach, so would be a decent place to stay in low season. They were friendly folk and gave us the key to a bathroom in the resort so we could shower. Too soon time to leave and our rattly tuk tuk returned. Rattling back to the ferry (not so crowded this time), and back to big bad Phuket. Koh Yao Noi is a great get away even for just a few hours. We'll be back...
Koh Yao Noi - Useful Links
• Koh Yao Noi Hotels
• The Paradise Koh Yao Resort - Info and Booking
• Koh Yao Island Resort - Info and Booking
• Six Senses Koh Yao Resort - Info and Booking