Koh Sirey (Sirey Island)
The channel and the surrounding land are full of mangroves where you can spot monkeys most of the time. A "monkey seeing" viewpoint was set up a few years ago. It's a bit dirty and there are better places to see monkeys in Phuket like Monkey Hill or Bang Rong.
Sirey Island is only about 20 square kilometers, and you can drive all around the island in half an hour. Much of the island is hilly and there are lots of rubber plantations. Around the coast there used to be small fishing villages, but development is catching up! There are a number of villas being built and some very big seaview houses around the shoreline. This has only recently been noticed as prime real estate. The Westin Siray Bay hotel opened a few years ago and is the only big hotel in the area. Some of the coastal views and quiet roads are fantastic.
There are still sea gypsies (Chao Ley) on the island, and you can visit their village at Laem Tukkae (see photo above - view over the village as seen from Koh Sirey temple). The village suffered some damage in the 2004 tsunami and some new houses were built for them nearby, but as far as I can see the old village is now back to normal and the new houses that were built look terrible. There is a certain amount of old traditional sea gypsy life here. But do also expect to see 20 stalls selling shells. The few photos of the village on this page were taken back in 2004. One of these days I need to go take some new photos!
We go for drives around Koh Sirey now and then. The views can be very nice and we really like the temple on the hill which features a big reclining Buddha statue (see more here : Koh Sirey Temple). The area is very quiet. There are a couple of local seafront restaurants that offer great views along with decent, inexpensive food. We went to "Haad Pleum Suk" a couple of times. The food is decent, the beach there is clean and with views to the east across the sea to Koh Yao Yai. If you're staying in Phuket Town, it's only 15 minutes to drive on a bike over to Koh Sirey and well worth the effort. I think another drive is due soon!
Koh Siray (Koh Sirey) - Location Map
View Koh Sirey Island, Phuket in a larger map