September 26, 2017
Let’s face it: Phuket ain’t what it used to be. Some resort options are still paradise on earth and the increase in fine dining options is certainly welcome, but, without doubt, the best part of Phuket is hopping on a boat and getting away – by private yacht, if you can swing it.
“The best season [for yachting] is from December until January,” Ms. Worawan Hokprasith, director and charter manager for Asia Yacht Agency, tells Travelogues, adding that the season runs all the way to April.
Day Trip to Phang Nga Bay
“For the rainy season, the best destination is Phang Nga Bay,” says Worawan. “[It has] the least wind and waves, with beautiful limestone scenery.”
Phang Nga Bay is a well known stop on the Phuket ocean outing circuit. Also, luckily, it’s an option that can be visited for a day’s yacht charter. “Sailing yacht cruising speed is only eight knots,” says Worawan. “So for day charter the possible destinations are Koh Panak, Koh Hong in Phang Nga Bay, or Koh Khai and Koh Naka.”
Phang Nga Bay’s most recognizable features from postcards and desktop wallpapers the world over are its stark, sheer limestone cliffs jumping out of clear green and blue waters. The area plays host to some of the most spectacularly stunning islands in South Thailand. Smaller yachts like the Maxia- Riviera 42 are ideal for short, decadent day trips.
James Bond Island, or Khao Phing Kan, is so known for the part it played in The Man with the Golden Gun – yeah, Roger Moore, but it still counts. Like many of the islands around Phuket, those not taking options like private yachts will find themselves in a sea of tourists.
Underwater in the Similan Islands
Worawan Hokprasith tells us that the Similan is not available from May to October, so the time to start planning for a private yacht journey there is now.
In the middle of the Andaman Sea, the Mu Ko Similan National Park is the destination for those who love life under the water: whale sharks, turtles, manta rays – the diversity of fish species in the Similan Islands is unparalleled.
If one wants to spend an entire holiday in the Similan Islands, however, it’s good to have a yacht that’s great for living rather than traveling. The Sunbird 80, for example, is great for the Similan diver – but it takes the expertise of a tour operator to find the best spots.
Spoiled for Choice in Krabi
Some of the finest islands around Phuket are closer to the mainland. Krabi has a wealth of hidden gems throughout the area, excellent pristine beaches, and a few dive sites of note.
Ao Nang is a small resort town with an excellent beach that’s worth a look. Railay Beach, too, has pristine waters – especially West Railay Beach, which is flanked by limestone cliffs on either side. The East Beach is known for its boardwalk, caves, and mangroves.
To the east of Ko Yao Noi, there are dozens of Krabi islands worth visiting so it might be worth considering a longer journey on a bigger yacht. For that sort of trip, travelers might want at a 90-foot Sunseeker, great for shooting between destinations in one of the most trusted names in yachting.
Away from the Phi Phi Tourists
Technically part of Krabi, Koh Phi Phi is the premier Phuket-adjacent destination, known the world over for its natural beauty. But, with more than half a dozen decent resorts and tourists trucked in throughout the day, a private yacht to Koh Phi Phi is the only way to see it.
Off hours, one can check out Maya Bay when all the tourists have gone or head to Wang Long cave in peace.
Of course, the benefit of the private yacht is that one needn’t leave their yacht at all if they aren’t inclined. The Blue Lagoon 70’ sailing catamaran means that travelers can simply pull up to an interesting site to dive, kayak, or swim and dive off the deck. For those that want it, the experience can be improved with a chef and crew offering resort-style service on the waves.
Divers’ Paradise in Koh Racha
About a dozen kilometers off of Phuket’s southern tip is Koh Racha, perfect for a short yacht trip from Thailand’s largest island.
Racha Noi has that perfect mix of paradise, coral, and sea life. For the uncertified, snorkeling is always a treat on Racha Yai, with clear water year-round and coral relatively close to the island. For those in the middle, Racha Yai is one of the few places on earth where one can safely SNUBA – or hookah dive – a type of diving while attached to an above-water breathing cord.
More experienced divers will want to take their yacht out to the nearby coral forests or to Ter Bay for a 30-meter wreck dive. For a quick day out – not wanting to miss any of the fun of the diving sites nearby – it might be smart to give up the romance of the sails for something like the 60-foot Princess, an intimate yacht that accommodates 14 guests for a day charter.