There are several smaller islands off the coast of Phuket Island that are absolutely stunning and have been featured in many movies. If you ever visit Phuket, I highly suggest an island boat tour.
(General tips: You may find yourself overloaded with tour options, but the islands are all gorgeous and have their own charm, so you can’t really go wrong. Note that the price of a tour will directly correlate with its quality. The cheaper tours tend to be on overcrowded boats with less attentive guides.)
We chose to spend our fourth day in Phuket touring the Phi Phi Islands. Our boat sped over aggressive waves at a full speed of 25 knots. We spent a good hour bumping up and down in our seats in the rocky seas while our main guide, who basically was a Thai Captain Jack Sparrow (hair, earrings, beard and all), gave fun facts about our upcoming tour. Mattia, despite overdosing on motion sickness pills, was among several queasy-looking passengers.
“No more boats!” he declared, when we finally stepped foot onto solid ground. Coral Island was the first of our five scheduled stops.
After an hour break on Coral Island, Mattia grudgingly trudged over to the boat and I followed shortly after. Luckily, we arrived at our second destination after only a short ride—SNORKELING! The first time I went snorkeling was a few days prior in the Perhentian Islands and I had fallen completely in love with it. I loved how eerily quiet and calm it was in the water while discovering the new world under the sea.
We headed to the lunch buffet that was included in our tour. There was something about being on the edge of a gorgeous Phi Phi Island beach that made the fresh fruit and Thai food taste especially delicious.
With our stomachs full and happy, we headed to our next stop, Monkey Beach. Due to the high tide, there was no space to actually get off our boat. Instead, we threw bananas for the monkeys to catch from our boat. They would swing from the trees and grab at the bananas. If they missed the catch, a few would actually jump into the water and swim. I've never seen monkeys swim before!
On our way to our next stop, we saw a small traditional Thai boat overturned. A tourist had taken control of the steering rod in the rough waters and was unable to steer against a nasty wave that flipped the boat. Fortunately, no one was hurt. It was a quick reminder to be careful in the oceans where you have little control over conditions. We helped several on board on our boat and watched the rest as they used snorkeling equipment to collect their valuables that had fallen deep into the waters. Soon after, another boat had come to take the entire shipwrecked crew back to land.
With a new-found gratitude towards our big, sturdy boat, we bumped over to our final stop. A group of tall islands had created an enclosed space. It was a beautifully surreal place that felt like my own private secret. The water here was exceptionally green, and our tour guide explained that the waters here were 10 km deep. Perfect for diving. Captain Jack Sparrow knew the fanciest tricks and ended up teaching me how to do a back flip over the side of the boat! We spent half an hour refining dive tricks and jumping off the top of the boat.
I didn't want to leave! I had earned a beautiful golden tan and swam off the thousands of calories I had at lunch. I could probably spend days and days doing this stuff. Mattia, with several motion sickness pills on hand, was more than ready to return permanently to dry land.
To sum things up, boat tours to small islands off Phuket Island are awesome. Choose one that caters to your needs and try everything once!