It’s amazing how hot it can get at 09:00 in the morning. Thankfully, at Chalong Pier there’s plenty of shade and benches on which to sit with a cool drink.
There are a lot of people here and their faces – in spite of their wildly differing nationalities – show just three basic emotions. There’s anticipation on foreigner’s faces, determination on the tour guides’ faces and pure bewilderment on children’s faces.
At 09:30 a guide wearing a Coral Island Resort T-shirt leads us down the steps at the beginning of the pier and helps us into a single engine speedboat. Soon, we’re roaring along and leaving a gorgeous wake behind us as we head south, past the headland at Rawai. The view of southern Phuket from the sea is decidedly verdant. You’d never guess what a busy place it can be at times, it looks so peaceful from a distance.
Interested in this tour? Book it here.
The Loaves and the Fishes
Just 15 minutes later the boat is nudging its prow onto the sandy shore at Coral Island– or Koh Hae, as the locals call this small but compact island some six kms southeast of Phuket. The water here is picture-postcard perfect and there are already people standing in it, feeding bread to hundreds of teeming fish.
For those who are already familiar with Phuket, the view from the northern end of Coral Island takes in Koh Lone, southeast Phuket, Ao Yon in east Phuket and Koh Aeow, an uninhabited island just to the east. For those who are unfamiliar with the region just take my word; it’s absolutely beautiful.
That’s Why It’s Called Coral Island
Our fellow speedboat guests line up outside a window at the resort and an assistant hands out freshly cleaned and bagged masks and snorkels. Then it’s off out for a swim to see what’s going on underwater. Actually, you need to go out quite a bit to get to the coral and the fish but there’s a rope and floats to rest on halfway there and the sea is not dangerous at all.
It’s not called Coral Island for nothing; out further, one can see banner fish, butterfly fish, parrot fish, sergeant major fish and trumpet fish, sea urchins as well as sea cucumbers. As for the coral there are at least three types – with solid table coral (acropora clathrata) dominating.
As for activities on Coral Island, you can go kayaking and have an exciting (but speedy) parasailing outing. People were constantly queuing up for a go as the crew and speedboat driver made it all look so easy and safe.
There is another beach a 15-minute walk away to the east, along an uneven track and through some pretty tenacious jungle growth. Simply go to the furthermost point of the beach at Coral Island Resort and you’ll see a trail leading off into the undergrowth. You’ll need decent shoes to enjoy this walk.
Banana Beach is similar to Coral Island Resort Beach in that it has good snorkeling out on the reef, beach activities, bars and restaurants but there is no accommodation there.
Chill Out Time
Spending time on the beach at Coral Island is an immensely relaxing experience once you’re away from the crowd. Take a book and stretch out in one of the deck chairs provided. Or go for an oil or foot massage at the east side of the beach.
There’s also a café/restaurant with good, well-presented food, set in a causarina tree grove right by the sand, not to mention a midday buffet featuring Chinese, Japanese and of course Thai food as well as an ice cream corner.
Coral Island Resort
In the Coral Island Resort itself, there is a large swimming pool used by beginner divers before they take the plunge just metres away in Mother Nature’s aquatic showcase (English, Chinese and Thai spoken on a one-day course).
- Remarks: Ask your hotel if you wish to book this tour