Many visitors to Thailand are surprised at just how hot it can get by eight o'clock in the morning here. People used to chilly winds and cloudy skies generally don't bother applying sunblock until after ten o'clock, when things start to hot up on a summer's day back home. That's a bad mistake here.
So it is that as we wait in the foyer of the Sofitel for our tour minibus we spray on the factor 20 to make sure we won't come back from our Half-Day, Four-Island Krabi Trip looking like two-legged tomatoes.
A half day in the sun here without UVA protection can ruin the rest of your holiday.
The minivan makes its way through leafy country lanes, passing waving and smiling schoolchildren, rubber farmers carrying wicked-looking curved machetes and housewives sweeping their yards with short-handle brooms.
Pretty soon we rumble up to an open-sided riverside hut and clamber out to watch a promotional video about Krabi's attractions. We're informed that Railay Beach is an ideal place for 'hiking' while the video shows people rock climbing!
- Phuket FantaSea Cultural Theme Park
- Phi Phi Islands Tour with Express Boat
- James Bond Island Full-Day Tour via Big Boat
- Coral & Racha Islands Full-Day Tour
- Whitewater Rafting & 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Flying Hanuman Ziplining Experience
- Canoeing Excursion in Phang Nga Bay with Thai Buffet Lunch
- Introduction to City Tour
- John Gray's Cave Canoeing Tour in Phang Nga Bay
Phra Nang Beach in Railay
Ten minutes later we're aboard a two-engine speedboat and our guide explains that our first stop is Phra Nang (Princess) Beach. The boat roars out of the river estuary and we motor past Ao Nang while people point out their hotels on the mainland to their fellow passengers.
In no time at all we've passed Ton Sai and Railay beaches and are revving down as we approach Phra Nang. The main attraction here is a limestone cave used as a shrine by local fishermen.
The entrance is lined with lingams or phallic symbols of every size, shape and colour and were placed here to appease a local mythical princess.
At the other end of this 600-metre beach is a rough and difficult track leading up to a cave but we don't have enough time to go that far so we swim out in the wonderfully calm and inviting water.
Our next stop is the weirdly shaped Chicken Island with a rocky outcrop that looks just like a chicken's neck and head.
The snorkeling here is fantastic with spectacular coral and tropical fish of every hue and size. Below the shoals of banner fish I spy some sea anemone with accompanying nemo clown fish and one bright blue specimen that I've never seen before.
A diving friend tells me that there are sea horses here and I don't disbelieve him.
Next stop is Tub Island (pronounced 'Tap') which is quite an unusual sight to say the least. A sandbar links the two sides of the island over which you can walk at low tide.
Presently there is about a foot of water washing over it but when our guide mentions that a bar sells beer on the other side several people splash over for a brew, despite it being 11 in the morning.
A lazy hour later a lunch of chicken, omelette and rice is served up with 'Krabi cake' and fresh seasonal fruit. When all the leftovers and containers are bagged up we zoom over to our penultimate destination, Poda Island.
Koh Poda is no more than a kilometre in diameter and is circular in shape. Off its east shore stands an obelisk-like rocky outcrop that is reminiscent of James Bond Island's gravity-defying rock.
The island has a casuarina tree grove in which to sit to avoid direct sunlight. 99% of the Asian passengers take advantage of this and 99% of the Caucasians spread out their towels to sunbathe while the Asians scratch their heads in wonder at the sight.
After a major chill-out session on Poda (actually a nap) we motor to Noppharat Thara where we say goodbye to the boat guys and head back to the hotel. To be fair, this is not a four-island tour; rather a three-island plus a rather interesting beach tour with a marked emphasis on lolling on white sand with our toes in the warm waters of the Andaman Sea. But who's arguing?