Eight-thirty in the morning is just about the right time to get picked up by our tour van. We're not too sleepy and don't have to wait too long.
Our Phuket Romantic Snorkeling Trip promises to be a day of love in the sun and personally, I'm totally looking forward to swim among tropical fish with my wife Suzie, as she's never done it before. Roll on the clown fish! Bring on the coral! We're more than ready for it.
Ao Yon is a beautiful beach in the classic vein. Nodding palms, soothing waves and a gentle cant in the sand down to the sea, it has a lot of things going for it so it's no wonder that a lot of expat foreigners have chosen to live here. We're tempted to try the water right away but after fitting us out with a snorkel, mask and fins Jack, our guide, tells us it's time to go so into the speedboat we clamber.
It's great to see Phuket from outside looking in and pretty soon we're zooming past the Evason Resort at the bottom end of the island; it looks like a Greek resort, with its white buildings nestled into the hillside. We head directly for the east side of Racha Island where I snorkeled last year and before we know it we're bobbing in a sea more translucent than I've ever seen before, surrounded by hundreds of colourful fish just a few feet above very healthy coral.
Suzie's lapping this up and I'm happy to share this beautiful spot with her. She can't stop smiling and I know she's taking mental photos so she can keep them in her head. She's good at that. Later on we're taken to a lovely sandy spot where Jack prepares a low table for us.
You can't get much more romantic than this. We're sat beachside with a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the table, lunching on chilled pasta salad with fresh vegetables, cold cuts, fresh garden salad and baguettes with butter and cheese with fresh fruit and along comes a bottle of wine! After lunch we simply sit together in the shade and take this wonderful spot in. We can see boats passing a short distance away but apart from that nothing disturbs our sense of perfect, serene contentment. How come we don't do this more often?
Still, after an hour we decide to do a little more snorkeling but end up fooling around in the shallows for a while. "Would you like to try another beach?" Jack asks and we certainly do, so the speedboat heads a little around the corner and there waits another perfect little spot to frolic with the fishies. We're lucky because this one's a little shadier and Suzie was starting to worry about getting too much sun.
Mask down in the water, lazily flapping our fins, we find ourselves in the company of parrot fish, banner fish, cleaner wrasse, sergeant majors, clown fish and a whole lot more that I don't know the names of. At around a quarter to four we board our boat again and head back to Ao Yon where we get cleaned up.
We're both quiet and don't have a lot to say; I guess that will come over dinner. It's been quite a day and we both feel sorry to say goodbye to Jack and the crew once back in Ao Yon. Still, we're back at the hotel by five o'clock and there's time to do a little shopping before dinnertime. But I don't think we'll be having fish for dinner.