Humble canoe holds the key to endless holiday fun and adventure off the Thai party isle of Phuket

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THE first rule of canoeing by a bat cave is: Maintain your mouth shut. Leaning again, face inches from the rock ceiling, the very last thing I wished was bat droppings for my dinner.

Paddling by the darkish, we entered the ocean cave from a gap beneath sheer cliffs — the one solution to attain a secret lagoon within the centre of the doughnut-shaped rock.

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Phuket is Thailand’s largest island

My spouse Morgan and I have been spending the day exploring the jungle-covered isles that sprout like jagged enamel from Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay.

We’d set out at noon on a ferry with John Grey’s Sea Canoe, a tour firm named after its founder, a big-hearted, grey-bearded American, and the primary westerner to discover the protected islands off the coast of Phuket by way of canoe. Crusing from the mainland, John and his crew served a buffet of unbelievable native dishes to rival the poshest cruise line.

We island-hopped across the bay, laying anchor to unload the canoes, then rowing out to in any other case impossible-to-reach lagoons and seashores. Then, as sundown, we constructed conventional floating lanterns referred to as krathong.

Constructed from banana wooden and adorned with folded banana leaves and wildflowers, they function a thanks to the water gods. Canoeing into one other cave, we positioned our reward on the water, the place it should have been accepted. After blowing out the candles, it was darkish sufficient to note specs of glowing blue algae within the water throughout us.

 Phang Nga Bay is also referred to as 'James Bond Island'

Phang Nga Bay can also be known as ‘James Bond Island’

Our information defined how the extra you disturb the water, the extra sparks are set off. So, in a soggy Man Fawkes show, we spent the subsequent 5 minutes splashing water on the cave partitions, then at one another, the place it turned to neon fireworks.

We then sailed again to mainland Phuket, below the brightest of full moons, then on to our resort, the Dusit Thani Laguna, a family-friendly 5H spot on a first-rate stretch of good golden sand.

The following day, after an unbelievable resort breakfast, we have been again out within the bay, this time on a speedboat despatched for us by Paradise Koh Yao Resort on Koh Yao Island.

Chilly drinks in hand, the resort’s trendy vessel was not your common resort switch. The captain paused alongside the best way to level out limestone sea stacks, lined in lush foliage up prime and eroded on the base by centuries of tides.

 Kayaking around Phang Nga Bay is an amazing experience you really shouldn't miss

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Kayaking round Phang Nga Bay is an incredible expertise you actually should not miss

The mysterious top-heavy totems look as if one well-aimed rock would ship them toppling like skittles into the Andaman Sea. They caught the creativeness of James Bond filmmakers when one appeared in 1974’s The Man With Golden Gun, as the key hiding place of Francisco Scaramanga’s dastardly laser beam.

Lastly, as our speedboat rounded the headland, a non-public cove opened as much as reveal a village of thatched roofs and tall palms, sandwiched between steep jungle cliffs.

Paradise Koh Yao Resort is just accessible by way of the ocean, except you fancy a two-hour drive by thick forest. The land rises steeply right here, up right into a jungle of rubber and banana timber, monitor lizards and hornbills.

Up in these tropical inexperienced cliffs was our not too long ago refurbished sea-view residence, which mixed powder blue shabby stylish furnishings with pure supplies for a seashore home vibe. An outside bathe and sea-view Jacuzzi made it tough for us to tug ourselves all the way down to the right sandy bay beneath.

 You can discover so much as you work your way through the limestone caves

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You possibly can uncover a lot as you’re employed your means by the limestone caves

There is no such thing as a escaping the remoted resort for dinner elsewhere, as the closest city is miles away, so it’s fortunate that the meals is so unbelievable. We loved native Thai meals in addition to European dishes cooked surprisingly properly for such an remoted place.

At sundown on the island, it’s like somebody blew out the candles because the night time sky seems in a flash. We spent most nights on our balcony, simply staring on the stars — like bats eyeing underwater constellations of their cave

Hop to it

ISLAND-hopping is one of the simplest ways to see the numerous lovely gems close to the celebration isle of Phuket. Reserving with Travelbag made the method of shifting between the beneath inns stress-free, which means we might simply get pleasure from our keep . . .

BEACH: Phi Phi Island Village Resort

 You can stay at this resort from only £48pp


You possibly can keep at this resort from solely £48pp

Not one of the overcrowding of close by Maya Bay, the place Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Seashore was shot. Thatched seashore homes line the shore, and there are two swimming pools, three eating places and three bars.

At night time, ditch the ocean views and head to the row of eating places simply exterior. One night time’s room-only is from £48pp primarily based on two sharing. See

CITY: The Slate, Phuket

 Book a trip at this modern hotel from only £45.50pp

E-book a visit at this contemporary resort from solely £45.50pp

A contemporary, design-led resort that takes its identify from the slate mines that have been the island’s fundamental trade earlier than tourism.

Gardens, waterways and infinity swimming pools join nature with the buildings. We even loved a unbelievable couples’ therapeutic massage in a large treehouse.

One night time’s room-only is from £45.50pp primarily based on two sharing. See

CLIFFTOP: Santhiya Koh Yao Yai

 At only £30pp, a stay at this resort is an absolute bargain

At solely £30pp, a keep at this resort is an absolute discount

Each floor within the resort is carved in teakwood.

Our Supreme Deluxe Sea View room got here with an out of doors tub on a big balcony, however the clifftop infinity pool was our favorite spot. Down by the non-public seashore there was an enormous pool, waterfall function and eating places.

One night time’s room-only is from £30pp primarily based on two sharing. See


GETTING/STAYING THERE: A ten-night island-hopping vacation is from £1,199pp primarily based on two sharing with Travelbag, together with seven nights’ B&B on the Pullman Phuket Panwa Seashore in Phuket, three nights’ B&B at Paradise Koh Yao on Koh Yao, and return flights from Heathrow. See or name 020 7001 5268.

This child elephant finds an American vacationer to be her new playmate and cuddle buddy in Thailand

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