I’ll admit it. I’m kind of a beach snob. I had the privilege of growing up in south Florida with some of the world’s prettiest beaches right in my backyard. I never really understood the obsession with “vacationing at the beach,” because I’d always taken my proximity for granted. And, to be honest, most beaches I saw in other places failed to impress me.
And then I went to Krabi.
Located on the west coast of Thailand, along the sun-drenched shores of the Andaman Sea, Krabi is often overlooked for its more popular counterpart of Phuket thirty kilometers to the west. And it’s true that Phuket is more developed, with fancier hotels and shopping districts, even a Broadway-inspired dinner show.
But if you’re looking for a taste of authentic Thailand–and beaches that will absolutely take your breath away–stay on the mainland and make a beeline for Krabi. We stayed in a lovely hotel a few blocks from the water in the town of Ao Nang. It has everything you’d expect in Thailand–fantastic food, cheap massages, and plenty of smiling faces.
The highlight of our visit, though, was taking one of the rickety wooden longtail boats for a twenty-minute ride to Phra Nang Beach. Nestled in a private cove that’s only accessible by boat, Phra Nang beach is the stuff postcards are made of. The sand is composed of millions of tiny pink and orange shells, providing an incredible contrast with the soaring limestone cliffs that surround you. The water is as clear as glass and warm enough to make you sweat, with more shades of blue, green, and turquoise than you knew existed! If you’re up for a challenge, there’s a tiny island–really just a tall cliff jutting out of the sea–that you can swim out to and climb to the top of.
Or, if you’d prefer to take it easy, just stake out your claim on the sand and enjoy what you already know is one of the most beautiful sights you will ever see. When you get hungry, wade over to one of the anchored longtail boats, where a local woman will cook you up a fresh wok of mouth-watering pineapple fried rice. Keep a close eye on your possessions, though. As we were packing up to leave, I had a can of peanuts stolen…by a sneaky little monkey!