Phuket has a reputation for the picturesque nearby islands and long tail boats. Island hopping and visiting James Bond Island are well known tourist attractions. Although a day a beautiful beaches may sound appealing, these trips are filled with hundreds and hundreds of those very same spring-break backpackers that I have previously mentioned wanting to avoid. This is where John Gray’s Sea Canoe tours came in and saved the day!
With it’s low volume, high quality tours, John Gray’s Sea Canoe tours are simply the best. I took their signature tour which is Hong by Starlight. This tour isn’t island hopping, it is exploring sea caves and hongs (hongs are another word for lagoon). This tour isn’t just the best, it’s the original, as John Gray discovered these caves and hongs and has worked very hard to preserve them for all to see.
This tour starts off with a big boat and lunch begins the moment you climb onboard and sail away from the dock. As soon as lunch is finished, guests connect with their private guide and sea canoe. Guests then spend the day exploring sea caves and hongs, while an english speaking guide paddles you through the pristine waters. On my tour, we spotted an island full of monkeys and a bizarre creature called a mudskipper, which is essentially a cross between a frog and a fish, and lives in the mud!
Just before dinner is served, your guide and your group (or in my case, just my guide and I) will hand make a “Kratong" while the sun is setting. This normally is a tradition that takes place during November’s full moon festival, however on the Hong by Starlight tour, it is experienced each day! This is followed by an incredible vegetarian and seafood dinner. After dinner you will have the opportunity to visit a cave to light your Kratong, then make a wish and let your bad luck float away. Last, my favorite part was seeing the waters of the cave glow, as it is filled with bioluminescent plankton. Each time the canoe’s paddle touches the water, the water begins to light up as if there were underwater fireflies!
John Gray’s Hong by Starlight tour is probably the most expensive cave and hong tour on the island, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. With an increasing trend in socially responsible tourism, John Gray’s tours are the best choice. Food served is fresh, organic and sustainable. They also take great care to not create waste or disturb the wildlife in the areas visited. The guides are gracious and kind experts, who are filled with a great amount of knowledge about the areas visited. Take this excursion during your visit to Phuket, it will be the highlight of the trip and something you will remember for years to come!
Trusted Travel Girl Tip: There is a store where you will gather before you depart for the day. No alcohol or soft drinks are served onboard, but you are more than welcome to load up on beer and soft drinks and bring them onboard the boat. The staff will keep it on ice for you, and everyone else will be jealous!
Disclaimer: I was invited on this trip by the Tourism Bureau of Thailand. As always, all opinions are my own.