Welcome to Koh Yao Yai, Phang Nga, Thailand
There is nowhere else quite like Koh Yao Yai. This 'Big Long Island' situated between Phuket and Krabi in the middle of Phang Nga Bay stands out from its neighbors for all the right reasons. There are stunning white sand beaches and thick mangrove forests which is what you would expect from a tropical isle in this region, yet Koh Yai Yao has managed to avoid the tourist crowds and maintained its traditional natural charms even more so than its smaller sister island Koh Yao Noi.
It only takes 30 minutes by speed boat to reach Koh Yao Yai from Phuket, but the slower pace of life feels like you have traveled back in time. The slower pace of change has much to do with the locals, mostly conservative Muslim Thais who have maintained a more traditional way of life of fishing and farming rather than tourism related business, although there are more than a dozen places to stay for visitors.
There is one scenic main road that runs the length of the island where you can see the vast coconut groves, rubber plantations and pass tidy villages with stilted wooden houses. The resorts tend to be mid-range to luxury attracting the type of tourist that seeks a romantic holiday or tranquil family break. There are no loud parties and alcohol is sold only in resorts and in select stores on the island.
One of the best ways of exploring the island is by ATV! Riding off road is the ultimate way to experience the beautiful nature on the island. Another way to get around is by motorbike or bicycle, it is almost impossible to get lost! Have fun exploring the main piers Chong Lad and Klong Hia and the small side roads to see what you will find.
The beaches here are mostly narrow strips of white sand in calm, shallow bays that transform into mud flats at low tide although Loh Paret beach along the west coast is a notable exception. It is here where most of the limited resort development is taking place. Swimming, snorkeling and boat trips to nearby Khai Islands are all popular activities. Loh Jark beach on the southwest coast is another popular place to visit, although far from busy. Simply sit on the sand watch the fisherman on the distant shores and enjoy the sunset.
Koh Yao Yai has 7-11 convenience stores, no banks but ATMs may be found at each of the government offices in Chong Lad and Prunai villages, and at a shop at the junction leading to Loh Jark pier from Prunai. Currency exchange is available at the higher-end resorts. Free Wi-Fi is available at nearly all places to stay on Yao Yai and at most traveler-oriented restaurants. The locals are what makes each stay so memorable, enjoy their genuine smiles and excitement at seeing tourist's blonde hair!