Tommy, our AirBNB host, tricked us into another day trip planned by his “travel agent” friend. The first outing, though not entirely dedicated to sea-kayaking as shown on the travel brochure, at least resembled the trip we had signed up for. This second trip brought us to Coral Island instead of Phi Phi and was a complete bust.
Photos of the Coral Island from a quick image search feature warm turquoise water overlapping a veritable multi-hued forest of coral set in near-white sands. (These photos may also be of Coral Island, Hawaii…) Unfortunately, I deleted most of my photos of Coral Island because I was so pissed at wasting a day stranded on a tourist-trap patch of sand, but you must take my written warning of its lackluster quality to quash any inkling of traveling there.
Our ride picked us up at our hotel at 8:00 AM, and dumped us at a holding area to wait for an hour while weaker-willed and less-prepared tourists purchased souvenirs, hats and skin-whitening sunscreen. This is where we discovered that our destination was Coral Island and not Phi Phi Island. At the point, it was okay; we thought we could still enjoy our day snorkeling.
After a crowded powerboat ride to the island, we slipped on our snorkel masks to find nothing but some yellowish-grey “blob-ular” coral chunks and a few skinny silvery fish darting around. Disappointed, we showered off under freezing sprays of recycled salt water and dried off for the included lunch, a buffet of poor quality Thai food that gave us both wretched stomach aches.
Still, trying to make the best out of a bad situation, we took a walk along the short stretch of beach that was not reserved. We watched tourists from Mainland China with their snorkel masks pushed down by their necks or shoved up on their foreheads, no longer trying to observe wildlife, but joyously bobbing up and down on the waves from incoming boats. We passed the beached snorkelers, still donning life preservers, taking endless selfies to suggest that they had snorkeled and then jumped in the air from the joy of communing with nature. We walked towards the pine trees until we were turned back by a sign that announced a private club, but I couldn’t imagine who would pay for such a membership.
Stomachs roiling, we retired to one of hundreds of dirty cloth recliners, adding a stiff back to our list of ailments. The damp and intermittently rainy weather did nothing to cheer us, and there was nothing to do on the dumpy, poorly maintained island except eagerly count down the hours until we departed. Perhaps we could better have enjoyed the day by shelling out extra cash to parasail, scuba dive or ride a banana boat, but thus far we hadn’t vomited and we didn’t want to ruin our silver lining.
We wasted an entire day stuck on an island overflowing with garbage in some areas (even into a small shrine), smelling sickeningly of durian and teeming with unavoidable insects. I occupied my time vainly trying to brush the fine, powdery sand off of my feet, watching fleas leave poop the size of full stop marks on my light blue poncho and trying to fall asleep in the chilly, miserable dampness to shut out the surrounding atmosphere.
Please, do not subject yourself to the absurdity of Coral Island.