AO NANG TO RAILAY BEACH KAYAK JOURNEY
Oct 9, 2016
My Kayak journey from Ao Nang to Railay Beach to explore the surrounding beaches and islets was one of the my favorite days in Thailand.
One of the best days of my south east Asia trip was in Thailand when I rented a kayak -aptly named ‘nomad’- and made the solo voyage from Ao Nang to Railay Beach. I set off from Ao Nang at about around 11am after renting a one-man kayak for $11USD from a lovely old couple on the beach. They were smiling the whole time and let me take a dry bag no charge and helped me buy a few bottles of water from their friend at local price.
I watched a couple capsize as they tried to launch off and prayed that I wouldn’t be the next laughing stock of the beach. Cool calm and collected I launched off without a hitch and began my scenic paddle.
All of the photos in this article were taken with a GoPro
Pai Plong Beach
The first point of interest I passed was Pai Plong Beach. A small bay, attached only to Ao Nang by a wooden path, that winds through the mountains this is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery. I had ventured to Pai Plong the day before but this time I kept paddling to one of the islets further out in the bay.
I steered my Kayak onto the rocky shore of the small islet with some difficulty but I finally placed it where it wouldn’t float away. As I turned around I noticed a one-meter monitor lizard lying on a branch, staring straight at me. It was a bizarre stand-off and eventually the lizard decided that this was a battle it didn’t want to be a part of and retreated to it’s hole. I continued to explore a little further had a quick swim and began paddling to my main destination Railay Beach.
Paddling below and beside these ginormous, limestone cliffs made me feel incredibly small. The orange, yellow and silver tones of the cliffs stand out against the vibrant green of the trees in which they are draped.
Ao Nang to Railay Beach – Complete
The paddle was about 40 minutes before I finally turned the corner, and got a glimpse of Railay Beach. It was absolutely amazing. One of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen. I cruised towards shore and had a successful landing in front of only 40 or so people who shared the long stretch of sand.
Not one to laze about on the sand I wandered down to check out the longboats and ask if anyone know about cliff jumping at Railay Beach. I asked a number of people who all shook their heads and gave me a stern disapproval. In terms of the beach if I was consider Ao Nang or Railay Beach I would definitely choose Railay as it is much more scenic, has nice water and a better spot to spend the day. If I couldn’t find a cliff jump I would go in search for the viewpoint I had read about.
Hiking to the Railay Viewpoint
Down the southern end of the beach where the longboats are parked there are several pathways that lead up the cliff. I chose one that had a broken sign which had viewpoint written on it, which seemed like a good bet. The first ten minutes of the climb proved uneventful despite no clear path. It turned out that I didn’t hike the main viewpoint that is muddier but a more well-maintained path.
I arrived at the steeper section of the hike, which in several parts involved climbing a vertical rock wall. There wasn’t an abundance of great footholds but several sturdy ropes guided me to what I will call the viewpoint. From where I stopped to enjoy the view there seemed to be ropes leader around the corner and higher. I decided I had met my match as it looked like it got a lot tougher if I was to continue further.
From the viewpoint I could see Railay East Beach and the entirety of Railay Beach. I even managed to spot my little green kayak that was sitting safely on the beach. I sat up here for a while enjoying the view and dreading the challenge of scaling the vertical wall back down. I am not a rock climber by any means and this pushed me so far out of my comfort zone I was self-talking myself down the climb. I would suggest climbing to this viewpoint for people able to pull their own weight only with their arms and people with some climbing experience.
Ladder Lookout at Railay Beach
I made it down safely and then discovered another path leading to a lower-level lookout. This lookout had the luxury of a ladder, which was welcome news to me after I had only just finished collecting myself after the previous climb. This view was beautiful again but not as high or spectacular as the first viewpoint I visited. I could really look out over the ocean and see where I had paddled during my journey from Ao Nang to Railay Beach.
Phra Nang Cave
I asked one more local about cliff jumping and he told me to kayak to Phra Nang Cave around the corner. A bit more paddling wouldn’t hurt. In ten minutes I had cruised around the bend and hit the shore of Phra Nang, Krabi. Wow! Another stunning beach. The drawcard for this beach other than the caves was the islet that is only yards from the shore, making for an amazing backdrop.
The cave was bizarre but held significant importance with the locals. It is full of wooden penises to put it blankly. People of Phra Nang believed when their prayers were answered and good things happened it was higher powers at work. They would leave offerings in the cave and the phallic symbols are tied in with fertility and creation among other things.
If you are into spirituality, local traditionals or wooden penis statues this is a must visit. For me I had a quick look and then headed to relax for a bit on the beautiful beach before my long paddle home.
Phra Nang Cave to Ao Nang
One hour and twenty minutes of solid paddling got me back from Phra Nang to my starting point Ao Nang. This was one hell of a workout as I was battling against some decent waves, which I was headed straight into for most of the journey. I would suggest if you are up for a physical challenge this a great day but otherwise there are several cheap longboats that can take you to both Railay Beach or Phra Nang Cave.
Krabi Best Time to Visit
The weather for my journey was good but the following days were pretty stormy and I was glad I wasn’t out in the ocean kayaking as the rain came down hard. The Krabi climate is never cold but while I was there in September it rained fifty percent of the time. The best time to visit is in high season (November-May) as the weather is warm, the storms are gone and the ocean is calm.