The Andaman Sea with Phuket as its central point is like jewelry for sailors. The area offers a wide range of natural wonders with dramatic beauty, like the sea mountains that rise ver tically out of Phang Nga Bay, the unique panorama of the Krabi beaches or the tropical paradise islands Phi Phi. The winds are steady and moderate, at least during the recommended period of the Northeast – monsoon from November to April. The quiet and discreet hospitality of the people is a pleasure in the “Land of Smile”, as much as the products of the Thai cuisine. Fishermen offer their catch of the day, mostly fresh shrimp, as they cruise along in their wooden long boats. All of this together will contribute to make your sailing holiday in the Andaman Sea an unforgettable experience.
The Andaman Sea around Phuket is divided into two very different areas: the open west coast of Phuket with the Similan Islands in the north, popular among divers, and the sheltered bay of Phang Nga on the east coast of Phuket with its natural wonders.
Best starting point for the cruise through Phang Nga Bay is the «Yacht Haven Marina” in the north-east of Phuket, not far from the international airport. There are three other marinas in the bay, but usually the crews prefer to anchor on the leeward side of one of the many islands in the bay. Careful navigation is recommended, as the waters in the bay are quite shallow, and tidal range can be up to 3 meters during spring tide, with tide streams up to two knots. Permanent monitoring of the water depth through the sonar is required, which is easier on a yacht with the GPS in the cockpit.
We recommend to sail in clockwise direction around Phang Nga Bay. After leaving the shallow Yacht Haven Bay, take course to the north. Here are some of the most spectacular water landscapes of Thailand: bizzarly shaped sandstone – rock formations, rock candles, hanging rocks, or dinghy- passable rock tunnels that lead to hidden pools. The latter can be found on Ko Hong, while Ko Phing is famous for its rock formations and as location for a James Bond movie. The island is very busy during the day through day trippers. In the early morning or from late afternoon it is very quiet.
The north of the bay is a natural park. There are regular ranger patrols in order to collect the daily entrance fee for the boat and each person. Anchorages can be found almost everywhere, as water depth is rarely above 10 meter. The water looks cloudy, due to three rivers that flow into the bay from the north. When sailing further south-east, in parallel to the coast of Krabi, the water clears up quickly and you will find numerous small islands that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. At the southern tip of Krabi there are two neighboring anchorages at Ao Nang and Rai Le Beach, both within a unique scenery of sandy beaches between cliff towers. On land, you will find a relaxed beach atmosphere with small restaurants, guest houses and hammocks strung between coconut palms.
About 18 sea miles south of Krabi is where the Phi Phi island group is located. The islands have become famous as a tropical paradise between steep cliffs, crystal clear turquoise waters, white beaches and gentle lagoons. The idyll is disturbed only by masses of visitors from Phuket during day time. Phi Phi Don is the largest of the islands. A southern anchorage in the Ton Sai Bay offers best protection and comfort. Further south is Phi Phi Le island with “Maya Bay”, the location for the movie “On the Beach” with Leonardo Di Caprio.
For the journey along the west coast of Phuket and the Similan Islands we recommend to use the Boat Lagoon Marina on the east coast as a starting point. From there, the route goes around the southern tip of Phuket, then north along the west coast with the most beautiful sandbeaches in the region. As a consequence, this is where the majority of the Phuket tourist resorts are located, with all the advantages and disadvantages. Large parts of this coast, especially in the north to Khao Lak, were severely affected by the Tsunami on 26 December 2006.
The Similan Islands are located 60 miles northwest of Patong. They have been declared National Park in 1982. “Similan” comes from the Malay word ‘Sembilan” and means nine. This refers to the number of islands in the group. The waters surrounding the Similans are teeming with tropical fish, colourful coral, and offer exceptional underwater visibility at most times of the year. This makes the islands the preferred destination for divers in Thailand. The islands granite rocks and lush green make an interesting scenic contrast to Phuket.