Once you arrive on any of the islands in Thailand, you are going to be hit with a strong desire to get out on the water and explore. After all, the area is stunning. Small cliff-faced islands dot the sea. Warm, inviting aquamarine waters seem to be calling you to dive in. Brightly colored fish, interesting coral, and secret caves also add to the diverse adventure possibilities found in the area.When we went to Koh Lanta, we scheduled three things: a Muay Thai boxing class, a visit to Phang Nga Elephant Park, and an island tour with Freedom Adventures Cruises. We loved all of them. They were all unique experiences that helped create a perfect vacation to Thailand.
The day of our Freedom Adventures Cruise arrived. I scheduled a private tour as there were six of us and I figured we would practically fill a boat anyway. After a lot of research on TripAdvisor, and reading blog posts about the area, I decided this tour company would be the best fit for our family. We walked down to the beach at the scheduled time of our departure. I was a bit worried because I didn’t see our shiny boat waiting for us. I’ll be honest, when booking things online not knowing the area or the company I am working with, I have a tendency worry that things won’t work out as scheduled. That being said, when our boat wasn’t there, I felt a mild panic rising from the pit of my stomach. But, after waiting for a while, our boat approached. Now, this boat was not like other fancy speedboats that dotted the alcove near our resort. No, this one was, for lack of a better word, a junk boat. It chugged slowly towards us and I could swear it was leaning to one side. “Oh boy,” I said out loud. “Of course I picked the boat that may not stay afloat for our entire journey”.
Thankfully, we all boarded safely. The boat was still afloat, and we chug, chug, chugged our way out of the alcove and into the Andaman Sea. Actually, once onboard, we realized the boat was pretty nice. Sure, it was a bit old and we had to sit evenly on both sides to avoid tipping, but it was large, shaded, comfortable, and even had a bathroom.
Our guides, Ned and Tony were characters. Ned was the boat captain and Tony was our guide. Ned was a local Thai that didn’t talk much, and Tony had come from London seeking a more laid-back life. I suppose you don’t get much more laid back than spending your days on a boat cruising around islands in Thailand.
Our full-day tour had us sailing to four different islands where we snorkeled off the boat, explored, and ate a deliciously authentic Thai lunch.
Later in the day, we even made a stop on the island of Koh Ngai for a refreshing beer. It was a relaxing and exciting tour. Everyone in our group, from the kids to the adults, enjoyed all the activities very much.
By far, the best thing we did was visit The Emerald Cave of Koh Muk. I cannot even explain to you what an amazing location this was. From the boat, we swam through a long cave (80 meters, to be exact). At one point it was completely pitch black. Thankfully, Tony brought a flashlight so we could see. At the end, as light once again filled the tunnel, we emerged to find we were in the CENTER of the island. We felt as if we were in the middle of a volcano, swimming in a shallow aquamarine pool surrounded by a ring of steep cliffs. It was amazing! If you do nothing else, make sure you visit the Emerald Cave on Koh Muk.
Things to bring
- Sunscreen, and more sunscreen! That being said, you are going to get sunburned no matter how diligent you are about applying it. Sorry about that. The most important body parts to remember are the backs of your thighs. Trust me on this one. This is where the sun will attack when you are snorkeling.
- A sun shirt and shorts that can get wet-for protection against the aforementioned sunburn.
- Towels. Freedom Adventures Cruises did not have any available.
- A change of clothes. If you don’t want to stand around in a wet bathing suit all day.
- A snorkeling mask. Freedom Adventure Cruises provided masks, but we brought our own which were awesome and made snorkeling so much more enjoyable.
- A GoPro or waterproof camera. Swimming through the Emerald Cave, your camera is going to get wet. There is no way around it. This is not a place to bring your fancy iPhone.
- A dry bag with a small towel. I thought about the waterproof camera but didn’t think that inside the island I would be completely wet and have no way to dry the water off my lens. I was so annoyed.
- Money. In case you pop over to Koh Ngai for a beer or cocktail.
A word of caution
When we went on our cruise, there were stinging jellyfish in the water. Some of which we found out later were Portuguese Man O’ War. The only way to avoid getting stung is to wear long sleeves and pants. Just something to consider. We were fine. If we got stung it was very minor, but we became a bit more freaked out by them as they seemed to be bigger at some of the snorkeling locations we visited.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our day with Freedom Adventures Cruises. The price was right, they took us to great locations, and even took the forethought to arrive at the Emerald Cave when they knew it would be the least crowded. Tony was funny and kept us entertained with stories of his unconventional adventurous life. By the end of the day, we were all happily exhausted. I would highly recommend looking into Freedom Adventures Cruises for your Koh Lanta island tour. It may not be the fanciest of options available, but it suited us just fine. We were given personalized service, fed well, and had a great day!