The Andaman Sea holds so many treasures – both above and below the surface of the water. You might know Phuket by its reputation of beautiful beaches and the resorts they have attracted, but once you leave the shores of this party island and sail out into Phang Nga Bay, you’ll be in a beautiful seascape reminiscent of dramatic Raja Ampat.
Like Raja Ampat, Phang Nga Bay is a remarkable place and the geological drama that has played out over hundreds of millions of years has created a landscape that is as evocative as it is fascinating. The steep-sided limestone karsts were once a part of an extensive coral reef that stretched across South East Asia. Over millennia, that shelf was broken up and geological forces gradually shaped the peninsulas, islands and bays that feature on maps today.
The 42 islands in the shallow bay are home to the globally threatened Malaysian plover (and 87 other bird species), the white-hand gibbon, and the endangered serow antelope; in the water around these islands you have a good chance of seeing dugong and black finless porpoise. There are also limestone caves and cliffs, and archaeological sites that date back to around 10,000 years ago, when it was possible to walk from Phuket to the mainland.
Also in the Andaman Sea are the Similan islands, often revered by divers as one of the 10 most interesting dive destinations on the planet. Many of the islands here are characterized by enormous boulders – and underwater these boulders have created an adventure zone for divers, forming canyons and caves and underwater mountains that beg to be explored. More than 200 species of hard corals have been identified in the area, which is known for its spectacular coral growths. The Similans offer varying dive conditions: the west coast sites tend to be deep and challenging due to variable currents, while the east coast sites are typically beautiful coral gardens hosting an abundance of marine life.
Charters cannot begin and end in Thailand, and so the entry or exit point for your Thailand charter will be Langkawi, in Malaysia. Langkawi is an island known more for its idyllic beaches than its natural history, but it’s a fascinating place to explore on foot. In fact Gunung Machinchang, the sandstone peak that rises to the highest point on the island, is one of the oldest in all of South East Asia. Offshore, the Pulau Payar Marine Park is the go-to spot for those who’re wanting to dive or snorkel the beautiful reefs – and our crew knows the best places to go.
Thailand and Langkawi are not regular features on Dunia Baru’s calendar, but if you’d like to explore this part of the world on with us, please speak to your broker.