by Melinda Gallo

Phi Phi Islands tour

Last night when we were out for our after-dinner stroll, we stopped off at one of the many tour agencies to book something for today. We chose a Phi Phi Islands tour so we could visit a few of the islands and go snorkeling. A driver of an air-conditioned van arrived a few minutes before 8:30 a.m. this morning at our hotel to pick us up. We brought a zaino (backpack) with our sunscreen and change of clothes and were taken to a few other hotels to pick up some more passengers.

Living in Florence :: Phi Phi Islands tour

We arrived at a nearby port to get on the speedboat with about a hundred other people all going on different tours. About twenty of us were called for our group and we piled onto the speedboat. Most of us sat in the covered area while some people had to sit in the sun for the almost one-hour ride to the Phi Phi islands.

Our first stop was Phi Phi Leh, which was where parts of the movie "The Beach" were filmed. We jumped off the speedboat and into the warm, shallow water. We left the group behind because Alessandro had already been here and wanted to show me the other side of the island. We walked along a sand and dirt path to a cave where once on the other side water crashed on the rocky shore.

We were both happy with the limpid water and fine sandy beach. The last two beaches we went to were nice, but the sand wasn't as fine as we both had wanted.

We got back onto the boat at the designated time and stopped along with a few other speedboats to go snorkeling. It was my first time ever to try it and because I'm only a good swimmer if I know that I can stop at any time and touch the bottom or cling onto something, I wasn't extremely comfortable at first. I wasn't embarrassed to be one of only a few adults to wear a life jacket, but after clinging onto Alessandro initially, I finally got acclimated.

Alessandro pointed out all the fish and eventually I was swimming alone. The time went by quite quickly, but we saw a lot of fish. I saw many different and colorful fish, which I don't know the names of, and was impressed with how they swarmed around us when the tour guide threw bread out into the water near us. I felt a little afraid as there were so many, but because she was smiling at me I knew it was OK.

Our next stop was Phi Phi Don, the main island, where we were served lunch and had free time to walk around. The island was a lot more touristy with shops and restaurants all along the wide walkways, but we enjoyed touring the island.

When we all were settled back on the speedboat, we were taken to another spot to snorkel again. We then stopped on Ko Phai, also known as "Bamboo Island." It was my favorite island because of the fine sand and crystal, clear water. We brought our snorkeling gear on shore, but ended up just walking along the beach and wading in the water to cool off. There were a few tourists on the island, but there weren't any shops or restaurants, so it was quite relaxing and idyllic.

They passed around fresh pineapple and watermelon for us to snack on before taking off for Ao Nang. When we arrived at the port, we were escorted to a bus that took us back to our hotel. We were very happy and a little exhausted from our first tour and can't wait to visit more islands and do some more snorkeling.

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