The most exotic sailing destination with tropical climate, white sand beaches, green waters and limestone cliffs, which were the backdrop for such Hollywood productions as James Bond or The Beach.
Sea & Coast
On Thailand’s western coast and on Myanmar’s southern coast lies a body of water called the Andaman Sea, covering an area just less than 800000 square km and with an average depth of 870m. In the east, as the sea meets the fringed Thai peninsula it forms many bays and inlets. One of these is called Phang Nga Bay, positioned between Phuket Island and the Malay peninsula, a known destination among the community.
The bay itself has an area of 400 square km and since 1981 has been part of the Ao Phang Nga National Park since the area is full of limestone cliffs and caves, not to mention archeological sites dating back thousands of years, just another reason why this place is an important holiday destination.
Geographically, the region is just a shallow bay with 42 islands that alternate between shallow marine waters and forested wetlands comprised of mangroves, seagrass bed and coral reefs. What is unusual about the islands here is that they tower high above sea level, making for spectacular scenery, unique to this part of the world. The mainland shores differ somewhat but are formed from the same limestone, except with more river estuaries.
Much of the bay area is covered in mangrove forests, sometimes hanging dramatically on the limestone vertical walls, much to the amazement of the sailors. Since the whole region is part of a protected national park expect to see lots of unique flora and fauna (82 fish species, 18 reptile, 3 amphibian and 17 mammal according to official numbers) like the Malysian Plover and the Asian Dowitcher.
Climatically speaking, Phang Nga Bay falls under the tropical marine zone which is characterized by high levels of precipitation. The southwest corner of the bay is particularly prone to be affected by the monsoon season from May to October. Overall, in any given year, there are around 189 days with rain. The daily temperatures fluctuate between 23 and 32 degrees Celsius making it perfect for sailing. However, the high degree of humidity, 83%, sometimes makes it harder to bear the high temperatures.
Culture & History
Since Phang Nga bay has shallow waters and is plentiful in natural resources, it’s been inhabited for a long time, a testament to that being the numerous cave paintings that today have been turned into tourist attractions.
One island in particular gets plenty of attention from visiting crews. It’s called the James Bond island and it’s a needle made out of limestone that rises from the sea. The name is related to the fact that this particular formation was showcased in the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” featuring the famous spy.
Phuket is the largest city in the region and gets the most guests, but there is much more to see around Phang Nga bay, like the Muslim Sea village of Koh Panyi, a 200-year-old community with houses built on stilts.
Seamanship & Experience
Even though it rains a lot during the year here, the bay itself is sheltered from the bad weather and thus has generally calm waters all year round. Sailing is a very popular activity in Phang Nga which has its own regatta starting in Phuket, but the best way to discover the over 100 islands and to really enjoy the beauty of this place is to take out a paddle canoe. That way your sailors can get close and personal with the local scenery and appreciate its beauty.