Welcoming visitors to explore some exceptional cruising grounds, Thailand opened once again for travel as of 1st November 2021. This year-round yachting haven delivers a wonderful climate and prolonged sunshine, perfect to experience an idyllic getaway on the water.
A taste of the exotic awaits in Thailand where Phuket, dubbed the ‘pearl of Thailand’, is leading the way in opening up to international travellers. Packed with amazing national parks featuring tumbling waterfalls, towering karst formations and mystical underground caves, the clear waters and sheltered bays prove a popular yachting location. Having received fabulous accolades from previous charters, 51m Northern Sun, run by Captain John and his highly professional crew, are extremely knowledgeable on all aspects of cruising this region. Dotted with countless prime snorkelling and Scuba diving sites, an adventure under water to watch thriving marine life must not be missed. When not exploring, the shopping and nightlife ashore is sublime, with plenty of opportunities for fun and entertainment.
An ideal embarkation point to start a charter itinerary on board Northern Sun is Phuket’s Yacht Haven Marina where the crew will have a cool drink and a warm welcome ready. Once settled in, the yacht will make way to anchor in stunning Koh Phanak in Phang Nga Bay. This is a large hong that can be used as a base for exploring the range of interesting sites nearby – such as James Bond Island, the Muslim Village and the petroglyphs. Also it provides an ideal spot to visit the nearby caves and coves in a group. Why not use Northern Sun’s 10 kayaks, or for those with natural balance, take one of the stand-up paddle boards to explore some more.
Cruise at leisure to the Koh Hong archipelago of around a dozen tiny islands off the coast of Krabi to discover more fascinating caves and hongs. Soak up some truly spectacular scenery, head ashore by tender to the virgin powdery beaches or relax on the sundeck enjoying the incredible views with a cocktail in hand. Picture-perfect Koh Hong is part of the Than Bok Khorani National Park, famed for spectacular rock formations, vibrant coral reefs and a breath-taking natural lagoon surrounded by majestic limestone silhouettes. Only open to visitors during daytime, this is a fabulous place to indulge in fun activities such as diving, swimming, hiking and picnicking. If the Six Senses Spa is open on Koh Yao Noi this is highly recommended to sample some of the excellent spa treatments available.
With good weather and not too much swell from the west, a smooth overnight passage will take Northern Sun to Rok Nok, protected as part of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park. The twin Rok islands are some of the most beautiful in the Andaman Sea, with the added bonus of spectacular anchorages and equally amazing beaches. Time here presents an ideal opportunity to enjoy the yachts’ array of water sports equipment, take the opportunity to go snorkelling in the crystal-clear water, whilst there is also plenty to do for activity-seekers, such as hiking and kayaking.
Ko Tarutao is the largest isle in the Tarutao National Marine Park and one of the most unspoiled islands in the region, offering a truly remote experience where privacy and seclusion can be found. Tarutao means “old, mysterious and primitive” and wholly lives up to this translation. The gnarly, rugged cliffs, former prison sites and ancient jungles in the mountains offer a primeval sense of awe when exploring. Ao Son is a sensational beach with clear blue water and incredible sunsets, plus it is often deserted. There is also the chance for activity seekers to enjoy the challenge of a mountain biking trail through the lush mainland jungle, plus a trek to the Lu Du Waterfall and hike up to the 400m Tob-Bob cliff.
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Tarutao is part of the uninhabited and pristine national park; an ideal place to paddle kayaks through the verdant mangrove forests to Ao Rusi crocodile cave – don’t forget the head torches! When exploring the island, visitors will likely encounter a wonderfully diverse selection of wildlife along the many winding trails, such as boars, lizards, otters and even flying lemurs. Located at the east of the island, Ao Ta Loo Woo pier extends into the sea on an historic trail, leading to a number of prison buildings together with interesting facts about the dark history of this beautiful island. Be fascinated by the bizarre tales of convicts and guards teaming together during World War II to become pirates. This is a prime location to enjoy wide expanses of pristine sands, crystalline waters, jungle pathways and welcoming beachfront bars serving delicious pad thai.
Make an early start to travel to the Butang Islands, set in the Tarutao National Park, where Northern Sun can anchor off Koh Lipe, dotted with gorgeous beaches. Originally only inhabited by sea gypsies, the lush jungle stretches down to the waters’ edge and this idyllic paradise is characterised by more dramatic rock formations and inland waterfalls. Very beautiful and not frequently discovered by tourists, the group of four main Butang islands are mountainous, covered in dense forest and positioned in a circular pattern, surrounded by numerous smaller islets and rocky outcrops. Over to the south west the water is particularly clear, offering sublime snorkelling and diving on the colourful reefs. Koh Tanga and Koh Chuku to the east are rarely visited, but extremely pretty and offer sheltered overnight anchorage. The whole area is perfect for all water-based activities, and offers a good opportunity for some fun use of Northern Sun’s inflatable slide.
Take the chance to explore Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands surrounded by sparkling turquoise sea and unspoiled beaches, while the interior is a mix of paddy fields and jungle-strewn hills. Kilim Karst Geoforest Park is home to a variety to mangrove swamps, diverse wildlife and a floating fish farm, together with limestone caves and ancient rock formations. Island hop to nearby Pulau Dayang Bunting and Pulau Beras Basah to enjoy swimming, paddleboarding and snorkelling from Northern Sun, while the eagle feeding session at Singa Besar Island is a magnificent display. On bustling Pantai Cenang, the setting for dinner on the beach is idyllic, with glorious views from beachfront restaurants and bars. Enjoy an invigorating morning hike to the seven connected pools and waterfalls at Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls located on Mount Mat Cincang. The views from here over Burau Bay and Pantai Kok are sensational and whilst walking up you are likely to spot several macaques and hornbills. A visit to the 125m curved bridge of the incredible Langkawi Sky Bridge accessed by cable car should not be missed, overlooking Gunung Mat Cincang, Telaja Tujuh waterfalls and surrounding islets the views are incredible! Shopping aficionados will relish a spree at Oriental Village at the base of the cable car station with duty free goods, souvenirs and local handicrafts on offer.
On the return trip, Northern Sun will stop at Coral Island situated just 3km off the coast of Phuket. Long Beach and Banana Beach are the highlights here, where snorkelling and diving amongst the coral formations is recommended. Teeming with native wildlife, dolphins, whale sharks and lion fish frequent the waters alongside quirky frog fish. Ashore look out for tree climbing Clouded Monitor Lizards who can grow several feet long and are known to like posing for photos!
The land of smiles is a tempting option, enticing visitors with visions of white sandy beaches and warm, clear waters. Perfectly explored by yacht charter to uncover some hidden gems, Thailand offers the chance to enjoy a relaxed getaway or activity-packed break on board Northern Sun. The ideal platform to sample every aspect of Thailand from the water, kick back and relish astonishing standards of comfort, luxury and exemplary service in style.
Nicholas Dean is Managing Partner of Ocean Independence. Ocean Independence is a global leader in luxury yachting, providing a bespoke experience across yacht charter, sales and management.
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