Ko Pei Pei Lei, Thailand

 In Honeymoon Planning
In 2000 the Leonardo DiCaprio film “The Beach” was released.  It was an instant classic among travellers.  In January of 2004 we decided to see the beach for ourselves.  We spent the beginning of the month with Cassandra’s family in Lewes, England.  It was my first time meeting the future inlaws.  I secretly asked Cass’s father for his blessing to ask for his daughter’s hand in marrriage.  He gave me his approval.  I had been planning this for awhile.  Since we were both travellers, I needed someplace huge to pop the question.  After spending a week in nearby Phuket Thailand, we planned a day trip to the Pei Pei Islands in the Andaman Sea.  We took a 90-minute motorboat ride to get there.   Ko Pei Pei Lei is home to Maya Bay – filming location of “The Beach”.  I had bought a tin $2 ring to keep in my pocket.  We had a round of snorkelling on the card and I didn’t want to risk losing anything valuable that day.  After some wonderful undersea adventure, we hit the beach.  I dropped to one knee and popped the question.  She said “Yes” and the rest is history.
We celebrated that evening with a sunset cruise on a Thai junk called the June Bahtra.  The crew provided fresh seafood and cocktails as we sailed leisurely around the Andaman.  During the cruise we passed by “James Bond Island”.  This was the site where the Roger Moore classic “The Man With the Golden Gun” was shot.  The traditional Junk was a wonderful experience.  The Thai people are extremely friendly.
The Beach has been slightly commercialized since the movie came out.  There is now a  Thai buffet on the island with amazing fresh cockles, prawn and sweet and sour fish.  There are bungalows set up to accommodate overnight guests.  The Tsunami struck in December of that year.  We were fortunate we arrived when we did.  The island went underwater when the wave struck and there were many casualties that day.  It took awhile, but the island has finally been restored back to the pre tsunami conditions.
We found “The Beach” to be the most exotic strip of sand we’ve ever set foot on.  The back drop of massive green-tipped rock formations is awe inspiring.  They completely shelter the bay from the waves of the rough Andaman Sea.  It really was just as the movie described it.  The only stretch is that unless your name is Michael Phelps, you cannot swim there from any other island.  It is way to remote and you have to go by boat.  If you are looking for amazing scuba diving in the area, we recommend the Simillian islands (less than an hour out by speed boat).
The weather is usually perfect in that part of the world.  It was sunny and 85 degrees when we were there.  The water is warm and you can see your toes on the bottom.  There is virtually no pollution in this pristine ecosystem.  The underwater wildlife is spectacular!
A trip to this “Beach” involves a 20-hour flight from BWI to Bangkok, Thailand.  From Bangkok, it’s a one-hour flight to Phuket.  Once you are in Phuket, it’s easy to hire a boat to take you out to the island.  A snorkelling day trip is about $55 per person and includes the lunch buffet.  The Beach is 16 hours ahead of Ocean Time.  One U.S. dollar will get you about 35 Thai Baht.  Everything is pretty cheap once you get there.  This was one of the most amazing days of our lives and we would love to get back again someday.  It is truly a traveller’s paradise!  Sawatdee (hello/goodbye in Thai),
– The Rox

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