Saturday, April 9, 2011

Coral Island

LAST VISITED FEBRUARY 2014


Main beach at Coral Island - Long Beach. An unusual beach for Thailand - it runs east (near end) to west, facing north. So this should be a pretty sheltered beach in the wet season. This is a nice shot to click-expand.

Coral Island is one of Phuket’s fringing islets and popular daytrip locations. It also has a lower-midrange place Coral Island Resort which is not a bad place to spend a couple of days at the start or end of an Andaman trip. There was a second place under construction in Feb 2014 but it was hard to tell whether it was going to be budget or midrange.

Location is only 10km SSE of Phuket's Chalong pier.

The beaches are on the north coast, connected by a rainforest track just above the rocks. There are no roads or villages.

Oblique Google Earth image showing the island from the north west. Might be worth clicking the image to expand - shows the reef drop-off for both beaches well.

Long Beach is about 900M in length. The western end here tends to be quietest although not manicured as fastidiously as other sections.

Daytrippers mainly congregate in the central area where it can get pretty crowded (a bit early in the day for crowds in this shot). Swimmers/snorkellers have a large buoyed enclosure that separates them from the speedboats and longtails. Daytrip operators have 2 restaurants/beach clubs here - food and drink prices seem similar to the resort, not budget.

Below are some day-trip shots added after the 2014 stay. Place seemed even more popular than before, particularly with Chinese visitors. But things were fairly relaxed up in front of Coral Island Resort's beachfront bungalows which had restricted entry - not that (hint if you are day-tripping) the resort staff was checking.






This last shot shows the line waiting for one of the two parasailing outifits operating (well in 2014 another was uitilizing a pontoon some distance out in the bay in the afternoons - maybe an attempt to reduce the size of this line). The parasailing had to be inclusive in the price of these people's day trip - at a 3 minute turn-around there must have been an hour's wait.

The east end is the resort area. Sign tells daytrippers this is a private area. No boats. Lots of sunlounges and some plastic chairs along here plus plenty of shade most of the day under the casuarina trees. White sand. Water is clear, gets a bit shallow at low tide but not too bad. Some stones exposed at far north end at lowest tide but not unattractive. Coral Island is supposed to be an okay snorkelling location but I swam out to the reef drop-off, about 100m at high tide and didn’t find anything impressive. May be better around the headland rocks. But plenty of fish right off the beach to keep novices entertained. UPDATE - in 2014 I snorkelled the whole 500m rocks area from the neighbouring Banana Beach. Once again nothing impressive but enough fish and small patches of fringing coral for novices. The best were immediately after entry at the south end of Banana Beach.

Coral Island Resort's premium bungalows are these beachfront ones. There are two rows of similar but cheaper ones in the garden area behind - spacing a bit tight.

My 2011 room was in a block of 4 in the garden area. Cheapest option, it was still pretty okay - large, clean, aircon, hw, frig, jug - no tv which I didn’t miss a bit. Very quiet resort at night.

The outlook from my 2011 balcony thru the garden towards the pool wasn’t shabby. Pool-bungalows area much more nicely landscaped than reception-restaurant region northward beachside which seems a bit sparsely planted and sandy in 2011.


In 2014 Lady Tezza and I went up a step to the 'superior' rooms. These are in a row of semi-detached bungalows on an elevated walkway in back of the resort about 25m from the pool and 100 or so from restaurant/reception. Ours was clean, spacious and contained all inclusions expected at lower midrange except a jug - hot water available in an urn outside the kitchen.

Restaurant-reception area - not short of trees but ground-cover a bit scraggly in 2011, okay in 2014. The restricted beach area started just out of frame to left. There are  lots of shade and plastic chairs on the beach in front of the restaurant and not too crowded. The beach bar had beer at not excessive prices. The daytrippers preferred to stay in their mid-beach areas in front of their restaurant/bars. I know what I'd do as a daytripper - head for the area above or to left, to the far western end of the beach to the right. 

The beachfront restaurant has a nice outlook towards one of Phuket’s other fringing islands (left) and Phuket’s Cape Panwa (background). Inclusive buffet breakfast was okay - prices for other meals more midrange than budget. But midrange by Thai standards, good value in western terms. I'm am old-time budget traveller and ate most non-breakfasts at a beach restaurant-bar near the western end of the beach. or at the good budget priced restaurant at Banana beach.
Coral Island Resort had many more Russian guests in 2014, to the extent that there was a Russian version of the menu and Russian liaison people on staff.

This is shot from deck of that western restaurant-bar. Prices maybe 25% higher than typical island budget restaurants but not too bad. Once again, this end of the beach good for avoiding the crowds - some day-trip longtail boats land here but the big speedboats avoid it. That’s Phuket in background - it’s one biiiig island.

Pool area pretty nice, never crowded. Frequent visits by hot topless Russian babe guests in 2011 meant distracted investigative reporting. But I persevered for your sake, dear readers.


BANANA BEACH
If you take a track starting above the rocks just behind the camera in the shot top of page (look for the path above the rocks 25m to the left) you will come after a 10 minute fairly flat walk thru nice rainforest to Banana Beach. This is considerably smaller than Long Beach. Banana tends to attract a fair few daytrippers too (this is shot real early before most arrive). But the beach never appeared crowded. Snorkelling on drop-off appeared no better than long beach, best off the far end of the beach/far rocks in this shot. Lotsa fish in all areas to keep snorkellers and waders entertained- even saw a dog catch a fish; something new for me). Nice budget restaurant in trees mid-beach.


More day-trippers arrive. Quite a few Coral Island Resort guests find their way around to here too. 

Outlook from the sun terrace of budget beach restaurant. 

 In early 2012 I noticed Agoda showing the restaurant on Banana Beach, called Beach Club, now had some "bungalows" - basically a platform with a bed, outside bathrooms. At $aud31 v $36 at the time for a room with the works plus pool at Coral Island Resort it didn't seem a great bargain.  (um, 2014 CIR prices a fair bit higher than S36).  In Feb 2014 when I went searching for the "bungalows" I came across the construction site below in an area behind the restaurant.
Hard to tell whether the new accommodation will be budget or midrange at this early stage. But okay, any competition can't be bad.


AS GOOD AS RAYA/RACHA?
Ko Raya is another Phuket fringing island further south of Coral Island. I prefer it - the main beach is gorgeous with more-interesting snorkelling off the sand, the island is bigger with more bays/paths, there is increased variety of accommodation - one very high end joint, 2 other midrangers and 3 budget places and quite a few budget restaurants. It is one of the Phuket area's premium diving sites and there are dive-outfits on the island. A disadvantage is that the trip takes about twice as long (but is no more expensive on the speedboats) which is not fun on a rough day. In my experience rough days tend to be more common earlier in the dry season - say November and early Dec. And of course on many wet season days.

GETTING THERE
Coral Island Resort has its own speedboat shuttle. In 2014 the price of the transfer was inclusive with the tariff. The main hassle was knowing where to meet the boat guys in the incredible crowd leaving Chalong on day-trip boats for Coral Island and Raya and many dive-boats - look for the dude with the Coral Island Resort shirt underneath the CIR sign immediately to the right of the start of the long pier at Chalong in Phuket's south-east. Check the website for times.
Back in 2011 their boat was not inclusive and charged 1000 reurn including transfers from Phuket accommodation. Unfortunately the resort did not answer my 2 emails (I booked thru one of the online multi-accommodation websites - not the resort’s website) so I had to make a motorocyle taxi trip from Phuket town down to the pier at CHALONG and get a ride out and back on a daytrip boat. You can charter a long tail for much the same money but only one-way and this could be a rough, slow, wet trip on a bumpy day. It only makes sense baht-wise for a group of people. I think if you are daytripping and want the longtail to wait the price is more like 1500+ (that's 2011 - think 2500+ in 2014).


Bustle at daytrip piers is always good value. This is the outside of Nikorn Speedboat at Chalong. In 2011 big time haggler Tezza managed to cut price from 1000 to 900 after intense bargaining with hot ladyboy front right. Daytrip boats depart about 0900 - leave island around 1500/1600. Trip takes around 20 minutes in non-rough conditions. The start of the pier is to the right in background.

Back at Chalong. Boats only use pier at low tide when beach approach is too shallow - climb up from boat to pier a bit of a hassle and it's a pretty looong pier.

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If you are visiting Coral Island you may be interested in:
- similar Ko Raya/Racha
- and of course Phuket itself

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If you see mistakes or have extra info, please post it below. If you have questions, please post them in THE FORUM, accessed via the INDEX page. I don't get to check individual island pages all that often.


Seems to be an increasing trend for both westerners and Thais to get hitched or to re-enact their weddings on Thai islands. Could select a worse spot than Coral Island to do it..

3 comments:

Luizze Oliveira said...

This is very useful information about Coral Island. It has tropical climate all year round. People should avoid to go this beach at June because, that is a rainy season in Coral Island. May to July is perfect time to visit this Island.

Grand Oca Maragogi Resort

Sbipk said...

Thank you nice article.
your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!
I love here Surin Beach Hotel This hotel is very nice clean and the people are friendly. VERY nice hotel with helpful staff.
And I really love white sand, crystal clear waters at Surin Beach too.
Thank again.

Midel Jay Baslote said...

Beaches in the post are really good and nice spots to relax. But I suggest you to go Bohol, Philippines if you love beaches. Because Bohol also have a beaches that anyone would love to stay.

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