I was trying to think of a pretty easy half day ‘soft adventure’ that combined a bit of something for everyone. A bit of local life; easy place to stop for a cool drink on a beach; deserted beach to swim and relax a while, some wildlife and, if you want, a great sunset viewpoint.
So here it is.
This paddle is approximately 16Km. That sounds a long way but it isn’t really and the route is such that there is only one stretch where you will paddle further out in the sea well away from shore. You’ll need a kayak but fortunately this can be rented from Cliff Cottage, 400 Baht for two seater, 200 Baht for single seat. Cliff Cottage is also the Start/Finish point of the paddle. It is in a very convenient location as you can put the kayak in the water on either the eastern side of the peninsula and take it out on the west.
Before you set off you will need sunblock, a wide brimmed hat and lots of water. ( I will get through about 3 litres on a paddle like this in hot weather. )
Timing is important as is the route, one of the highlights will be seeing the wild monkeys, and you are 99% guaranteed to see them. But you need to be on the western side of the peninsula from around 3 to 3.30pm onwards. No point going in the morning as they probably won’t be awake yet, they’re a pretty mellow troupe. So figure on setting out at around 12pm. This will give you time to stop for for a break on a beach during the paddle and means you will see the monkeys.
The Route ( Go clockwise ) :
Having got to Cliff Cottage and got your kayak sorted it is time to set off. First head out to Bangbao fishing village, you will get a totally differetn perspective paddling past restaurants and run down houses. The new pier and lighthouse aren’t shown on the Googlemap but it is easy, even at high time to paddle under the pier and around to the east of Bangbao village, some interesting rickety bamboo walkways here. From here head past the luxury Tranquility Bay Residence, again you can paddle under their long pier and keep going towards Klong Kloi beach. Before you reach the main beach you will seea couple of laid back ‘old skool’ beach bars on a small strip of sand. The busier Klong Kloi beach is just a couple of hundred metres further on. If you are in need of a drink, rest or food – now would be the best time to stop at one of the beach restaurants.
Continue east, past Grand Lagoona Resort which now appears to have become as little self contained annex of Moscow and hug the rocky shoreline until you reach Wai Chaek beach. There isn’t much to see on the way but there is one small stoney beach where you can get out of the canoe if you need a rest enroute.
Wai Chaek is a very nice 400 metres long swathe of sand. Undeveloped apart from a couple of rubber tappers houses. It can be reached by road – just- from Salakphet but for most visitors the only access is by sea. Chances are you will have the beach to yourself. So time to relax, swim or do whatever takes your fancy on a deserted beach. Try not to expend too much energy though as you now have to start to head back, it should be a bit cooler now and you have an hour or so paddle across the bay to the peninsula.
You will see from the Googlemap that I have marked a small shrine, most people don’t notice this when they leave Bangbao by boat. It commemorates sailors lost during the battle of Koh Chang in World War 2. The small flag on the flagpole and larger flag inside the shrine are the one used by Thailand during WW2. So it is rare to see this flying anywhere now.
Head south following the eastern side of the peninsula, some very clear water here and many schools of small fish were visible from the kayak when I did this paddle. There is one spot where you could pull the kayak up onto a stony beach and then snorkel. Within 100 metres of rounding the southernmost point you should see some monkeys. Either by the sea or more likely on the top of the cliffs where the vegetation meets the rocks. Most aren’t afraid of boats as they are used to tour boats coming close to he rocks. Thsi means that in a kayak you can get right up to the bottom of the cliffs and should be able to get some excellent photos.
( The photos here aren’t too good as I use an old camera when I go near water, I prefer that one to get covered in salt water than my new one.)
The monkeys move around, so aren’t always in the same spot every day, but providing you get the timing right and are there late afternoon you are almost certain to see them as you head up the western side of the peninsula. Also keep an eye out for kites and eagles. The kites are quite common, brown wings, white head. The a eagles are larger with white head and darker feathers. I saw one eagle circling overhead but without a good zoom lens it is hard to get a good photo of.
Now continue heading north on the last leg of the trip, back to the cove at Cliff Cottage. Head towards the restaurant building and you will see the spot where you can easily take the kayak out of the water and carry it up onto the land. On your right you will also see the cliffside walkway and sun deck at the posh Nirvana Resort. If you plan on hanging around for sunset then this makes for a nice spot for an early evening cocktail.
And that’s it. Total time will be around 4-6 hours or so. It mainly depends on if you want to stop for lunch on Klong Kloi beach or have a long rest on Wai Chaek beach.