After departing the clear waters of Koh Lipe, we decided to head to Koh Lanta. We could've taken a 3 hour express boat there, but we decided to save a few bucks and take the local 6 hour ferry instead. Poor judgement. We were all piled into a claustrophobic boat along with our luggage. We made several stops before getting to Koh Lanta, which meant at every stop, people had to rummage through this maddening pile of luggage to find theirs before disembarking. Genius. I would've gladly paid the extra ten bucks we saved by taking the local to avoid such a headache. Lesson learned. We were both tired of taking drip/bucket showers of cold to lukewarm brown water so I booked a proper hotel for Valentine's Day with all the amenities we had been missing—air conditioning & hot water. Hallelujah. We spent 2 nights in a lofty king bed and then moved to another budget hotel. The beaches in this area aren't nearly as pristine as Koh Lipe, but there are tons of cute restaurants on stilts by the water. We also found a really cute coffee shop, Not A Toy, which we visited every day for legit espresso coffee.
We took a day trip to visit 4 neighboring islands where we learned there are just too many tourists in Thailand. I'm not sure while snorkeling if there were more fish or more tourists in the water. The following photos are all taken with my dinky underwater camera so the quality is not so great.
The highlight of the trip was visiting Emerald Cave or known locally as Morakot Cave on Koh Mook. It is a cave that leads to a secret beach within the island that can only be accessed during low tide, and apparently can only be traversed while a ton of tourists in life jackets are holding each other in a line and being pulled by a young Thai boy through the cave. The orange line of life jackets is almost comical. I feel like I am on a Disneyland ride. There is however light at the end of the tunnel, literally. Once pulled through the dark cave, the other end boasts an amazing secret beach where Pirates used to stash treasure. The beach is completely surrounded by soaring cliffs so they only entry is through the cave. What a treat. It would be even more impressive if it wasn't engulfed by a parade of tourists.
Here we are going through the cave...