I was tipped off about Koh Yao Noi by fellow travel blogger Leslie aka Chic Adventurer and I'm so glad we built it into our plans. The Yao Islands (Koh Yao Noi & Koh Yao Yai) are situated between Phuket and Krabi. It's about 30 minutes via speedboat from either location. We caught the speedboat from Ao Nang, Krabi and planned on a few nights in Yao Noi and then in Yao Yai. They islands are accessible yet feel very remote. We stayed at Tabeak View Point and were pleased to find budget lodging done right! The bungalows are perched on a hill with a fantastic view and each has a large balcony to take it in. It's simple and rustic but more importantly, it's clean and it was so hot that we didn't mind the cold showers. For a double with fan it will set you back 700 baht/night ($21-22).
Beware falling cashews! I never knew that cashews were actually part of a fruit, the cashew apple! Moreover I didn't realize that they aren't technically nuts, but instead a seed, and at this raw stage the seed shell is filled with anacardic acid and can create a skin rash on contact. Cashews become edible upon roasting to neutralize the acid. (Cashew apples below)We eventually spilled out onto a beach in serious low tide. It was like a beautiful ocean desert.
Most people explore Yao Noi via scooter, but we were aching for some exercise and decided to explore on bikes. It's a hilly island so parts were quite rigorous but 20+ kilometers later, we had pretty much seen the perimeter of the island and tired out our muscles. The east side of the island has most of the accommodations and the west side was really quiet and we enjoyed riding through the local villages. (Biking photos taken with my small digital camera)
So we've finally found an idyllic Thai Island. It is beautiful. The beaches are not fantastic for laying out and swimming which is maybe how it has escaped mass tourism, but it is the place for fantastic views and peace and quiet. (Photos below taken with an iphone)