Visiting this small island located in the Andaman Sea, halfway between Phuket and Krabi, was a wonderful surprise.
As an adventurous traveller, yoga teacher and rock climber, I am always looking for quiet places in nature, away from tourist crowds. For a long time, I was reluctant to travel to South Thailand, assuming that many islands would be overcrowded by cheap concrete hotels, 7 eleven, noisy tail boats, and drunk youngsters looking for their next party.
South of Thailand DOES have a lot of that, BUT, there is always a way to escape and find places and people that suit YOUR energy.
Law of attraction. You attract what you are, and what you want.
So, after spending some time in the waterfalls and Pachamama gatherings of Koh Phanghan, rock climbing on the high limestone cliffs of Tonsai, and exploring the national parks and beaches around Chong pli, my boyfriend and I decided to put our 125cc scooter on a longtail wooden boat and go explore Ko Yao Noi.
As soon as we got to Tha Kao pier, we felt the peaceful and grounding energy of the island. A few fishermen chit chatting by the pier, some local food stands, a nice sea breeze, and the wonderful fresh air. I could breathe.
Very quickly, we melted into the slow-paced rhythm of the island, and started developing a daily healthy routine.
I am happy to share here my favourite memories on Koh Yao Noi with the hope of inspiring other travellers to visit the island….
Sun, Rise & Shine
Waking up at 6:00 am to watch the sun rising over the limestone karsts, while listening and watching the gorgeous birds that take refuge on Ko Yao Noi. My favourite birds are the colourful hornbills.
Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation at Island Yoga
Whether you are looking for a full package yoga retreat, drop-in yoga classes, or interesting workshops, Island Yoga offers many options for those who are looking to deepen their spiritual practice and take care of their mind and body. I personally like the morning classes as a wonderful way to stretch my body, get positive thoughts in my mind, and energize my spirit.
Eating Thai Breakfast with the local Mamas
Ning and the team at Island Yoga prepare a delicious and hearty vegetarian breakfast with a mix of traditional Thai dishes and some nice healthy additions too! You can pick between a few local dishes cooked with love. Some of my favourites were: green curry fried rice, morning glory, boiled egg Larb. The fresh selection of locally grown fruit is always so juicy and delicious, specially when combined with homemade peanut butter, natural yoghurt and granola. We loved it.
Exploring with a scooter
Our all-time favourite activity on this island: exploring Koh Yao Noi by scooter. There are in fact very few cars on the island, and therefore no traffic. You can easily go around the island in an hour by following the main circling road. Feeling the freedom and the fresh air blowing on your hair, you can enjoy fishermen villages, old traditional wooden houses, buffalos and rice paddies, a local market, not to forget a multitude of white sand secret beaches. Remember to drive safely and, on the left side of the road!
Away from the busy polished routes of Tonsai, Koh Yao Noi offers wonderful rock climbing options. Best is to be an experienced climber and come here with your own equipment. The crags are located next to Paradise Resort in the north of the island, and can be reachable by foot or by private boat. Very few climbers come to the island nowadays as it takes about 45 minutes to reach the crag. In my opinion, the 30 minutes scooter ride on the local dirt road and the hike through the jungle makes up for a wonderful adventure, and great climbing.
Foodie & Cafes
The island has many wonderful affordable food options to suit all palettes. We personally love Thai food at the local market and Pan’s Local, Healthy Vegan food at Island Yoga’s Sabaidee Yogi Cafe or Chaba Cafe, Homemade Pizza at the Italian restaurant La Luna, Thai pancakes at the peaceful Rest and Calm, Coffee at the creative Jaiyen Eco Resort, or a sunset glass of wine at Cocobello. There really is something for everyone here – we have listed all our favourite spots on this handy Google Map of the island to help you choose!
Getting a Thai Massage
When in Thailand, you have to try a Thai massage at least once! Thai massage incorporates assisted yoga postures, ayurvedic principles and acupressure to release tension and move energy around the body. All guests who are resident in Island Yoga receive a free 60 minute Thai massage with our beautiful masseuse, Cha Jaa, and you can book a variety of treatments with her during your stay, just speak to the ladies at reception to book yours.
The island also offers cycling, paddle board, snorkelling, kayaking, swimming, Muay Thai and is a great spot for hiking and running. Additionally, you can easily book a sailboat or long tail and go explore the limestone islands close by.
Koh Yao Noi is a wonderful place to do NOTHING, and just be. Yes. A place to contemplate nature. A place to observe the local market life. A place to disconnect digitally, and learn to be present. A place to read a good book. A place to write, play music or sing. A place to be with yourself, to look inward and do your work.
I am grateful for my time on Koh Yao Noi, and as most people who visit this island, I will most likely be back next winter.