To keep spirits up, I decided to forgo my trip to Phang Nga Bay and spend the day enjoying what Railay itself has to offer. We took a short stroll to Railay East and then turned right along the shore until we came upon a narrow path. The path cuts under a limestone karst and winds its way round it until we reached the southern part of the peninsula and Phra Nang Bay, supposedly one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand.
I personally felt that the beach was not extraordinary which begs the question – what makes a beautiful beach? These would be some of the judging criteria I would use if asked to appraise the beaches that I have visited.
1. Surrounding scenery
2. Quality of sand
3. Functionality of beach
4. Availability of amenities
5. Exposure / shade from sunlight
6. Clarity of water
7. Presence of corals and marine life
8. Overall safety and cleanliness
9. Crowd control
My analysis of Phra Nang Bay
In terms of surrounding scenery, Phra Nang beach is indeed pretty as it is flanked by unique limestone karst formation.
The sand is brown, coarse and loose unlike the compact hard sand of Railay West. It is suitable for building sandcastles which my two kids had fun doing.
The beach is rather narrow and there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done here except sunbathe or swim in the sea.
The Princess Cave is situated at one end of the beach where the more adventurous can scale to the lookout point for a bird’s eye view of the area. Other than that, there is absolutely no other amenities. A lone longtail boat doubled up as a refreshment kiosk.
An area of the sea stretching out from the shore to about 500metres is cordoned off for the safety of swimmers. However don’t be fooled into thinking you can touch the seabed. While the waters are not crystal clear, it is also not murky and you can spot fishes swimming about if you look hard enough. There are no nearby corals for snorkeling though.
Phra Nang is about a 15 minutes walk from Railay Bay Resort. It is also part of the 4-island tour that operators provide in the area so from time to time, there are throngs of tourists who will come by speedboats and descend upon the beach. They will thrash about the waters a bit, visit the Princess Cave and then be on their way again.
That evening we indulged ourselves with fresh grilled seafood which I have to admit is one of the best I have tasted before. Fresh juicy tiger prawns grilled to perfection dipped in a tangy chilli mixture. Yum Yum!