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Racha Yai Island

The weather forecast on Christmas Eve was for decent weather on Christmas day and then not so good weather for our last two full days in Phuket. As it turned out, the weather was pretty much the same everyday, but at the time we figured we should do our snorkeling adventure on Christmas to avoid possible bad weather.

We debated between going to the Similan Islands or the Phi Phi Islands. The Similan Islands were supposed to be less crowded and have better snorkeling opportunities, but the cost was almost twice (1,500 – 2,500 baht per person) that of Phi Phi (900 – 1,300 baht per person) and it takes forever to get there and back from Patong. We didn’t really like the idea of being given only 20-30 minutes to snorkel on the Phi Phi tours or bumping into people while snorkeling which is how crowded the Phi Phi tours are.

So when we were told about a new company, that just began doing snorkeling and diving tours off the Racha Islands, we were intrigued. The cost was about the same as going to the Similan Islands, but we could get there quickly and not have crowds. We booked the “Island Discovery Daytrip to Ko Racha Yai C” with Raya Oceanic Diver and hoped for the best.

I think Ryan and Ellie’s favorite part was getting there. I didn’t get sick, but I was ready for the 30 minute boat ride to be over after about 25 minutes. We went really fast on the speed boat, and the water on the way there was pretty choppy. The way back was much smoother. From Chalong Pier to Racha Yai felt like a very long rollercoaster ride to me–only there were no tracks so I felt less secure.

We started off in Batok Bay (pictured above), an absolutely beautiful location. The place seemed geared up for a few hundred tourists, but we didn’t see more than a dozen people on the island all day. And this was supposed to be their busiest week of the year!

We were quite pleased with our tour with Raya Oceanic Diver. We were their only customers on Christmas which meant we got lots of personal attention. Our guide, Reiner from Germany, snorkled with us–pointing out things we would have missed had we just been dumped off (which is what I hear the other tour companies are like). We experienced over an hour of snorkeling in two different locations (about two and a half hours total). We probably could have gone even longer had we requested such. I’ve read other reviews of people who went to Phi Phi who said they weren’t allowed to snorkel for more than 20 minutes so we felt very fortunate for the time and personal attention provided by Raya.

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