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When people think of Thailand, they think of exotic islands and perfect beaches. The 4 Island Tour from the town of Ao Nang in Krabi Thailand is a great way to explore several of these destinations in one day. This post will cover which tour to take to go island hopping in Krabi.
I decided to stay in Ao Nang, Krabi because it seemed like a good launching off point for all the tropical islands in the Andaman Sea. Ao Nang has a sleepy beach town vibe. It’s the perfect place to hang out while still being close to popular Krabi Province tourist attractions.
The 4 Island Tour goes by longtail boat to (you guessed it) four different islands around Ao Nang. And all of those islands were on my list. “Four birds with one stone!” I say out loud to no one in particular and high-five myself.
For about $30 USD, the 4 Islands Tour includes snorkel gear, transfer to and from my apartment, a ride on a longtail boat, and a lunch buffet. I immediately break into an excited sweat, as lunch buffets and I have a long and beautiful history.
After reading reviews online, I book a spot on the four islands tour for the next morning. “Four Islands are better than one,” I chuckle while watching the sunset, sipping the wine I got from the 7/11.
Update: I wasn’t able to find my longtail boat tour online anymore, but this tour goes to the same locations by speed boat. You can book a longtail tour in person at a tourist kiosk in Ao Nang if you’d prefer.
How to Go Island Hopping in Krabi with the 4 Island Tour
Choosing Your Krabi Island Hopping Tour
When you start searching for Island tours from Krabi, there are a few things to consider. You can choose to either do a 4 island tour by long tail boat or by speed boat. The speedboats are faster and more comfortable, but the long tail boats offer a more unique and authentic Thai experience.
You can book your tour either online through a website like Get Your Guide or in person at a tourist kiosk in Ao Nang. If you know your schedule in advance, booking online is a good way to ensure you get the exact tour you’re looking for. If your schedule is more flexible, you can wait until a few days before to book your tour in person.
Most Ao Nang Island Hopping tours will include hotel pick up and drop off. Tours typically will specify if you can be picked up in Krabi Town, Ao Nang, Railay, or anywhere else. Make sure your hotel is within the tour company’s transportation range and let them know where you are staying when you book.
While most Four Island Tours start in the morning and end around 4:00 pm, there are a few offerings like this tour that run in the evenings. These allow you to see the sunset from your boat, which sounds absolutely lovely! Remember to check the time of day that your tour runs so you know what to expect.
Typical 4 Island Tour Krabi Price
Ao Nang Island tours typically cost between $30 – $40 USD. At this price, you’ll be traveling with a tour group and you should expect to receive lunch and hotel pick up. This fee does not include any national park fees, which are usually 300-400 baht.
You can also choose to book a private charter Krabi island tour if you’re traveling in a larger group. This option is more expensive, but if you want more flexibility for your party, it’s worth looking into.
6 hours with a private speed boat charter will cost you between $300 USD and $400 USD for up to ten people. The upside of this is that you can choose your own itinerary and stay in each place as long as you like.
What to expect on the Ao Nang 4 Island Tour
In the morning, a white songthaew truck picks me up at the market near my house. After collecting other people at a handful of hotels and hostels, we drive about five minutes out of town to the pier.
At the pier, we are sorted into our groups based on which tour we are taking. There is a restroom and place to buy snacks at the pier but we don’t wait long before we are loaded into our long-tail boat.
The long tail boat sounds something like a lawnmower, a lawnmower you build yourself using only parts from a freight train. I’m sure our sweet guide is telling us fascinating facts about all the historical and geological sites we were passing as we flew across the sea, but all I hear is the roar of the engine and the crashing of waves on the hull.
First stop: Tup Island
We pull up in the shallow waters of Tup Island in our long tail boat. The guide drops two ladders on either side of the boat and I climb down into the knee-deep seawater in what I’m sure is a graceful display of athleticism.
Tub island is a postcard. Clear blue seas, brilliant white sand, soaring rock formations and lush jungle out in the middle of nowhere. It has a sandbar connecting two nearby islands which you can walk along during low tide. Unfortunately, the tide was too high during our time here so I didn’t get to see if the neighboring island was actually as perfect as it looked.
I paddle around in the water then lay out on my towel just a little too close to the water. A wave washes up covering me and my towel, so that’s the end of my towel for this trip. (Later, I would learn about the almighty Sarong. It’s made of thinner material, it makes a great beach blanket and it dries faster than a terry cloth towel. And you can tie it around your body all glamorous-like on your walk home!)
I walk back and forth up the small strip of beach and look at all the different boats. The time flies by. Forty-five minutes later it’s time to get back in the boat so I wade out to the ladder and heave myself on board, dripping wet. I hang my droopy tower over the side of the boat and decide that I am okay with being a salty drippy mess for the rest of the day.
Heck, maybe the rest of my life. If this is the price of living in paradise, so be it.
Second Stop: Chicken Island
As we continue island hopping from Krabi, the next stop is a funny little rock called Chicken Island.
I wonder where chicken island got its name. Any guesses? We circle chicken island a few times so everyone could get a good picture of the famous chicken head rock formation, then our guide stops the boat a few hundred feet from shore.
He tells us this is the best place to go snorkeling on the tour. After a few quick warnings about not dropping our snorkel gear ( or else we’ll be fined) and not stepping on sea urchins (or else we’ll die), he tosses the ladders into the water and a-snorkeling we go.
I’ve never snorkeled before.
In the water, I fumble with the mask, realizing I definitely haven’t worn one of these since I was in middle school playing sharks and minnows in my neighbor’s above-ground pool. A nice non-snorkeling couple on the boat snaps several photos of me and I learn that there is absolutely no way to look good with a snorkeling mask on your face.
Then I dip my head under the water.
I don’t know what I was expecting. I know people love snorkeling, but I never thought it could be this… spectacular. One second, I see the world above water – the boat, the chicken rock, the nice photography couple waving and snapping pictures. I move my head down three inches under the water and the world explodes in color and light.
It reminds me like the aquarium at my childhood doctors office filled with exotic fish, except for these fish are right in front of my face, and this aquarium is endless. A few feet below me is a reef where fish of every color and shape weave in and out between corals. I see sea urchins and little crabs and all the other things I used to teach my students about during the ocean unit of science class.
It’s a combination of everything – the delicate little parrot fish that swim right up to my mask and look me in the eye. The way the light from above dances across the colorful coral. The silence. I knew all this was here, but I never really got it until that moment.
This earth is so precious. The things in it are so spectacular. And I’m sure we don’t even know the half of it.
Third Stop: Poda Island
Our third stop on the four island tour in Krabi is a spectacular stretch of sand called Poda Island. At Poda Island, it’s time for lunch. As the guide lays out the spread of curries, vegetables, and rice, we all eagerly wait around in a circle, not unlike vultures. Never one to “take it easy” at a lunchtime buffet, I pile my plate high.
Poda Island is the largest of the Islands on the tour. It feels less crowded and I wander around the beach awkwardly taking selfies until some kind girl from Australia takes pity on me and offers to take my picture. Poda Island has restroom facilities but be warned, they are of the squatty potty variety. Too soon, it is time to get back on the boat.
Final Stop: Phra Nang Cave Beach
After a boat ride around cliffs so spectacular I had to record a ten-minute bouncy video on my phone, we pull up to a quiet cove. There are dozens of long tail boats lined up, but no people. A girl in a pink shirt asks me to take her picture with the boats and she offers to take one of me. When we realize we’re both traveling alone, we immediately become best friends.
A pack of people walk down a paved path through the caves, so we follow them. After a short five-minute walk, we round a corner to Phra Nang cave overlooking the pristine water. The beach is crawling with people but we don’t care. We run out into the water, throwing our bags of valuables to the wind.
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4 Island Tour Krabi Review: Final Thoughts
I enjoyed this tour and would definitely do it again. Going island hopping in Krabi is one of the best things to do in Ao Nang. The Four Island Tour Krabi is a convenient and cost-effective way to see some amazing islands of Krabi Thailand without having to worry about coordinating tons of boat rides.
If you’re planning a 4 Islands Tour, these Ao Nang travel and tour tips will help you out:
- You can book your Ao Nang island tour in person or online: I booked online, but you might be able to work out a cheaper deal if you go to one of the tourist kiosks in person. If you’d prefer to book in advance, check out affordable Ao Nang tours on Get Your Guide here.
- Take a separate trip to Railay: You get to spend about an hour on the Phra Nang Cave part of Railay, but Railay is worth its own day trip. Come back on another day and spend more time here.
- Bring a water bottle: Water is provided but you’ll probably want more than the two or three little cups you’re given.
- Protect your Electronics: You’ll be jumping off the boat into the water to wade to shore at each island, so use a Waterproof Cell Phone Dry Bag like this one to make sure you don’t drown your phone.
Heading to Ao Nang, Thailand?
Ao Nang, Krabi Thailand is a great launching off point for tours like the Four Island Tour. If you’re heading to Ao Nang, you can read more about things to do and places to visit in these posts.