Visualize this! A sun-drenched shimmering sea of green studded abundantly with exotic islands splashed with powder-white sandy beaches and harboring hidden lagoons and secret coves. Sounds like a fairy tale land, a scene from Peter Pan but this is the sailing ground for a 4 day cruising adventure aboard the Suwan Macha in Thailand. Paradise it's, fairy story it's not.
This mini sailing vacation takes places aboard the Suwan Macha, an Asian rigged traditional junk with distinctive red sails that today navigates a way from Phuket Thailand to Phang Nga Bay, Krabi and the Phi Phi Islands before reversing her cruise to go back to Phuket with a new group of lucky sailors over another 4 day restful family cruise among the off-lying tropical islands of Phuket.
The Suwan Macha
With 5 cabins, the Suwan Macha can accommodate up to 10 vacationers and sails with a professional skipper and crew. Things are personal, slightly cosy but casual on-board this traditional junk which merges Asian world charm with Western creature comforts.
The Suwan Macha just accentuates the fairy tale setting and watching her is almost dream-like as this stunning Asian yacht sails majestically atop the verdant ocean portraying an utterly ageless profile of lines and distinct colours. Most visitors to Thailand descend on Phuket annually and a few take to the seas to visit the bounty of off-lying islands on day trips or on live-aboard scub diving boats but not many get the opportunity to take this tropical island cruise free from the hordes and in complete harmony with the setting.
While salvagers have scowered the seas for buried treasure, the Suwan Macha is a treasure in itself and a junk sailing cruise that takes you to explore and discover Nature’s treasures like hidden lagoons, secret sandy bay’s, mangrove forests and a small community of Sea Gypsies that still exist separated and independent from the general population of Thailand.
Suwan Macha Adventure Sailing
This tropical island sailing cruise can be done from Phuket to Phang Nga Bay and onto Krabi and the Phi Phi Islands or in reverse. The former departs on Saturdays and the latter on Tuesdays but either way the cruise begins from the front door of your Phuket hotel. If you pick the reverse cruise we collect you from your hotel and transfer you to the ferry which whisks you from Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands where you'll board the Suwan Macha.
Cast off, Castaway and James Bond (Day 1)
But let’s set out from your Phuket hotel and join the Suwan Macha after a short drive to the Phuket Yacht Haven where she's moored. Departure time is 2pm and you'll be onboard with plenty of time to spare. Mooring lines are cast-off and the Suwan Macha charts a route for Phang Nga Bay weaving her way through towering limestone karsts and edging ever closer to the ever popular James Bond island that was put firmly on the map in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). Otherwise known as Koh Tapu the island is part of the Ao Phang Nga National Park and after taking time to explore the island the day trippers flee for home leaving the Suwan Macha in serene harmony. Drop anchor, kick back and prepare for a picture postcard sundown before enjoying a feast of Thai food for dinner taken on the teak decks.
Sea Gypsy’s, Hidden Lagoons and Powder White Beaches (Day 2)
There is nothing quite like waking up on a sailing yacht (or junk!), coming up on deck to experience Nature in all her splendour and in amongst the rock karsts of Ao Phang Nga National Park, the visual impression is awe-inspiring. Breakfast is served on-deck before guests are invited to explore a unique Sea Gypsy Village and experience a boat ride through the mangroves in search of hidden lagoons.
After visiting the Sea Gypsy’s, cruise onwards and southwards to the clear green waters of Krabi. This is time to stretch out on the sun-soaked decks whilst enjoying icy cold cocktails and the panoramic splendour of the tropical scene. Today also exemplifies the real advantage of yacht sailing as the Suwan Macha discovers deserted powder-white beaches for swimming, snorkelling and some private sun-bathing.
As the daylight draws to an end clients are treated to their second Andaman Sea Sunset followed by a table laden with Thai Food to enjoy beneath the stars on-deck.
Yacht Sailing from Krabi to the Phi Phi Islands (Day 3)
Another morning, another anchorage, one more feast for the senses topped-up with breakfast on-deck! The theme today is Tropical Island hopping. The ultimate destination is Koh Phi Phi but between there and the anchorage in Krabi are scattered many smaller islands and a chance to snorkel, swim and sunbathe occur in series.
Once at Koh Phi Phi, guests have an opportunity to go ashore to explore before returning to yacht in time to catch their final Andaman sunset aboard the Suwan Macha followed by the now ubiquitous smorgasbord of Thai food served up on-deck.
The Beach, the Bay and Return (Day 4)
As Koh Tapu became a lure for sightseeing after being featured in The Man with the Golden Gun, Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Ley captivated audiences by its astounding, hypnotic and mesmerizing beauty when it became the backdrop in the 2000 drama film “The Beach”. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Maya Bay is the final destination for the Suwan Macha 4 day cruise.
Sadly Maya Bay now magnetizes boatload after boatload of tourists on a daily basis who descend on “The Beach”. A glimpse of paradise. Having anchored in close proximity, the Suwan Macha has the upper-hand though and by making an early morning visit guests are spared the lifejacket-clad hordes.
After visiting Maya Bay and exploring the cave guests of the Suwan Macha take lunch on Koh Phi Phi before returning to Phuket by ferry.
Sailing Adventures from Phuket
Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is washed by the Andaman Sea. Most holiday-makers know Phuket for its entertainment value and it resounds with opportunities for adventure sports, eco adventures and recreational activities, embracing both water sports and outdoor adventures on land. Phuket is also acclaimed for its nightlife, in places somewhat hedonistic . That scene is contained and easily avoided if neon lights and gyrating bodies aren't your scene and Phuket has a positively epicurean side.
Inaugurated in 1987, the annual Kings Cup Regatta thrust Phuket into becoming the hub of Yacht Sailing in Asia and it continues to be the biggest and most popular regatta in the region today. And in the wake of the Kings Cup Regatta leisure sailing has boomed with private yacht ownership, flotilla sailing holidays, corporate sailing and sailing schools all now accessible all-year-round, although November through to April is the official Phuket Yacht Sailing season.
Needless to say, the sailing grounds in close proximity to Phuket are inordinately beautiful. Don’t expect Fastnet or Sydney to Hobart conditions but if you're seeking gentle sailing holidays that offer island hopping and adventure sailing in profusion then Phuket Sailing Vacations make for a very inspired option to the more common Phuket holiday formula. Sailing holidays in this area are also perfect for Families with kids and provide endless entertainment with swimming, snorkelling and island adventures each and every day.
The Suwan Macha is but one option where Phuket sailing vacations are concerned and this authentically shaped, Asian rigged traditional junk, oozing oriental world charm but with enough Western creature comforts, is a perfect platform for family cruises in and around the islands and she can also be chartered outright.
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