The Treasure of the Emerald Cave
The Treasure of the Emerald Cave
Koh Ngai or Ngai Island is one of the many hidden treasures of Trang, Thailand that's often overlooked. It's known to southern Thais as the romantic island where two young lovers may go to forget the world for three months. Most visitors who come to southern Thailand are instantly attracted to Phuket's expensive commercial appeal or Phi Phi Islands' paradisal reputation, not aware of islands like Koh Ngai.
As with most islands in the Andaman Sea, Koh Ngai's waters are crystal clear and has endless white sand beaches. There are only a few resorts (under 10) which have helped the island's natural defense keep the ecosystem and coral reefs still intact and healthy.
On the Island of Romantic Paradise
We arrived at the resort's private dock and realized that there weren't that many other visitors.
Which meant we basically had this amazing resort to ourselves and would probably have to kayak to the next beach to socialize with people.
We were accompanied by our great friend and international FMX superstar Daice Suzuki, so we had countless drones at our avail.
As Daice started sending up his drones (he's got some crazy drones, like Autobots), I started socializing with the island's hermit crabs before I jumped in the crystal green waters. Seeing the hermit crabs was what made me realize the island's ecosystem was still healthy and not yet ruin by careless and selfish human activities. They were an awesome sight to see and something I haven't seen since a child due to some of the impact nature has taken during my lifetime.
We spent the rest of the day on what seemed like our own private white sand beach because of the number of guests the resort had that day.
We woke up refreshed and ready to tackle a day of kayaking and snorkeling.
To my surprise, as I was eating breakfast, a Thai monitor lizard casually walked by. To see one that close-up and for it to not be afraid of us, was amazing. I finished breakfast inquiring with the resort staff about these large monitor lizards that I rarely see in Bangkok. As they told me stories about living on the island with these magnificent creatures, the rain decided to come by for a brief visit.
It made the weather a bit more ideal than the scorching sun we had been experiencing.
After breakfast, we kayaked over to the next beach and found a resort bar we used as a base to put our belongings as we snorkeled. Koh Ngai is known as one of the best snorkeling islands in the world because its coral reefs are close to its shores. Sadly, the closest coral reefs were graveyards for its inhabitants. I'd like to point out that this is from lack of education about coral reefs. If one person steps on any part of a coral reef, it acts as a negative butterfly effect if you kill any organism. That's just one person. Now imagine 100,000 tourists on every island, in every country with islands. If you aren't strong enough to free dive then perhaps a great idea is wearing a life-jacket while snorkeling to avoid stepping on any coral reefs.
While kayaking back to Koh Ngai Resort, I felt both excitement and sadness. I was still excited to be on such a heavenly island but the sadness struck me when I realized, if we didn't change our ways, this heavenly island's ecosystem may be severely damaged like many commercial islands are today.
Entrance to the Cave
We had another splendid breakfast and Daice and our friends wanted to enjoy the beautiful day flying drones and getting massages on white sand. I decided to take the opportunity to take the family & kids on an unforgettable adventure. We booked a speedboat to take us to the exotic Emerald Cave. Prior to this trip, I've been trying to experience the Emerald Cave for 10 years but every time I came to Trang, the waters weren't favorable. Southern Thailand rains most of the year and at certain times, the Emerald Cave must close due to the dangers of high waters and/or high tides. I knew that it was a cave where the waters inside glisten off the sunlight creating an emerald-like phenomenon on the cave's walls, 10 am to every day. That's all I was expecting to see but the cave had other plans.
I attached my 3-year-old grandson's life jacket to mine using my Alpenlore belt before jumping into the water and entering the cave. We swam through the cave's darkness following our guide until we finally saw it. The amazing emerald like walls didn't disappoint and as I was ready to head back to the speedboat, I ask the guide why the big tour groups were still swimming forward. He quickly told us that these are only the walls and to follow him deeper into the cave.
As we exited the cave on the opposite end we entered, I realized, we just found the treasure of the Emerald Cave. The Emerald Cave is actually an entrance to one of the world's most beautiful crystal green water lagoons, enclosed by astonishing high cliffs.
The gorgeous lagoon's white sand beach was so impressive that I had to sit on and reflect where I was and how I got there.
Beyond the beach was a small jungle like area before reaching the tiny cave in the very back of the lagoon. We decided to enjoy the rest of the time on the lagoon's beach, taking photos, capturing the priceless moments.
The greatest part of the Emerald Cave was that my family was there with me to experience it.
We took countless pictures and enjoyed the time there with all the other tourists who were there also there.
Even though all of us were there either with family, friends or a tour company, I couldn't imagine what was going through the first person's mind who found this lagoon. They probably just didn't go back to where they came from and stayed indefinitely.
The Love for the Andaman Sea
People who come to the Andaman Sea fall in love with it and we're no different. I come down to southern Thailand at least once a year but there was never a precise date so over the years I kept missing the Emerald Cave. I'm feeling really happy that this is the year I finally saw the game plan play out. Southern Thailand has a lot of rain forests so it may rain up to 10 months out of the year. The best time of year for the Emerald Cave is in March and April due to tide levels so if you're in Trang these two months, then you may be in luck.
We spent the next few days enjoying spas and more snorkeling. By this time, there were more guests at the resort and we had a blast socializing with them. Islands always find ways to be the perfect social atmosphere where everyone can be themselves and do some Earthing on white sands. It rained just enough for the temperature to be moderately hot, but we definitely knew it was Thailand's hottest time of the year. After this season, the farmers across Thailand begin planting their crops, awaiting the rain so I'm grateful we all got to finally experience the Emerald Cave.
Authored & photographed by @stewsak
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