It seems that the dumbest ideas always take seed in the nicest of places. It must have something to do with the fact that there is so much idle time while relaxing in paradise and your mind can wander very far from what might be considered the normal thought process. While relaxing on one of the beautiful beaches of Koh Phi Phi, a traveler mentioned to me a place she had heard of called Monkey Beach. She said that we could kayak to Monkey Beach from the shore on the other side of the island. Naturally, being from a place where we don’t know much about monkeys and don’t see them anywhere but the zoo, this sounded like a perfectly good idea. We made plans to meet early the next morning so we could get food, water, and the kayaks for our trip.
Around 9 am we met with our new friend Helga — a rather large and formidable looking Dutch girl — to go in search of supplies and kayaks. The food came easily enough; a bit of rice wrapped in banana leaf, some fried noodles and vegetables, a baguette, and some fruit. The water was also easily acquired — some strange looking, flimsy Thai water — it didn’t look like the safest to drink but hit the spot on our budget needs. Then we were off for some kayaks.
The Journey To Monkey Beach
With our supplies safely tucked away, we headed out into the surf and started paddling hard. After we passed the breaking of the waves, the paddling eased up and we found ourselves marveling at the clarity of the water. You could see every detail of the ocean floor below. We watched as the water went through every shade of green to blue as we went farther out. Eventually, we cleared the natural rock formation of the bay and started heading west. Our goal was to paddle around two more bays and then the third bay would be Monkey Beach. It was a hot day, as should be expected in the Gulf of Thailand, but nobody thought to complain as the scenery was so beautiful.
We all seemed to fall into our own individual reverie and enjoy what we were experiencing in our own way. It was my first time seeing anything like this. I had come from a place known for beautiful beaches and water but nothing like what was surrounding me then. There were big jungle covered mountains that began just after beautiful white sand beaches, periodically broken up by large, smooth boulders.
After about an hour of steady paddling, we finally got our first view of our destination. It was a beautiful beach, just as any other on the island, and it seemed to be surprisingly deserted. As we got closer, we could see evidence of other tourists; garbage and remnants of old picnics, some monkeys sitting on the beach, and even a few swimming. This was my first time seeing a monkey running around in the wild and it was really interesting to see them swimming. I had never really thought about monkeys swimming, but they were just like little kids playing around.
Arriving on Monkey Beach
As we continued to paddle towards the beach it struck me how much they resembled the tourists who traveled here. They were lying in the sun and in the water; some were chasing each other and playing on the beach. If they were in bathing suits I might have mistaken them for some exceptionally hairy Italians on vacation.
We beached our kayaks as the monkeys scattered and sat down on the nearest log in the shade to relax and get out of the heat. As we sat, the monkeys started to come back and eventually we were probably within a herd of 50 or so monkeys. It was a great experience and we all started taking photos.
A Monkey’s Lunch
After spending a little while walking around the beach and shooting photos we thought it would be a good time for lunch. It seemed the monkeys had the same idea. As Helga walked over to the kayak to retrieve the food, a monkey lunged at her, biting her hand. She dropped the bag as the monkey grabbed it and ran.
Warner and I ran from our seats towards the kayak as the other 50 monkeys, seeing their friend get a good lunch, decided to do the same. We got to the kayaks only a few short seconds before the monkeys and grabbed the paddles. We turned around and started swatting at the monkeys with the paddles to keep them at a bay. Helga began to push the kayaks into the water as we kept the ever growing number of devil monkeys away.
As she got all three kayaks pushed away from shore, Warner and I made a break for it, swimming out to them. It seemed as though we had found out the reason for all the trash on the beach. It appeared the picnickers were chased away before they had a chance to clean up after themselves.
Unfortunately, our garbage was added to the pile. But I’ve learned another valuable lesson while traveling in SouthEast Asia — one that will prove to serve me well for many travels to come. Never trust a damn monkey.
Author’s Favorite Travel Gear
Acrodo Waterproof Dry Bag: This dry bag is perfect for Kayak trips and adventures like my one to Monkey Beach. It’s made from a tough, water-resistant material to keep your items safe (and dry!) and even if it does go overboard, it floats! It’s also great for camping, hiking, and makes a good beach bag.
Chillax Inflatable Lounger: If I hadn’t been chased away by monkeys, I would have definitely taken the time to set up my Chillax lounger. It comes in an easy-to-carry bag, and inflates in under a minute (it also doesn’t require a pump), making it a low maintenance luxury.
Bearz Outdoor Picnic Blanket: This is another item I would have loved to been able to utilize on Monkey Beach. This outdoor picnic blanket is lightweight, compact, and so easy to travel with. I keep mine on me most of the time because you just never know when you might have an impromptu picnic.