Years ago we heard about a nearly deserted island off the southern coast of Phuket. It’s the perfect place to snorkel, sunbathe, and day drink with gorgeous views of the clear waters and distant islands. Fast forward to today and this little island kept popping up while we researched for things to do on Phuket. It’s called Koh Bon (Bon Island) and we decided to take a DIY island day trip there. Here’s how you can do it, too.
How to get to Koh Bon
Koh Bon (เกาะบอน, pronounced gaw bawn) is about a 45-minute drive from popular areas such as Patong, Karen, and Kata Beaches. It’s off the southern coast of the island of Phuket, just off Rawai Beach. In fact, it’s from this same beach that you can book a roundtrip longtail boat to Koh Bon.
Conveniently, there are large A-frame signs for “Boat Service” along the sidewalks that run parallel to the entire length of Rawai Beach. You can approach the men lounging near these signs and they will take you on their boat. The going price is roughly 1,200 baht per private roundtrip ride regardless of the number of passengers.
|NOTE: It’s customary to pay for your boat ride in cash after you return to Rawai Beach from your trip to Koh Bon.|
We approached a man sitting in front of one of these signs right in front of the Rawai Landing Pier where Route 4024 meets the coast at a small three-way intersection. After he agreed to take us, we walked down to the end of the pier and waited a few minutes while he got his boat.
The ride is no more than 10 minutes long. There are two drop-off points on the island. The most popular place to go is the beach with the Bon Island Restaurant, which is at the northern end of the island. In fact, this side can be seen while standing on Rawai Beach and the Rawai Landing Pier. Your other option is to go to Long Beach, which is on the southwest side of the island. This is a good place to snorkel and is completely deserted.
Thai lunch at Bon Island Restaurant
The only form of civilization on this island is Bon Island Restaurant. This quaint open-air restaurant is run by a British expat and her local staff. The dining area is simple, with ubiquitous plastic chairs and tablecloths as well as seaside dining under thatched-roof gazebos. There are also lounge chairs to relax in and enjoy a beer or cocktail.
The menu offered a surprising number of dishes. Choose from classic Thai curries, stir-fries, fried rice or noodle dishes, and soups. You can get whole fish, shrimp, chicken, or pork. There’s also a small choice of Western food like fish and chips and sandwiches.
There are canned drinks such as soda and iced tea (60 baht) and fruit juice and whole coconuts (80 baht). There is also cold beer (100 baht), mixed drinks and cocktails (80 to 200 baht), and wine by the bottle (800 baht), too.
We ordered five dishes: papaya salad, cucumber salad, coconut milk soup with shrimp, stir-fried basil with fish, and yellow curry pineapple fried rice with shrimp.
Our food was delicious, particularly the coconut milk soup, fish and basil stir-fry, and cucumber salad. Although on the pricey side (averaging 240 to 370 baht or roughly 8 to 12 USD per dish), we were happy to pay for the convenience of a hot meal on a castaway island.
|NOTE: Bon Island Restaurant respects local Thai laws and does not sell alcohol on Buddhist holidays.|
Snorkeling near Koh Bon
There are several spots on the island to snorkel. We found three (marked on the map below):
- Just to the left of Bon Island Restaurant
- Around the corner (northern tip) where we were dropped off by longtail boat (opposite the direction walking to the restaurant)
- On the beach on the southwest corner of the Koh Bon
Some of the sea creatures we saw (unfortunately, we didn’t take our underwater camera):
- Sea cucumbers
- Emperor fish
- Red-mouth grouper
- Hermit crabs
|TIP: You must bring your own snorkeling gear. There are no rentals available.|
Be careful of the water currents, particularly in the area off to the left of the restaurant (if you are looking out at the water). The owner, Dawn, warned us to stay close to the beach because the strong underwater stream can take you down along the edge of the island and into the sea.
Would we do it again? Absolutely! The total cost of our trip to Koh Bon (longtail boat, food, no alcoholic beverages) was 2,600 baht. Our only regret is that we couldn’t stay longer due to the impending rainstorm. But we’ll be back for sure!