Thailand Cruises – On the Beach and Boating Around Phuket

Even to the seasoned traveler who has been to beaches the world over, Phuket retains a mystical charm that draws visitors back time and again, and most times they never want to leave.

The warm, pleasant water and sparkling sand is just the beginning, and few people go to Phuket just to sit on the sand and enjoy tropical drinks with tiny umbrellas in them. Phuket, while it is the largest of Thailand's islands, is only one of many, and the tourist that has the privilege of a private charter boat can take time to explore the coastline as well as the many smaller islands that dot the entire region.

There's little doubt of course, that you will want to dock your yacht and stay on Phuket for an extended stay, to enjoy the beach, the nightlife, the people, and the excellent food.

While there, you'll find the beaches to be pristine, but pry yourself away from that deck chair for a while and explore the inland portion of the island as well. Phuket is associated with the beach, marine life, scuba diving, and yachting-and tourists tend to stick to the main areas. Those that do however, are missing out on a great adventure.

Phuket's inland area boasts an exotic rainforest jungle, and there are plenty of tours available-and the wonderful thing about the inland rainforest tours are that you do not have to venture far from the water's edge to get there.

Do not pass up the opportunity for at least a short elephant ride. The huge animal looks a bit intimidating at first, but do not worry, they are gentle and sure-footed, and there's no view in the world like that from on top of an elephant trekking through the rainforest. After you reward your mahout (elephant guide) with a tip, do not forget to reward the elephant as well with a couple bananas or some luscious pieces of sugar cane.

Wherever you are in Phuket, you'll be sure to enjoy wonderful cuisine. Thai food is an experience in itself, and eating Thai food in a restaurant in Phuket overlooking the water is an experience not to be missed. One thing you'll notice is that the further south you go in Thailand, the hotter the food. Fiery cuisine is de rigeur anywhere in the Kingdom, but you'll find a huge difference between food from the rural northern Isaan region, the capital city of Bangkok, and the southern provinces. If you thought the food was hot at your hotel in Bangkok, you have not seen anything yet!

But once you've enjoyed the interior, the restaurants, and the beach, you've only just begun.

Now it's time to get back on your boat and get to know the real meaning of island life. And what's the first thing to do once you get back on your boat? Jump off of it, of course. The dive sites around Phuket and the surrounding islands are teeming with colorful underwater life and coral beds.

Phuket is consistently rated by those who keep track of such things as one of the top dive sites in the world. The water is clear and visibility is incredible, giving you an unparallel view of the undersea wildlife.

It's likely that you'll see some manta rays gliding gracefully along the bottom of the sea, a whale shark or two, and hundreds of colorful fish and crustaceans-sometimes some of the same ones you enjoyed freshly steamed in the restaurant back on the mainland .

You may also encounter a few shipwrecks here and there, including the King Cruiser shipwreck by Anemone Reef; and the Pak-1 fifty miles West of Koh Chang.

Speaking of shipwrecks, you will no doubt want to pay a visit to the Shipwreck Bar back on Patong Island to enjoy a different type of scenery.

Organized tours, guidebooks, and hotel concierges are all of course, useful and helpful in moving your island adventure along, but if you're on your own chartered boat, you'll have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore at will .

Mainland organized tours are great and they serve a purpose, and if you take one, be sure to take at least a day to venture out on your own.

If you take an organized tour in Bangkok for example, your guide will take you to all the traditional tourist haunts; shopping at Chatuchak Market, visiting the majestic Grand Palace, strolling through the Jim Thompson House, and possibly taking in a performance of the Ramayana.

But when you set out on your own for the first time, you really get to experience what the city is all about. You'll find things you never knew exhausted, and that they did not tell you about your hotel brochures.

The same holds true when you explore the islands on your own. No two dive sites are exactly the same, and each island has its own unique character.

While Phuket is exciting and vibrant, with a rich nightlife and a strong tourist-oriented culture, the smaller islands give you a glimpse of real island life.

You will not find Gilligan, Skipper, Ginger and the rest of the crew of the Minnow anywhere near there, but many of the islands are decidedly less populous than Phuket.

The may lack the nightlife that you experienced along Patong Beach, but the natural beauty that you'll find while exploring Phuket and all of the surrounding islands is incomparable.

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