Six islands make up the Phi Phi archipelago. They sit in the
Andaman Sea 48kms east of Phuket and 42kms south of Krabi
with Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Lee being the two largest.
A true tropical paradise of hill hills with jutting cliffs,
pristine white beaches and an emerald sea hiding banks of
coral and colourful marine life
As recently ago as 1945, The Phi Phi Islands
were uninhabited, only occasionally visited by Sea Gypsies.
The first settlers arrived in 1950 from Koh Yai, north of
Phi Phi Island, in Phang Nga Bay. Later settlers from Koh
Lanta and Krabi provinces joined them. 99% of the inhabitants
of Koh Phi Phi Don are Muslim. The call to prayer from the
islands one mosque can be heard in the village both in the
morning and in the evening. There is always a high attendance
as the islanders are devoted to their faith.
Koh Phi Phi Don
The largest and the only inhabited of the
six islands cover a total of 28 square kilometers. The island
is 8 kms long and 3.5 kms across at the widest point. At the
northern most part of the island, Cape Laem Tong is home to
Chao Ley or a sea gipsy village. This community migrated from
Lipeh in Tarutao National Park close to the Malay boarder.
Some of the islands best diving can be found in Laem Tong
also at Hua Rah Ket on the most southern part of the island.
Around the island are long beaches with a few rocks scattered
about. The back-to-back curving bays of Ton Sai and
Loh Dalam are particularly beautiful.
Koh Phi Phi Le
The second largest in the archipelago covers
an area of 6.6 square kilometers, 3kms long and 1 km across
at the widest point. The entire island is made of limestone
with steep cliffs encircled by crystal clear water. Its average
depth is 20 metres but it is at its deepest, 34 meters off
the island's southern tip. Although uninhabited the island
does have some beautiful bays. Pileh Beach is almost encircled
by the limestone wall of the islands cliffs. On the northern
point of the island is the famous
Viking Cave, a name they were given by His Majesty King Rama
IX after his visit in 1972. At Tam Pya Nak there is a large
boulder that resembles the shape of the giant serpent from
Buddhist legend, the Naga. On the eastern and southern walls
of the cave are historical images of elephant and
European, Arab and Chinese sailing boats. There is a theory
that pirates took shelter from the monsoon in the caves and
used them transfer their cargo or make repairs.
The Province of Phuket and Krabi have a
largest Chinese community, descendants of the tin miners and
rubber plantation owners that gave the area its original prosperity.
They will come to the island to collect the nests of the migratory
Fork tail Swift, the raw ingredient for the Chinese delicacy
Bird's Nest Soup. The birds descend on Phi Phi Le during January
to April and will build the nests held together by no more
than their saliva. They stay for just two weeks before continuing
Its name in English is Bamboo Island that
lies to the north of Phi Phi Don, close to Koh Yung. To the
north and east of the island are beautiful sandy beaches.
To the south stretches a broad coral reef
Again to the north of Phi Phi Don. On the
eastern side a rocky beach and a smaller strand of sand in
the fold of the hill. A great and beautiful selection of coral
can be found here.
Despite the islands rugged terrain a number
of the islanders support themselves from cashew nut farming.
The plantations can clearly be seen from the path leading
to the viewpoint. Likewise coconut farming, the milk from
the coconut the key ingredient of the island's delicious curries.
But fishing still remains the most important industry. Local
men pride take pride in their skills as boatmen. The best
of them being full time captains on the dive and fishing boats.
With their love of the sea all the boats
captains are Muslim. They also control the boat industry in
the poorer islands to the east.