I love visiting those ‘must-visit’ places like Phuket but what I love even more is finding the less visited places within those places to visit. Yao Yai Island popped up after I was doing some research on Yao Noi island and its gorgeous honeymoon worthy Four Seasons resort. The resorts on Yao Noi were on the expensive side so I kept searching and started reading up on Yao Yai, the larger island next door and its longer list of more affordable resorts. The ‘unknown’ factor of Yao Yai had me hooked and immediately, we were diverting our Phuket plans for a side-trip to Yao Yai and it was so worth it and I would highly recommend you to do the same!
HOW TO GET TO KOH YAO YAI:
Yao Yai is only 30 minutes by speedboat from Phuket making it a really convenient place to visit. The resort organises transfers from anywhere in Phuket so if you like convenience like us, then this is a great option to go for. Places like Phi Phi island which is a popular day trip is 2 hours away from Phuket so when you take this into consideration, it’s not far at all.
WHERE TO STAY:
There are plenty of resorts on Yao Yai to choose from with lots of affordable options too. When searching for resort, we were looking for a beachfront resort with private villas available. If we’re going to bliss out, we might as well go all out, right? We booked our stay at GLOW Elixir as they were having a 50% off all bookings sale. Because of this timing, we decided to book the beachfront pool villa for the same price we would have paid if we were to pay full price for a smaller place elsewhere.
GLOW was a stunning resort right by the water. In fact, it has it’s own private beach where their speedboat docks when picking passengers up from Phuket. The resort was filled with private villas and was on the small side, making it feel much more intimate.
Welcome to our beachfront pool villa! We were so excited to check in at GLOW and just loved the stunning beach front view and pool. The beachfront villas here include a large bedroom area and bathroom area, with an outdoor shower and bath tub. Showering outdoors feels strange at first but it is actually quite relaxing to shower with tall palm trees swaying above. Our pool out front was a great place to relax and enjoy some food. Having a pool face the ocean is so different to just having a pool elsewhere. Everything feels 200% more relaxing when you can see and hear the ocean and watch the sunset everyday. On a clear day, you can see Phuket from afar.
With so many villas here having their own jacuzzis and private pools, the main pool was often quite empty. It’s a beautiful place to relax and is 10 times bigger than the villa pools. Facing the sunset makes it all the more exciting and I think this pool totally has the potential to be converted into a crazy beautiful infinity pool one day.
SUNSET AT GLOW:
One of the things that led us to booking GLOW was the fact that they had their own private beach. Private beaches are so great because they are much more quiet, unlike the packed beaches in Phuket. The beach at GLOW was sunset facing and every day we would always go out and watch this magical moment. If you head further down the north side of the beach, you’ll probably also come across heaps of little crabs who call the beach here home. They’re so cute and literally everywhere at this time of the day!
One thing to know about Koh Yao Yai is that it really is quite undeveloped here. There aren’t exactly many restaurants you can find at your doorstep and there is no nightlife at all. If you love this about Phuket, then Koh Yao Yai is probably not what you are looking for but if you want to escape from the noise, never leave the resort and literally eat at the resort every day, then you will love Koh Yao Yai!
However, if you do want to head out, there are numerous day tours that you can book at the resort, as well as other activities like yoga (which is free!), bike tours, etc. The prices here are much more expensive than bartering at a day tours stand in Phuket but the group sizes here are much smaller. Both times we booked, we were the only ones who booked meaning that we ended up having a private tour each time. You can see more of the two day tours we booked at GLOW here: Phi Phi Island / Phang Nga Bay
TIP: Look out for the two swings by the beach, such a great five minutes of fun!
All in all, Koh Yao Yai really reminded me of Lombok in Indonesia. Both islands are right next to their respective popular cousins Phuket and Bali, but are much less visited and hence much more peaceful and quiet with an untouched natural beauty. If this is your thing, then visiting a place like Koh Yao Yai is a definite must do from me!
Photography: Connie Cao & Tom Debono