I first heard about Ko Yao Noi from Fon, a Thai student of mine who gave me some great recommendations when I was preparing our month roadtrip in South of Thailand at the end of 2019. I had been to Thailand before -well, it's been a while, this was back in 2014 - and I knew how touristy this destination is, especially the islands around Phuket and the Andaman coast but I was really hoping to find less known places and islands off the beaten tracks during this trip. Ko Yao Noi was described to me as a very small and peaceful island with beautiful wild beaches and this is exactly what this island is. I totally recommend you to include this destination to your itinerary if you are after some authentic places, perfect to relax and soak up Ao Phang-Nga's beautiful karst scenery. We stayed on the island for 4 days, which is quite a while when your travelling time is limited, and still it felt that we could have stayed for many more days. So what's the catch ? What are the things to do while you are on the island ?
Explore the island with a motorbike
Ko Yao Noi is a very small island (12 kilometers long only), perfect to be explored by motorbike. Most guesthouses rent motorbikes so you can easily negotiate the rental price especially if you intend to get a motorbike for a few days. The island mountainous interior is great to visit. You will come across plenty of coconut farms, rubber plantations and rice fields. It's also great to stop for some food or drink on the way to get in touch with the super friendly Muslim community who inhabits the island.
Little cafe in the middle of the fields
Overall roads on the island are nice and relatively safe with very little traffic however there are some dirt roads that aren't very accessible with a regular motorbike, you should be very careful if you decide to take one of those roads to go to more secluded beaches.
Beach-hop around the island
There are a great number of quiet beaches on Ko Yao Noi. We didn't have a chance to explore all them – some of them are actually quite difficult to get to since you have to drive on dirt roads. I recommend Pasai beach which is one of the main ones so very accessible. There are a few small restaurants all along this beach so you could easily treat yourself with some fresh fish served on the beach.
A bit further is Klong Jark where you can walk on a sandbar at low tide and enjoy the karst scenery.
Low tide at Klong Jark
One of the most secluded we went to on this island is Som Ngaam Beach. It's located almost at the bottom of the East coast. Not easy to find but definitely worth the effort!
Koh Yao Noi is not a classic beach destination, bays on the island recede to mudflats at low tides so if you want to go for a swim you should definitely check the tide time beforehand!
Kayak to Koh Nok
On the way to Koh Nok
If you ever need to take a break from the beach, a great way to spend an afternoon is to rent a kayak in Pasai beach and paddle all the way to Koh Nok which is a tiny island a few meters away from Ko Yao Noi. Find yourself a strong kayaking companion as the crossing can be challenging - especially if it's windy but it should not take you more than 40 minutes to get there and it's absolutely worth it. This is literally a piece of paradise in the middle of the ocean. If you're lucky you'll have this island just for yourself – but note that it can get extremely busy there at lunch time as tourists who are on a day tour stop there for lunch so either go there early in the morning or early in the afternoon. The viewpoint on the island is definitely worth the sweaty climb up!
Spend a day – or more – on Koh Yao Yai
It only takes a 15 minutes boat ride from Manoh Pier to get to Ko Yao Noi's sister island called Koh Yao Yai which is larger but not so developed. The best way to visit this island is to rent a motorbike on arrival there. Beaches there are even more wild and secluded. A few minutes from the pier lays Hua Lam beach which is one of my all time favorite ! The sand is incredibly soft and the setting is just incredible with palm trees and crystal clear water.
Hua Lam Beach
Another nice one that I would recommend is located much further down on the West coast on both sides of Loh Jark Pier. Again, make sure whenever you plan to go to a beach to check the tide times or you might be left with a very disappointing mud bath!
Beach by Loh Jark Pier
Enjoy the sunset
Sunset at Manoh Pier
I find that there is nothing better after a full on day of exploring than enjoying a nice sunset. There are quite a few spots where you can do it on the island. I would recommend to watch it from Thao Tondo Pier that is in the West part of the island, past a nice fishing village with wooden houses or Manoh Pier in the South of the island. It can get very lively there late afternoon as locals come with their motorbike to collect goods delivered from the mainland.
Locals at Manoh Pier to pick up their delivery
How to get to Ko Yao Noi ?
We got there from Krabi where there are frequent long tails going to the island. But you can access it from most popular places in the area such as Ao Nang, Phang Nga and Phuket.