The Best Island Hopping Phuket: How to Do It Right

UPDATED December 28, 2022–Welcome to our guide on island hopping Phuket, Thailand! Located in the Andaman Sea, Phuket is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters and breathtaking natural beauty.

One of the best ways to experience all Phuket has to offer is island hopping. Each island has unique character and charm, from peaceful coves and secluded bays to bustling markets and vibrant nightlife.

In this article, we’ll show you how we planned our island hopping adventures, including which islands we visited, how we got there and what we did once we arrived. So grab your reef-friendly sunscreen, and let’s start island hopping, Phuket!

Table of Contents

Pinterest graphic with 4 scenes of beautiful islands with white sand beaches the graphic reads, "Island hopping Phuket"

Yes, you can island hop from Phuket. And the convenient ferries to Phi Phi islands, James Bond Island and elsewhere make it easy to do so.

In this article, we’ll help you plan island hopping in Thailand. You’ll get the inside scoop from seven travel bloggers who recently visited Phuket for TBEX, The Travel Bloggers Exchange.

Afterward, many of us went island hopping. Read on to learn how these experts did it!

1.) Island Hopping Phuket: Karon Beach to James Bond Island

vertical island with base eroded by salt water stands in a bay surrounded by other monoliths
Khao Ping Kan AKA James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay | Feuza Reis photo

“As a big fan of 007, I knew I had to visit the iconic James Bond Island while visiting Phuket, Thailand,” says travel blogger Feuza Reis.

“We were at Karon Beach, and there were tour stands all over. So I asked the waitress for her top pick and went with her recommendation.

“The boat trip, consisting of five island stops, plus lunch and transportation, cost about $42 each.

Vertical island looks like balancing rock in middle of bay which is a destination for Island hopping Phuket fans
Khao Phing Kan AKA James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay | Feuza Reis photo

“Since high tide kept us off the first island, we continued to Khao Phing Kan, the famous James Bond Island,” continues Feuza.

“It’s known as James Bond Island because British moviemakers filmed scenes from The Man with the Golden Gun here. The magnificent upside-down rock is so different that it felt like we were in a movie.

“Steps led through lush greenery to intriguing caves. We had fun doing 007 poses while scoping out the island at several photo spots.

Hop to the next island: Ko Panyi at Phang Nga Bay

“Our next stop was at a Muslim village in Phang Nga Bay called Ko Panyi, where we ate lunch.

“Their structures are built on stilts and sit out over the water. These so-called floating villages were colorful, and the lunch was yummy.

“We stayed here for about an hour, then headed out again. The tour guide would always tell us how long until our next stop and how long we would have on each island, which helped us stay on track.

5 wooden boats with high bows decorated with bright coloerd flowers and ribbons are beached in the sand during an island hopping Phuket adventure
Island hopping in longtail boats | Feuza Reis photos

“Next up, we headed out to do the canoe tour, which was my favorite part of the whole trip,” revealed Feuza.

“The canoeing occurred at Phang Nga Bay, which was gorgeous and peaceful. Then we returned to the first island and were greeted by cute monkeys.

“Before getting off the speedboat, they gave us hard hats, and I had no idea why. Little did I know we would be heading inside a cave where we had to duck low with water up to our ankles.

“It reminded me of this ’80s movie where this teacher gets kidnapped by guys in clown masks, and she and her students have to swim under caves.

“Anyhow, it was exciting and adventurous.

“On the other side was this pretty nature-loving section filled with mud and species of the island,” the blogger describes.

Panya Beach island hopping Phuket

“Our last stop was at Panya Beach at Naka Island. Here we could purchase some yummy drinks and snacks, hang out at the beach and swim.

“Overall, this is a fun-filled trip for this midlife traveler who isn’t so adventurous, and I still loved it.”

Feuza Reis is a mid-budget travel blogger and SEO speaker. She loves slow travel and finding old coffee shops and bars.

bow of wooden boat points toward coastline of towering limestone monoliths with a crack of an entrance to a hidden lagoon
Longtail boat heads into Phi Phi Leh | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

2.) Take a Long-tail Boat to Maya Bay for Island Hopping Phuket

“An absolute must-do and my personal favourite boating experience around Phuket was hiring a long-tail boat for the day to visit Maya Bay,” says Australian and UK travel blogger Tracy Collins.

“Maya Bay and its stunning beach were reopened in 2022 after being closed by the Thai government for nearly four years. Famous for being THAT beach in the film of the same name, getting to Maya Bay is best achieved by long-tail boat,” reveals the creator at Tracy’s Travels in Time.

“Hiring a long-tail boat (with its owner) to sail you around these beautiful islands is surely one of those bucket list experiences that everyone dreams of. 

“Just ensure you head to Maya Bay first before the crowds arrive. Boats are no longer allowed to pull up to the beach, so expect an interesting disembarkment onto a floating pontoon before a short walk across boardwalks to the back of the bay,” she reports.

“After soaking in the beauty of the bay, head back to your long tail boat for further adventures exploring the paradise of Phi Phi islands.”

Tracy Collins writes about travel at Tracy’s Travels in Time.

feet with blue pedicure, in black sandlas rest on white sand beach with view of turquoise waters and floating islands of green
Maya Beach on the Phi Phi Islands between Phuket town and Krabi town | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

3.) Island Hopping with La Moet Phuket Makes It Easy for You

Boat sails on Phuket’s Andaman Sea -view from stern of boat looking towards bow and mast with rigging while island hopping Phuket
Island hopping Phuket with La Moet | Jenny Littlewood photo

“I always have the best time on board La Moet Phuket. It’s my boat of choice for my family’s boating adventures,” reveals travel blogger Jenny Littlewood, who lives in Phuket.

“Their Sun and Sunset tour on Phuket’s Andaman Sea is one of my absolute favourites,” says Jenny, who goes by Little Wren on Instagram and her website Littlewanderingwren.

“La Moet is spacious, comfortable and with lots of comfy cushions! I love the relaxing cruise gliding through the sparkling turquoise waters in search of a perfect secluded cove to swim and snorkel,” Jenny recommends about island hopping Phuket.

The staff at La Moet does a wonderful job ensuring we are safe and happy onboard and in the water. There are plenty of snacks served throughout the trip, ending with a delicious Thai dinner,” praises Little Wren.
 
“As the sky charms with gorgeous hues, everyone is chatting and enjoying the sunset whilst taking the last memorable photos of a wonderful day. Do not miss!”
 
Jenny Littlewood lives in Phuket and blogs about travel on her website Littlewanderingwren.

4.) Make Sure Family-style Food Is Part of Your Island Hopping Phuket Tour​

5 plates of Thai food including chicken skewers, egg rolls and pad thai with smaller bowls of dipping sauces like peanut sauce, all on table and photographed from above
Thai food is an important part of the fun while island hopping Phuket | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

“We have great memories of the food while island hopping Phuket to Kahung Island,” says travel writer Carla Rupp. “When we arrived by boat at Kahung Island, travel bloggers piled around tables in the island’s restaurant with our big appetites. Family-style bowls of Thai food were a welcome sight. Snorkeling and swimming at several spots along the way had left us famished.

“‘I remember everything being very fresh,’ recalls YouTuber Dan Zeek when we chatted recently. We raved about the food, remembering our friend Stacey Wittig,” continues Carla.

“My YouTuber son Jason Rupp and I were lucky to have a freshly-made vegetarian platter that all of us shared at our table. There were dishes to suit all tastes: delicious coconut curry, fresh shrimp, an array of fruit, fresh calamari, fish with a yummy sauce and more.

“We loved our meal, and the servers were wonderful, bringing out new things. The family-style meal was perfect for drawing us all together as we passed the food and had fun conversations like ‘family’ and best travel friends.”

Carla Rupp travels around the world, capturing images and writing about her adventures.

Instagram @carlarupp

5.) Don’t Miss SUP While Island Hopping Phuket

YouTuber Jason Rupp paddleboards with Nikorn instructor while island hopping Phuket | Carla Rupp photo

“After our meal while island hopping Phuket and its surroundings, my mom Carla and I went into the water. It felt so amazingly good—the cleanest, most beautiful water,” describes Jason Rupp, vblogger and TBEX regular. They had hopped from Phuket to Kahung Beach on Coral Island.

“Our friend Dan Zeek grabbed a lounging chair to admire the scenery and catch some sun. Soon I noticed someone come out of the water with a stand-up paddle board, and I wanted to do that!

“It is always my dream to paddleboard anywhere in the world that I can. So the staff helped me with the board, and I managed to go out in the water with it and stand up on it.

“I paddled as I stood up. It is such a thrill to stand on the board. Just the beauty of Kahung Island and Phuket is awesome! I loved it.

“It is a challenge to stand up. Eventually, I fell into the water.

“My mom noticed a double kayak, so we did that activity until it was time to leave. I hope we can go back there someday: Nikorn Marine Tour did a great job taking care of us.”

Jason Rupp is a vblogger on YouTube with over 571K subscribers.

Instagram @dontmisstheplane_jasonrupp

RELATED: Canaling Adventure: 88 miles on the Erie Canal

6.) Dolphin Watching While Island Hopping Phuket

woman in water has snorkle mask on top of head while she smiles broadly next to catamaran boat with ladder
Meg Campbell is ready to snorkel during her dolphin watching excursion | Kevin Flint photo

“Everyone knows about Phi Phi and James Bond Islands near Phuket, but the lesser-known islands are where you are more likely to find dolphins.

“During our time in Phuket, we visited small islands in search of the beautiful yet elusive mammals. Dolphins pods are known to frequent the bays at small islands like Mai Ton, Thai Tai and Coral Islands,” reveals world traveler Kevin Flint.

Island hopping Phuket

“To get to these islands, we used companies like Nikon Marine in Phuket. There are a lot of tour operators based on the east and west coast sides of the island.

“They offer anything from sailing catamarans to large 45+ foot power boats to yachts and more. They also have the snorkeling equipment you need, plus some offer inflatable slides for easy and fun access to the water.

If you want to add more adventure to your dolphin hunt, we recommend going with a company that offers scuba diving. But, even if you don’t find the dolphins, the aquatic life on the coral reef of these islands will impress you.”

Kevin Flint is a content creator, adventurer, world traveler, gear tester and blogger at www.kevinflint.net. Meg Campbell is a creative entrepreneur in the holistic health industry who supports women to live an authentic life of self-love, freedom and joy. She can be found at www.asoulnewworld.com.

7.) Island Hopping Phuket With Nikorn Marine

“For island hopping Phuket, I’d recommend Nikorn Marine. I sailed out of Phuket with them on two occasions. Once on a motorized catamaran to Papakang Maiton Island and later on a powerboat to Kahung Beach,” explains travel writer Stacey Wittig.

“The catamaran had more space for dancing and dining. The powerboat hopped us to islands and snorkeling spots at a faster pace.

“If I had to choose between the two, I would pick the speedboat to Kahung Island because of the restaurant, chilling on the beach and water sports found on the island. Carla and Jason described that so well in their sections above,” the travel expert says.

“The catamaran had a sunset dinner on board, but I preferred lunch at the Kahung Beach restaurant. Both were fun island hopping Phuket that took me to places I would never have seen without the boat excursions.”

Nikorn island hopping tours leave from Chalong Pier in Phuket.

Stacey Wittig is a travel journalist who writes as UNSTOPPABLE Stacey.

 

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Hi, I’m Stacey

UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel is a travel blog focused on immersive travel that highlights food, wine and the spirituality of place. I also occasionally write about life as a Camino de Santiago pilgrim. I hope you enjoy what I post here. Feel free to leave comments! Read more…

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As is common in the travel industry, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review,  the author believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

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