Low Tide Adventures – Phra Nang Cave Beach – Railay, Thailand
The entire Railay area is referred to as “Railay Beach”, but there are actually three beaches. West Railay Beach, the main beach on the west coast of the peninsula, is the most scenic and famous. Our long tail boat dropped us off here, so we’ve seen just how beautiful this beach is. We’re staying at East Railay Beach, on the other side of the peninsula. This beach is mostly mangroves and rocks, and can hardly be considered a beach. Finally, there’s Phra Nang Cave Beach on the southwest coast of the peninsula. This falls somewhere in between East and West in terms of how good of a beach it is, but what really makes it stand out are its landscape features.
We had heard about Phra Nang Cave Beach from Christine’s Aunt Donna. She signed up for Periscope at the beginning of our trip to follow us, and since then has been exploring Thailand on her own through other Periscope users. This beach was one of the places that she had seen, and she’s been anxious for us to get here and see it ourselves. Everything in Railay is just a short walk away, so we decided to go check the area out and watch the sun set.
The beach is about a fifteen minute walk from where we’re staying. The first five minutes are on a paved sidewalk along the shore of East Railay; beach to the left, hotels to the right. At the end of the shoreline, the walkway cuts across the peninsula towards the west coast. This is where the landscape begins to change. The walkway winds around a limestone mountain. Massive stalactites hang above parts of the trail in a way that it almost felt like we were walking in a cave. The cutover trail is short, and lets out onto a long white sandy beach flanked by more limestone mountains and caves.
We arrived at low tide (and low crowd), and explored the area. There were a few brave rock climbers navigating their way up the face of one of the cliffs. This really is a rock climbers paradise. There was a cave opening about 75 feet up that was only accessible by some serious climbing – we can only imagine the views from in there. We visited two small coves which are home to phallus shrines and are filled with wood (pun intended) phalluses. The fishermen come here to leave phallic shaped offerings to Shiva. They believe their offerings will bring them success in their fishing and protect them from danger.
We climbed through Princess Cave, up and over rocks to a little beach that was filled with coral – unfortunately it was mostly dead. The 2004 tsunami had a detrimental effect on most of the reefs in this area, but pollution from the long tail boats may also have something to do with it. The coral that was still alive was fully exposed with the tide out and was absolutely beautiful. With the low tide, we were able to walk to other rock structures on the north end of the beach and check out the views from a different angle. We saw tons of bright green and black crabs scurrying up the rocks as we approached. Kevin found a rock formation that looked like a fish head and named it “Fish Head Rock” (every rock that kind of looks like something has a name). We stayed out at these mountains to watch the sun set, which was beautiful. By then the tide was starting to come back in, so we quickly retreated back to the beach before swimming would become our only option to get back.
Aunt Donna thought this area looked incredible, and she was right!