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Layan Island (Swim from Phuket)

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This is my goal today, swim out to this island just off the west coast of Phuket, take a picnic and eat my picnic on private beach where no tourists can be seen! Most of this is surprisingly easy, the adventure part at least. The most difficult part is finding the beach road in the first place!
The road is down one of the streets in the Laguna Resort complex. Laguna is Phuket's Disney for millionaires, filled with expensive villas, built around artificial Lagunas, elephant walks, ATV rides, wedding chapels, golf courses and hotels, all walking distance to the beach... It's very nicely done, but finding your way through this tourist complex to get to Layan National Park can be a nightmare. Best to print out a map before you go!

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Once you get to the end of the road, there's a few places to park up, I brought my scooter, so parking was easy. This strip of land where the river runs parallel to the coast is the start of Layan National Park. I packed my Ocean Pack with a picnic. A waterproof pack like this is another essential, you'll have to swim over to this island, it may only be 10 metres away, but the river cuts a deep channel and you will get wet. I was glad I had my pack as a float to help me swim across.

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I chose to cross at the shortest part, but the current took me out toward the sea. On the other side are rocks to scamper up onto, but in hindsight, the cuts on my hand tell me this was a bad mistake. The barnacles and shells on the rocks are the razor sharp kind, not the scampering up kind! I should have crossed where the sand banks are. I'll cross there on my way back.

The beach here is unspoilt, only a few locals bother to come here to fish from the rocks at the tip of this island. The sand is unspoilt, alive with crabs, each crab hole surrounded by perfect little balls of sand. This also means the sand is porous, and you sink into it, leaving deep footprints as you go. I decide I'm going to make a full circle of the island, following the line of the coast.

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I set off around the rocks, I wish I'd brought my gardening gloves, my hand still had cuts on it. Thankfully I had good plimsoll shoes to jump from rock to rock, beach flip flops won't work here, they'll only break.
Once I got to the shady part, I chose a good rock and ate my picnic. Stir fried rice made from last nights left overs. It will take me a good hour or two to get around this island. Not a tourist in site, I am next to Bang Tao Beach, one of the nicest and busiest tourist beaches in Phuket, on a busy Sunday in high-season and it's completely tranquil, no-tourist to be seen.

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The further round the island you go, the more alive it becomes. Every time you cross a new rock, fish and crabs scamper to hide into their crags. Jumping fish, cling to the rocks and jump out of the way of the waves.

Rock pools, filled with stranded sea life, deep deep pools. You have your private swimming pool in your luxury Laguna villa, and I have my even more private rock pool on a peaceful island just off the coast.

After an afternoons exploring this island, I get back to the sand, where there's one last treat this island has to offer. I've marked on the map where the river exits to the sea, and a second stream from the bay cuts across it. As I waded back across this strip, alternate hot and cold water hits you. Very hot water from the shallow bay stream, that's been heated by the sun. Cold from the river, then in an instant hot again, then cold again.

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Near the entrance, a coconut ice cream seller, cuts open and scoops out a fresh coconut, fills it with coconut ice-cream, and little jelly and peanut garnishes. The nut adds a pleasant saltiness to the otherwise sweet ice cream. That's a nice way to finish off a beach trip.

This strip of beach is perfect to swim in, the beach falls away gradually, the sand is soft, and the waves slow and mild. I decide to have a final swim before I go home.


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