I travelled around New Zealand in 2008, and ended up in Auckland as part of my trip. One day I took a trip over to the nearby island of Rangitoto.
I took a boat from Auckland and the volcanic cone, which rises up to 850 feet, can be seen for miles around, it’s a sight to see from afar. The name, Rangitoto, is Maori for “Bloody Sky” and the name comes from Tama-te-Kapua, a captain of the Arawa Waka, who was badly wounded there during a battle.
Rangitoto island was created over 6,000 years ago by a series of volcanic eruptions and evidence of the eruptions can be seen across the island in the form of fields of black lava stones. And it’s these black lava stones that were quarried between 1898 and 1930 and used as building material for Auckland. It’s a very unique landscape.
On the island, there are paths, that were created between 1898 and 1930 by prisoners, that lead right up to the summit.
It was a fabulous day out, tramping the old dirt tracks up to the summit and seeing the wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and out to sea. I love exploring new places and being reminded of old ones.
I visited Koh Chang earlier this year and I have to say it’s my favourite island in Thailand to date. The island is big and covers just over 420 sq km, and around 70% of it is unspoiled rainforest, steep hills and cliffs, waterfalls and long sandy beaches. I went to stay with my friend Mark and he was my tour guide for the few days I was there. We drove all over the island and spent time on a few of Koh Chang’s best beaches.
Klong Prao Beach
On the west coast, Klong Prao Beach is a long sweeping stretch of soft, golden sand lined with tall trees and gorgeous mountain views surrounding the bay. It wasn’t that busy when I visited, but it’s long enough to be able to find a private spot all to yourself. The water is warm, calm and shallow, so it’s perfect for swimming, and the blue colour is irresistible in the heat of the day. It’s a fabulous place to spend the day before you grab a beer and watch the stunning sunset disappear below the horizon; we did just that, and more than once!
Kai Bae Beach
The next beach to the south on the west coast is Kai Bae, another long sandy beach, but smaller than Klong Prao and even less crowded. We parked the bike at one end and walked through a forested area, with charming wooden huts, before hitting the beach. The tide was out, so it was a few extra steps into the warm, blue water. But that didn’t matter we were there to relax under the swaying palms. In the distance, we spotted elephants wallowing in the water, so we went to investigate and sure enough, there were a few adorable little baby elephants splashing around in the water, but they were being burdened with humans on their backs. After one of the babies said hello with its trunk and wandered off into the waves with its load, I could only feel sorry for the poor things.
On the locally named “dark side” of Koh Chang, because it is less developed than the west coast, is Long Beach. Right at the bottom of the southeastern tip of the island the beach doesn’t really live up to it’s name. It’s not very long at all, in fact, this beach should be called Lonely Beach because there are no crowds here. The road there turns from tarmac to dirt and there are some very steep hills and hairpin bends to contend with, and, once there, there is just one beach bar serving food and drinks. Apart from that, all you’ve got is a beautiful tree-lined sandy beach, calm blue water lapping its shores and a secluded bay with views of the mountains around. Totally unspoiled and wild, it’s worth the effort of getting there.
Chang Noi Beach
We didn’t go to Chang Noi Beach for the beach, we went to have a few drinks at Shambala Beach Resort, but that didn’t stop us admiring the views of Koh Chang’s widest beach with not a soul on it. The sandy expanse is protected from winds by a large horseshoe-shaped bay, tree-covered mountains and slopes on either side, and the water is calm and mesmerising. It’s a fabulous spot for sunset gazing and the beer is refreshing as well!
Bang Bao Beach
On the southwest coast is Bang Bao Bay; two beaches with the same name and we visited both. One crowded, with people swimming in the warm water, relaxing on the sand with drinks in hand or asleep under the creaking palms. The other, a deserted strip of white sand that sits at the far end of a disused resort in the shadow of a 7-deck cruise liner called The Galaxy. We sat and gazed out to sea for a while contemplating the fate of this abandoned ghost liner.
On the west coast, a little further than Kai Bae, is Lonely Beach, a golden sandy beach with a young crowd. This is Koh Chang’s equivalent to Ibiza’s sunset strip, just a little sleepier. Gorgeous guys and gals enjoying themselves on the beach, sunning themselves or drinking cocktails as they listen to funky tunes coming from the beach bars. This place is so cool, international DJs, like, my all time favourite, Danny Rampling, come here to play their sets every year. When we sat down to enjoy the atmosphere we were most put out when a young guy, who was handing out party flyers, bypassed us and didn’t give us one. He obviously thought we wouldn’t be interested in partying the night away, but, as my friend pointed out, we’ve done our fair share of partying in the past and could probably party that young whippersnapper into the ground! 😉 Ah, the joys of getting older! 😉
Have you been to Koh Chang before? What’s your favourite beach on the island? 🙂
If you’re in Bangkok and fancy a day out head to Bang Poo Nature Reserve. It’s not that far, and it’s great for bird-watching.
I went there with a friend in September and, to be honest, it isn’t the most attractive places and, apart from a jetty with a restaurant at the far end, there isn’t much there. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a few hours tramping around the mangroves and pathways. In parts, there are elevated walkways that take you through the mangroves and end with views of the Gulf of Thailand.
There are a fair few species of birds and, although this area may not be an obvious birding location, over a 100 different species have been spotted there.
It’s a great day out. Enjoy the birds and the nature 🙂