Sea Kayaking the Karst Limestone Islands of Koh Lanta

Sea Kayaking Koh Lanta: Karst Cliffs & Yellow Canoes



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We didn’t spend the whole time on Koh Lanta lying by the beach and watching Germans crash motorcycles into small ponds. One day we met up with Andy, a local sea kayak guide to explore one of the smaller islands just offshore of Koh Lanta up close and personal. The relatively slow pace of the sea kayaks allowed us to take in the magnitude of the limestone cliffs and also see some of the local wildlife up close. We also took a detour or two for exploring the caves hollowed out of the limestone by the relentless wave action of the sea.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    I think we all felt pretty confident in the abilities of our eight year old long tail boat captain with the t-shirt that read "Real Men Don't Need Viagra".

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    We put our sandals back on to get out and explore the caves.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    It was tough to see in the dim cave without a flashlight.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Further up inside the cave we found this small ledge that turned out to have a covering of bat poops on it.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    That was it for the first cave adventure, so back to the boats.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    It was easy to see where the high tide level was; it had eroded a very defined ring around the bottom of the island.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Some of the gaps between the limestone monoliths were just wide enough to maneuver a sea kayak through.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    For lunch, the long tail boat crew met us on a small beach that was hidden between two cliffs.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Lunch was a spicy Thai seafood dish that I didn't catch the name of. I chose this Thai soda to drink, it had a pretty unique taste althought I'm not sure how to describe it.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Andy led us into another cave after lunch, but this one didn't require us to duck down to get in.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Along some of the walls inside the cave you could see bamboo ladders where the local people would climb to collect the bird nests that they used for bird nest soup.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Steve, Alex and I were stowed in the back of the boat with the kayaks.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    We didn't actually get out of the boats inside this cave, but just paddled around for a few minutes before going back out into the sun.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Andy ended our sea kayak expedition in this nice lagoon.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Before we knew it, the elementary school aged long tail boat captain had taken over Steve and Alex's boat.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    We all swam back to the long tail boat for the trip back to the mainland.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Without even stopping the boat, our guide Andy jumped aboard as we motored by a dock.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Andy sprung into the kayak and prepared to lead us around the island, I was paired up with Andy in this boat. I found out from chatting with him that he was a part time kayak guide and he used the extra money to supplement his income as a shrimp fisherman because of declining catches.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Steve and Alex were ready to head for the high seas before the rest of us were even in our boats.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Andy tended to lead us close to the dramatic limestone cliffs of the island so we could get a better look at everything.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    Throughout the day of sea kayaking, we meandered in and among the towering limestone cliffs of Koh Lanta's islands. Photo by Alex Iams.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    It was a really nice day to be on the water.

  • Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004

    Koh Lanta Sea Kayaking, Thailand - October 2004
    As part of the adventure, Andy led us into some hard to reach caves. To get inside this one, we all had to duck down to avoid the overhanging cliff wall. We hoped the tide wasn't going to get any higher and trap us inside.