koh kradan and emerald cave

one of the main attractions of the islands is the ‘tham morakot’, the emerald cave. i was looking for people to share the boat fare with, after the only place with canoes refused to lend me one because of too much wind and big waves. this is how i met frank and laurent from paris. they invited me to take the tour with them to the cave and go snorkling afterwards near koh kradan. we were already skeptical when we started the next morning as the tide had already turned. when we arrived at the cave we couldn’t even make out where the entrace was. and the explanation “big waves” sounded too rehearsed coming from someone supposed to know the waters around the island. we agreed to give it another try later and go snorkling first.

the waters around koh kradan are incredible. our snorkling spot:

but as soon as we were under water, we faced another trouble. frank got in contact with a jellyfish and we decided there were too many of them to continue and so we hopped back on the boat to go to one of the beaches. at least this worked out well.

if some pirate is missing cargo…

we thought we return to the cave in the afternoon but our captain didn’t seem to be interested in that promise anymore. after we made our point to stay here until the tide is low again, he called his wife in england and after some nice way of trying to explain the situation, she was more or less just telling us that if the captain says ‘no’, there’s just nothing we can do about it.

back at the resort, where frank and laurent stayed and who organized the tour, they weren’t very helpful either. no more tours to the cave until they get more money. after the description of the situation at the cave and pointing out that it wasn’t just bad luck but bad timing, they at least agreed to take us there the next morning for half the price.

we started quite early at 7 o’clock. from another pier with another captain. which seemed like a good omen until we reached the other side of the island with the cave. big waves were shaking the boat and when we arrived, i just waited for the final whistle: ‘big waves’. but wow, captain said it’s fine. now it was our turn to doubt the mission. laurent was the first to throw the towl. frank and me boldly put on our life jacket and followed our captain who was swimming with one arm, holding the flashlight with the other above the water.

after we left the boat and were coming closer to the entrance i got more confident as the proportions had changed, feeling all that small once inside the water. the waves were big but we were taken up and down rather then towards the rocks. i just rounded the first cliff at the entrance when frank decided to return to the boat. i wish i could have told him that soon after the entrance the water was getting calmer, but that’s just after you pass the foaming gorge.

once inside, the flashlight turned out to be as helpful as a candle. but after my eyes adjusted and i had seen that no rocks were sticking out from the ceiling, i got more relaxed and without the waves it was a light and constant stream that took us towards the end of the tunnel and the small hidden beach.

the first thing i noticed while getting out of the water was the smell. it smelled intensly like in the hot house of a botanical garden. birds were sinnging and together with that ‘coming out of a tunnel’ feeling, it was amazing. five minutes later we had to swim back before the tide was getting in again.

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