We got up early one morning, checked out of our accommodation, and headed to the beach. One coconut shake later, we were on our first Thai longtail taxi-boat cutting through the waves from Hat Sai Ree on Koh Tao, to Koh Nang Yuan.
We chose to travel to Koh Nang Yuan after reviewing some of the scuba diving schools on Hat Sai Ree, and decided it was worth gambling into the unknown. I had tried to contact the dive school on Koh Nang Yuan for nearly a week via telephone and email but had no reply. It had a good review from a friend (Thanks Ian) and we guessed it wouldn't be so busy at the time of our visit. It worked out well.
Four days later I had completed the PADI Open Water course - the introductory course that allows you to dive with a 'buddy' down to 18m. I was the only one on the course which meant I got some quality training. Julie had a taster session and decided to stick to the snorkelling. Scuba Diving (or snorkelling) around Koh Nang Yuan and Koh Tao is just awesome. Some say it is one of the best places in the world for diving. From octopus to puffer fish, black-tipped reef sharks to anemone fish, and the scary trigger fish (yes, scarier than the sharks) to the beautiful moon wrasses...there is just so much variety.
Koh Nang Yuan itself is an unusual entity. To the casual observer, it's a little bit of paradise just off Koh Tao that is kept in pristine condition. There was certainly nothing wrong with the dive school, or the possibility of just walking off the beach into a great diving site, and no plastic bottles are allowed on the island, which seemed a respectable rule. But after living there for a week, things appeared a little different...
The island is apparently owned as a business entity by the Thai government and has been leased to a management company that has partnered with the regional ferry company, Lomprayah. Far from being a tranquil island, quite literally ferry loads of people come and go each day on organised snorkelling or diving tours with a buffet lunch included. Between 10am and 4pm the place is fairly stressful...which has obviously taken its toll on some of the staff, and soon we began to joke about paradise lost/living on Alcatraz, and were glad to escape at the end of the week to Chumphon on the Thai mainland.