The Yao island archipelago runs north to south and divides Phang Nga Bay into two distinct cruising areas. To the west and north is Phang Nga Bay and to the east and south are Krabi and the mainland. They are part of Phang Nga province and served by ferry from Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi.
Together they have a population of 14,000 mostly Sunni Muslims who live by fishing, farming and rubber. In recent years there has been some resort development mainly on the east coast of Koh Yao Noi and the south west coast of Koh Yao Yai.
We start our anchorages from the north of Koh Yao Noi with Koh Kudu and Koh Roi, which are part of ao Phang Nga National Park. It is possible to find shelter anywhere in a comfortable depth off either coast so we just name a few of the better locations. The east coast of Koh Yao Yai is mostly of little interest and shallow well offshore.
19 miles from Yacht haven
This is a pretty anchorage on the outer fringe of a deep bay backed by mangrove swamps and flat ground, offering protection in both seasons, with good holding on a muddy bottom. Anchor well out in the bay in 4-5 metres and allow enough swinging room to accommodate an onshore breeze.
Dinghy trips ashore are possible at high tide, where there is a beach with a few huts at the back of the bay and great trails either side of the creek. The bay dries a considerable distance from the beach at low tide so keep an eye on your timing – unless you want to do the dinghy drag.
19 miles from Yacht haven
Reasonably well sheltered, particularly in the southwest season, this anchorage is in 10-12 metres on a muddy bottom, tucked in 100 metres southwest of the small rocky outcrop.
The Paradise Koh Yao is a boutique resort nestled in the palm trees behind the beach. There is a floating dinghy jetty in the north of the bay and yachties are welcome to use the restaurant ashore. There is a regular transfer speedboat to the Yacht haven several times each day.
The bay just to the north, Ao Pho Noi, is great for dinghy excursions, and features several small beaches for landing and swimming against a backdrop of mangroves overhung by towering limestone cliffs.
24 miles from Yacht haven
The 56-pool-villa Six Senses hideaway Yao Noi is built around a small hill and was the first ultra-luxury hotel on the island. Situated on a tiny crescent-shaped all-tide beach between Ao Muang and long Beach this property offers 5-star services for the cruising yachtsman. The resort has a wooden jetty on the north point for ferrying guests to and from Ao Po Grand Marina.
anchorage for the resort is in 4-6 metres on mud outside the hotel moorings near the jetty on the north point.
The established Koh Yao island Resort is just south past the southern headland and there is a walkway through the mangroves at the back of the outcrop joining the properties.
Anchor in 8-10 metres on the muddy bottom.
24 miles from Yacht haven
The rustic long Beach and Sabai Corner bungalows to the south also have small restaurants, operating all year round and offering a welcome opportunity to dine out on seafood after several days of cooking on board. however, their beaches are fringed with drying coral banks at low tide, giving limited access.
Just north of Sabai Corner is the Villaguna Boutique Resort and all are served by the concrete ring road connecting the beaches and the main ferry terminal.
Anchor in 4-6 metres off the southern end of the small bay.
25 miles from Yacht haven
Tucked in behind the neighbouring small islets and rocks, this spot offers limited protection in the northeast monsoon season.
To the west, a sandy spit runs out in shallow water towards some rocks. Excellent as a stopover on the way to the Koh hong island group or Krabi, this beach is also good for swimming, with water much clearer than that found in the passage.
Chong Koh Yao is the passage between the Yao islands, used extensively by local vessels en route to Phuket from the northeast of Koh Yao and the Krabi area. For pleasure vessels, even keelboats, it is navigable with care on a mid to rising tide. Rule of thumb: the high tide must be at least 0.5 metres more than your vessel\’s draft.
The approach from the west is to favour the north coast of Koh Yao Yai heading towards the fixed white tower marker at 8?05.10N, 98? 34.55E, then steer 65? towards the seaward end of the commercial jetty on Koh Yao Noi before passing north of the visible rock. once clear steer southeast to exit the channel.
A ferry service leaves several times daily from the jetty on Koh Yao Noi, landing on Phuket at the inlet called Bang Rong just south of Ao Po
26 miles from Yacht haven
Good overnight holding can be found in 7-10 metres to the east of the low rock in the middle of the passage (hin Klang Rong).
The largest village is on Koh Yao Noi, 1km in from the jetty; this is the best bet for topping up stores. Visit the little local restaurants or get a ferry to Phuket from the all-tide floating jetty.
South of this anchorage is a long sandy spit ideal for swimming at high tide. Three other villages perch on the north shore of Koh Yao Yai, one of them with a jetty.
A visit ashore is an interesting experience, but note that the people are Muslim and women should cover up. Alcoholic beverages are not available (nor should they be taken ashore).
Reasonable roads traverses the lengths of both Koh Yaos and the islands are fast becoming popular destinations for mountain biking adventures.
Three miles southeast of the channel is Koh Rang Nok. this is well worth passing by to see the cave and suspended dwelling under the rock wall on the northeast corner. The dwellings are inhabited by the guardians of the culinary-valuable birds nests. There are many signs strewn around the island warning against landfall. You are strongly advised to heed them.
28 miles from Yacht haven
Just north of laem hua larn (Bald head Cape) is one of our former contributors favourite spots. anchor off the reef in 10 metres on a sandy bottom to get some respite from the southwest swells. There is a beautiful beach with a panoramic view of Koh hong archipelago and Krabi to the North.
26 miles from Yacht haven
Approaching this anchorage, keep well off the rocky point to the west and set your anchor on the muddy bottom in 4-6 metres. Holding is firm enough that this spot not only offers good overnight protection in the northeast monsoon, but may be used in lighter winds during the southwest season too.
There is a small Muslim fishing village on stilts in the northwest corner of the bay. Approach by dinghy using the shallow creek on the west of the bay, and please observe the usual Muslim dress code.
there is a shallow bar at the mangrove entrance but once in the river it remains deep enough for shoal draft vessels. There is another village and road connection at the bend where all the fishing pot boats are tied up.
21 miles from Yacht haven
Anchor in 5-10 metres off loh Jark concrete pier. This jetty serves the main town of Prunai a few miles east in the centre of the island.
There are a few resorts and restaurants ashore and transport can take you to town to get provisions. There is a quieter bay one mile south with a small resort off a white sandy beach.
18 miles from Yacht haven
Anchor in 7-10 meters off the white sandy beach in the north of the bay at Yao Yai island Resort. Ashore are a few resorts and on the north headland are villas being built at the time of writing. Road access is just behind the beach and the main town is a few kilometres away.
17 miles from Yacht haven
Situated halfway down the west coast of Koh Yao Yai, Ao Labu is easily recognised as the bay directly east of the twin stack islands of Koh Sup. Coming from the south the channel between Koh Nui and the headland is deep (5 metres) right up until the concrete jetty on the headland.
In the southwest season there is good overnight anchorage in 4-5 metres behind the small island of Koh Nui or anywhere close to the jetty out of the swell. Don\’t venture south of the jetty head since the bank dries. Behind the corrugated iron community is a wide creek with excellent dinghy exploration.
If coming from the north beware of the rocky outcrop a half mile north of Koh Nui and just visible at low tide.
16 miles from Yacht haven
In the northeast monsoon season good holding in 5-6 metres on a muddy bottom, and excellent shelter, can be found on a line roughly due east of the headland. There are half a dozen government moorings here, although we have received reports of yachts finding themselves aground at low tide on these moorings. take care!
It is unwise to try anchoring too close in; there are some coral outcrops in the bay and the recommended anchorage is perfectly sheltered.
At very low tide the bay is shallow some distance from the beach. Ashore is a long sandy beach fringed with casuarinas and other trees typical of the area. In the northern corner of the bay lies the mouth of a river, extending two miles into the headland toward a small settlement where coconut and rubber is cultivated.
This is an extraordinarily peaceful anchorage, and it presents a rare opportunity for extended walks on level ground surrounding the bay or dinghy exploration up the creek.
Further north towards the entrance of Chong Koh Yao are a few sandy beaches with good holding and shelter from the northeast monsoon.
12 miles from Yacht haven
Anchor in 5-10 metres south of Laem Hia off the small sandy beach which is close to the entrance to the river meandering deep into the north of Koh Yao Yai.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.
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