Tonsai Bay Makes Me Never Want to Grow Up
In a faraway place
where limestone crags grow
from a glowing sheet of glass
where paths weave from the jungle
all leading to the beach
where tides recede for miles
unveiling the rocky life beneath
I found Neverland.
I found the pirates who guard the sea
flashing their gold teeth as I boarded reluctantly.
I found the fairies spreading their magical dust
spinning balls of fire at the parties after dusk.
I found the mermaids swimming in the bay
laying lazily in tide pools soaking up sun all day.
I found the beasts in the trees up high
stealing bananas and wallets from tourists passing by.
I found the natives frying noodles and grilling meat
or dancing with flames on the beach.
Everywhere I looked I found the lost boys
dangling from the cliffs, their natural jungle toys.
Testing my balance on the slack line
pushing my endurance on a rocky climb
mingling with strangers in reggae bars
dancing around fire twirlers under the stars
sleeping in a wooden hut up a hundred stone stairs
forgetting for the first time in a long time all my worries and my cares
I found myself believing
that if I stayed on Tonsai Bay forever
perhaps I might also
How to Get to Tonsai Bay
From Ao Nang
Boats leave when full from Ao Nang directly to Tonsai Bay and cost about $5.
From Krabi Town
Boats leave when full from the harbor and cost about $3. They drop passengers on the east side of Railay so you will need to walk through the town to Railay West to either catch a boat or walk to Tonsai.
Boats leave Railay for Tonsai when they have a minimum of four passengers and the whole journey takes less than ten minutes. You can also walk over from Railay during low tide, take a steep climb over the cliff during high tide, or walk the jungle path that arrives in the back end of town, which takes about an hour.
Where to Sleep in Tonsai Bay
Few hotels have websites or online bookings so your best bet is to show up and ask around for the best price. Most bungalows cost about 600 baht for two people ($20) and the cheapest options are around 400 baht ($12). Bear in mind that Tonsai Bay has no official “resorts” and most accommodations are simple wooden bungalows or fan rooms. Those looking for more luxury and comfort will find it next door at Railay.
Where to Eat in Tonsai Bay
Tonsai Bay is hardly a culinary mecca, but you can get some decent and relatively healthy meals in this teeny town.
You’ll find your street food here. Curries, fried rice, phad thai, som tum, spring rolls, and mango sticky rice. The cheapest and most authentic Thai. Why pay double at a restaurant?
Green Valley Resort
Every morning they have a huge all you can eat buffet breakfast for 150 baht ($5) that includes fruit, yogurt, muesli, pancakes, eggs, waffles, toast, cereal, juice, tea, and pastries. Eat your heart out. At night they have the best deal anywhere with a salad bar for only 50 baht (1.60) that you can pile your plate as high as possible with. They also have grilled fish for $5.
The cafe across from the rockclimbing outfit Basecamp Tonsai has a decent breakfast selection and good wifi. Most places on the island lack wifi or charge you to use it. I recommend getting one of the tropical fruit bowls with goji berries and cacao.
What to Do in Tonsai Bay
Rock climbing is the main draw for visitors and most come equipped with their own gear and explore the rocks on their own. Basecamp Tonsai and The Rock Shop rent gear, offer guided climbs, and give lessons to beginners.
Kayaks are available for rent along the beach and are a great way to explore Railay’s beaches and the famous Phra Nang Beach which has a penis shrine believed to bring fertility. On the way to Phra Nang Beach there is a landlocked saltwater lagoon surrounded by cliffs worth exploring, and on the far end of Phra Nang Beach is a cave with a bamboo ladder that leads to gorgeous views.
Several bars have slack lines and testing your balance is a great way to meet other travelers.
Tonsai Bay has a chill but fun nightlife scene with live music and fire dance performances. Start at the Freedom Bar for sunset that gradually make your way down the beach stopping at Chill Out and Viking or anywhere else that beckons you with good music and cool people.