Have you ever wanted to retreat from the real world to an island oasis where you have all the necessary modern amenities but are hours from any major civilization? Well, we did that. And it was great. Readers, meet Outrigger Phi Phi Island Resort & Spa.
We spent several days getting to know Outrigger Phi Phi Island and loved every minute of it. The Phi Phi Islands are comprised mainly of Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh and sit southeast of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. Don is the main island where Outrigger resides, and Leh is an uninhabited national park made famous by the filming of The Beach at Maya Bay. It takes about an hour and a half by resort speedboat to get from the Phuket mainland marina to the resort (much faster and less hectic than the public ferry for sure). While Phuket is very busy and touristy, Koh Phi Phi Don is the opposite. There are few resorts, no roads, and plenty of paradise to go around.
Upon arriving, we were immediately greeted with a delicious tropical coconut drink, given towels to refresh ourselves, and taken to our garden bungalow. Our room featured a comfortable king size bed, large windows for plenty of natural light, and a sleek, modern bathroom. One of my favorite things about Outrigger is that each “room” is actually an entire thatch-roof bungalow or villa all to itself, so that means privacy and relaxing in your own little beach house, front porch included. There are 144 traditional Thai style bungalows and 12 hillside pool villas spread over 70 acres among gorgeous gardens of palms, coconut trees, and native flora. The resort sits on a bay surrounded by lush hills and has its very own private half-mile beach the entire length of the bay looking out to the peaceful Andaman sea. It is basically its own gorgeous, secluded beach village, complete with plenty of restaurant and bar options, an activity center, a large gift shop, and a high end spa, among other amenities.
We were fortunate enough to visit during Loy Krathong, a traditional Thai festival where thousands of people make small boats (a krathong) out of leaves, flowers, and a candle. Then they light their krathongs, make a wish, and send them off on a body of water. Outrigger had its own Loy Krathong celebration on the beach, complete with a five star buffet, a beauty pageant, and live music. This was one of the most fun events we participated in during our time in Thailand. The dinner buffet was huge and featured a custom pad Thai bar (very exciting to me!), lots of fresh seafood, decadent desserts, and endless dishes to try. During dinner, resort guests helped judge a beauty pageant, which included traditional Thai dress and dancing. For the record, our favorite contestant won. Afterward, we all lit our krathongs, made wishes, and sent them off on the Andaman Sea. It was such a fun way to participate in traditional Thai culture!
Throughout our stay, tried a wide variety of food to get a sense of the head chef’s talent. Outrigger has multiple restaurants and bars that serve everything from Asian to European to American food. We never lacked tasty food options. There’s even a delicious coffee lounge that makes fancy drinks with lots of sugar and whipped cream (super important to my morning routine). One night we had a five course meal on the balcony of a beach front bungalow, and they also offer a romantic private dinner on the beach.
As far as activities go, you could never run out of things to do here. Guests can participate in oodles of beachy activities like relaxing in a hammock with a Mai Tai (there are plenty of hammocks throughout the property), or you can cool off in the world-class pool with a Piña Colada (in a coconut!). The resort includes an entire recreation center dedicated to awesome activities where you can get PADI scuba certified, sign up for snorkeling trips, or take tours of Maya Bay, among other things.
Let me elaborate a little on Maya Bay. The entire reason I initially wanted to go to Thailand was to see this world famous beach. I saw pictures of it and was just blown away by its unique beauty. Then, as I was researching more, I started seeing tons of negative reviews of people saying the bay is so crowded and touristy, it’s not even worth visiting. I was very disappointed because that was the number one thing I wanted to see in Thailand. Then I learned more about the Phi Phi Islands and that you can actually stay a short boat ride from the bay. Here’s where I discovered Outrigger and their Early Bird Trip to Maya Bay. Almost all the visitors to Maya Bay come from Phuket or Krabi, which are a few hours away. Every day from 10 am on, the bay is so packed, tour boats can barely get in and out, and it’s literally impossible to get a picture without dozens of boats filling the shot. To avoid all of this nonsense and still be able to enjoy the beautiful beach, we took Outrigger’s Early Bird Trip and arrived before 8 am to find only one other boat in the astounding bay. We had the entire place to ourselves. After Maya Bay, we also visited Viking Cave, Loh Samah Bay, and some excellent snorkeling spots. It was a blast, and the scenery was breathtaking! Read more and see pictures from the tour here.
Our other favorite activity at Outrigger was their cooking class (see our video here). All throughout Thailand, we tried lots of different foods, but this was our opportunity to learn how to actually cook them. The chef showed us a variety of spices, herbs, sauces, fruits, and vegetables, many of which I never knew existed. We made several traditional Thai dishes and left feeling stuffed. We even took home a chef’s hat, apron, and cookbook from the class that includes a picture glossary (very helpful when you can’t pronounce half of the ingredients).
We loved staying at Outrigger and departed feeling happy and fulfilled with our time there. From the large variety of food to the endless list of activities to the gorgeous scenery, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip and will no doubt return to the picturesque island again one day.