We’re in the midst of the summer season heat and the call of the sea grows even stronger. With AirAsia Filipino introducing direct flights from Manila to Bangkok, there’s another beach or island getaway to add to your summer destination – Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya, is the second most visited city in Thailand after Bangkok and there’s a good reason why. It’s the closest beach escape from the bustling city. For a full day of tropical island fun, Pattaya Sea Adventure handled our tour (booked via KKday) which includes parachute ride, sea walk, snorkeling and beach bumming at Koh Larn Island.
Our day started mid-morning at 9AM. Glad our hotel, IBIS hotel Pattaya is just a short distance from the main beach of the city. Our songthaew ride was short. I looked at the beach to see a bunch of tourist groups who seem to be taking the same tour with us. And looking at the horizon I was already astounded by the hive of activity over the waters. So many parachutes flying in the air. Boats speeding up to several platforms at sea. As soon as we got our towels and briefed on the tour by the Pattaya Sea Adventure staff. A quick group photo and we boarded one of the speed boats.
This was my first parachute ride experience so I was excited. We boarded the launching platform for parachute ride and was led to the waiting area with long benches. There were so many people lined up. But they already have a system in placed here. One of the staff marked the back of our hands us using a pen marker. Then we were lined up to attach the harness and life jacket. Action cameras were not really recommended by them but they wouldn’t stop you from bringing them. I watch as riders come and go and as soon as it was my turn everything happened so fast. Carabiners, parachute straps were attached to my harness. I was still preparing my action cam when all of a sudden, I found myself flying and up in the air. It was both exhilarating and disorienting at first. But I gathered myself fast and found myself enjoying the sights. The feeling of flying (dangling) in the air was surreal. I could see the speedboat doing a round of the platform. I revel at the Pattaya skyline and the activity below. And as soon as I was up, I was being pulled down. All that happened within 3 minutes. A snap of a flight but fun still. I watch the factory of flights behind me as our boat leaves for another platform.
This time we’re going for a sea walk. An activity I remember doing sea walk in Sabah. An underwater activity where visitors can enjoy going underwater using a heavy 35kg helmet continuously supplied with air for breathing. Line here wasn’t as long, so we got underwater quickly. At first I had trouble with ear pressure which was easily remedied by equalizing (blowing into ears). Railings were placed to guide sea walkers. We were led to a rocky coral section where the display was neatly arranged. Then the guy taking photos asking us to do some fancy pose. Alright I gave in. Then the fish feeding part. It felt touristy I know but eat fish eat! Then off we go to the surface.
We were all itching for the beach and finally we were off to Koh Larn or popularly known as Coral Island. Just 7km away from mainland Pattaya, it’s no surprise its a popular beach escape. It’s a small island only 4km long and 2km wide. It has a mountainous terrain with a peak reaching the highest at 180 meters.
When we landed on the island I thought that the beach was quite nice and the water clear. It’s just that there were too many people! I guess I’m just spoiled with the islands I visit in the Philippines. We rode a songthaew for the Buddha Mountain where a large Golden Buddha Monk statue is found as well as a nice beach viewpoint. Then we rode to our lunch stop at Coco Cat and had a filling basketful lunch of shrimps, fish, chicken, rice and fries.
Beach and Snorkeling
Took another short boat ride to Hardtien Beach. I think I like this better. Crowd slightly lesser and has a nice fine beach. We had fun doing 1.5 rounds of the banana boat. There was a jet ski ride but opt out since they were the ones handling the controls. We only had two hours to enjoy the beach but settled on just chilling by lounge chair after the activities.
Our last stop was at the snorkeling spot of the island. Our guide was quick to manage our expectations saying that she knows the Philippines have better underwater snorkeling than here. First time to try a full mask and I think I still prefer the old fashioned snorkel and mask which I was able to borrow. The corals weren’t that bad actually. There were even lots of fishes. And sea urchins too unfortunately.
Pattaya Sea Adventure
By mid-afternoon we were on our way back to Pattaya. I think it was a well-organized tour from Pattaya Sea Adventure. While the pace is a bit rushed in the early part which is understandable to pack-in those activities, the downtime at the beach was enough to even it out. By the end of the tour we got a disc with photos shot during the tour activities. I guess if you have limited time and want to maximize your experience, I would recommend this Pattaya Sea Adventure tour which you can book via KKday.
AirAsia’s Manila-Bangkok flights operate with the following schedule:
|Z2 287||Mon, Fri, Sun||MNL||18:35||DMK||20:50|
|Z2 288||Mon, Fri, Sun||DMK||21:20||MNL||01:50|
|Z2 287||Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat||MNL||18:25||DMK||20:40|
|Z2 288||Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat||DMK||21:15||MNL||01:45|
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.