On a longtail boat chugging through the Andaman Sea. The deafening roar of the primitive watercraft's modified car engine induced schools of giant needlefish to fly out of the water as we approached the fabled isle of Koh Rok.
Uncle Boon, our fearless navigator, Lanta resident, and whiskey enthusiast, brought us to our first stop of the day: a coastal reef on Koh Rok Nok that is populated by giant parrotfish, flamboyant Moorish Idols, and pensive clownfish that spend their time darting between massive outcroppings of brain coral. Flourishing marine life, visibility around 30 meters, and cold beer... revelry in the early afternoon.
After the snorkeling and a feed on the boat, we anchored in powder-soft white sand (coral dust) and swam ashore to a postcard-perfect beach and campground where wizened monitor lizards and coconut-sized hermit crabs stalked through the shadows.
Eschew the crowds and cramped vessels typical of Koh Rok tours. Head to the southern tip of Lanta, talk to a few locals, and organize your own longtail. A more economical and private experience - you will be the envy of the hordes of sun-charred Scandinavians that are packed into speedboats and shuffled from island to island. Also, this magnificent cove will be virtually yours for the afternoon after the tours leave.