Krabi Province is well known for its jarringly stunning limestone cliffs, turquoise waters and powdery white-sand beaches, but it's not only just about swimming and snorkelling in this idyllic location (although it can be if you want it to be). If you're a water enthusiast there are myriad of ways to enjoy the Andaman Sea – spend time exploring the mystical world that lies under the waves, soak up the lush coastal vista on a traditional Thai long-tail boat or get up high and gawk at the ocean from above.
Cruise around on a long-tail boat
Taking the water in at eye-level is a favourite and for good reason. A boat expedition allows you to sit back and relax while the view changes around you. There are many tour companies offering excursions that take in the most renowned areas, such as Phi Phi Islands and James Bond Island. Truth is, all routes offer the chance to enjoy Krabi's outstanding wonders – so unless your itinerary is set in stone or you have a particular island in mind, your best bet is to stroll down to the beach, find a 'captain' and start twisting his or her arm for a deal.
Long-tail, speed and larger cruise boats are the three most popular guided options, but a long-tail boat journey really makes you feel as if you are in Thailand. These traditional wooden boats are native to Southeast Asia and in Thailand long-tail boat tours are particularly popular. Although larger cruise ships may be ultra comfortable with both open-air and shaded areas, additional seating and more space on board; smaller boats are able to dock on beaches so you can read swim, snorkel and explore the seashore. Being able to stop and take in the surrounding landscape is one of the highlights of cruising islands in Thailand.
Get in the know: Usually if there are four or more people a private long-tail boat charter can be organised. Because these boat trips are customised you can select what's important to you. Specific island visits? Sunset at a special spot? A vegetarian lunch? All possible with Krabi Trek.
Climb a limestone cliff (or a few)
Krabi is famed for its spectacular limestone cliffs and what better way to see them than vertically ascending one (or a few). Railay peninsula is known for being a bouldering hot spot and attracts tourists from far and wide. Some come to Railay to simply lie on its dazzlingly beautiful beaches, but most come to get high – the legal kind – using the multitude of rock faces to get there.
In Railay there are over 700 climbing routes for the beginner to serious enthusiasts, and although you're facing the cliff when climbing (well, you should be) turning around and taking in the Andaman Sea is a splendid way to get that picture-perfect water view. One of the reasons Krabi is so legendary around the world is because of the striking and unique limestone cliffs, and you really can't get any closer than climbing them. Once you arrive at the top the views are breathtaking and made all the more exceptional because of the route taken – after all, only fellow rock climbers can boast about this view! There are plenty of companies that offer various rock climbing tours suitable for assorted levels and adventure buffs can book in for short lessons, half-day courses, full days or longer multi-day courses. King Climbers is one of the first climbing schools in the area - the local guides know the limestone cliffs like the backs of their hands.
Get in the know: Take a camera on your climb, #bestselfieever!
Get submerged in the sea
Home to some of the most spectacular marine life in the world, scuba diving Krabi's waters offers an opportunity to immerse oneself amongst darting fish, miniscule seahorses, leopard sharks and manta rays. With many groups of islands surrounded by vibrantly coloured coral (home to schools of exotic tropical fish) there is a plethora of marine environments to choose from and time is the only deterrent in exploring them all.
Made famous by the movie The Beach, the idyllic Phi Phi Islands are a popular destination and home to several dive sites that offer diverse diving environments. There are many dive schools around and Aqua Vision comes highly recommended. They take a maximum of four people per dive and offer everything from standard day boat diving tours to cave diving and night diving.
Get in the know: High season runs from January to March and diving at this time offers high visibility and typically calm conditions. The mating season for leopard sharks is between March and June, and although the waters may not be as clear you may get to witness a birth (leopard sharks can deliver up to 35 baby sharks at one time).
The writer was a guest of Tourism Authority of Thailand and Centara Hotels & Resorts.
Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi has rooms starting from $A132 per night (low season) and $A239 per night (shoulder season). See centarahotelsresorts.com