Two words: saltwater pool. I’m plunging into my first saltwater pool. It’s been carefully built into the boulders that loom over Ao Hing Wang Bay in the secluded northeast of Koh Tao Island in the Gulf of Thailand.
Below me is a hand cut rock staircase that leads down to a bamboo dive pad. From there, the blue translucent waters of Ao Hing Wang Bay beckon. They are honeycombed with fish filled coral. If I were to rent a small kayak, I could paddle down to the southern part of this bay and its abundant array of fish. It is a pure accident that I have found this saltwater pool and bamboo dive pad.
My wife Jing Jing and I had arrived two nights before and stayed at the Hing Wang Bungalows—basically concrete and wood shacks with thatch roofs. Whilst these are ideal from the rave and diver bohemians over the hill in Koh Tao’s Sairee and Mae Haad beaches, they are very basic. They even come with large spotted lizards to eat the mosquitoes.
However, just past these huts up the hill five minutes away is the Ao Hin Wang Dive and Snorkel Resort. It is run by an affable Brit by the name of Clive and his Thai family. They rent out several small and large sized apartment-like bungalows with sweeping views of the bay. Our apartment had an open air area with gas-range kitchen, veranda with deck chairs, and dining table rolled into one. Our bedroom had a sliding glass door to keep the wind out, and a romantic white gauze mosquito net. There was thankfully no TV, but happily WIFI.
The main resort check-in and restaurant is made of lacquered wood and has cozy sofas strewn about. Clive is often in one of them recumbent. In the evening that might mean he’s got a bottle of red wine out and is shooting the breeze with guests.
A cheeky raconteur, Clive has plenty to say once you get him rolling. He runs a fair and fun resort that does not have a marketing campaign and would just as well go by word of mouth—and remain quiet and off the map. He even refused to have a road built by the government to his resort. “That would ruin the ambiance of getting here and bring in the mass travelers. You need to hike a little to get up here.”
So, how does one reach Clive’s cliff?
The same way we did: by accident. Clive told me not to give out his number, as the island is small and, “The good travelers will find us easy.”
A travel tip: you need a truck or jeep to get over the hill to Ao Hing Wang Bay and that should average 300 Baht each way. Best to hunker down at Clive’s before it gets late, as there are no taxis leaving in the evening from Ao Hing Wang unless you have pre-arranged a pick up. Still, this will involve a walk downhill through the jungle to the dirt road.
Best to buy groceries in Sairee or Mae Haad during the day and have a nice bottle of libations to romance the night away in your own suite.