My wife and our three children (15,13,7) took the James Bond Island tour last week with friends and their two children. The hotel pick up was on time and we were at the Marina for an hour before the tour left. Free Wi-Fi and free tea/coffee/water were provided so we were not fussed about the wait. I highly recommend you buy (as we did) a waterproof case (AUD$15 at the ALP shop) for your phone/camera. The shop also has a good range of hats, swimmers, goggles etc.
We had 22 customers on our boat which made it a comfortable fit. The pre and post JBI canoeing was good fun in beautiful surroundings and well handled by the paddlers supplied by ALP. The cave canoeing is a very tight fit and I would not recommend for the claustrophobic or the obese customer. James Bond Island is not visited, you just look at it from the adjacent island. By itself JBI has no more going for it than any other island in the area and given how many people (6 tour boats that I counted) were on the adjacent island in our low season visit I can't begin to imagine how crowded it would be in high season. Still, I still enjoyed the experience.
The lunch ('Thai food. Not spicy') at the floating village was a buffet. The fried rice was delicious, everything else qualified as the worst food we had on our 10 day Phuket holiday; deep fried chicken and battered seafood were both barely eatable and the vegetables were soggy. It seemed to be as bland as possible to broaden its appeal. Surely a green chicken curry is easy and more popular than the sludge we were served?
After lunch we had about 40 mins to explore the village which consists, as far as any lunchtime tourist is concerned, solely of endless market stalls selling exactly what you find in every other Phuket market. I would have preferred to see the mosque. The island beach was the last stop and was an excellent way to chill out. Beach lounges were 100 baht each (AUD$3.50) and the beer was the same price each. Being low season the water visibility was poor. The actual beach was lovely but no better than our local beach at home. Of course the whole 'tropical holiday beach bar and water activities' (eg jet ski) experience made it so much enjoyable.
Another hour on the beach would have been ideal. We arrived back at the Marina about 4.20 and purchased a pre-departure framed family photo for 200 baht. The cost for our family of five was about AUD$500 plus small tips and drinks & ice creams on the beach. Overall I thought it was good value given the professionalism of ALP. There are other tour operators who are cheaper but I would choose a ALP again should we do another similar tour. A better lunch and another 30 mins at the island beach would have elevated this to a 5 star review.
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