Naka Noi: Lockdown on Otter Island
Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Phuket was entering lockdown as we discovered Naka Noi. We originally planned to visit The Naka Island, a Luxury Collection Resort located on Naka Yai. In Thai, noi means small and yai means big. In February, we visited The Naka Island with our friends Justin and Nadia for dinner. While on shore, they advertised a stellar day trip package. It was somewhere around 30$ and included lunch, usage of all resort facilities, an hour of open bar for beer and soft drinks, and a discount at the spa and restaurant. I called ahead to confirm they were still offering this deal, but unfortunately they were closed temporarily due to Covid. This led us to Naka Noi, our Plan B, and soon to be island paradise for a large portion of the lockdown.
The mangos we bought in Laem Sak the previous week were now ripe, and we made a mango sticky rice for a breakfast. Chris thought mango sticky rice was a breakfast dish rather than a dessert and always ordered takeaway in the Bangkok airport for breakfast when he flew the freighter flights. Since this was a pretty delicious interpretation of breakfast, I could only agree and made us some.
We ventured on shore to explore and see if anyone was there. We also wanted to check if it was possible to buy some fish from the nearby fish farm. We met a man on the island who told us he would check about the fish and said we were allowed to walk around the island. Please enjoy.
Shortly after, we ran into another Thai guy on the island who introduced himself as Op. He spoke fantastic English and called the fishermen to let us know about the prices. Lobster was 2800THB/KG (approx. 95USD) and grouper was 600THB/KG (approx. 20USD). The lobster was a bit pricy so we opted for the grouper.
We learned all about the island talking to Op and we quickly became friends. Naka Noi is a privately owned island by a prominent Thai family, and is used now for day trippers as well as one villa for overnight stays. There was no tourism due to the Covid situation, but based on how beautiful the island was, we were certain it was normally flooded with tourists.
The biggest surprise was meeting a naughty otter named Boobie. Boobie is hair-nosed otter native to Thailand. She is free to roam around the island and can be quite sporty and mischievous.
Boobie was so rambunctious. She jumped on our laps and tried to get on the table on many occasions. There was no stopping her! Sand was everywhere!
We played a little bit of soccer with her and discovered she is quite the athlete!
It was getting late when the fishermen arrived and brought us a grouper. It was 1.2 KG of grouper and still moving. We have yet to refine our fish gutting/scaling skills, so they kindly prepared the fish for us.
Back on Skylark, we panfried the grouper with garlic and chilies and feasted away. We ate nearly the entire thing. (Well, not the bones as Boobie would have done.)
We spent a total of three weeks anchored outside Naka Noi. Every few days, we would dingy across to Ao Po and go to the local supermarket named SuperCheap. The name was fitting, and we were able to get several fruits and vegetables for...you guessed it, super cheap. Many of the restaurants were closed during this time so we cooked all of our meals on Skylark. Food became one of our greatest enjoyments and we created many new recipes and tried to incorporate as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.
Many mornings, we crawled out our hatches and watched the beautiful sunrise over Naka Noi. We were still in dry season and each morning was a beautiful morning. I would sing a little jingle, "Its a beautiful morning," each morning we went outside to watch the sunrise. One morning I brought our journal outside and wrote about the current experience as it was happening:
"The sky is lighting up. Red sky in morning, sailors warning? There is a slight breeze and I see fish jumping out of the water near the bow. Birds are chirping in the Naka Noi forest. Roosters are cockadoodleing. A long-tail boat roars in the distance. My book pages are blowing in the wind. The air smells fresh, my soda water is slightly warm but refreshing. Halyards are noisy because they are slightly loose. I need several more pages to describe the beauty right now."
A little scattered, however, I was immersed in the moment and even reading those words now transports me back to such a relaxing morning!
The Omelette King was in full force and many mornings started with a Nespresso and a decadent omelette. The biggest dilemma each morning was whether to eat inside or outside! Usually outside, sometimes inside for variety.
While on Naka Noi, we were able to buy fresh coconuts and trade pizza for Phad Phad's (the lady who lived on the island) Som Tom (papaya salad). Fair trade?
We don’t know what it will be like there when tourism picks up but we were glad we got to visit while it was so peaceful. We are so grateful for the hospitality and warm welcoming on Naka Noi!