Rugged beauty. It's a rare trait to give to a location that is so frequently destroyed by the machinations of man. Primordial, pristine, "pieces of it will stay with you", I heard every one of those phrases used to describe the beauty that is Koh Mook. It's been a while since I went to this island and I have been intending to write this blog for a some time, but as always life intervened. So here it is, Koh Mook. Mook is an island that is heavily affected by the tides. Massive stone cliffs line the waters island where it meets the Adaman sea and at certain points during the low tide, it leaves every boat stranded upon the coastal sands. It's a pretty amazing sight and really brings to mind being stranded. Because of this dramatic effect around the island, the coral here is especially spectacular and you can find the ocean life that prefers deeper waters as the tides recede to the point of being able to dive down deep enough. This exposes awesome critters like this jellyfish, which I believe is a box jelly, but I didn't want to get close enough to properly identify it.
These guys were everywhere in the water. Actually, I shouldn't say that. Their babies were everywhere, the big ones were luckily few and far between. Although the littlest ones were almost impossible to see. This itty harbinger of pain reminded me that the ocean was not kind to the unwary. Attempting to get back to my kayak and not stung proved to be an uphill battle.
It was not all for nothing though. The little guys looked like galaxies from underneath, and if I didn't say, "This is a jellyfish." Many people have assumed they are some kind of nebula. But not so! Just a helpful reminder to your nerve endings to let you know when you're somewhere you should not be.
I learned my lesson pretty quickly after this encounter though. A few stings made me change my plan of snorkeling to a quick recon before diving in. Just look at that tan line. AMAZING! I make all the other severely burned white people jealous.
Another really fantastic aspects of the dynamic coast here is that the cliffs are subjected to some serious erosions. More so then many of the other rock walls in the area.
Just look at how stunning that is. Seeing that, I agree with primordial and rugged. Koh Mook did indeed leave a lasting impression. These beautifully eroded cliffs have left underwater caves that can be accessed at low tide and one even leads to a hidden beach. Unfortunately, that beach is not so hidden and it's flocked by very very eager tourists every day. The vast majority of them have no idea that all around them are potentially deadly jellyfish. I do not enjoy tour groups, they strike me as a way to see something instead of experience it. So, I spent my time diving in and around Emerald Cave attempting to not get kicked, drowned or stung by the multitude of legs there. There is great delight to be found in breaking the surface of the water right next to someone and seeing their face. Emerald cave was highly worth the potential visit to Davey Jones. Being in an underwater cave in total darkness and seeing the light at the entrance? Awesome.
Alas, after being given such a beautiful traverse in the cave, I ran headlong into where all the tour groups were going. Which…well..a photo will tell you exactly why I didn't find this as beautiful as it should be. There was easily over 200 hundred people crammed into a very small beach that just ruined the moment. Tourism is a good thing. It shares the world with people that don't know what is there. However…a beach, only accessible though an underwater cave filled with jellyfish, that is only above water during a small window of time which is compounded by the required low tide mark...
Like I said, tourism is an important part of Thailand's finical situation. But, they do not have an awareness yet of how the exploitation of their environment is dramatically affecting the health of beautiful places like this. Granted, this is an old problem that exists in almost every country. This minor gripe doesn't detract too much from Koh Mook's natural scene and in the end…this is an island that I will very gladly revisit.
Check out the gallery for more images of Koh Mook's awesome scenery and and a look at some of the dishes offered especially on the island!