It was exactly as beautiful as it looked online. Oh how I love it when that happens! We stayed in Bungalow Lek 1 which is located right at the top of the hill meaning it has truly amazing views out across the bay. I spent a lot of time reading in the hammock on our balcony or just watching the squirrels running, and in some cases flying, in-between the trees.
The room itself is pretty open to the elements with open walls in the bathroom as well as slatted windows and sliding doors. We loved this after we got over the initial five minutes of mosquito / bug panic. The bed was huge and comfortable despite being quite hard and the mosquito net they provide is great and more like a tent than a regular mozzie net. We liked that there were curtains across the back of the room separating the bathroom and wardrobe area from the rest of the space which meant that you could get dressed without worrying about shutting all of the other windows, doors and curtains.
Sadly all of the bread on the island (and almost everywhere else in Thailand so far) seems to have eggs, milk or honey so there was no toast for us. We only partook in breakfast a couple of times because as non coffee / tea drinkers (I tried that first day as you can see in the picture!) it worked out a little better for us to buy fruit in town. The mango sticky rice was totally delicious though and these breakfasts definitely sparked a new love affair for me.
The view from the cafe area is ridiculously beautiful whether the tide is in or out. In this photo the tide is in but sometimes it goes all the way out to the little island you can see in the middle of the picture.
One thing I read over and over in guidebooks and on websites before visiting Koh Yao Noi was that the beaches aren't that great. We thought they were pretty epic especially the one right outside Hill House, yes sometimes you had to walk quite far to reach the sea but it's all sand and not stone or rocks like on some of Koh Yao Noi's other beaches so it's totally walkable and I had one of the most serene and breathtaking moments ever when I floated out there in the shallows with Nick at dusk one evening. The sea was super still and there was just something amazing about the light and the way that it illuminated the limestone karsts that dotted the horizon. It was almost unbelievably beautiful. You'll have to go and check it out for yourself one day.
The lovely people at Hill House were also happy to rent us a scooter for 200THB / £4 / $6 a day despite seeing Nick get off to a pretty shaky start trying to ride the thing. I braved getting on the back and aside from some minor incidents (You totally cannot put your feet down to stop when travelling at speed on a scooter, it is not like a bicycle! Dirt tracks are dangerously bumpy! ) it wasn't too terrifying and it made getting around the island super easy. Koh Yao Noi is actually a great place to learn to ride a scooter because it's relatively quiet and there aren't that many other new-to-scootering tourists haring about the place. Here's Nick getting gas...
One day they also organised for us to borrow a kayak for a super reasonable 500THB / £9 / $15 for the whole day.
We set off around 9am and kayaked both into the wind and against the tide for a couple of hours before stopping at a secluded beach which also happened to be a- totally empty and b- a nature reserve. It was covered in crabs, big and small, and it was so fun to watch them scurrying about doing whatever it is that crabs do.
After a quick dip in the sea to cool off we were off to the next beach which was just around the corner and again it was not only mind blowingly beautiful but almost totally empty. There was one other couple at the far end of the beach but we couldn't even see them from where we were sitting. It was the perfect place to enjoy the lunch our hosts had made us. They totally understood our request for a strict vegetarian meal with no egg, fish sauce, oyster sauce or shrimp and clarified that soy was okay. This simple looking veggie fried rice dish was super delicious, seasoned with white pepper and lime juice it's one of the best things we've eaten on the trip so far.
It was so good that we decided to eat dinner at the Hill House cafe one night, they do food to order but you need to let them know what you'd like for dinner at breakfast or lunch if you want dinner that day and at dinner time if you'd like lunch the next day. The menu is in the pink folder under the desk in reception. We wished we'd eaten dinner there sooner because the veggie fried rice and veganised Pad See Ew meal we shared was wonderful and I could have happily eaten there night after night.
As you can tell I really loved Hill House, our stay there was the perfect welcome to Thailand and we'd love to return one day. If you'd like to read more about our experiences in Koh Yao Noi you can check out my earlier blog post here.