Koh Yao Noi is a small island, located in Phang Nga bay, southern Thailand, inhabited by Muslim families who have preserved traditional, small-scale sustainable fishing practices. Koh Yao Noi can be reached within an hour by ferry from Baang Rong pier in Phuket.
The highlights of Koh Yao Noi Community
“Cast a net with a fishing family, and listen to the amazing true stories of local people’s heroic conservation struggles, see a variety of ‘green products’ made from recycled and natural materials; taste delicious, fresh seafood.”
Why is Koh Yao Noi community special?
In Koh Yao Noi, 85% of the local people are Muslim seafarers, engaged in small-scale fishing. In the past, large fishing trawlers entered the local fishing grounds, destroying the environment and leading to reduced fish stocks.
Community members worked to promote sustainable fishing practices, and to protect the ocean which their community had relied on for generations. These efforts met a good measure of success. Marine species increased in number, mangrove forests recovered and sea grass was replenished. Villagers even stopped commercial trawlers from entering conservation zones.
Stimulated by the support of visitors for their conservation efforts, community members began to develop tourism activities as a bridge to share their story and their way of life with guests who are interested to ‘stay with the fisher folk.’
Gradually, CBT Club members developed a tourism program which balanced learning, fun and cultural exchange. Guests are requested not to drink alcohol in Koh Yao Noi, out of respect for Muslim culture. In return, the islanders give guests a fantastic, warm welcome and an incomparable insight into local life.
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Activities for guests:
Guests are invited to meet the inspiring fisher folk of Koh Yao Noi, and enjoy an insight into their lives, environment and culture. Enjoy homestay with local families, tasty Southern Thai food, and a mixture of discussion and direct experience which will be an unforgettable living and learning experience.
- Listen to inspiring true stories about conservation: One of the highlights of a trip to Koh Yao Noi is to spend time with a host family. These vibrant people are happy to share their adventures with guests!
- Go to sea with a host fisher family: Cast a net with your host families. Your hosts will show you how they catch fish by judging the rising and falling tides, and use traditional fishing methods to catch only big fish. Baby fish are returned to the sea. While you’re waiting for the tide to turn, and the fish to bite, there is time to visit a beautiful island, enjoy a picnic on the beach and go for a swim. It’s usually possible to cook whatever you catch with your host family in the evening.
- Learn about rubber production: Rubber is another important occupation in Koh Yao Noi. Guests who enjoy an early start can collect rubber sap in the morning, and then help roll huge sheets of rubber, which will eventually be exported and made into tires for cars around the world!
Green Corner: People and Planet
Tourism in Koh Yao Noi is planned and managed by a group of over 30 families, celebrating local life and culture, developing their skills and confidence, and building environmental awareness among guests and hosts.
Guests to Koh Yao Noi are requested to follow 4 rules, including avoiding alcohol and dressing modestly.
The CBT club operates a rotation system for guides, activities, transport, and homestay. This helps to ensure equal opportunities to participate in and benefit from tourism. The CBT group has saved over $5,000 USD in a community fund. In the past, this money has been used to fund 10 youth camps for local school, students, litter collection twice per month, and financial support to maintain the community’s 2 mosques.
The community efforts were recognized by the ‘2002 World Legacy Awards for Destination Stewardship’ presented by Conservation International and National Geographic Traveler. The club has also received many awards from the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Ministry of Sports and Tourism.