Approaching James Bond Island

I am sure, that many of you have enjoyed the remote and beautiful island in many of the scenes of TMWTGG. I am also sure, that many of you know the pics of the mushroom-shaped rock, which was used by Scaramanga to hide his large energy collector.

The mushroom-shaped rock used by Scaramanga to hide the solar energy collector.
The mushroom-shaped rock used by Scaramanga to hide the solar energy collector.

These rocks and islands are part of the beautiful island area of Phang Nga bay in Thailand. Phang Nga is a Thai province, located eastern to the province and Island of Phuket.

Two years ago, I have had the chance to visit “James Bond Island” for the first time during a stay at Phuket and I have just been returning from my second visit a week ago.

James Bond Island – Orientation

  • The proper name for the island (where most of the island scenes have been shot) is Ko Khao Phing Kan. In Thai “Ko” means island as far as I have found out.
  • The name of the famous mushroom-shaped rock is Ko Tapoo or Ko Tapu.
  • There are altogether 42 of these limestone rocks and islands in the Phang Nga bay area.
  • But if you are heading for the 007 island, simply ask the travel agent (how to book will be told later) for “James Bond Island” and everyone will understand, what you mean.

The only way to get to there is by boat, unless you have a Seabee plane like 007. Here is, what Ko Khao Phing Kan looks like on Google maps:

James Bond Island as seen on Google Maps.
James Bond Island as seen on Google Maps.

All boats, which are heading to the island, land on the south side of the island (2)

Keep in mind, that there is a significant tide there (2-3 meters!) and the first time, we visited the island, there was not much left from the beach, so we landed right in front of the souvenir shops (5), no sand has been visible.

Approaching James Bond Island
Approaching James Bond Island

To enter the main beach (3) at the north side, you have to leave the souvenir shops on your right and you will see immediately the famous huge crack (6) in the rock, which is also visible in the movie.

The famous
The famous “crack in the rock” on ?James Bond Island.

As said, on our first visit, there was not very much of the beach left due to an extreme high tide. Here is, what the beach (3) looked like with high tide:

An overview of the landing area on James Bond Island.
An overview of the beach area on James Bond Island.

You will notice, that I had to wade thru reasonably deep water to take this shot from position (4) and there have some man-made steps in the rocks which lead to a small trail, which I did not follow as there was nothing interested to be expected there.

You may also be surprised, that besides a government office on the south side (gouvernment tax has to be paid for every visitor) and the various souvenir shops in the center of the island which I don’t want to comment further there is even a toilet on the island.

Two years ago, there had been a huge ugly concrete marker stone in the middle of the beach, it had fortunately disappeared for this visit!

As you are on the beach of James Bond island, you can’t miss the famous mushroom rock (1) and the chance to take some pictures.

Scaramangas Famous Mushroom Rock
Scaramangas Famous Mushroom Rock

That’s it for most tourists and time is very limited for every group.You have a maximum of 35 minutes to stay before your boat has to leave space for other groups, which are already waiting to land and the whole story begins again.

On your way back, you may notice these remarkable stone formations, which are also visible later in the movie, when Nick Nack meets the killer.

The rock formations where Nick Nack meets the killer.
The rock formations where Nick Nack meets the killer.

So, far so good…

But where is Scaramanga beach??

After seeing the movie again I could see, that the fist scenes in TMWTGG haven’t been been done at this particular beach, impossible!!

I started worrying, where this particular beach (which I call now Scaramanga beach) may be.

After returning back home, I checked out the island in particular via Google Earth and discovered, that there is an alternative approach to the island and another beach (7)!

The route to Scaramangas Beach.
The route to Scaramangas Beach.

Checking the pics there, hope came up, that this beach could be the one, where Nick Nack opens the champagne bottle and the third nipple has been exposed for the first time… Two years went by before we returned to the island. Tide was extremely low and suddenly after taking the “normal pics”, we entered the little (red marked) trail, which was then accessible with dry shoes.

After hiking for some minutes, Bingo, here it was:

Scaramanagas Beach
Scaramanaga Beach
A different view of Scaramangas Beach
A different view of Scaramanga Beach looking back towards the trail.
Looking back towards the trail to Scaramangas Beach.
Looking back towards the trail to Scaramanga Beach.

I am sure, that <95% of all normal visitors don’t bother to use that trail. Entering it in a way without getting wet is only possible at low tide and I am sure, that most of them don’t expect something else interesting at the other end of the island but for James Bond fans it is a must! Shame that they destroyed the view with that huge wooden pier (which has been closed). Also, the sand appears to be less smooth and much more grey as in the movie.

The unique rock formations on James Bond Island.
The unique rock formations on Scaramanga Beach.

How to book?

Once you are on the island Phuket, you may be tempted to book your trip at the hotel, where you are staying. Don’t do it!

We have been asking this particular question on both hotels, where we have been staying and have been confronted with prices over US$ 100,– which is double than what we ended paying for the trips at the end.

If you are keeping your eyes open, you will find various offers for tours on the beach. There are various huts with offers almost everywhere and if you have a quick look over the brochure, you will surely find a small number of tours to James Bond Island along the usual trips to Phi Phi islands and others.

Keep in mind, that indicated prices can always be negotiated, depending on the season and your bargaining skills!

I would vote against doing prepayments to “flying” travel agents.

The first trip, that we have done over a “flying agent”, we paid directly before entering the boat to James Bond island, the second time, we found a permanent travel agent with a permanent shop next to our hotel and did a payment in advance though.

Which package to choose?

The first time, we booked the James Bond tour with a “flying” travel agent, who has been called by a pub, where we asked for James Bond Island tours.

They have been asking THB 2.800 each, after bargaining, we ended up with THB 1.800,–  (~US$ 50) each. The tour included a pickup at our hotel (which is common on every tour), a 40 min. minibus drive across the Phuket island to Poh bay, where we took a tour boat together with ~20 other people from all nations.

The trip took approx. 80 minutes and we had patience and time enough to capture the fantasic island world of Phang Nga in our hearts and in our camera.

We had free fresh soft drinks from an ice box on board all the time and the first delicious thai food in many variants as a late breakfast.

After visiting James Bond island, we went back to the boat and had an incredible warm Thai lunch, served on 8 different plates! After lunch, we went to a small lagoon, where the canoes were watered and we went canooing for like 45 minutes. Don’t worry, every canoe had 2 tourists and one local Thai, who did all the rowing. We felt a bit bad and lazy!

Back on the boat, we went to another place, where they had a mongrovia lagoon, time for another 45 minutes of canooing.

We then went to a remote island with a nice sand beach and we had time for another hour to swim inbetween these bizarre rocks. Desert followed, fresh fruits and as always, free softdrinks out of the ice box.

After a relaxed trip on our boat another 60 minutes, we returned back to Poh Bay, where our shuttle bus waited and took us back to the hotel.

All in all, most definitely, one of the finest days in my life!

This year, we have not been able to find the tour operator from our first James Bond island tour, so, we booked another trip:

The asking price was THB 1.800 and we ended up paying THB 1.400,– (~US$ 40) each.

I have asked the travel agent, if we are on a boat from Poh Bay, she said yes, later I found out, that this was not the case.

So, the next morning (at 11:00, 2 years ago, we started at 8:30!) the minibus met us at the hotel and took us for 1 hour across the entire island. First stop was a rubber tree plant and we had a short introduction to rubber tapping…  hmmm, interesting…..

The only thing, which I have learnt was, that fresh rubber smells like rotten fish..

After the obligatory souvenir booth, we went back to the minibus, which took us to a golden buddha in a cave. Hmmm. Interesting and all these monkeys in front of the cave waiting for tourists to buy them bananas.

Another 15 minutes drive and we entered a very small pier, where were equipped with one bottle of water (the first and only one) and a life vest. We entered a longtail-boat, which took us to a kind of  ancient fishermen-village, where we had lunch. The food was ok, no comparison to what we had 2 years ago, so lunch was finished after 10 minutes.

To kill time, we went around the fishermen village, which mostly consisted of souvenir shops, time to buy 4 postcards for US$ 1.

Then the longtail boat took us to James Bond Island, a fast and noisy ride, not much chance to enjoy the silent world of Phang Nga bay. It was even diffilult to take pics because of the bumps and the splash caused by the boat.

Thirty minutes for visiting James Bond Island, then we went to a lagoon, where some canoes awaited us for the well-known canoe-ride.

After 40 minutes, we went back to the longtail-boat, which took us back to the pier and then the shuttle brought us back to the hotel.

We would have been totally happy with this, if we would not have experienced the boat tour 2 years ago, so, here is my advise: If you are booking any tour to James Bond  make sure, that you end up on these bigger boats leaving from Poh Bay and not in a longtail-boat.

Make sure, check the brochure once, twice and ask the travel agent once, twice trice.

Enjoy the trip, it is definitely worth it!

One More Thing – A little Food!

If I may give you an additional info, which was very valuable for us:

The best and absolutely affordable food, which we had on Phuket was at the Lotus restaurant at Bang Tao Beach.

Check the internet for reviews and you may understand, why we ended up in paying extra for a taxi to go there for 3 dinners on our 5-nights stay.

Explore James Bond Island on Google Maps

View Larger Map

If you have any questions or any additional tips or photos then post them on the Absolutely James Bond Forum Topic.

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