Phi Phi Islands Tours for Snorkelling and Sightseeing – Everything You Need To Know

Published Categorized as Thailand Travel, Asia Travel, Destinations, Travel Blog
Exit45 Travels Phi Pi Islands Tours 22.06 Phi Phi Don Small

Phi Phi Islands tours are the ultimate sightseeing experience and should absolutely be on your itinerary for your next visit to Thailand!

Phi Phi Islands are a famous archipelago located in the southeast Andaman Sea, Thailand. The natural beauty, abundance of marine life, and the crystal clear emerald waters are all highlights, but the Phi Phi islands are also well known for Maya Bay from the movie “The Beach”.

The islands are considered some of the most beautiful islands in the world and are an extremely popular tourist destination. With world-famous snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities, as well as some of the best sightseeing in Thailand, these islands are sure to please.

Are you planning on doing some island hopping around Koh Phi Phi on a Phi Phi island day tour? Read on to find out more about our experience of a one day Phi Phi Island tour, included stops on the standard itineraries, inclusions, and the additional costs you may not be aware of.


Please Note: All prices are quoted in the local currency – THB (Thai Baht). To easily convert prices to your currency, we use xe Currency Converter.


DISCLAIMER: This article contains affiliate links and Exit45 Travels are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.


Did You Know?

  • Phi Phi Island, most notably Maya Bay, was put on the world map after the making of the movie ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo di Caprio.
  • Phi Phi Islands are easily accessible by ferry and speedboat from Phuket, Krabi and Koh Lanta.
  • There are no roads for cars on the main island of Phi Phi Don and the main form of transportation is by walking, bicycle or long-tail boat.
  • Most visitors to Phi Phi island are day trippers, there just for one day only.
  • Six islands make up the well-known Phi Phi Islands, and Phi Phi Don is the main island where you will find accommodation and restaurants for tourists.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

– Andre Gide –


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Where is Koh Phi Phi?

The Phi Phi Islands are located in the southeast Andaman Sea, between the mainland of southern Thailand and the western coastline of the island of Phuket. The islands are part of Krabi Province and part of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. There are six Phi Phi Islands:

  1. Koh Phi Phi Leh
  2. Koh Phi Phi Don
  3. Koh Bida Nok
  4. Koh Bida Nai
  5. Koh Maa
  6. Koh Poda

How to Get to Koh Phi Phi

N.B. We travelled in the low season in June so the prices we have indicated may be lower than at other, peak times of the year. Also, the various ferry and speedboat companies were running on limited schedules. As tourists start returning to Thailand, we expect both prices to increase and also the number of departure time options to increase.

As such, it is advisable to buy your tickets in advance to ensure you get a ticket and get the best deal. It is also advisable to arrive around an hour in advance to get good seats.

We have found 12Go to be the best site for booking transportation in Thailand.


How to Get to Phi Phi Islands from Phuket

There are two main ways to get to Phi Phi islands from Phuket – by a ferry or speedboat. The ferry will take approximately 2 hours and a speedboat about 1 hour.

We booked our transport to and from Phi Phi Don through our hotel tour operator. The total cost was 1000 THB per person and included hotel transfer in an air-conditioned mini-van to the Rassada Pier in Phuket Town, the ferry to and from Tonsai Pier on Phi Phi Don, and a return mini-van back to our Hotel. The tickets were open ended so we could stay as long as we liked on the island and catch any ferry back.

We caught the first available ferry in the morning (11:00am) and there were very few people on it. On our return, we caught the 3:30pm ferry back to Phuket which allowed us to make the most of our time on the island.

We easily found seats inside on the main deck of both ferries in the air-conditioned section with comfortable, reclining seat with ocean views. Upstairs, there was also a smaller air-conditioned cabin and seats outside in the sun for those looking to top up their tans and enjoy the ocean breezes.

For those that have a tendency to get sea sick, we would recommend taking some tablets before your trip as the seas can get quite rough, especially on the afternoon ferries. Also, find a seat on the lower deck of the ferry in the centre for the least amount of rocking and rolling.

However, if you want to make the most of your time, the islands are only about an hour’s speedboat ride from Phuket. The prices we were quoted for hotel transfers and speedboat tickets return were 1600 THB per person. The speedboats also leave at three different times during the day allowing for options and flexibility.

If you would prefer to book an all-inclusive Phi Phi tour from Phuket, there are lots of companies offering their services. Generally, these include all transportation to and from your accommodation in Phuket to Phi Phi, a guide, lunch, snacks, bottled water and the use of a mask and snorkel.

blue, red and white passenger ferry in the water
Ferry from Phuket (Image by 12go.com)

How to get to Phi Phi Islands from Krabi

There are two main ways to get to Phi Phi islands from Krabi – by a ferry or speedboat. The ferry will take approximately 90 minutes from Klong Jirad Pier and a speedboat about 45 minutes.

You can also book a combined / joint ticket which includes an air-conditioned taxi / minivan from your accommodation in Krabi town to Phi Phi Don.

If you would prefer to book an all-inclusive Krabi to Koh Phi Phi day trip of the Phi Phi Islands, there are lots of companies offering their services. Generally, these include all transportation to and from your accommodation in Krabi to Phi Phi, a guide, lunch, snacks, bottled water and the use of a mask and snorkel.


How to get to Phi Phi Islands from Koh Lanta

There are two main ways to get to Phi Phi islands from Koh Lanta – by a ferry or speedboat. The ferry will take approximately 60 minutes from Sala Dan Pier and a speedboat about 30 minutes.

You can also book a combined / joint ticket which includes an air-conditioned taxi / minivan from your accommodation in Koh Lanta to Phi Phi Don.

If you would prefer to book an all-inclusive day trip to Phi Phi from Koh Lanta, there are lots of companies offering their services. Generally, these include all transportation to and from your accommodation in Koh Lanta to Phi Phi, a guide, lunch, snacks, bottled water and the use of a mask and snorkel.


When to Visit Koh Phi Phi

As we have previously mentioned, Koh Phi Phi is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in Thailand. The island has everything from white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters to lush jungles and towering limestone cliffs. But when is the best time of year to visit Koh Phi Phi?

The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the beaches and town all to yourself, then the best time to go is during the low season, which runs from May to October. Also, during this time, the price of tours are often reduced so you may be also to grab a bargain like we did!

However, if you want to be guaranteed better weather, then you should go during the high season, which runs from November to April.


Phi Phi Islands Tours – Everything You Need To Know

The Phi Phi Islands in Thailand are an amazing place to explore for both snorkelling and sightseeing. The islands offer stunning coral reefs and plenty of interesting wildlife to see, including sea turtles and monkeys. There are also some great spots for swimming, sunbathing and exploring.

And there is no better way to see all that Koh Phi Phi has to offer than by doing one of the many Phi Phi Islands tours on offer. You will never forget the amazing blue horizons and unforgettable scenery.

Most tours are concentrated on the exploration of the two main Phi Phi islands that are world famous for their natural beauty and magnificent underwater scenery. Phi Phi Don, the largest island, has been an extremely popular destination for scuba divers and snorkellers for well over 30 years. Phi Phi Leh island is the smaller of the two main islands and is most well-known for as the home of Maya Bay, the location where the movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed.

It is worth mentioning here that all Phi Phi islands tours require some level of swimming ability.  In saying this, there were many weak swimmers on our tours who were still able to participate by wearing life jackets all the time.

Top Tip: Tour operators usually visit the destinations in the same order, but if you ask around, some tour companies offer an alternative order of stops so you won’t have to share your Phi Phi island snorkeling spots and beaches with lots of other people.

couple at front of a boat in aqua blue waters near a limestone cliff

Phi Phi Island One Day Tour – General Booking Details i.e. Cost, Duration, Inclusions etc.

As we were travelling during the Thai low season, we waited until we arrived on Phi Phi Don to book our Phi Phi island day trip. This allowed us the opportunity to talk to various tour operators, look at the various tours on offer, and talk to other travellers regarding their experiences and recommendations.

We decided to book a full one-day Phi Phi Islands tour which included lots of opportunities for snorkelling and sightseeing. We decided on a tour which departed later in the day (10:30am) and finished at 7:30pm which also allowed us to see the sunset and bioluminescent plankton.

Below we have outlined the basic info for a Phi Phi Islands one day tour:

  • Cost: from 600 THB per person on a traditional Thai long-tail boat
  • Departure Time:  Dependent on Tour Operator but most tours left at either 6:30am, 10:30am or 12:30pm
  • Pick-Up: from Tonsai Pier
  • Duration: approximately 7 to 9 hours
  • Attractions: Shark Point, Bamboo Island, Viking Cave, Monkey Beach, Pileh Bay, Loh Samah Bay and Maya Bay (The Beach)
  • Availability: Available on a daily basis at various times 
  • Types of Tours: Offer both a shared tour and private tour
  • Boat (Long-Tail) Capacity:  Size of boat will dictate the availability and number of participants
  • Inclusions: Licensed Tour Guide, Lunch, Seasonal Tropical Fruits, Snack, Bottled Drinking Water, Snorkelling Equipment (Mask and Snorkel), Life Jackets
  • Exclusions: National Park Fee for Maya Bay is not included – 400 THB per person when you reach Maya Bay

Please note the following:

  • Reservations are strongly recommended during the high season (November 1st to May 31st) as seats sell out very quickly
  • Confirmation of all tours is subject to weather’s conditions
  • Itineraries, times and order of activities are subject to change without prior notice due to the weather, tide conditions, and National Park regulations
  • Check-in with your tour operator 30 minutes before the tour begins
  • Do not feed any wildlife (monkeys) or marine life
  • Do not pick up any coral living or dead, any marine life such as starfish etc., remove any shells from the beaches, and you should avoid standing on coral. This rule is one of the basics of marine conservation and helps protect the islands and reefs from the multitude of tourists that come here every year.
  • Long excessive periods in the sun will cause sunburn so wear appropriate sun protection, and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Additional Costs

Maya Bay National Park Fee:

  • 400 THB per person (mandatory)
  • Check with the tour operator whether this has been included in your tour price or not
  • To be paid either directly upon arrival at Maya Bay at the National Park Office or your tour guide will collect payment and pay on your behalf in bulk.

Mask / Snorkel Rental:

  • Check whether mask and snorkel hire is included free in your tour cost
  • N.B. These are a must if you want to get the most out of your tour!

Spending Money:

  • Refreshments at one of the stops – coconut water, soft drink, beer, snacks etc.

Koh Phi Phi One Day Tour – Stops on the Itinerary

Tonsai Beach – Phi Phi Don

Your tour group will meet at Tonsai Pier and the longtail boat will leave from Tonsai Beach.

aerial view of island with blue waters and
Aerial View of Phi Phi Don

Shark Point – Phi Phi Don

Our first stop of the day was at Shark Point, a rocky outcrop approximately 200 metres off Long Beach. This snorkelling site is known for its fantastic mix of marine life including a colourful range of soft anemones, and harmless black tipped reef sharks form 40cm to 1.2 metres in size.

We arrived at Shark Point at mid-tide about 11am and sadly, the current was incredibly strong so snorkelling was not possible. For those on the boat who were not strong swimmers, it was quite a harrowing experience (not to mention incredibly dangerous). 

For the best chance of spotting black tipped reef sharks, find a tour that goes to Shark Point early in the morning or later in the afternoon. They are harder to spot when there is a lot of boat activity in the waters.


Bamboo Island / Koh Mai Phai

The next stop on our itinerary was to Bamboo Island, the most north-easterly island of the Phi Phi archipelago, lying approximately 5 kilometres (3 miles) off the northern tip of Koh Phi Phi Don. It takes about 45 minutes from Phi Phi Don to get there in a long-tail boat.

We spent 1 hour on the island enjoying the powdery white sand beach and crystal clear waters. This allowed plenty of time relaxing on the beach, sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling before we had to get back on the boat.

We spent most of our time snorkelling and exploring the beautiful marine life along the coral reef 40 metres off the beach. We walked to one end of the beach and the current allowed us to slowly float down above the entire reef with little to no effort at all. 

The corals here were amazing and the reef was full of various tropical fish. We saw a good variety of fish and invertebrate species, such as moorish idol, moon wrasse, pufferfish, parrot fish, butterfly fish and colourful giant clams. Also, on the sea anemones, we found many ocellaris clownfish, nowadays better known as “Nemo” from the Disney-Pixar movie.

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Aerial View of Bamboo Island

Viking Cave – Phi Phi Leh

Next, we checked out the Viking Cave from the boat. The Viking Cave owes its name to the paintings found on the eastern and southern walls of the cave. These paintings were possibly made by sailors taking shelter in the cave during a storm.

Today, it is the site of one of the most profitable local industries where the nests of swiftlet birds are harvested. The eating of these birds’ nests (Birds Nest Soup) are particularly prized in Chinese culture, where it is believed to promote good health.

It is not possible to enter this enormous cave but you will be able to see the armed guards guarding the birds’ nests from looters!


Monkey Beach – Phi Phi Don

Due to the tide being high, there was no ‘beach’ as such at Monkey Beach when we were there, but we did get to see the monkeys from the boat, or alternatively, you could get into the water for a closer view of the cute long-tailed Macaques. Troops of monkeys could be seen playing and sleeping on the faces of the limestone cliffs.

When we were there, many people were in the water trying to get very close to the monkeys and some of the guides were giving food to people to feed the monkeys. For your own safety, we would recommend staying on the boat whilst viewing the monkeys as they are wild animals and should be respected. No wants to spend their holidays being treated for rabies after being bitten by a monkey!

monkeys on cliff face playing in front of boat with couple on board
Monkey Beach (there are monkeys there but they are too small to see)

Pileh Bay / Lagoon – Phi Phi Leh

On the back side of Phi Phi Leh is Pileh Bay or Pileh Lagoon. This is yet another of the locations in the filming of “The Beach”. The emerald green lagoon is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs on three sides and is only accessible during high tide. Time spent at this spot is primarily for swimming in the crystal-clear waters, jumping off the boat and taking photos.

After our time in Pileh Bay, our tour guide then took us snorkelling to Pileh Wall where we got to see more amazing and beautiful marine life and coral.


Loh Samah Bay

We stopped at Loh Samah Bay for swimming and snorkelling, and explored the colourful tropical reef. It was getting later in the afternoon when we were here and we were in the shade on the cliffs, so while there was lots of beautiful coral and fish to be seen, we did not have the light from the sun to get the greatest impact on the colours underwater.


Maya Bay (The Beach) – Phi Phi Leh

Our next stop was the world-famous Maya Bay, most notable as the pristine white beach seen in the 1999 movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It has been one of the must-see locations in Thailand for tourists since the movie screened.

However, decades of overuse and misuse forced its closure 2018 by the National Park services. As of the on 1st January in 2022, Maya Bay has reopened after being closed for 3 years with various restrictions imposed.

Firstly, all tour groups must now pay a 400 THB per person National Park fee to access the area for Maya Bay tours. You are allowed a maximum of 1 hour in the National Park and there is a maximum of 300 persons allowed on the beach in the same time.

No boats are allowed to drop anchor in the bay on any Maya Bay tour, and instead, you are dropped off at a pontoon in another bay to access the beach. From there, you follow an elevated timber boardwalk which winds its way through the surrounding jungle. You will first pass toilet facilities and then on your right is the first elevated viewing platform of the beach and bay area. On your left is a small stall selling various drinks and snacks. This seems to be run by the wardens of the National Park and a corn on the cob cooked on the BBQ will cost you 200 THB.

From here you will continue walking along the boardwalk until you come to the entrance to the beach. As we stepped onto the powdery white sand, we were amazed there was no-one swimming in these magnificent waters and were excited to get in and have it all to ourselves.

We were also initially surprised by and commented on the number of National Park wardens patrolling the beach. We were to quickly find out why the waters were empty as whistles started being blown and angry shouts by the wardens yelled at people to get out of the water, even those that were only a little more than ankle deep. Apparently, part of the new restrictions mean swimming in Maya Bay is also forbidden.

Whilst the view from the beach is magnificent with the sun reflecting off the clear aqua-blue waters surrounded by green foliage covered rocks in the background, one hour felt like a long time to spend at this spot. In saying that, we are both water lovers and would have loved to spend our time swimming in the water, but if you enjoy sunbathing, you may not feel the same way…

In summary though, we appreciate the decision made by the Thai government and National Park’s Authority in 2018 to close the bay and beach for regeneration and to allow the preservation of corals, wildlife and environment time to recover. The new restrictions do allow the chance to see an unspoiled and uncrowded Maya Bay without any boats, and truly appreciate what is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world!

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Maya Bay: Image by Lucas Hemingway at Unsplash

Nui Bay – Phi Phi Leh

As the sun slowly started to set, we had one final stop for swimming and snorkelling at Nui Bay. This pretty little bay is surrounded by limestone rock formations and was a great place for enjoying under water exploring of the colourful tropical reef and marine life with tropical fishes. This spot would have been even more beautiful if we had arrived when there was some sun (we were in the shade of the cliffs) to make the most of the colourful corals and fish.


Klang Chong

Klang Chong is located between Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley and is considered to be the most beautiful spot to see the sunset on the Andaman Sea. By this stage, the waters were quite rough and a number of people in the surrounding boats, as well as our own, got quite seasick as we rocked and rolled waiting nearly 30 minutes for the sun to set. Luckily for us, it was worth the wait!!!

Please Note: There is no guarantee you will see a great sunset on each trip as cloudy days can make it difficult to see it clearly.


Night Snorkelling with Plankton Tour Phi Phi

After the setting of the sun, we travelled to a calm bay where we were all given the option of staying on the boat to snorkel and see the bioluminescent plankton, or to head back to Tonsai Pier. After a little confusion, another longtail boat full of a tour group pulled alongside us, and here passengers transferred to one or the other boat according to their preferences.

Night snorkelling with bioluminescent plankton made for an incredible underwater light show and a pretty cool experience!

From here, the boat then returned to Tonsai Pier on Phi Phi Don at approximately 7:30pm


Booking Phi Phi Islands Tours

If you are looking to pre-book a Koh Phi Phi Island Hopping tour, GetYourGuide offers some great tour packages at very competitive prices.

speedboat and inside showing lifejackets
Phi Phi Islands Tours on a Speedboat (Image by 12go.com)

What to Take on a Koh Phi Phi Island Hopping Tour?

You don’t need to bring much for any of the island-hopping tours in Koh Phi Phi, but this is what we think are essential items to pack for the day.

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We highly recommend keeping all your gear in a dry bag, especially those items you do not want getting wet. Everyone on the boat is in and out of the water all day and the boat gets very wet. In addition, if the wind picks up in the afternoon on the way home, it is impossible to stay dry as the water splashes on-board.


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A waterproof phone (or phone in a good waterproof phone case) or camera is a must on this trip due to how picturesque the area is.


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We took our GoPro and managed to get some magnificent videos and pictures.


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You’ll be in and out of the sun all day so this is a must! Make sure you reapply at least once during the day to ensure maximum coverage.


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Some companies provide you with a towel for the duration of the tour but we recommend you also take your own as they get extremely wet. We travel with fast drying microfiber towels so these were dry again by the time we came back from each of our swims.


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Most tour companies will provide you with water throughout the day but we always take our own to ensure we never get thirsty. Single-use plastic bottles are not recommended on your tour so it is better if you have a reusable bottle.


thai baht

There are a few extra costs (detailed above) so it is good to have some extra cash on you. 


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If you don’t already have your own, masks and snorkels are readily available for rent (if not included in your tour cost). We always travel with our own masks and snorkels because we use these often so for us, it pays off to have own not only because it is more hygienic, but also rented equipment is not often of the best quality. READ OUR MARES X-VISION DIVE MASK REVIEW


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These are an optional extra, but can come in handy when hopping on and off the boats, and going on land to explore.  


Accommodation Options in Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi was once a small fishing village, but in the past 20 years, the word of its beauty is out and has spread far and wide. Nowadays, almost no Thailand itinerary is complete without visiting the Phi Phi Islands. In order to satisfy this high demand, you can find many hostels and hotels in Koh Phi Phi to suit every budget.

Luxury (US$100 and Up)

  • Zeavola Resort – Clean, spacious rooms with all the mod cons, swimming pool and included breakfast.
  • SAii Phi Phi Island Village – Free fitness centre access, Wi-Fi and breakfast in a beautifully spacious room.

Mid-Range (US$30 to US$100)

  • Phi Phi Banyan Villas – Centrally located in Tonsai Village with magical views of the sea while eating your buffet breakfast.
  • Phi Phi Film House– Central location with consistently great reviews, and close to lots of great restaurants.
  • Phi Phi CoCo Beach Resort – High-quality resort providing guests with access to a spa, massage, restaurants and indoor pool on-site.

Budget (Up to $US30)


Where We Stayed in Kho Phi Phi

We stayed at the Phi Phi Banyan Villas right in the heart of Tonsai Village and right on the water front. We stayed in a clean private A/C room with our own private bathroom, and paid 1000 THB per night. This also gave us a beautiful continental breakfast each morning served in the restaurant which overlooked the beach at Tonsai Bay. Also, upon arrival at the pier by ferry or speedboat, the hotel is only a short 300 metre walk. We have recommended this place to many other travellers and none of them have been disappointed.  If you are travelling on a budget, we cannot recommend this place highly enough.

view of longtail boats in bay with cliffs behind
Phi Phi Banyan Villas – Our View at Breakfast

In Summary – Phi Phi Islands Tours for Snorkelling and Sightseeing

With so many amazing things to experience and beauty to witness, you will be spoilt for choice! Koh Phi Phi is the ultimate destination in Thailand for every traveller to explore at least once in their lifetime.

Besides Phi Phi’s powdery white sand beaches, aqua-marine waters and idyllic seascapes, it is a great place to go for a tropical island holiday! With amazing underwater snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities, laid-back beach days and adventures to all the hidden coves of the islands, it will long remain a favourable memory.

Are you planning a trip to Koh Phi Phi? Have you visited any of the islands, beaches or snorkelling spots listed above, or have we missed any we should add to this list? Post your tips and questions below.


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TRIP PLANNERS FOR THAILAND: RELATED BLOG POSTS

Want more info to help you plan your Thailand holiday? Check out all the articles we’ve written on travel in Thailand below and continue planning your trip.


DISCLAIMER: This article contains affiliate links and Exit45 Travels are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.


Essential Travel Planning Resources for Thailand

These are our favourite companies to use when we travel to Thailand. They consistently turn up the best deals and offer great customer service, and overall, are better than their competitors. These companies are always our starting point when we need to book a flight, hotel, tour, transportation etc.

Book a Tour:
We mostly travel independently, however, some places are better to visit with a guided tour. We use both GetYourGuide and Viator to find great deals on tours in Thailand.

Always Carry With You:
When travelling in Thailand, we always carry a daypack for excursions and the Lonely Planet Guide!


By Peta Wenzel

We are Peta (Australian) and Jonas (Swedish/Australian), a couple in our mid 40’s / early 50’s who have been travelling the world fulltime since January 2018. We met and lived on the Gold Coast, Australia and spent many evenings researching and watching YouTube vlogs about travel and dreaming of the day we would retire and be able to enjoy a lot more travel ourselves. Over the years, a number of events happened to family and friends and an opportunity arose which made us decide to not wait but to instead take a “Gap Year”. We are now in our 3rd year of travel and still hunger for new adventures and embrace the uncertainty that comes with full-time travel. If you want to know more about who we are, why we choose this lifestyle and how we do it, please follow our adventures and see how you can do it too.

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