Look, this post is going to be mostly pictures so if you follow me on instagram and were like "ugh, god, enough with your I'm on a gorgeous beach in the sunshine pictures" feel free to move along, but if you're like "enough with the writing about food, just show me that aquamarine water and some monkeys" I've got you covered.
The truth is we pretty much ended up in Ao Nang on accident because we waited until the last minute to actually make plans other than our flight to/from Bangkok. We, very mistakenly, thought that Thailand wouldn't be a popular destination for Lunar New Year. In retrospect, I have no idea what our logic was but, I assure you, it was false. Thailand is quite popular for Lunar New Year. We basically ended up in Ao Nang by checking every hotel in Krabi Provence and finding that only two that seemed to be reasonably close to a beach still had rooms.
Ao Nang is a weird juxtaposition of a junky tourist-y town and just drop dead fucking gorgeous surroundings. One of it's redeeming features is a bar down at the south end of the beach called The Last Cafe that satisfies all your palm tree, thatched hut, blended drink on a tropical beach, monkey watching dreams. The staff is somewhat surly and the drinks are probably more money than they should be but WHO CARES, there are baby monkeys and you're drinking daquiris next to a warm ocean. Don't feed the monkeys. Monkeys are smart and sneaky and if you feed one monkey you're going to end up feeding ten monkeys while the eleventh and twelfth search your purse. This is a real thing we saw right after I told Dan that monkeys aren't to be trusted. Good job illustrating my point, monkeys.
Pro tip: Nab a roll of toilet paper from your hotel to keep in your bag if you're going to use the bathroom. (This is actually never a bad thing to do when in Thailand)
Ao Nang's other redeeming quality is that your can either hire a boat at Ao Nang beach or Hat Noppharat Thara pier and easily get yourself to somewhere that is drop dead gorgeous without the ugly development, just remember to bring water, sunscreen and snacks.
Before we went to Poda Island, Dan was like "Why are there people by the hotel pool, don't they know there's a warm beach with monkeys right here?" but after Poda, Dan changed his tune to "Why are there even people on this beach don't they know they can get on a boat to a better beach?". This is also when my husband learned that beaches really do have water that color, it's not photoshopped. Poda was kind of crowded near where the long tail boats landed but a short walk will get you some great jungle views and a beach all to yourself.
You can share a boat with a bunch of strangers for cheap but Dan and I just paid the cash to have a boat to ourselves for a two island tour (though I think we accidentally went on a three island tour). We weren't entirely sure what we were getting into, so we didn't want to spend too much time on Koh Poda and limit our time on the next beach. What if the next beach was better?! Koh Poda is the jam. Stay on Koh Poda. The next beach was Koh Tub which is cool because at low tide you can walk between Koh Tub and Koh Mor but it's also very small and gets really crowded with long boats and tour groups. We did see some cool schools of fish which gave us impetus to go snorkeling so I'm glad for that, but I'd skip it if we went back.
The last stop on our three island tour wasn't actually a stop, it was a loop around the crazy looking "Chicken Island" before heading back to Hot Noppharat Thara.
There are a lot of different island tours offered, regular shared long tails from Ao Nang beach to Railay and daily ferries to Koh Phi Phi from Hat Noppharat Thara, so even though we ended up in Ao Nang primarily due to poor planning, I actually think it's a pretty great central location to get to a lot of the sites Krabi Provence has to offer.