Kruvit Floating Restaurant at Coconut Island
The east coast of Phuket is very much under-rated, far less touched by tourism than the sandy beaches on the west coast and far less visited by visitors. Quite a few of my favourite places and favourite restaurants are on the east side. If you head north from Phuket Town, on the main airport road there is a small side road heading to Laem Hin, a fishing community where you find the very popular Laem Hin Seafood restaurant. A new jetty was built at Laem Hin a few years ago to serve Coconut Island and allow larger boats to dock in the area. On Coconut Island (Koh Maphrao) you find a very nice resort called The Village. And in the water just off the island there are several floating restaurants. We've been before and somehow I have never blogged anything about these places. The day when we went recently was not such a perfect sunny day, guess we will go again soon with blue skies for better photos.
There are several restaurants to choose from - Kruvit, Bang Mud and Kru Suwit. To reach them, you need to get a longtail boat from Laem Hin - boats depart from a wooden jetty with shallow muddy water all around, and longtail boats jammed in like sardines in a can! The deal with the boats.. something like.. if you spend a certain amount at the restaurant you don't pay the boat .. I don't know the amount .. but don't be worried, I think the idea is just to stop people trying to get free rides to drink a coke :)
On the way out to Koh Maphrao (only takes 5 minutes) there are fishermen's huts floating in the water too. Is this the same Phuket as the west coast? Things tend to be more traditional here. Fishing, prawn farms (you pass some on the road down to Laem Hin), it's the old way of life here (oh yeh, and the resort on Coconut Island). The restaurants have been here for a long time. I think first time I went there was about 2002. Very popular with locals at the weekends.
We chose to eat at Kruvit restaurant (full name "Kruvit Raft") - my wife had been recently to Bang Mud with some friends and says that's good too. Even on a grey day, quite a few tables were occupied (all local people, although I did see one "farang" arrive later with a Thai lady). I realise that places like this are not so easy to reach for the average tourist, but .. go for it! Explore! We were met by a friendly boatman who held the longtail steady so we (especially my Mum, who cracked a rib on a longtail last year!) could step off easily. Nothing to worry about really, the sea over here is always calm, it's very sheltered.
The Kruvit Raft probably has space for a couple of hundred people. There are tables with benches and tables which allow people to sit on the floor, for those that enjoy such things. I like chairs. We found our table near the fish tanks ... lots of live seafood is kept in large enclosed pools built into the raft. Fish and more .. I actually have to say I was not happy to see a leopard shark. I guess for decoration, not for eating. It's a thin line, I know.. I am not vegetarian, happily eat fish, and yet get upset to see a shark in a "cage" ...
We ate very well too - but with a restaurant like this, eating is only part of the experience! The boat ride, the view, the fresh air, getting away from the crowds ... good food is almost a bonus. I ordered my favourite - Yam Gung Siap, a salad made with smoked, dried shrimp .. it's quite spicy and is quite a local delicacy, really only found in Phuket and Phang Nga. I love it! My wife had some "Hoi Wan" - shellfish cooked with basil and sweet chili paste (not so spicy). There was plenty more too, but sometimes when I am hungry I forget to take photos of the food!
Food washed down nicely with a couple of beers (with ice). Rest assured that the bill was very reasonable (we don't do expensive food!). We'll go again sometime soon, maybe try one of the other floating restaurants. We do eat at Laem Hin Seafood now and then and maybe the food there is better, but hey, you don't get that floating feeling or the boat ride :)
Floating Restaurants - Location Map
View Floating Restaurants at Coconut Island, Phuket in a larger map