A few days ago Bethany and I did a tour of a few uninhabited islands off the southeast coast of Koh Lanta with the headline being the Emerald Cave. The island is essentially a giant limestone donut with a hidden beach in the center surrounded by jungle and cliffs on all sides.
When we arrived the island looked the same as countless others that we’d cruised past that day except that there were a few other boats anchored by a half submerged cave at the base of limestone cliffs. The boat dropped its anchor and we put on our life jackets and faced our guide who spoke about 10 words of English. After some pointing and hand motions that looked like swimming we hopped out of the boat and started swimming toward the cave.
Entering the cave the water darkens and daylight becomes faint and vanishes after a few turns. Everyone in our group stuck close together and followed the small light from the headlamp our guide wore. Little bumps and taps from the person swimming in front or behind were much more disconcerting in the darkness especially after we learned that a girl in our group had been stung by a poisonous jelly fish. After a what seemed like an hour we could see the faint green light from the center of the island and a few turns later, we arrived at the beach.
The water was extremely calm and the beach was surrounded on all sides by massive cliffs and lush jungle buzzing with the sounds of birds and cicadas. It was easy to picture this place as a hiding spot for pirates centuries ago (which is apparently what it used to be). The half-underwater swim through a pitch-black cave to a secluded cove in what felt like the bottom of an overgrown jungle volcano – the whole experience felt like something out of a movie.