Sand flies can be a problem as can minute stinging jellyfish larvae in the water; just how bad the stingers are varies from day to day and from beach to beach though.
The water around Ko Phayam contains a lot of silt which means visibility is very poor; it's definitely not a good place to go snorkelling. On the rare days when you can see further than your feet it's possible to spot quite a lot of reef fish, moray eels, barracuda and even a very occasional turtle, but the coral is pretty dead looking and mostly smothered in silt deposits.
Ko Phayam is one of a few rare places in Thailand with waves big enough for surfing and bodyboarding though the waves are not quite Bali standard. Kayaking is quite popular and wind surfing is another newly introduced water sports option.
Fishing and snorkelling trips can be arranged, including overnight trips to the Surin Islands by speedboat directly from Ko Phayam. During high season, fairly regular liveaboard trips to the Surins, Similans, Richelieu Rock, Ko Bon and the Mergui Archipelago in Burma get advertised. You can sign up for these dive trips once you're there as they never seem to be fully booked in advance.
For wildlife enthusiasts, Ko Phayam is a great place for walking and bird watching. The island is home to a lot of rare bird species including very large numbers of hornbills. Wild and very shy monkeys still inhabit the jungle areas, butterflies abound, and giant sea otters are occasionally seen on the beach or swimming.
Ko Phayam also has a thriving lizard, frog and snake population. Cobras and tree snakes are quite commonly seen though no tourist has ever been bitten as far as we know. It's quite likely that you'll be sharing your basic beach bungalow with a few geckos and tree frogs as well as various insects.
Mosquitoes are mainly the dengue and chikungunya carrying type (Aedes aegypti ) and there have been cases of both diseases on the island so use plenty of repellent.
There are a few Thai massage places on the island but unlike most tourist spots in Thailand, not enough to meet demand so you usually need to book in advance in high season. Prices are reasonable, about 250-300B for a one-hour traditional Thai massage.
Last updated on 28th December, 2011.