The famous James Bond Island – immortalized by the 1974 James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun, has become a top tourist attraction in Phuket. Visited by thousands every day, it is a majestic, gravity-defying structure that rises in the middle of a body of water, creating a unique island formation that captured the imaginations of the very people that made the movie franchise a worldwide phenomenon.
Here are 5 facts about the James Bond Island that you need to know:
1. It Has a Real Name
James Bond Island is called Ko Tapu, which means “nail” or “spike” island in Thai. The island belongs to
the group of islands called Khao Phing Kan, which means “The island with hills leaning together,” in Thai. The name represents the nature of the area that consists of connecting islands.
The origins of Ko Tapu has an interesting mythical story. According to legend, a fisherman used to fish in the waters where the rock island is located today. This fisherman caught plenty of fish every day, but one day, all he caught with his net was a piece of nail. He threw the nail back into the water, but when he threw his net, he would catch it again – with no fish in sight. In a rage, he hit the nail with a sharp object with all his might, forcing one-half of the nail to jump into the water, which led to the rising of a rock formation that is the Ko Tapu.
Of course, science has a different and more logical explanation, which we will discuss in the next fact.
2. A Limestone Rock
James Bond Island is located within the Phang Nga Bay, which apparently explains its limestone make,
considering the bay features several other limestone formations that rise from the sea.
The island is 20 meters tall, with a diameter of 4 meters at the bottom, and 8 meters at the top. Made of limestone tower karsts the island is believed to have formed during the Permian period, which is about 250 million years ago. The area is thought to have been a barrier reef, and due to tectonic movements, the reef ruptured, and several of its parts were dispersed in the waters. Elements such as the wind, water currents, waves, and tides eventually eroded the reefs, creating peculiar shapes, with Ko Tapu being one of these formations.
The rock island is located 40 meters from the shore of one of the two main islands of Khao Phing Kan.
3. Rise to Popularity Led to Tourist Restrictions
Immediately after the James Bond movie in 1974, Ko Tapu was colloquially renamed as James Bond Island to
make it easier for locals and tourists to recognize the island. Tourists began to flock to the famous movie location, gradually contaminating the water with household litter.
In 1981, the island was included in the marine protected area of the Ao Phang Nga Marine National Park, and thus, measures to protect the island began to take place.
In 1998, tourist boats began to be forbidden from getting close to the island as an aim to stop the erosion of the limestone rocks since it could eventually lead to the islet’s collapse.
4. A Favorite Bond Location
It was the movie, The Man with the Golden Gun, that cemented the rock island as a top tourist attraction in
the region. Before the film, it was a mere limestone formation that generated less interest from locals and tourists.
The island served as James Bond’s archenemy’s hideout, with the top of the island featuring solar panels that powered the villain, Scaramanga’s laser gun. The scene starts with James Bond, played by Roger Moore, flying over Phang Nga Bay, and making his way to the rock island, where Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee, welcomes him inside his lair.
The movie depicted the rock island to have a hidden lair inside, where Scaramanga stayed and operated his world domination plans. Contrary to the film’s depiction, there is no actual structure inside the rock island. It is deemed too small for such a structure to built.
5. Top Tourist Attraction Today
James Bond Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Phang Nga Bay. Mostly all tours in the
area include the island in their itinerary.
To get to the island, one can avail Phang Nga Bay tour packages, which include canoeing or visiting other lagoons within the area. The most popular way to visit is on a longtail boat ride, which can also access other nearby islands.
James Bond Island is a sight not to miss in Phuket. It is an incredible sight to behold and makes for an excellent experience with the beauties of nature.