We stayed in the Ibis which was nicely set back off the road, avoiding the noisy Thai traffic! It was about a 20min walk to the closest beach, although the hotel had a free shuttle service every hour.
While there we went Scuba Diving, visited a few beaches, went to the Phi Phi Islands, kayaked, did a bit of Climbing, Snorkelled and occasionally rested!
From Aonang you can get long boat water taxi to a selection of close-by places, so twice we paid 400baht return, (£9), for the two of us to get around to Railay as the beach was a lot nicer around there. If staying in Aonang it's definitely worth going around for the day, the sea's clearer and beach quieter. Bonus too if your into climbing as Tonsai is only a short walk through the forest at the far left of the beach, (about 5-10mins). My sister doesn't climb so just had a bit of a boulder around the bottom of the cliffs on the beach. Theres loads of sport routes though!
So both being qualed. padi divers we booked a three dive boat trip through The Dive Ao Nang. Theres a few dive centres in Aonang and after walking around and talking to a few The Dive was the most friendly and didn't feel like I was pulling teeth when talking to them finding out about the local dive sites. We went on what they call the ASK, essentially in its three dives, a wreck and 2 reef dives.
The wreck is an old car transporter which sank in 1997 after hitting the reef nearby, (also the location of the second dive). Called the King Cruiser, it also happens to be in Scuba Travel's top dive sites in Thailand guide. The wreck is sat upright with the wheelhouse at 10metres, going down to the props at 30. Theres lots of life, big schools of fish, shrimps, nudibranchs, moray eels and box fish, along with typical reef life for the area.
The next dive was on a reef called anemone reef. A pinnacle starting at around 5 metres going down to 30+metres. As the name suggests there are lot of anemones. Lots more life too, even a shoal of barracuda swimming past on our dive. Our guide said that there used to be quite a few seahorses there, but in recent years they have completely disappeared.
The final dive was called Shark Point, which is three pinnacles at progressively deeper levels, first tops out around 4metres, second 10metres, third 20ish. Again we where told there used to be quite a few sharks at this site, but have dropped sitings recently. We didn't see any, but did see a hawksbill turtle, along with a variety of shrimps, crabs, a cuttle fish and a few tunas.
The trip was well run with food and drink offered between each dive, and the guide was very knowledgeable. The guide ratio was good too with one to three and after our guide saw that we knew what we were doing soon relaxed. Ended up with 3 60min dives, not bad for a day diving!
For one of the days we went on a Phi Phi Islands tour. It cost 2,000baht(£46) for two of us. That included a taxi from the hotel to the speed boat, Lunch and water throughout the day. The only thing it didn't include was national park entrance fees which are currently 200baht/person. It's approx. a 40 minute boat ride from Aonang to the Phi Phi islands. We visited several of the islands on the trip. First place we went was Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Lee. The beach is possibly one of the best beaches I have ever been on, well it would have been if you got rid of a few hundred people! According to the guide, 200 boats visit every day in peak season!
After a few more beach and sightseeing stops we arrived at the main island, (Ko Phi Phi), for lunch. Buffet style and nice food. Our final stop after lunch was a snorkelling trip then relaxing on Bamboo beach. Coral around Bamboo island is good, (video below), and the beach has soft white sand. It was also a lot quieter than the rest of the beaches that we had been to.
The food in Thailand is generally pretty cheap. Cost 2 of us around 600-800baht(£15) for a decent meal every night, although neither of us drink. In Ao Nang you need to get a water taxi to the other beaches around. To get to Railay beach it'll cost you 200baht return / person. There is however a nice beach just around the corner in the next bay along that can be got to by walking to the far end of the beach and up through a bit of rainforest.