James Bond Rock

Ko Tapu - Koh Ta Poo

Useful Information

Ko Tapu (Nail Island), Ha Long Bay, Thailand. Public Domain.
Location: Ko Tapu Island, Phang Nga Bay National Park. Day-tours using longtail boats departing from Phuket island.
Open: Park: All year daily 9-19.
Fee: Phang Nga Bay National Park: Adults THB 300, Children THB 100.
Thai: Adults THB 60, Children THB 30.
Boat ride: between THB 1,500 and THB 8,000.
Classification: KarstTower Karst
Light: n/a
Dimension: VR=20 m.
Guided tours: boat trips
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: James Bond Rock, Phang Nga Bay National Park, 80 หมู่ที่ 1 ถนน บ้านท่าด่าน Ko Panyi, Mueang Phang-nga District, Chang Wat Phang-nga 82000, Tel: +66-76-481-188.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1974 featured in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun.


Ko Tapu (Nail Island), Thailand. Public Domain.
Ko Tapu (Nail Island) by seandigger, public domain from WikipediaImage:James Bond island.jpg - Wikipedia.

The Ao Phang Nga National Park is a region with a size of some 400 km². Its main feature is a submerged karst area, originally a tower karst which formed during the Ice Ages, when the water level of the sea was up to 100 m deeper. At this time the karst area developed on land, the limestone was dissolved by the water, valleys widened to flat planes with limestone towers full of caves. Later the sea level rose and the plains were flooded. Today the former karst towers form white rock island with almost vertical walls.

This rather small karst tower is pretty famous. It is often called James Bond Rock or James Bond Island. Its true name is Ko Tapu (nail island) or Khao Tapu (nail hill) because of its nail like shape. It received its new name because it became famous after it was used as a location for a James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun, in 1974. James Bond (Roger Moore) had to fight Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) who installed an evil device named Solex Agitator inside the rock.

Actually the rock was not harmed during the filming in any way, as the machinery was mostly made by trick. The spectacular nail like form is a direct result of the geology of the area. The sea water is eroding the islands at their foot. So the cliffs stay steep, even become overhanging by the continuous erosion. This overhanging part extend for some height and then runs out. This island is not higher, and because of its low diameter it became this nail form. The future is clear: the island will become thinner and thinner and some time the foot will break and the pin fall down. We hope this will take some hundred thousand years.

There is also a legend about the island which is much older than James Bond.

A fisherman spent several hours at Phang Nga Bay fishing without luck. Every time he pulled his fishing net out of the water, he kept catching the same crab over and over again. which he threw back every time. But finally, enraged by his lack of luck, he pulled out the eye of the crab and threw it into the water. The crab’s eye then turned into a small island shaped like a crab eye, which stuck out above the water. That's why the island was named Ta Poo, which (among other things) means Crab Eye in Thai.

The nail is not stepped on by tourists, obviously it is more interesting from some distance. The boats land on Ko Khao Phingkan (hills resting on each other island), a pair of two islands. They are full of tourists and market booths, and a visit here is generally like a visit to an amusement park. There is a trail around the island, which offers various views on the nail, and also a self guided visit of a small karst cave.

All the islands, the karst towers are riddled with caves and dolines. The caves are flooded, some lie below the sea water level, others above, some are at the water level and it is possible to enter them by boat. There are virtually thousands of such caves and every tour operator offering day trip to this area has such a cave in his schedule. Some even lead to a place where the roof of the cave collapsed, and fored a doline with steep walls and sea water at the bottom. Such places are very spectacular and several were used for film sets also, the most famous is probably The Beach. They are called hong (lagoon). Many caves leading to hongs are open only during low tide. But there is only a gap of about half a metre, so all visitors have to lie down in the boat.