Rising like a spike out of the shallow waters of Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay is a 66-foot-tall vertical pillar of rock, stretching wider at the top than it does at the bottom. Although this tower karst was a relatively unknown indigenous site before the early ’70s, that all changed when the British Secret Service’s number one agent came to town.
In 1974, the James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun was released. One of the film’s scenes featured Bond’s nemesis, Francisco Scaramanga, hiding out at Phang Nga Bay and using the solar panels on the island to power his laser gun. The movie, which referred to the island as a “mushroom-shaped rock,” catapulted Phang Nga Bay’s tourism industry, so much so that the island was dedicated to 007 himself with the name of James Bond Island.
But James Bond is not the only namesake of the tall little islet, which is located just offshore from Khao Phing Kan island, part of Ao Phang Nga National Park. According to local mythology, the island was created when one day a Thai fisherman failed to catch a single fish and came up only with a nail. In frustration, he’d throw the nail into the ocean, but magically, the nail would return to his hand. In anger, the fisherman cut the nail in half with a knife, letting the half-nail fall into the bay. To the fisherman’s astonishment, the half-nail erupted to form the giant nail-shaped limestone tower that stands today, giving it its original Thai name, Ko Ta Pu, or Nail Island.