West Coast Beaches
The west coast has most of the islands top beaches which is what most people are here for. While there has been some overwhelming development on some, there are still plenty of superb spots to suit everyone. In short the top backpacker places are at the very north of Hat Sai Khao which has a fairly relaxed feel, the party fuelled Lonely Beach and the nearby but away from the action Bailan Bay, finally the relaxed day beach of Bang Bao. Songthaews run frequently between the beaches in the daytime making it cheap and easy to travel between them. While the waters here are great to swim in, just be careful of riptides after storms or in the wet season May to September. Here’s a more detailed summary of each beach along the west coast: Hat Sai Khao (“White Sand Beach”) At around 2km long this is the widest and whitest stretch of sand on the island but also the most developed. At first glance, it’s swamped with package resorts, beach towels, vendors selling their wares and a tacky main strip. It’s by far from all doom and gloom though! The northern end has escaped such development and is home to an off-white fine sand beach, backed by dramatic, lush jungle hills. There are a few cool cheap backpacker joints here which make it an excellent choice to stay. The nearby strip provides all the conveniences such as ATMs, bike rental, etc. at a nice distance. Hat Kai Mook (“Pearl Beach”) If you squint hard enough the grey stones that make up the beach look like pearls, well that’s the idea anyway. The rocky beach does provide some excellent snorkelling! It’s a relaxing, picturesque setting and the lack of sand brings some superb restaurants and places to stay at great value. It’s a good choice for couples wanting a romantic getaway and with the aid of a scooter you can zip off to other places. Khlong Prao (“Coconut Canal”) A long stretch beautiful white sand with an epic mountainous backdrop, this is certainly one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Named after one of the two estuaries that flow into the sea from a nearby coconut grove. The shoreline has just a few mainly high-end resorts scattered along it giving it a peaceful feel. At high tide, the beach is almost entirely eaten up by the sea. Kai Bae A nice relaxed somewhat touristic beach but without feeling like you’re on a package deal, popular with families and older couples looking to chill. It has a thin yellow powder sand beach, and the sea is studded with islands making a great view. There are a few quality budget places to stay. Lonely Beach Has long established itself as the go-to place for backpackers looking to party; booming sound systems, potent booze and revellers to absorb it all. The actual beach is a short but good strip of white sand with the far northern end being relatively quiet with a couple of higher-end resorts, while the south side has a number of budget and flashpacker places, it is also lively at night. The actual ‘village’ is a 10-minute walk south of the beach up on the road and is where most restaurants and services are. While the activity in the village can be akin to something like a mini Khao San Road on a night, its ramshackle thatch and tin-roof buildings give it a nice bit of character. Bailan Bay A small, relaxed beach just a 15-minute walk south of Lonely Beach village. It offers some good budget and midrange accommodation if you want to be able to step in and out of the action at Lonely Beach. Bang Bao Beach The final beach at the bottom of the west coast offers an excellent stretch of fine khaki sand and a great laid back atmosphere. There are a few cheap places around, and this is a favourite day beach with those looking for a rest from Lonely Beach or a better beach than at Bailan Bay. It’s also where the dive shops are located and where they set off early morning to the nearby dive sites as well as boat services to nearby Ko Wai, Ko Kut and Ko Mak.