From the surreal shores of Ko Samui to a paradisal island turned film set in the Phi Phi archipelago, dazzling emerald waters and sun-warmed sands aren’t hard to find across Thailand – and more often than not, they come served with a surprisingly fair dose of seclusion. We hand-pick six of the best in the region for travellers looking to revel in local nightlife, explore marine life and exotic flora, or simply kick back and soak up the sights and sounds of the country’s most untouched hideaways.
Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Le
Set on an island of the Phi Phi aerchipelago, this particularly picturesque bay brings some very soft sands together with shallow waters, dotted with tall green limestone formations. This little spot in Krabi is truly paradise found – it’s no wonder it was chosen as the mythical setting for 2000 thriller The Beach. It’s a must-try for scuba divers, and those hoping to stretch their sea legs can enjoy a boat tour, too. You’ll find a shack there for snacks and drinks, but remember to pack a picnic if you plan to stay all day. Be sure to arrive early for people-free photographs and a chance to bag the best spot on the beach.
Silver Beach, Ko Samui
A modest, 250-metre stretch of sand is perfectly paired with a breathtaking backdrop at this beach, known locally as Haad Thong Ta-khian. Here, tropical mountainous surrounds cut a quiet bay off from the more popular Chaweng area on the island’s eastern coast. You’ll find a decent selection of hotels and restaurants to choose from, calm waters offering respite on a sizzling day, and opportunities to perfect your snorkelling skills. You’ll be just a half-hour drive south from Samui airport, too, making this beach as convenient to get to as it is secluded.
Ao Tanot Bay, Ko Tao
Though it’s difficult to reach, Ao Tanot Bay promises nothing short of a mesmerising beach break on Ko Tao. Beyond a rocky yet calm shoreline, you’ll find clear waters, friendly locals, a colourful underwater scene teeming with curious fish, and a quiet atmosphere offering a chance to unwind. The island itself is rather dreamy, and whilst small, it offers a selection of restaurants and bars beneath its jungle-clad hilltop.
Bamboo Island, Ko Phi Phi Don
It’s just under an hour’s boat ride from Phi Phi Don to get to this National Park island, but disappointment is far off the agenda if it’s a scenic slice of heaven you’re looking for. Part of the Phi Phi Islands, Bamboo Island’s sands are wonderfully white, while its waters are shallow and crystal clear – a bonus for snorkelers who’ll love discovering the marine life here and at Hin Klang, a gorgeous underwater coral garden which you’ll find en route to the island. Carry some cash with you, as you’ll need to pay an entry fee of 400 baht per person to access this unmissable spot.
Mae Haad Beach, Ko Phangan
Unspoilt white sands, a rich variety of sea life and visitors you could count on one hand make this beach a true hidden gem, whether you’re looking for a spot of snorkelling or a chance to relax. The patient few are rewarded with a chance to explore the wonders of Ko Ma, a tiny island which becomes accessible as the low tide opens a sandbar between it and the main beach – offering ample chances to explore its dense greenery, populated with papaya and coconut trees, and vibrant reef surrounds. Brace yourself for the choppy boat ride to get to Mae Haad Beach, and pack plenty of water and a bite to eat as you won’t find many shops in the area.
Why Nam Beach, Ko Phangan
A gloriously tranquil cove fringed with dense palm trees on the edge of Ko Phangan, Why Nam Beach is petite yet perfect. Soak up the rays, take a leisurely swim (mind the rocks on your way in) and watch the sun set here, before heading to the nearby Haad Rin beach to witness a psychedelic spectacle of colour, fuelled by entrancing music and dazzling fire dance displays, at the Full Moon Party – which, as its name suggests, takes place on the night of, before or after every full moon.