With hundreds of tiny islands scattered around Thailand, it’s not surprising the country has some of the most pristine beaches in the world. Think delicate white sands and palm trees lining shimmering turquoise waters. Because there are so many islands, there are scores of beaches to choose from and it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re hoping for day of sunshine-filled relaxation, here are some peaceful beach havens perfect for kicking back on.
1. Sai Nuan 1 and Sai Nuan 2, Koh Tao
You’ll have to brave some hairpin curves and switchbacks to get to Sai Nuan 2 (you can only reach Sai Nuan 1 on foot from Sai Nuan 2) but it’s worth the crazy drive which you can make via motorbike or taxi. Once you arrive, wander down a small hill and catch a glimpse of the sandy bay opening up into the sparking blue sea. Large boulders line either side of the beach, perfect for climbing and exploring if that’s your thing.
Hip beach bars give you options to drink and dine, though don’t expect quick service as everyone, employees included, are in a very chill state. Expect to spend just a few dollars for a Chang beer and some Penang curry with rice. Wander a couple minutes through the dirt path behind the beach to get to Sai Nuan 1, a larger beach with huts for rent. Or settle into a wooden swing delicately hung from a palm tree and watch the world go by.
2. Ba Kan Tiang, Koh Lanta
A long stretch of beach with a mountain of jungle foliage rising behind, this spot is peaceful but also has several restaurant options and a few resorts offering beach chairs. Top View Restaurant is one of the best, with panoramic views of the bay. The trek up the dirt road to see the sunset is worth the effort, as watching the red sun slowly fade into pink and orange over the endless horizon is nothing short of incredible.
3. Ao Noi, Koh Kut
Located on the west side of the island, this beach is breath-taking, with leaning palm trees dangling over soft white sands and the bright blue ocean.
Rent a snorkel mask and swim around to spot parrot fish, butterfly fish and triggerfish. There isn’t much to do here but simply relax, swim and enjoy the view of waves lapping the shore.
4. Phra Nang Beach, Krabi
The quintessential Thai beach, limestone cliffs jut out over either side of this lagoon, which is only accessible by long-tail boat (round trip for about $6-8 per person, try to bargain). Dangling stalagmites hang from the rocky limestone karsts, covered in greenery with mountainous jungle growing behind. You’ll see every hue of blue and green as the sun sparkles over the sea.
Plus, there’s also a cave to explore, with offerings made to Shiva from fisherman hoping for protection during monsoons. The cave also has an interesting collection of phallic offerings which Thai locals have left in hopes of good fertility. It’s best to visit during the shoulder season (April, May or October, November) to avoid crowds but still enjoy sunshine.
5. Secret Beach on Koh Phangan
Secret Beach is a picturesque lagoon with fine sands, low tides and a funky beach bar, Secret Beach Restaurant, where you can enjoy a refreshing coconut smoothie or lime juice (about $3). The Koh Raham beach bar on the north edge of the bay has snorkeling masks and you can hop off the edge of the bar into the water to see schools of giant parrot fish and groupers swimming all around you.
Image: ©Lori Zaino
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