We all love the beaches on a tropical island right? The soft, golden sand, swaying palms and crystal water bring forth feelings of longing for lazy days lying comatose on sun lounges, sipping (rocket fuel worthy) cocktail concoctions and perfecting our enviable tans and the beaches of Koh Samui will never disappoint! Take it from me… I have visited many times and still get blown away by the absolute beauty of this majestic spot in the Gulf of Thailand.
Of course, like any island, there is always a good and a not so good side and I think it’s my job to tell you exactly where to go and why! They all have their positives and negatives and I’ve even given them little nick names just to make it interesting! So here it goes in order of my favourites! Sit back, grab that Mai Tai and enjoy the read!
1. MAE NAM BEACH
Mae Nam Beach is in the north of the island, approximately 30 minutes taxi ride from the airport. I have nicknamed it German Beach as the majority of German tourists flock here and stay in large groups every year. There are many German and Austrian bars and restaurants here too ( huge drawcard), which have been opened by expats.
Lately though, many Russian and French tourists have also just discovered this lovely beach, jostling the German population for the ultimate spots under the coconut palms!
Mae Nam has (in my view) the BEST water and beach. Trimmed with coconut palms (which were planted many years ago by the Chinese/Thai residents), it is the safest spot for swimming as it is calm and hardly ever gets waves due to it being protected by the opposing island paradise of Koh Phangan (better known for its famous Full Moon Parties). The sand here is semi coarse, the colour of honey and firm enough to walk briskly without too much effort! It is also a haven for families with small children as the shelter from the palms draws the crowds. Also, many locals walk the beach peddling their wares, be it food, clothes or beach toys and this makes it the perfect one- stop -shop for anyone who wants to take it easy and not move a muscle all day! It is never overly crowded and water sports are kept to a minimum.
It’s quite a long stretch of beach, so wherever you are staying ( if in this area) you will surely find secluded spots and isolation if that is what your heart desires. Go there, find your place and soak up that hit of vitamin D!
2. SILVER BEACH
Silver Beach, nicknamed by me as Italian Beach, is situated just after Chaweng and just before Lamai. Also known to the locals as Ao Tong Takien or Thong Takien, it is aptly named ‘Silver’ because of the shimmering sand and clean water. Home to groups of naturally gorgeous rock formations, it makes it an ideal backdrop for that perfect selfie or complicated yoga pose photo to load to your Instagram account!
I actually haven’t done either of these yet for some unknown reason, but there’s always a next time! Silver Beach is extremely popular with the Italians amongst us and also the Gay population…just imagine all the beautiful bronzed bodies in one place and you get the idea! It is very tiny, has four restaurants on the beach to choose from (Crystal Bay Yacht Club has live music on Sundays) and it is just fab! There are no beach chairs available, so just plonk down your towel or sarong on a spare patch of sand and enjoy the show! You will know what I mean when you go…!
3. TONGSON BAY
For those of us who wish to escape the masses, Tongson Bay is, in my mind, one of Samui’s hidden treasures! I and some of the locals have nicknamed it ‘Secret Beach’. Situated just before Choeng Mon, it is hard to find and very secluded.
It is unspoilt, small and home to just one restaurant and the most photographed coconut palm on the island! Nowadays, due to recent signage, it is not so secret anymore and has become more popular. Look out for Melati Resort and Spa and you’re in the right spot! With perfect water, pale sand and even a newly installed walkway along the rocks, it is popular for both snorkelling and adventurers. Indulge with a relaxing beach massage after your lunch of spicy Tom Yum Gai soup and a cold Singha beer and take that ultimate palm tree photo to round off your day. You won’t be disappointed.
4. CORAL COVE
This intimate little stretch of sand is a ‘blink and you will miss it’ kind of affair! Situated just after Chaweng Noi Beach and just before Silver Beach, it is accessible down a very steep slope, so medals to you all that are on foot! No, it’s not that bad and well worth it once you find it! Also home to another group of fantastic rocks over which you can clamber, it has one (very busy) restaurant right there on the sand and is popular with mostly French tourists. Float in the cool sea or make use of that beach toy you bought on a whim and just relax! I’ve never really seen it as busy as Silver Beach but due to popularity it might end up getting a bit crowded as it is also very small. Just lie back, relax and enjoy!
5. LAMAI BEACH
The area of Lamai is a haven for the French population in Koh Samui. It is what Maenam is to the German tourists but with a multitude of french bakeries and restaurants! My kind of place! Hosting the second busiest beach after the popular Chaweng ( I will get to this one later), it is surprisingly not too crowded. Stretching from Silver Beach to just before Hua Thanon, Lamai also boasts a large shopping strip and its very own market on Sunday Nights. Popular for water sports of all kinds and many beach restaurants with sun chairs (all are free with a drink at least), it is one of my favourite spots for people watching! This beach also has the most volatile strip of sea on the island, as it has no protection. Some days the waves are so strong, you have to brave the surf at your own peril! Other times, however, it is as calm as a sleeping baby! This beach is wide and firm and an easy walk right to the end near the rocks of Silver Beach and the buried Buddhas. It also is home to my all time best beach restaurant BAOBAB which is at the Hua Thanon end next to Lamai Pearl Resort.
6. BANG POR AND BAN TAI
Bang Por and Ban Tai Beaches are situated just before Mae Nam and after the old town of Nathon. This is a very quiet, secluded area not frequented by thousands of tourists and has a smattering of little resorts on the beach. For some reason it is not overly popular, but the beach here is clean and golden with water that is clear and blue and many palms at your disposable to hang your hammock or lay your sarong! It is quite a long stretch of beach and is very safe for children and families. I overheard a restaurant waiter once telling some tourists that it was, “the only beach with no sea lice!”
A big call, but I’ll take it! It is also home to one of the funkiest little beach bar/ restaurants the island called LITTLE PARADISE. Tiny and with a fringed roof, it only has five tables but is amazing!
7. LIPA NOI AND THONG YANG
Lipa Noi Beach is well known, not for its amazing sand and sea, but because it is home to the famous NIKKI BEACH RESORT. Never having stepped foot in any Nikki Beaches (they are dotted around the globe in many glamorous locations including: St Tropez, Dubai, Miami, Bodrum and Ibiza), I really should give this one a try one day!
Not being a great fan of dance beach clubs, I have given this a huge swerve on my radar, but have in fact enjoyed many a day lazing on the beach near Big John’s Resort. The water here on this part of the island is not great. It’s shallow and very tidal. Sea lice are also very prevalent here I noticed and there seems to be no breeze under the palms to cool you down. Lipa Noi is also very close to the ferry terminal to the mainland of Donsak and also the speedboats which whisk you to the islands, so many tourists stay here for this convenience. It is not the best beach, but it’s worth a visit. Bonus points – you can collect many unusual shells here due to the low tides! Score!
8. CHAWENG BEACH
Ah Chaweng Chaweng! Why are you so low on my list I here you ask! Well, that’s not because of its sea, sand and surf I can tell you. The beach here is gorgeous but just overly CROWDED and NOISY! Samui’s longest and most popular beach strip, it also has all the nightclubs, bars, restaurants and kilometres of shopping! Backpacker central and pubs everywhere, it is popular with the young crowd, mainly English, Australian and Scandinavian. I have nothing against this area (as I have frequented many a shop here in my time), but it’s just not my scene. If you want the crazy, fun times in Koh Samui and all day/night parties, then this is the area for YOU my friend! Someday I will spend a day here on the sand just to observe the masses, but for now I will stick with my quiet happy places! Good luck!
Well, those are my TOP 8 on the island, but special mention must go to the ones I left out:
BOPHUT BEACH…I only ever visit Bophut (next to Fisherman Village) to go to the market on Friday Night or to the restaurants and shops! But there is a lovely beach out the front of this area that continues right up to just before the W Hotel in Mae nam. Popular for those staying in one of the resorts along the street or beach side.
CHEONG MON BEACH… situated just after Tongson Bay and before upper Chaweng, we recently just discovered this beach due to a wrong turn on the bike! Very popular with both French and Italians, it is small, has many restaurants, but we always seems go when its at low tide! You can walk to a little deserted island nearby but be careful of the sharp coral.
TALING NGAM, THONG KRUT AND BANG KAO…these three beaches are the least popular and I have not visited them due to access issues and being just too ‘out of the way’ I suppose! Terrible I know! I promise next time to go and see them just so at least I can proudly announce that: “ I’ve swum on every beach on the island!”
Now… grab that towel, throw on some designer shades and wrap yourself in a colourful sarong. Go relax, discover and enjoy any of these beaches that suit your individual style…the choice is there for all to share!
…”To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is too truly embrace your solitude”…Jeanne Moreau