Koh Samui is all about beaches. It won the geographic lottery with its riches of lush mountains, endless sand and not-far-off island wonders. Although by no stretch could it be described as an unspoilt paradise, there are enough secluded hideaways either in a resort’s private stretch of sand or just a boat trip away.
1. Chaweng Beach
The island’s main beach evolves as it snakes along the eastern coast. Rocky and quiet at its northern genesis, it reaches its teeming peak in its central area. The crowds thin out as you head south to the cove of Chaweng Noi.
2. Chaweng Noi
At the southern end of Chaweng and separated by a small headland, this quieter kilometre of sand hosts just six resorts but a plethora of vendors offering drinks, food or a massage right on the beach.
3. Lamai Beach
Smaller and less crowded than Chaweng, Lamai Beach is a fine alternative. Swimming is best in the main part, but as you wander south you’ll meet the giant boulders along the shore, including the saucy Grandmother and Grandfather rocks shaped like, well, you can surely guess.
Bophut is more about food and drink that sun worship. As a functioning ferry terminal, the beach’s eastern end, by Fisherman’s Village, is not really for swimmers. Instead try the west, which has the usual beach vendors plus the great fun/huge annoyance of jet skis.
5. Maenam Beach
It’s amazing how quickly one becomes a sand snob on an island. While this 5km stretch of beach is one of the better places for swimming, the sand is a little coarser than the fine powder of Chaweng. Think of it as a free foot scrub.
6. Bang Rak Beach
For many the only reason to visit Bang Rak Beach is to catch a boat to Koh Phangan. As such, amenities reflect that, including that most ubiquitous tropical trope, a reggae shack called Bob Marley Bar.
7. Lipa Noi
Down on the south west of the island, Lipa Noi lacks the commercialism of the bigger beaches and is all the better for it. Drag your lounger into the shadow of a palm tree and start furiously relaxing.
8. Choeng Mon
A delightful curved bay wrapped around the fairly shallow waters which make for pretty good swimming. The usual resorts and vendors make sure you won’t go thirsty, and there’s a few of those noisy jet skis available for you to buzz around on.
9. Ang Thong National Park
While there’s plenty of physical activity to be done in Ang Thong, the island of Ko Wua Talap has a couple of secluded beaches where you can catch your breath and a few rays of sunshine. They’re connected via a rope-lined trail offering a 30-minute trek through the jungle.
10. Koh Phangan
Only an hour by boat, nearby island Koh Phangan has some stunning beaches. Main beach and full moon party site Hat Rin isn’t stunning, but is a good starting point from which to grab a longtail boat to the gems along the coast, some of which are only accessible by sea.