West Coast Beaches
The beach has fine white sand and there are no rocks or coral in the water, making it one of the best beaches for kids on the island. The water is also very shallow for up to 100 metres out.
Apart from the beach, there’s little else to do in the area – its very remoteness is what makes it most attractive to the regular visitors, who come in quite large numbers. It is certainly not the place to come for a party and this is reflected in the older demographic of tourists here. There’s not much in the way of entertainment in the area but driving through the coconut plantations will provide you with a pleasant and relaxing sense of being in tropical paradise.
Taling Ngam Beach (above), located on the west coast of Koh Samui just south of Nathon town, is a beautiful and quiet area of Koh Samui. Not as developed as many areas of the island, Taling Ngam offers extraordinary views and sunsets to the west with the sun setting behind the Angthong Marine National Park’s many islands.
There are several resorts and hotels in Taling Ngam, as well as an assortment of both local the international restaurants. Nearby Lipa Noi beach stretches several kilometres with unspoilt beaches, very few people and room to move and enjoy oneself. This lovely, hidden away beach is dominated by the Le Meridien Baan Taling Ngam, which climbs from the beachfront all the way up the hillside. But you don’t have to stay there to enjoy the beach – day-trippers are welcome, and Taling Ngam is a world away from much of the rest of the island. Fine swimming and sunbathing are the two main pastimes here, though a small fishing village is within walking distance nearby and more restaurants are slowly appearing in the area.
North Coast Beaches
Bang Po Beach is located on the northwest corner of Koh Samui, between Nathon and Maenam. The beach is four kilometers long and faces to the north with views of Koh Phangan.The waters are calm in this area of Koh Samui and the beach is very clean, palm trees line the edge.
There are shallow coral reefs nearby which provide excellent snorkeling and not much development in this area. Very limited accommodation, no tourist shopping or nightlife. The price for land in this area is less than other areas of Koh Samui. The result is many housing developments with houses for sale and rent. The road in this part of Koh Samui is very close to the ocean and quite hilly.
Maenam Beach is located in the North of Samui with smooth sand and good swimming preferences, perfect for families with small children as the water is shallow and there is no noise from nightlife or traffic. From Maenam pier speedboats leave daily to Phangan and Koh Tao.
Shopping opportunities as well as restaurants are located in the area, most within walking distance. It is just a 15 minutes drive to the action in Chaweng and 10 minutes to Bophut’s Fisherman Village for some fine wining and dining.
Close to the famous landmark of Big Buddha is Bophut Beach. The beach stretching almost two kilometers of white sandy shoreline fringed by coconut palms over the sea. The calm waters of the bay make this a popular spot for either playing or relaxing. Stretched along the main road you will find many restaurants and small shops. Bophut is a good blend between the super quiet places and the hustle and bustle of Chaweng.
This is one of the few beaches on Samui where you can rent jet skis, as well as kayaks and snorkeling gear. At the west end of Bophut is perhaps one of the oldest places on the island, Fisherman’s Village. The nostalgic wooden houses and small local shops here remind one of days gone by in Samui. The “main street” along the beach is not longer than a kilometer but is rich in style and variety of shops, from the oldest local shop selling anything and nothing, to the most elegant restaurant, but all of them have some kind of unique touch.
There are several seafront shophouses which have been converted into trendy restaurant establishments while some other excellent restaurants offer beautiful and quiet settings for lunch or dinner. Most of these restaurants proposes excellent selection of international dishes served on a small and cozy terrace right over the beach and overlooking the Bophut Bay with a stunning view on the far islands of Koh Phang Ngan and Koh Tao. And at night, the area is quite charming, making it a perfect location for a romantic evening with someone special.
There are also some dive shops in the area for those interested in taking scuba lessons or going for a day dive to the famous An Thong Marine Park, Sail Rock or Koh Tao.
La Sirene offers some selected tours to secret spots in the surrounding islands or some Jeep rides to places difficult to access for visitors not familiar with the island, mainly the Secret Buddha Garden . Try an elephant ride in the tropical forest or go for a fishing trip on a local fishing boat with a real fisherman to the waters of Koh Phang Ngan. An unusual experience which will be fun and memorable.
Bang Rak aka Big Buddha
If the beach at Bang Rak was somewhere in the Mediterranean, then everyone would be saying how lovely it was. But, here, on Koh Samui, there are so many gorgeous beaches that this one seems merely average in comparison. It doesn’t benefit from the shady fringe of palms that you find in many other spots – but that’s because where there’s cafes and resorts along the beach then there’s just no room for palm trees, too. The distance between the beach road and the sea is just too narrow. But the beach is pleasant and quiet, with smooth flat sand. It’s shallow and slopes slowly out to sea with no unexpected currents, making it perfect for dipping and for families with children.
The beach stretches for about three kilometres, from the Temple and Big Buddha in the east up to where it end at the spur where the adjoining Bo Phut beach begins. And you’ll find that’s it’s all end-to-end bars, restaurants and resorts. One result of this is that a beach stroll will reveal numerous little beach bars and restaurants that are not obvious from the road – and the prices are more reasonable than the more populated areas. There’s quite a lot of sea traffic; picturesque fishing boats and longtails included. It’s quite close to Koh Samui’s airport, and although most people enjoy watching the planes coasting in at low-level to land, you’ll be pleased to know that air traffic is minimal. There’s a wide choice of accommodation on Bang Rak beach, ranging from inexpensive guesthouses to up-market villas, and there’s usually rooms available, even in the high season.
Secluded Choengmon Beach is 4 km north of Chaweng Beach and 5 minutes from Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village, is the perfect beach for families and couples who want to enjoy peaceful and quiet beach holidays. The water is rather shallow and makes it safe for children to play and snorkelers can explore the underwater world right from the beach.
East Coast Beaches
Chaweng Beach is the longest, most popular and developed beach on the east coast of Koh Samui. This 7 kilometer beach has clean white sand and sparkling water. In addition to numerous accommodations, this charming beach is packed with restaurants, spas, souvenir shops, bars and discos catering to all the needs of visitors. In addition, there are a number of dive shops on the beach, some of which also organize night dives.
Lamai Beach is the second most popular beach after Chaweng. The beach is a little bit more rough and the water is deeper. It’s an excellent location for swimming and has a well-known nightlife. Lamai can be discovered by walking as the area is not as large as Chaweng. Hinta Hinyai is at the southern end of Lamai and famous for its strangely shaped rock formations. Lamai Beach lies on the southeast coast, with Chaweng Noi to its north, and Hua Thanon to its south. Driving from Chaweng to Lamai offers spectacular scenery along the 4169 Ring Road, as the route takes one over steep hills and around giant boulders high above the bay. At the lookout point between Chaweng Noi and Lamai a mobile kiosk sells delicious coconut ice cream. A little way further on the bend, a large decorative spirit house guards the road, and locals hoot three times when passing.
The central part of Lamai beach is good for swimming, but the northern part is prone to mud flats at low tide. Jet skis are in abundance along this beach, as are bars pumping out music, so if peace and quiet is what you are after, then perhaps Lamai is not your best option, but rather quieter Thong Ta Kien or Coral Cove.
Many of Samui’s expats, especially the French and Brits, reside in Lamai and the beach also boasts some of the island’s top spas such as Tamarind Springs, a long-time favourite, and the hippie-style yoga and detox retreat, Spa Samui Resort. Lamai’s walking street market is hosted on Sunday evenings along the road between the fresh market and the bridge. As with Samui’s other walking street markets, this one offers good cheap street food, cocktails, clothing stalls and music. Frequented by locals, expats and tourists alike, it is worth a visit. Lamai offers everything that Chaweng does but it’s more low-key and generally cheaper.
Just to the north of Lamai are two beautiful bays. First off is Coral Cove, one of Samui’s best snorkelling spots with fish taking advantage of the bay protected by huge granite boulders. Many fishing boats take refuge in this bay when there is news of a storm brewing. Coral Cove offers some good accommodation alternatives for those not wanting to be in the main tourist areas, but only a short drive away. Right before you reach Lamai you’ll find Thong Ta Kien Bay. The waters are crystal clear, surrounded by limestone rocks, and fringed with soft white sand palms and shady trees.
South Coast Beaches
Bang Kao is located on the southern part of Koh Samui. Bang Kao is quite far off the main highway, accessed by a secondary main road. If you like to drive, this is a good road to drive on as it is lined with palms and lush vegetation. Be careful, as it is a little rough in a few spots. The roads down to the beach and the few resorts are very rough. There is limited accommodation at this beach and they are located quite far from the main road. There is very little development in this area and any shops found here are geared towards the locals.
Bang Kao is the first pier on Koh Samui. Although it is a short beach like Baan Thale, it has white powdered sand. Bang Kao are amongst the least developed part of Koh Samui with only a few resorts spread at leisurely intervals along the beach on the island’s south west tip. So if you want total peace and quiet…this is it.
The beach is about 2 kilometers in length and fairly good for running. The sand is flat down by the water’s edge and soft and fine elsewhere, so it’s fine for rolling around with beach games and merriment at your leisure. You’ll have to stay close to the palms for shelter. It gets so hot in the afternoon. Some people prefer to deck themselves out on the sands after 5pm when it gets little cooler. It’s an isolated area, so the sands and sea are free. The waters are warm pretty much all year round, and like everywhere on Koh Samui are clear and clean.
Thong Krut is a fishing village located on the far southwest of Koh Samui. The village has many restaurants as it is the departure point for ships to Koh Tan and other small islands off Samui’s south coast. It is not very good for swimming or water sports, it’s better to go further north and east for wonderful beaches and sands. But The village is worth visiting to see kor lae, the brightly coloured fishing boats, and the authentic culture of a Muslim fishing neighbourhood. You can also visit the village to view the spectacular scenery across to Koh Tan and Matsum Islands. Thong Krut is also the best area for fishing expeditions.