UPDATED MAY 2016
North West Beaches at a GlanceSoneva Kiri Resort.
There are resorts too in Ao Tapao, Klong Mad and Klong Yai Kee and quietly, this north west stretch of Koh Kood has become an understated popular area of the island, offering something just a bit different to the lazy beaches down in the south west.
Soon after leaving Klong Chao Beach heading north west, the road reaches the sign for Ao Noi Resort, where the mud track leads through the forest to a very picturesque bay, dotted with huts and bungalows, wooden piers and gazebos. This resort, popular with Thai packages, is the only one in the area, so having your own transport would be an advantage, especially as there are no other shops or restaurants nearby.
The road carries on up the coast, cutting slightly more inland, passing shops and restaurants such as Pizza and Pasta and then shortly after a motorbike repair shack, arriving at a second group of of shops and even the odd bungalow for Thai packages, Sangtong Resort and Oh Ho. The old island generator is just around the next corner, now redundant after the laying of the cable from the mainland, followed by the police station, the island ATM, the hospital, other administrative buildings and the main petrol station. Baan Aow Thai Homestay sits next door.
Ao Tapao and the ferry pier
At the crossroads just past the petrol station, a left turn takes you down to the island’s temple and to Ao Tapao, principally known for its long concrete pier, Namluek Pier, confusingly sometimes also referred to as Hin Dam Pier. Depending on sea levels, this is the arrival and departure point for the mainland boats, Boonsiri Catamaran, Koh Kut Express and Koh Kood Princess.
The beach itself is very pretty, with a long stretch of white sand and coconut trees, but it sees comparatively little use. A huge new resort is currently under construction right next door to the pier and then heading down the beach, the old Thai resort of Koh Kood Cabana hangs on in there after all these years. Further along, Meedee Resort is a new addition this year, very similar in style to its neighbour Sea Far Resort, though that resort also has converted portacabins down on the sand. These resorts can be accessed too by following a long track past the sports field, which sits opposite the main police station back on the main island road.
The boutique resort of Shantaa, located to the right of the pier and high up on the hill above, has wonderful views out over the bay and is itself reached via several sandy tracks that run off though the long grass near the pier and straight on at the temple bend.
Back at the crossroads, a right turn instead continues the route up the island until after just a short way, a vegetable and general local store marks the point to either go right again towards the east coast or to carry on to Klong Mad, a small fishing village, further up the north west coast.
In carrying on straight, the road passes a couple of homestays, Waf-F and Near Canal, before reaching the village itself and stopping dead at the sea. There is a certain scrappy charm to this area, with its location on the water, the narrow concrete jetties, long pier, local houses and homestays but it is more likely a place you visit when out exploring than somewhere you will stay. The only tiny beach is in front of a large imposing resort, Suanya Resort, usually filled up with Thai packages and you can get a nice enough blend at the little café, BB Coffee
Klong Yai Kee and the far north west
Immediately before Suanya Resort, another route, branching off to the right, leads north up the island and to Klong Yai Kee waterfall, with the boutique style bungalows of Koh Kood Beach Resort on the hill at the start and a small usually closed office of Paradise Divers on the corner. The road winds its way deep through the forest, past the handful of bungalows and seafood restaurant of Koh Kood Garden House and other local houses, until it reaches another left turn or straight-on option. The straight-on option brings you all the way back round to the main road leading to Ao Salad, but the left turn leads to the visitor centre for Klong Yai Kee waterfall.
Beyond the falls, the road arrives at the very secluded boutique guesthouse, Bann Makok the Getaway which nestles amongst the mangroves on the klong or canal coming from the sea.
At the end of this same canal, on the seafront itself, is the upscale resort of Captain Hook, with the tiny Palm Beach as it’s called, on the opposite side. These are very isolated places to stay, though transport is available to explore the island.
If you continue still further north, a lovely drive on narrow roads through the the trees, you eventually stumble upon a tiny wooden pier hidden away in the mangroves. This is the pick-up point for Captain Hook Resort and next to it, the small path brings you out at the Benz Restaurant used by guests from Soneva Kiri.
Crossing over the wooden bridge spanning the canal to the right, the route snakes up a hill and does ultimately arrive at the back gate of the resort itself. You can cut down to the sea along here using the tiny sandy trails but be careful not to stumble onto Soneva’s private beach. Rest assured, you are not welcome.
Guests usually arrive at Soneva by speedboat not by road, with many ferried across from the nearby Koh Maisi Lek, an island lying just offshore. The island, home to a small pearl farm, is rented by the resort and they have cut their own airstrip straight across the middle, thus allowing them to fly in guests by Cessna from Bangkok or helicopter them direct from Trat Airport. Given the A-List nature of a few of their guests, at the road gate here, however, access is strictly prohibited, so you will be turning round and going back the way you came.
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