UPDATED for 2018/18 SeasonAo Yai, the fishing village on the south east coast.
Each beach has just a few places to stay and outside of these, there are only the odd cluster of tiny shops or restaurants along the way.
The resorts do organise transport and activities or you can rent motorbikes, so you need not be completely cut off, but these are very much areas to get away from it all, perhaps best for couples rather than families.
Almost needless to add, the south west beaches themselves are simply beautiful, with long white strands, blue seas and picture postcard bays.
Ao Takian Beach – Koh Kood South West Beaches
After leaving Bang Bao Beach, the road meanders for a few kilometres, passing the odd house or building, until it reaches the turn-off for Ao Takian and Ao Klong Hin, with a few somtam, noodle stalls and motorbike rentals lining the roadside just before. There are also signs for Pa Hin Sai and Klong Hin Beach Resort, so you are unlikely to scoot past.
The road forks to the left (Klong Hin Beach) or goes straight on (Ao Takian) and by taking this option, you arrive via a newly concreted road at the back of the upmarket boutique resort of Cham’s House. The road continues up to the right to simple natural bungalows of Pa Hin Sai, which have more of a travellers feel.
These are the only two resorts on Ao Takian and they both lie at its northern end, together with a small wooden pier. The beach is quite rocky in places, but the sea is fine for swimming and overall, it makes for a breathtaking panorama.
The middle section and southern end remain untouched, with coconut trees and tall grass reaching back behind as far as the eye can see, adding to a terrific sense of wild isolation.
Just before the start of the concrete section to the beach and Cham’s House, there is another very degraded track which leads off to the right. This emerges out on the southern headland of Bang Bao Beach by Sand and Sea Bungalows.
Klong Hin Beach – Koh Kood South West Beaches
Taking the left fork option just after the turnoff from the main road, the track eventually brings you out at the northern end of Klong Hin Beach.
Set in a pretty horseshoe bay, this beach also has just two resorts, the centrally positioned Klong Hin Beach Resort, used almost exclusively by Russian tour groups and at the far end on the southern headland, Montana Huts, a boutique style resort, complete with bar and cafe. On the creek, the wooden Thai style houses on the water are also being renovated.
Montana Huts’ direct access is actually further down Koh Kood at the end of a very long and very bumpy signed track off the main road.
Ao Jak (Neverland Beach) – Koh Kood South West Beaches
Back on that main road, there is now some nascent development just after the Ao Takian/Klong Hin turning as you head towards the next beach at Ao Jak.
The backpacker huts of Eve House and its offshoot Wooden House sit on one side, with the cafe Coffeat opposite and the simple Im-Yung restaurant just a few metres further down. Bistro Koh Kood, with its French specialities and motorbike rentals, is next up with a second backpacker bungalows operation, Rung Aroeng and Happy Time restaurant completing the picture.
After passing the turning to Montana Huts, a few kilometres further along, Ao Jak’s own turning is the next thing to look out for, with its long, horribly rutted track ultimately arriving at the beach, another beautiful long sweep of powder sand and turquoise waters.
The only resort, the mid-range Neverland, the name by which the area is more often called, sits right in the centre. A wide river runs behind it at the northern end, where you will also find a small homestay in a restored stilt house, Ao Jak Homestay, just by the now decaying bridge.
The southern end has a few abandoned bungalows amid the coconut plantations.
Ao Phrao Beach – Koh Kood South West Beaches
Continuing on, the road passes the Tripadvisor favourite Relax Restaurant, a tiny spot of just a few tables, which also offers rooms to stay. Another small homestay/restaurant Ban Choeng Kao is nearby and shortly after that, you reach a crossroads.
Turn to the left and you head over to the south east coast to Ao Yai, one of the island’s two fishing villages. Turn to the right and the road leads off to Ao Phrao, passing a temple up on the hill with an accompanying monastery opposite, before arriving at the back of the beach. Here, Lee Red House offers a few bungalows before several sandy paths head off in different directions through the long grass towards the sea.
The left track passes Ao Phrao Resort as it wends its way to the southern end, where I-Lay House and Sunshine Resort, mid-range bungalows, are located side by side.
The right track leads to Rest Sea Resort, which sits on the sand at the northern end. Follow the sandy trail as it hugs the river down the side of the resort and you pass a motley collection of local houses and shacks in the middle of which, the tiny guesthouse Gumm Lonely Club sits overlooking the mangroves. At the end, you reach Ao Phrao village, just a few houses either side of a concrete bridge with a small school up the slope. The former boutique guesthouse, For Rest is also found here, though it is now closed.
The Coastal Path between the Beaches – Koh Kood South West Beaches
There is a little known coastal path, actually the old road, which connects Ao Phrao, Ao Jak and Klong Hin and it takes around a hour to walk. From Ao Phrao, you cross the bridge at the northern end, passing that school on the slope and then follow the lower track through the coconut trees, until you reach the paved path on the edge of the cape.
This will bring you out at the southern end of Ao Jak (Neverland Beach) and from there, walk the full length of the beach to the broken bridge at the far end and pick up the path once more, following it around the coast until you emerge at the southern end of Klong Hin at Montana Huts.
Unfortunately, the path is certainly no longer safe for motorbikes and has been left for nature to take its course, but it is still just about passable for the more adventurous out there.
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