Ao Kao, in the south west of Koh Mak, is a beautiful long beach, with resorts sitting just back from the powder sand and restaurants and bars grouped together on the main road which runs behind it. The clear turquoise sea is perfect for swimming and the islands of Koh Rayang Nai and Koh Rayang Nok, which lie just a little way offshore, are within a gentle kayak distance.
At the southern end of Ao Kao
The most southerly resort is Lazy Days Resort, with Ao Kao Resort next door. Both of these can be reached by following small tracks which run off the newly paved road leading down to Ao Nid Pier, but the more common access for Ao Kao Resort is the street off the island’s main road, with its very own Coco Cafe at the top.
Head down here and you will find yourself at the resort, with Palm Beach Resort and then Island Huts all nearby and between them, they share one of the best stretches of beach in all of Ao Kao.
Up on the road, a little way along from the turning, Koh Mak Divers have their base, with the tiny Cafe Del Mak bar next door.
Recently, a couple of minimarts have also sprung up opposite the long established Island Shop (a good choice of clothes and souvenirs) and the very popular but tiny restaurant Swiss Sawadee, complete with its own gym. This sits at the top of another street that joins up with the Ao Kao Resort one above or turns into the bumpy way down to Island Huts.
A longish stretch of undeveloped beach follows, which the road reflects, as it cuts through flat land planted with rubber trees before doglegging right back behind the sand. Monkey Island Resort begins this next section and just a short hop from the sea, there is a row of popular restaurants and cafes, Kon Gin Sen, Food Garden, Food Art Cafe and The Chill.
BB Divers have their island office here and within Monkey Island, you’ll find its own Monkey Bar, down by the sea and one of the few spots on the island that you might deem nightlife. If you are staying at the Ao Kao Resort end, it’s a good 15 minutes walk along the road to here, less time if ambling on the sand, but you will get wet if the tide is high. Either route, do bring a torch in the evening as Koh Mak does not go in for too much street lighting.
Next to this section and just a few hundred metres further down, you’ll find the final stretch of restaurants including Pirate Bar, Aimmy and Moon Bar, as well as the the office for Totti Boat Trips.
Riverside sits by the creek on one side of the road, while the resorts of Koh Mak Cottages with its own information centre, Baan Koh Mak and the bigger, more hotel-like, Makathanee Resort line the beach side.
The atmosphere is very laid back, with traffic at a minimum and it is a perfect spot to stroll around in the evening and decide on where to eat or drink.
Speedboat Pier on Ao Kao
Makathanee Resort has its own pier, which is used by Leelawadee Speedboats, coming from the mainland and Kaibae Huts Speedboats, coming from Koh Chang, Koh Wai or Koh Kood.
At the back of it, you can pick up the road that leads past the Disc Golf course, Artists’ Bar and Good Times Resort up the steep hill to the centre of the island with Thaidaho Vista and Islanda Resort straight in front of you, both giving magnificent views out over the bay beneath to Koh Kham.
At this crossroads, you can bear right to ultimately pick up the sandy track that winds its way behind Seavana Resort and Koh Mak Resort to the pier on Ao Suan Yai or go left, with Cococape Resort and the sorry old potholed route to Laem Tookata at the end.
Northern end of Ao Kao and onto Laem Tookata
After Makathanee Resort, the beach becomes know locally as Ao Kra Tueng. Kham Nature Resort, Baan Chailay, Sky Beach Resort, Holiday Beach Resort and Big Easy are the final resorts on this stretch of sand, a stretch which, like that near Ao Kao Resort at the other end, is one of the best on the island.
The road follows behind the first few bungalows but then snakes inland past a couple of villas before reaching a track heading down to Holiday Beach Resort or one that goes straight on, giving access to Big Easy, but no further.
Continuing along the beach, it is possible to walk from Big Easy to the next bay and then onto the next one after that, where a house is clearly visible as you set out.
This house is at the start of Laem Tookata, a charming little cove which is home to three old style backpacker bungalow operations, Baan Ing Kao, Baan Laem Tookata Beach and Ma Ruay. The views across to Koh Rayang Nai and Koh Rayang Nok are superb.
To reach here by motorbike, far easier than going by the beach route, follow the road to Cococape Resort as described above, veer to the left at its entrance and then bump yourself uncomfortably over a few kilometres to the very end. You will pass above Ao Pra beach, where a big new construction project is underway, Plubpla Resort’s new offshoot.
There’s also an abandoned elephant camp just about still visible in the overgrown forest along the way and we would not advise trying this on a bicycle. Laem Tookata makes a rather nice stop for some lunch, so yes it is well worth the effort.
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