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.
Eastern End – Ao Kao Beach
Reached by a small track running off Ao Nid road, the most easterly resort is Lazy Days Resort and continuing along the sand, you’ll find one of the island’s largest resorts, Ao Kao Resort.
The family friendly Palm Beach Resort and the traveller’s favourite, Island Huts sit next door, and between them all, they share one of the best stretches of beach on Koh Mak.
Access to Ao Kao Resort and Palm Beach Resort is off the main road by Phoenix Muay Thai, the pizza restaurant Little Red Oven and Food Art Hut, great for coffee and snacks. You can get to Island Huts, by turning in just after Dara Villa, the new home for Holiday Beach, which has closed down. Frequent Koh Mak visitors will remember Dara Villa as Swiss Sawasdee. You can also connect from the Ao Kao Resort road to the Island Huts one.
Island Shop, very useful for those last minute gifts, the long established Koh Mak Divers, the restaurant Q Bar and a couple of minimarts are also in this vicinity. Koh Mak Garden is the impressive Lanna style villa about 100 metres back from the road.
Central Section – Ao Kao Beach
A longish stretch of undeveloped beach follows the above cluster of activity and the road reflects this, with little happening other than flat land planted with rubber trees. After about a kilometre, it doglegs right back behind the sand shortly after the minimart and sometimes open mini food court.
Monkey Island Resort begins this next section, with the larger bungalows of Rayang Nature next door. Opposite their entrances, there is a row of popular restaurants and cafes including Mango Bar, Kon Gin Sen and Food Garden. If you walk through Monkey Island to the sea, you’ll arrive at the ramshackle Monkey Bar, one of Koh Mak’s few nightlife venues.
From 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.
In the central area of Ao Kao, Ball Cafe and Joe’s Corner Hostel, with Riverside behind, sit opposite By The Sea, and Baan Koh Mak which line the beach side. Currently closed, Bangkok Trat Hospital also operates a private clinic here.
The bigger, more hotel-like, Makathanee Resort dominates the next section, with its main accommodation block flanking the road. The resort has its own pier, which is used by Leelawadee Speedboats, coming from the mainland and Kai Bae Huts Speedboats, coming from Koh Chang, Koh Wai or Koh Kood.
Opposite, you’ll find the final set of restaurants including Aimmy, Rabbit Bar (currently closed), Clay Pot, the tiny fusion style M.A. Bistro and the Gelato shop. Totti Boat Trips, which provides snorkeling trips to Koh Rang, Love House (an offshoot of Dara Villa), the pharmacy and a couple of minimarts complete the picture.
All in all, the atmosphere throughout these parts is extremely laid back, with traffic at a minimum. It’s perfect for an evening stroll to choose where to eat and where to kick back with a drink.
The Back Road to Ao Suan Yai
At the back of Makathanee Resort you can pick up the road that leads to the other coast at Ao Suan Yai, home to Seavana Resort and Koh Mak Resort.
At the start of this connecting road, the long stay houses of Koh Mak Living sit behind its seafood and BBQ restaurant, while the cheap diner, Pim Jai is just a little further along on the other side.
The two guesthouses, AP Guesthouse and Hanoi House sit side by side opposite Koh Mak Disc Golf, which has its large playing area under the trees. Further up you reach another cheap restaurant, Mam Seafood and the live music bar, Artists’ Bar (currently closed, may re-open in 22/23 season).
The back entrance to Good Time Resort sits at the bottom of the steep hill which brings you out the yellow buildings, once Thaidaho Vista but now private houses. The small and very private boutique hotel, Islanda Resort and several villas sit next door. From anywhere on this hill, the views out over the bay beneath to Koh Kham are simply magnificent.
At this crossroads, with the yellow buildings straight in front, 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 route to Laem Tookata at the end. Allow about 20 minutes to walk between the Ao Kao Beach and Ao Suan Yai Beach.
Western End – Ao Kao Beach
After Makathanee Resort, the beach becomes know locally as Ao Kra Tueng. Miss You Resort, TK Huts, Baan Chailay, Sabai Beach Resort, Holiday Beach Resort (now abandoned) 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.
Just after Nuchzabmaks restaurant and Chill Cafe, the road passes a handful of bungalows at 2 Cans before snaking inland on the corner, where a few holiday homes have sprung up.
Follow the road and you end up at the track down to the former Holiday Beach Resort or one that goes straight on, giving access to Big Easy, but no further. The lane to the right leads to some private villas including Koh Mak Residence.
Continuing along the beach, it is possible ,if the tide is in your favour, to walk from Big Easy to the next bay where you will come across Hidden Beach Resort, a collection of stylish bungalows up on stilts and a hip bar. Stumble over the rocks beyond that and after about 10 minutes, just after the house by the ocean, you arrive at Laem Tookata.
Laem Tookata is a charming little cove which was home to three old style backpacker bungalow operations, Baan Ing Kao, Baan Laem Tookata Beach and Ma Ruay. Of these, Baan Ing Kao was sold in 2021 and now sits abandoned waiting for its next iteration, whilst the other two are mainly occupied by locals.
To reach Hidden Beach Resort and Laem Tookata by motorbike, far easier than going by the beach route, follow the road to Cococape Resort as described above and veer to the left at its entrance.
Over the next few kilometres, you pass the back of Koh Mak Residence and then drive above Ao Pra beach, home to the excellent boutique resort, Mira Montra. Shortly after that, you’ll spot the track down to Hidden Beach Resort on your left.
Continuing on from here towards Laem Tookata, there is another road that branches to the right. If you nip up here, it will bring you out at the top of a steep slope down to Baan Ing Khao or at its very end, a private house. If you don’t take this right, the road turns into more of a track before arrving at the first of those bungalows on Laem Tookata itself. You can drive on 50 metres or so and you’ll reach that slope at the back of Baan Ing Khao.
Incidentally, once here, the views across to Koh Rayang Nai and Koh Rayang Nok are superb.
UPDATED JULY 22 for 22/23 Season
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