Koh Mak’s trails and hidden beaches are easy to explore by motorbike, biycyle or on foot.
Indeed, over 10 years ago, the island authorities even created a network of trails, paths and routes with accompanying coded concrete markers and a booklet. Unfortunately, for different reasons, the system and that booklet have all but disappeared, but you can still discover plenty under your own steam.
You can jump straight to each section:-
- North Coast
- North East Coast
- West and South West Coasts
- South East Coast
- Bicycle Rental, Further Information
North Coast Trails
Kingdom of Somchai
Within a few hundred metres of leaving Ao Suan Yai from the back of Koh Mak Resort pier, you’ll spot a small track on the left hand side, marked by one of those coded concrete posts.
Almost immediately, it passes the path to The Kingdom of Somchai, a surreal collection of sculptures of naked women. Over time, local workers have moved in on the area and rather unceremoniously piled up the sculptures near the entrance, so making it a two minute in and out tour.
That said, you do still get a sense of the graphic style of the artwork, where figures posed as tables, as water spouts, as chairs or just standing, bending and kneeling, leave literally nothing to the imagination.
Restored and repainted, two of the sculptures can also be found by the stupa near Ao Nid pier but fascinatingly – and what you don’t immediately notice – is that the authorities have clothed them too.
The Old House and Turtle Beach
Another hundred metres after this path, there is another concrete road on the same side, marked for Happy Days. Take this and follow the signs until you arrive at the back of the resort, with Luang Prompakdee House next door. You can’t go inside the house but historically it remains the oldest building on the island, dated around 1910-1911.
On foot, if you cut down onto the sand, past Happy Days and continue to about 150 metres from the end of the beach, you can pick up the forest trail to Turtle Beach. There may be a sign but if that has gone, look across to Koh Kham and if the building on the left of the island is visually straight in front of you, then the entrance to the trail is behind you. 50 metres in, there is another of those concrete posts and an obvious path – join it heading left (and north) through the coconut trees and keep veering left on any fork option.
You will find the water’s edge and mangroves switch to being on your right and as a marker, you’ll pass a gloriously gnarled heavily rooted tree at one point (as seen at the top of this page). Another 5 minutes or so and you arrive at Ao Tao Kai (Turtle Beach), a perfect place to take a dip, cool off and more than likely, be totally alone.
Low Tide from Ao Suan Yai
At certain times of year (May to June), when the tide is very low, you can also walk right to the end of Ao Suan Yai, into the next bay, around that and then along the rocks to the little sput of forest – cut the 10 metres through that and you have arrived.
At this left hand end, you get great views across to Koh Kham, whilst at the extreme other end, walk around the small headland and the whole of the Koh Mak’s north coast is revealed – Koh Kradat in the distance, the pier at Cinnamon, the resorts of The Mak and Little Moon and the local village as described below.
The Original Community at Ao Ta Long
Though now much depleted, the original community on Koh Mak is still based on the northern coast at Ao Ta Long. To reach it, head out the back of Koh Mak Resort pier, up the straight road to the crossroads by Baan Sabay and Kaklai Pool Bar and take a left.
After a couple of kilometres of good road, you reach the wooden ramshackle houses dotted about under the trees or down by the water. There are rubber drying sheds, a unique collection of stilted houseboats high up in the air, lots of chickens and dogs but above all, a unique glimpse of a truly authentic Thai island village.
If you go straight through the village to the end, they have now roped off access to the track into the forest, which follows the Ao Ta Long coastline to the northern end. It’s a pity as this ultimately joins up with the trails network at the top of Ao Suan Yai Beach and Turtle Beach, as described above.
Other Trails on the North Coast
You could also get onto this path network by heading to Happy Days but not taking the final left down to the resort. Instead continue to the end where the road simply stops and then on foot go to the right through the trees – it brings you out on the forest paths. Turn right and head off and you will eventually come out at the old community above.
Still further east along the northern coast, another trail begins at the back of Green View Resort at Ao Taan. If you head down there, it brings you to Ao Talong (The Mak, Little Moon Villa) and beyond that it joins the main road as above, with a right turn taking you to the old village. Allow 90 minutes for the trek there and back.
To get to Green View Resort, follow the Ao Suan Yai road from Koh Mak Resort pier to the crossroads as above and proceed straight ahead, with the turning for the resort found after 4 to 5 kilometres by their restaurant .
North East Coast – Koh Mak Trails
Just by the turning to Green View Resort, the main road curves to the right towards Ao Pai in the north east. Taking this, you pass through a lovely avenue of rubber trees and then skirt high above Plubpla Resort, before ultimately reaching the turning to Villa Allure.
The Cat Temple
Along the last section, there are a couple of other concrete roads on the right leading down to the sea. Follow the first of these and at its end, head up the hill via the right track until you emerge on the cliffside with a small pond on your left. Walk further around on the obvious narrow path and you can’t miss The Cat Temple.
It’s not a temple but a small shrine which is overflowing with procelain and plastic cats combined with a few peculiar dolls. According to Thai and indeed Asian culture, cats bring good luck and prosperity so locals have added more and more here over the years to create this wonderful kitsch display.
Look away from the shrine and the views too back down the coast towards Ao Pai and Ao Baan Lang (Buri Huts, Bamboo Hideaway) are superb.
Cat temple done, head back to the main road, follow past Villa Allure and eventually, it becomes a sandy track through the coconut trees. This emerges out on the wonderful beach, Laem Son, with its views across to Koh Kradat.
As is the excellent Thai way, food is on hand with the Laem Som Somtam serving up exactly that from its coconut wood shack, along with grilled chicken and pork, sticky rice and cold beer. Two private villas are now almost finished on the east side but given it’s a beach, you can wander along to have a nose. Actually, the whole beach actually is up for sale as either one unit or in plots. Do contact us if that is of interest.
For Koh Kradat, you can charter a boat across to the island from the same somtam shack, 350bt per person with entrance fee included.
Leaving Laem Son
When you leave Laem Son, head back to Villa Allure and then a further 100 metres further on, take the right turn. Follow this until you reach a couple of abandoned houses in a clearing in the forest and bear to the left on the 200 metres of crazy paving until you hit the trail leading right. After 5 minutes or so, you emerge on the access road to Cinnamon Art Resort on the Ao Taan north coast.
North West and South West Coasts – Koh Mak Trails
The north west at Ao Lom and south west coast peninsula at Laem Tookata are another couple of great spots for exploring, with more trails, little beaches and viewpoints. To reach both of them, you need the route out the back of Cococape Resort, which is suitable for cycling with only a couple of small hills.
For Ao Lom bay, get on the route above to Ao Pra Beach, home to the boutique Mira Montra Resort.
Once there, ignore the main entrance to the resort and head to the far end, where you’ll see a steep red track down to the sea. To its left, there’s a concrete marker with a single wheel path which leads up the grassy hill behind it.
Take that path and just keep going until, if on a biycle or motor bike, the track becomes too tricky. Walking from that point, you emerge out on a small bay with the island come rock of Koh Pii opposite.
Skirt to the left over the rocks all the way round (5 minutes) the bay and you’ll arrive on Ao Lom Beach – another of Koh Mak’s special unvisited areas. There’s another small cove at the very back. Koh Pii incidentally, is where all the local snorkeling trips visit.
Back on the road, shortly after Mira Montra, you pass the turning on the left down to Hidden Beach Resort and then the route wends its way over a couple of kilometres down towards the end.
Just before the final section, another small lane leads off to the right. Shooting up here, there are lovely views across to Koh Rayang Nok and Koh Rayang Nai offshore and towards its end, you can drop down to the now abandoned bungalow resort, Baan Ing Khao, which sits in the centre of Laem Tookata. Baan Ing Khao was sold in 2021 and as yet, the new owners have not redeveloped it. The other two small operations are also now closed.
If you don’t drop down to the resort, the road ends at a private house. As indicated by the new sign, you can shimmy up the hill behind to drop down into a cute deserted cove and the so called Pebble Beach, a very pretty spot used by the fishermen. Unfortunately, it also testament to the scourge of discarded plastic – the amount of odd flip flops, in particular, is staggering.
South East Coast – Koh Mak Trails
Over on the south east coast, another inter-connected set of small roads makes for a good diversion.
This time, you want to head down towards Ao Nid Pier and towards the end, take the right signed for Banana Sunset among others. Along the way, you pass the track down to Navaicha Tent, to Banana Sunset itself and then a choice of routes to Pano Resort. The straight on option is fine in the dry season but nearly impassable when wet, so maybe use the concrete road to be safe.
This way too brings you to onto the road leading to the island’s most southern point and the small resort, Talay Time. The views across to Koh Kood are fabulous here and there’s another even better vantage point from the their restaurant on the hill.
You can trace your way back past the Animal Clinic (moving in 23/24 onto your original route. Unfortunately, the locals have decided to let nature reclaim the small track that hugged the shoreline and came out at Sweetcake by Moo.
Bicycle Rental, Further Information – Koh Mak Bicycle Paths, Walking and Trekking Trails
Bikes and mountain bikes are available from 150bt to 250bt a day from many resorts and other outlets. Makathanee Resort, Ball Cafe and Ao Kao Resort – their bike centre is by Phoenix Muay Thai Gym and Little Red Oven – all have a decent selection. If you really want to explore the island, pay the money and get the best mountain bike they have – the ordinary pushbikes are simply not suitable.
Motorbikes are from 250bt a day (with reductions for mutiple days), excellent to explore almost all of Koh Mak, but they will not be able to drive them down some of the tracks on the north coast.
Golf carts, an eco friendly means of transport promoted on Koh Mak, are 800bt to 1,000bt, either direct from selected resorts or from places like Koh Mak Organic Farm and the BBQ restaurant (Koh Mak Living) just at the start of the connecting road behind Makathanee Resort.
Wherever you end up on Koh Mak, you are unlikely to get lost but do bear in mind that is gets dark at around 18.30, so always leave yourself plenty of time to get back to your starting point. Before you set off, remember also to take water and turn on GPS on your phone.
UPDATED July 23 for 23/24 Season
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