Beaches in West Koh Phangan

    Haad Chao Phao Beach

    Plaay Laem Beach

    Loyfa Natural resort in Srithanu

    Wok Tum

West Koh Phangan Beaches

About West Koh Phangan Beaches

West Koh Phangan has a very different geography and feel to other parts of Koh Phangan. The east coast is very hilly and several of the beaches are hard to access by road. In contrast the west coast of Koh Phangan is relatively flat and all the beaches are easy to get to either by taxi or hired transport. For some of the short hops between beaches it is possible to walk or hire a bicycle. The west coast beaches form a collection of beaches that are close to each other. The infrastructure in terms of roads, water, electricity and internet connections are good all along the west coast and of course very good in the principal town of Thongsala.

While traditionally it was the case with Koh Phangan beach holidays that you choose your beach and stay put, with the beaches below it is very much possible to stay at one location and visit different beaches every day. It is this mobility and flexibility that people who regularly visit the west of Koh Phangan enjoy, and one of the main reasons they return so often (or never leave).

The beaches vary in size and general appearance. However all the beaches on the West Coast have large tidal differences: the beaches look very different depending on whether it is high or low tide. Moreover, all of the beaches (except Thongsala) have a coral reef off-shore that impacts on swimming conditions. At low tide you have to cross the coral reef to get to deep water good for swimming. Generally, the high tidal months from November to April are better for swimming.

Geography

The west coast beaches from Thongsala all the way up to Haad Chao Phao are in a sheltered corridor. The mountains and prevailing winds mean that these beaches have the lowest rainfall on the island. Storms tend to hit Koh Phangan from the north.

There is a great diversity of scenery and natural habitat on the west coast. There are mangroves at Hin Kong. Just inland from Srithanu is the largest inland lake on the island - Laem Son Lake. It is a fresh water lake surrounded by a pine forest. The large wet sand areas created by the retreating tide in Srithanu, Hin Kong and Wok Tum create a diverse and rich environment. You can spot all manner of birds scouring the food-rich sands.

The west coast has the greatest concentration of corals. This has created a huge diversity of fish and marine life.

Inland much of the flat land set back from the beach was at the heart of Koh Phangan's coconut industry, an industry still going today but taking very much second place to tourism. The most notable mountain is Khao Hin Nok. It is an impressive granite mountain whose boulders both on the beach and in the sea very much define the look of the area.

Lastly, it should be noted that the prevailing good weather conditions and the west facing aspect of Haad Chao Phao, Srithanu, Hin Kong, Wok Tum, Plaay Laem and Nai Wok mean these beaches get the best sunsets with often a riot of colours in the sky reflected over a calm sea.

Diving and Snorkelling

All the beaches mentioned below have coral reefs. This means there is the potential to snorkel or dive around these reefs. At some beaches the reef is close and others the coral reef is as far away as 300 metres.

For snorkelling strong swimmers can use flippers in high tide to get out to the reef. In low tide you need beach shoes to walk out to deeper depths. On beaches like Plaay Laem and Nai Wok you can rent kayaks to get out to snorkel spots.

In Thongsala as well as along the west roads of Koh Phangan you can find dive shops. More than likely if you sign up for a fun dive or a dive course you will be taken to Sail Rock, Ang Thong National Marine Park or Chumphon Pinnacles. For first time diving in the Gulf these spots offer much more marine diversity and also the possibility of seeing the world's largest fish - the whale shark. You will need to negotiate special (and more expensive) dive packages if you really want to dive the local dive sites on the west coast, the best of which is probably Koh Ma in the north and the deserted island near Thongsala (Koh Tae Nai).

Thongsala Beach

Koh Phangan guides generally overlook this beach. It is located just to the south of the new Lomprayah Pier, just a short walk from Walking Street (Talad Khao Road). The beach has fine sand and is suprisingly clean. The water is also clear despite being next to the main transport hub of the island. The tidal difference is less pronounced and so you don't get miles of sand flats in the low tidal points.

There are rocks at the end of the beach where locals can sometimes be seen fishing. You also sometimes see local children playing in the sea. Until recently foreigners were never seen on Thongsala beach. Now Sucasa Beach House provides a few hostel style beds next to the beach. Although Thongsala Beach has opened up to tourism don't expect to see any luxury hotels erected here any time soon.

Haad Cha Phao

Haad Chao Phao is commonly regarded as the best of the West Coat Beaches below Haad Salad and Haad Yao. The beach is a about 1 km long and arcs in a slight crescent. The sand is fine and is kept free of litter as well as flotsam and jetsam. The beach is a very picturesque setting with plenty of palm trees providing the back drop to the beach.

The coral reef at Haad Chao Phao is about 100 metres out to sea. This is closer than at many of the other west coast beaches. It provides easier access to the reef for snorkelling as well as creating better conditions for swimming. The sea at Haad Chao Phao gets deep fairly quickly on entering the sea from the beach.

At the end of the beach is a short wooden boardwalk around the headland. This arrives at a small cove where Pirate's Bar can be found looking like a boat washed up on the shore. It is a unique bar famous for its all-night parties called 'Moon Set Parties'. Think DJs, fire shows and raving.

Plaay Laem

Plaay Laem Beach is something of an undiscovered gem in terms of Koh Phangan beaches. It has developed slowly as a tourist destination and while there are resorts, restaurants and bars at Plaay Laem beach it remains free of the large crowds that can be encountered on more popular beaches, especially during the full moon rush of party goers.

The beach is wide and has fine white sand. The coral reef is 80 metres from the coast. The swimming conditions are best when the coral reef is crossed. However, the most noticeable aspect of Plaay Laem beach is the magnificient Khao Hin Nok mountain that dominates the landscape. It raises behind the beach tree line. Huge granite boulders can be found scattered throughout the area as well as in the sea. One activity is to hire out a kayak and explore these rocks in the sea.

The sunset at Plaay Laem is frequently a spectacular event. People gather on the beach as well at the famous Amstardam Bar on the hill to watch the sunset. If you want a good beach on the west coast then Plaay Laem is a very attractive option.

NOTE: when researching this beach you should be aware that it is sometimes written 'Ao Plai Laem' and that there is a beach in neighbouring Koh Samui with the same name

Srithanu

Srithanu is perhaps the most famous beach on the west coast of Koh Phangan. Its fame is more connected to its range of vegan restaurants, range of yoga schools and New Age atmosphere than the quality of the beach. Srithanu Village is the central point in this area as it contains a market, middle school, village and port. There are a few beaches to explore in this area. The large bay of Srithanu contains the port. To either side of the port are beaches with resorts. There is a further beach to the north in an area called Laem Niad. This is a wild and peaceful area where the local government planted pine trees to prevent soil erosion. Just inland from here is Laemson Lake.

To the south of Srithanu Bay is a large headland called Srithanu Peninsula. Here you will find a scattering of resorts and other businesses. There is one good beach here next to Lofya Natural Resort. Here the coral reef is just 50 metres from the shoreline. It is easy to reach for better swimming conditions or to explore the corals and marine life snorkelling. The beach here is fine white sand and one of the best in the area.

The Trip Advisor snippet is included below but the beach only makes the 'Outdoor Activities' section. Comments mention locals looking for shell fish at low tide and that much of the bay is not great for swimming at low tide. As mentioned before Srithanu is more valued for its alternative health and well-being scene than for its stunning beach.

Note: The area is also spelt 'Si Thanu'. No standard system of romanicized transliteration for the Thai language has yet been established. You find alternate spellings for places all over the island signage.

Wok Tum

Wok Tum shares the largest bay on the west coast of Koh Phangan with Hin Kong. Wok Tum occupies the southern half of the bay and Hin Kong the northern part. The beach is wide at points in Wok Tum. The southern end of the beach is a headland.

The beach at Wok Tum is close to the road. It can be a narrow beach during high tide. The scenery is dominated by the rows of rocks running adjacent from the beach out to sea. These provide mooring for fishing boats.

The sand at Wok Tum is fairly coarse as a result of the dead coral mixed in with the sand. There are also several large boulders on the beach. There is a sign reminding people to not remove shells and corals from the beach. The coral reef is 300 metres out at Wok Tum. At high tide the beach looks inviting for a sunbathe and dip. At low tide the sea becomes a remote line on the horizon and the sand flats a place for wildlife and those looking for shell fish.

Hin Kong

Hin Kong is at the northern end of what is normally called 'Wok Tum Bay'. It is a long beach that stretches along beside the coastal road.

The sand here is rough as it includes a high percentage of dead corals. During high tide the sea is close and it is possible to have a dip. However, the coral reef 300 metres out prevents good swimming conditions outside of the high tidal months between November and April.

What is most noticeable about Hin Kong are the clumps of mangroves found just off shore. This is an important natural habitat and part of the diverse ecology of the region.

There is also a sea shell sculpture just out to sea. This has become something of an emblem for the area. Hin Kong is perhaps more of a nature lovers beach than a typical Thai holiday beach destination.

Nai Wok

Nai Wok is the closest beach to Thongsala. It is just to the north of the town and from the beach you can see one of the main ferry piers stretching out into the sea.

Because of its location near the main town on the island, Nai Wok has a great range of good quality resorts to choose from such as Grand Sea Beach Resort, Beck's Resort and the Villa Hacienda. It is the proximity to Thongsala not the quality of the beach that has prompted these building decisions.

The beach at Nai Wok is small. It is only 500 metres long. It has white sand and is in a sheltered cove. The coral reef is 80 metres off the shore line. Despite its proximity to the main port, Nai Wok has become popular with tourists especially those keen to kayak and try SUP (stand up paddle). This is organised by SL2KAdventure based at Baan Manali Resort.

 

 

More Koh Phangan Beach Guides

 
Thong Nai Pan
 
Haad Yao
 
Haad Salad
 
Mae Haad
guide to Thong Nai Pan area
guide to Haad Yao
guide to Haad Salad
guide to Mae Haad and Koh Ma
Thong Nai Pan is famous for its stunning white sand beaches and luxury hotels.
Haad Yao is considered to have a 'perfect beach' as well as several great places to stay.
Haad Salad is an old pirate hangout that now caters for discerning beach lovers.
Mae Haad is a hidden gem that offers 3 beaches, snorkelling and stunning natural scenery.

 

Haad Rin
 
Bottle Beach
 
Baan Tai
 
 
guide to Haad Rin area
guide to Bottle Beach
guide to Baan Tai
Haad Rin is a sleepy village with 2 beaches that once a month become the scene of the legendary Full Moon Party
Bottle Beach is one of Thailand's best beaches. Its remote location inspired the novel and movie 'The Beach'.
Sea, sand, sun and lots and lots of parties. Baan Tai is the home to many of the best parties on the island.
 
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