Koh Phangan has dozens of beautiful beaches, but here are six spectacular stretches of sand definitely worth seeking out
Haad Mae Haad
The beach known as Haad Mae Haad is quite popular but it’s also quite sizeable, meaning that it never really looks overcrowded. On the land there’s a smattering of beach bungalows, restaurants, and Thai massage shops with ocean views, and if you swim out a few meters you can even do a bit of snorkelling. But the truly unique thing about this beach is that it is adjacent to the island of Koh Ma, which you can reach via a sandbank. And if you want to make a night of it, the Koh Ma Beach Resort offers stylish beachfront accommodations with views of the sea, as well as an open-air restaurant.
Thong Nai Pan
The village of Thong Nai Pan, located in the northeast, has two beaches worth seeking out, which flank a large outcropping of rock. North of the outcropping is Thong Nai Pan Noi, which is the smaller of the two beaches. However, it has several luxury properties—including the beautiful Panviman Resort and the exquisite Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas—and so it gets more crowded. The bigger beach is Thong Nai Pan Yai, to the south, which is much less crowded, as it is home to just a handful of bars and restaurants and more casual accommodation spots such as the Pingchan Koh Phangan Beachfront Resort. At both the sand is fine and smooth while the waters are shallow.
Located up in the northwest end of the island, Haad Khuat (more commonly referred to as Bottle Beach) is a very well-known swath of sand, despite the fact that it’s difficult to get to by land. In fact, almost every visitor uses a longtail boat in order to reach this beach. In spite of the fame there’s only a handful of bungalows and small resorts here—including Bottle Beach 1 Resort—and so the beach is never too crowded. The sand is fine and smooth, and the water is ideally suited for swimming since it’s gets deeper a short distance from the shore.
Haad Rin is synonymous with Koh Phangan’s infamous ‘Full Moon’ parties, but all that action takes place on Haad Rin Nok. Meanwhile, Haad Seekantang—better known as Leela Beach, thanks to the same-named resort there—is located on the far southeast tip the island, in the village of Haad Rin. The water is clear at this shallow beach, the sand is very fine and amazingly white, and visitors get a superb view of Koh Samui from here. And although the Leela Beach Resort popularized this spot, there are now other more upscale accommodations available including the Coco Hut Beach Resort & Spa and The Cabin Beach Resort.
The island of Koh Phangan is full of yoga resorts and holistic wellness centres, and at the end of each day one of the most popular spots for laid back souls to watch the sun go down is Zen Beach. It’s got a beautiful, relaxed atmosphere, and the clouds and colours in the sky are often quite magical. It’s located on the Western coast, near the inland Sweet Water Lake, and apart from the Golden Rock Bungalows it’s mercifully underdeveloped.
Haad Son is the Thai name for what most people (and signs) call Secret Beach—one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. It’s a small beach, located on a small bay on the Western coast, with crystal clear water and fine white sand. The Secret Beach Bungalows offer beachfront accommodation, and the nearby Koh Raham bar and restaurant, which is part of the Haad Son Resort, makes for a great oceanview drink and dine spot. Of course, with all this going for it it’s not much of a “secret” anymore!
By Bruce Scott