It seems that everyone we know here in Thailand has a favorite beach “spot”. This past weekend, I found mine.
Frank and I have been to some truly spectacular beaches in Thailand. The excessive luxury of living in a place with so many beautiful beaches is, for all of us expats, a stubborn (but well-meaning) pickiness when it comes to identifying our favorites. The fact that we even feel the right to compare Koh Samui or Khao Lak to Trang is a gift I never take for granted. There are a hundred factors to consider when choosing a beach trip in Thailand but, all things being equal, Trang gets the highest marks from me.
We booked the trip at the very last minute but it seemed to be good that we waited. We got a steal of a direct flight to Trang on Nok Air, and even more of a steal last-minute deal at the Anantara Si Kao. (For friends living in Thailand – the Anantara chain often has low, un-published rates for Thai residents if you email the resort directly.)
When we landed in Trang, I was immediately charmed by the tiny airport with its single gate and the rural surroundings. The sights on our 30-minute drive to the beach included little more than cows and palm trees. I was equally charmed by the fact that we left Bangkok on an early morning flight and were on the beach at the Anantara before they’d even finished serving breakfast in a breezy outdoor restaurant. It felt like we were worlds away, but the entire trip was an easy couple hours from door to door.
The remote, undiscovered feel of the entire province of Trang was one of my favorite things about it. Living in a big city overwhelms me at times, and I crave the contrast provided by blue skies, green trees, and miles of pristine open water.
Trang is far less well-known (read: less touristy) than some of Thailand’s other beaches, but the coastline there is straight out of the postcard-perfect images in the guidebooks. I couldn’t get enough of the craggy cliffs that climbed straight up out of the water and took hundreds of pictures of them – purple in the early morning, hazy in an evening rain storm, dark green and distant from our balcony during the day.
But the moment I really fell for this southern part of Thailand was when I saw Koh Kradan in the distance from a speedboat on Sunday morning. The Anantara has a luxurious spot staked out on an island 30-minutes away from the resort by boat. It is marvelously untouched and home to just a couple resorts. There they have a kitchen and grill for a great buffet lunch, a nice outdoor bar, and an Information table that got no business at all.
It was hard to imagine what “Information” one might need on this tropical island. The man in charge of the Information didn’t seem to mind the excuse to relax and enjoy the surroundings that, simply put, took my breath away.
Koh Kradan was the quintessential tropical beach paradise – crystal clear water teeming with fish, coral reefs just off the beach, long tail boats causing the only traffic, and the view of neighboring islands in the backdrop.
(Did I mention the fish?)
It was possible to walk hundreds of feet off the beach with warm water reaching just to our knees and soft, white sand under our feet. I was ready to set up camp and settle in to this tiny island.
Fortunately, returning to the Anantara was not unwelcome.
After three days drinking tropical drinks, laying in the warm shade, and taking long walks on the beach, Frank and I got back to Bangkok late last night refreshed and relaxed.
And though nearly all of our time in Trang was complimented with blue skies, a thunderstorm managed to blow in every evening just as we sat down on our balcony to watch the sunset.
I guess we’ll have to go back.