Take a toes-in-sand trip to Thailand and live the castaway island life
Picture the perfect tropical paradise and you’ll likely conjure up images of Thailand’s countless islands – rustic beach shacks, a gently swaying hammock, and colourful long-tail boats bobbing about in turquoise waters. Here, we’ve handpicked the very best ‘on the beach’ boutique hotels which promise plentiful dips in the sea by day, and balmy star-filled nights set to a wave-crashing soundtrack with the occasional ‘thud’ of a coconut falling to the sand.
Regarded as the original Thai beach resort, Hua Hin is where one wave-lapped day blends into another. Sugar white sand stretches as far as the eye can see, and the beautiful bays boast some of the most spectacularly crimson sunsets in the world. Take a day trip to nearby Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, where a tangle of exotic bird-filled mangrove forests and limestone cliffs awaits.
VALA Hua Hin, Petchburi
Waves gently roll onto the sandy shore, hammocks and grass parasols are dotted around white palm trees, and fragrant gardens fill the air with exotic scents. With its uninterrupted views over the Gulf of Thailand, VALA Hua Hin is an idyllic blend of beachside bliss and escaping-into-nature. Wake up to the sound of the sea from your beachfront villa, with your own private pool and tropical garden. Wander along tranquil walkways to the main infinity pool, complete with swim-up bar, before heading back to one of the Deluxe Beachfront rooms or Beachfront Mini Suites to soak up the elements from the large outdoor tubs positioned just steps away from the sea.
Aleenta Resort & Spa Hua Hin, Hua Hin
This beachfront collection of villas nestled in a tropical paradise are surrounded by sand, sea and swaying palms – some come with pretty thatched roofs and rooftop decking, whilst others feature their own private plunge pools just steps from the sea. Life at Aleenta Resort & Spa Hua Hin is all about relaxation, from lying in a hammock overlooking Paknampran Bay to enjoying an enlightening Vinyasa Yoga class.
Images courtesy of @aleentahuahin
Book one of the spacious Beachfront Pool Residences and you’ll be just steps from the sea. Help yourself to the all-natural amenities which have been designed especially and exclusively for Aleenta, before falling asleep swathed in 400 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.
With some of Thailand’s best beaches, Phuket is an island to while away winter sun months in total bliss. The heady scent of exotic flowers fills the balmy air, star fruit cocktails are ordered on repeat, and the Andaman Sea lures travellers from gently swinging hammocks into its warm waters. While there are plenty of places to party on the largest Thai island, it’s really the endless ways to relax that shine here – from traditional honey and ginger massages to sipping lemongrass tea on your balcony just watching the waves lap the shore.
The Racha, Phuket
Fringed by the powdery sands of Batok Bay, The Racha is an eco-luxury beach resort on a small tropical island near Phuket. Much of the charm of Racha Yai is that little has changed over the years. Water buffalos are still used to work the land and can often be seen around mud holes, while many parts of the island are covered in dense jungle. The Racha makes the perfect back-to-nature base for discovering the tranquil coconut groves, pristine beaches, and fragrant forests of Racha Yai – all linked by a small network of pretty pathways.
Aleenta Resort & Spa Phuket, Phuket
Set on a spellbinding sandy white beach, Aleenta Resort & Spa Phuket is all about ‘outside living-in’ – think retractable glass walls, floor-to-ceiling sea views, and spacious outdoor areas. Most accommodation comes with its own private pool, while simple, clean lines and natural materials enhance the sense of tranquillity which runs throughout this coastal chic resort. Dream away the day by the pool, visit the nearby turtle sanctuary, or charter a boat to experience island hopping – however you choose to spend your stay at Aleenta Phuket will be magical.
Surrounded by the warm, sparkling waters of the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is a down-to-earth beach resort where powdery sands sit alongside tumbling waterfalls and sleepy fishing villages. By day, go snorkelling amongst shoals of colourful fish just off the island’s northern shore, or simply bask on the fine sands, fringed by swaying palms, snacking on banana pancakes.
Cape Fahn, Koh Samui
Set on a private island just off the northern tip of Koh Samui, Cape Fahn is a true taste of castaway life. One and two-bedroom villas with their own plunge pools and sun decks are tucked into green gardens and scattered along pristine beaches. Influenced by traditional Thai architecture, each one uses plenty of natural wood and light, alongside sea-inspired colour palettes to complement the Gulf of Thailand views.
When you want to explore, hop on a Cape Fahn Hotel boat to a neighbouring island, or simply wait for low tide and stroll across the narrow strait to Choeng Mon beach on Koh Samui.
Tongsai Pool Villas, Koh Samui
A collection of exclusive villas set on the hillside surrounded by trees and wildlife, Tongsai Pool Villas overlook the waters of Tongsai Bay in the north-east of Koh Samui. With an emphasis on guests being as close to nature as possible, large terraces feature an outdoor bathtub, dining area, sun lounger and a gazebo for sleeping beneath the stars. Rise and shine from your private villa and make your way down to an exotic breakfast spread, ready for a day spent relaxing under a thatched parasol by the pool or stretching out on the 200-metre-long beach which never feels crowded.
Cape Kudu, Koh Yao Noi
Arriving at Cape Kudu on the tiny tropical island of Koh Yao Noi feels like an adventure in itself – take a leisurely long-tailed boat across the emerald waters of Phang Nga Bay, and you’ll reach a pretty pier complete with a luxury lounge to linger in and take a moment to pinch yourself that you’re really here. The infinity pool and terrace are just above the Andaman, with Phang Nga Bay views – and Long Island Bar drinks – accompanying your dip.
When the ocean calls, take kayaks, snorkels and paddleboards (or a luxury yacht) out. If you can tear yourself away, it’s worth making time to cycle around the island, meeting local fishermen and Batik artisans as you go.
Pimalai Resort & Spa, Koh Lanta
Hidden away on the pocket-size island of Koh Lanta facing the Andaman Sea, Pimalai Resort & Spa sits alongside a vast stretch of sandy beach. Deeply connected with its natural setting, this Considerate Collection resort has developed a “Sabai Sabai” eco-tour with local guides for guests to discover the surrounding mangrove forests by longtail boat. Spot macaque monkeys amidst the trees as you drift peacefully along, simply soaking up the wild beauty of this undiscovered island. Back on dry land, the resort offers nature and wildlife walks around its grounds and organic gardens.
Zeavola Resort, Koh Phi Phi
With a breath-taking setting on Koh Phi Phi’s long-tail boat-lined Laem Tong beach, and the look and feel of a rustic Thai village, the teakwood villas at Zeavola Resort are cooling, culture-filled havens with endless Andaman Sea views. Wander through the tropical gardens to seek out your suite – either at the sand’s edge or nestled on the hillside. Lounge on a beach beanbag with a cocktail, or join a guided walk into the hilly, jungle interior of Koh Phi Phi to learn about native plants and wildlife – just one of the many eco-conscious activities on offer at this Considerate Collection resort.