Friday, 16 May 2014

Want to Try a New Beach? The Answer is Mae Haad

People often come back again and again to Koh Phangan. It is that sort of place. Initially people tend to return to the same places where they first found white sand, sunshine and friendly locals. They build an emotional attachment to a particular beach, and even tend to get quite possessive about that beach. During wet and cold Mondays at work it is comforting to know that your Koh Phangan beach is sunny, the sea warm and the beers cold and cheap. There is a hammock with your name on it waiting for you.

However, there comes a stage where horizons expand and the regular returnee to Koh Phangan thinks about other places and possible activities. I still haven’t climbed up Khao Ra; I still haven’t dived at Sail Rock; I still haven’t taken that trip to Ang Thong Marine Park I always wanted to do are all common thoughts from those who come to Koh Phangan to relax and escape the world for a little while.

One way to both relax and gain a sense of achievement is to opt for a few nights at Mae Haad beach. It is a place name that is infrequently used since most people are more focussed on the snorkelling around the small island of Koh Ma. Mae Haad is the beach next to Koh Ma. It is the entry point to the marine park and a great beach in its own right.

Whereas other west coast beaches such as Haad Yao and Haad Salad are famous for idyllic locations, white sand and cheap bungalows, Mae Haad remains a relatively obscure spot. There are boat tour groups that come to the beach but few people consider staying at Mae Haad.

That is a shame because the beach offers accommodation, bars and restaurants. And best of all it offers two beaches – the coastal beach and the beach created by the sandbank connecting Koh Ma to the headland. The geography of the area resembles Nang Yuan in Koh Tao. There is something special about a sandbank that offers ocean vistas from both sides.

And of course it is not only the spectacular beach scenery that is good about Mae Haad, it also has the best snorkelling in Koh Phangan. Just a short swim from the shore is a protected marine park where you can spot angelfish, banner fish and hermit crabs. If you spend enough time in the water you can possibly spot rarer marine life such as rays, turtles and cuttlefish.

Being right next to a great snorkelling location on holiday gives you the chance to pursue an activity without the hassle of catching taxis and having to dress up. No valuable time is wasted leaving the beach.

You can find a basic fan bungalow for about 300 Thai Baht a night in Mae Haad at Island View Cabana, Mae Haad View Resort, Why Not Bungalows and Royal Orchid Resort. There are also plenty of mid-range options in the 1,000 Thai Baht a night range. For those looking for luxury there is Mae Haad Bay Resort that features an impressive communal swimming pool as well as private pool and private Jacuzzi villas.

The nightlife at Mae Haad consists of a few local bars playing Bob Marley music such as Rolling Stone and Roots Corner. Entertainment here is laid back and a throwback to the 1990s. This is not a techno party beach, nor is it a New Age therapy beach, but it could well become your new favourite place in Koh Phangan.