Monday, 31 October 2011

Coral Cove Bay

Coral Cove Bay is interesting in that it is sandwiched between the very popular beaches of Chaweng and Lamai and yet it is a quiet and peaceful beach that gets very few visitors. Many of the people who do book a resort in Coral Cove Bay are slightly mislead. They read the address of the resort as ‘Chaweng Road’ and erroneously conclude that the resort must be on the edge of Chaweng.

These people should not be disappointed. Coral Cove Bay is a gem of a beach. It is the perfect spot to relax and escape the crowds of Chaweng to the north and Lamai to the south. The beach at Coral Cove Bay has just as good sand as its more famous neighbors. It is also just as good for swimming.

The one advantage that Coral Cove Bay has over its bigger and more famous neighbors is that it is better for snorkeling. There are numerous giant boulders in the sea that form a haven for corals to form. It is a very short swim out from the beach to find great snorkeling spots which hold a colorful profusion of fish and corals.

The beach at Coral Cove Bay is only 200 meters long so there are only a few beachfront places to stay at. More accommodation can be found at the edges of the beach set on dramatic cliff locations. One such example is the Kamala Samui. It is a luxury resort that boasts private pool villas with stunning sea views. The Kamala Samui has boutique interior design, a communal pool that features imported Balinese stone and a restaurant that serves fusion cuisine. The resort also has a private pier. They offer guests free fishing equipment, snorkeling equipment and kayak use. Guests at The Kamala Samui might initially be disappointed that they are not staying in Chaweng but on the Chaweng Road, but will soon come to appreciate the gorgeous scenery and luxury atmosphere of the Kamala Samui.

At the other end of the accommodation spectrum are Coral Cove Resort and Hi Coral Cove. These two resorts are also on hills. They have communal pools and offer both air-con and fan bungalows; the latter for as little as 500 Thai Baht a night.

If you are in Koh Samui and looking for something near the action of Chaweng but don’t really fancy staying on a beach with thousands of other people then Coral Cove Bay is a great option.

Coral Cove Bay is reached via the main ring road on the island. The turning for the beach is very easy to miss so drive slowly when you get south of Chaweng Noi.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Choeng Mon

Choeng Mon is the name of a beach on the northeast peninsula of Koh Samui. It is an area that is blessed with some of the best and most peaceful beaches on the island. It is also an area that is ideally located near a number of good beaches, transport hubs and shopping areas. It is no surprise therefore that some of the best hotels in Koh Samui are located in Choeng Mon.

The beach at Choeng Mon is wide and sweeps in a crescent around a bay on the peninsula. It is blessed with the same fine white sand that is found at Chaweng and Lamai. Unlike many of the beaches in Koh Samui, especially in the south and west, the sea bed is sandy and free of dead corals that can cut the feet of swimmers.

The atmosphere of Choeng Mon is very different from the nearby beaches of Bophut and Chaweng. Despite the high quality of the beach the area is free of an urban center. There a few shops and bars but nothing that really qualifies as nightlife. This is not an area where men prowl for sex workers or young people go to listen to dance music. The peace and quiet along with the great beach are the great draw cards for Choeng Mon. Residents at Choeng Mon have the option to make the short journey to Chaweng or Bophut if they want bars, live music and other night diversions.

The location of Choeng Mon is another noteworthy point about the beach. Not only is it close to Chaweng and Bophut it is also just 10 minutes from Samui Airport. Other transport hubs nearby are Big Buddha pier (ferries to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao) and Maenam pier (ferries and speed boats to Haad Rin and Thong Nai Pan in Koh Phangan). Luckily Choeng Mon is not under the flight paths from the airport, unlike Big Buddha beach.

Choeng Mon is also not far away from Big C supermarket and Tesco Lotus supermarket that have a wide variety of products for sale at very reasonable prices. Tesco Lotus also has a cheap food court with lots of Thai dishes on offer.

Also Choeng is very close to the iconic Big Buddha statue in Bang Rak. It is a 12 meter high golden Buddha statue at the top of a wide staircase that has become one of the strongest symbols for Koh Samui.

Cheong Mon accommodation is some of the best in Koh Samui. The best hotel is the Sala Samui Resort and Spa that features some of the most stunning architecture and interior design on the island. Sala Samui has taken the best of modern Thai design to make an exclusive resort that features pool villas with open air baths. The resort has 2 communal swimming pools, a boardroom, floating massage salas and 80 meters of private beachfront.

Not as architecturally successful but very ambitious is the Imperial Boat House Beach Resort. The theme is rice barges. All the accommodations are shaped as boats. The large central pool is also in a boat shape. The effect is like a fishing fleet that has been flung into the jungle by a tidal wave.

Q Signature Samui is perched on a hill near the beach. It brings a touch of boutique style to its aesthetic using Thai sloping roofs. It is located at the southern end of Choeng Mon Bay.

For those on a budget Choengmon Buri Hotel is a 1 minute walk from the beach and has air-con rooms with hot water, fridge and TV starting at 680 Thai Baht a night.

For convenience, for tranquility, for quality of beach, for stylish accommodation it is hard to find better on Koh Samui than Choeng Mon.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Lipa Noi

Lipa Noi is a beach on the quiet West coast of Koh Samui that makes a great holiday destination for those people looking to relax by a beautiful beach and escape the noise of cars and motorbikes. The banks, markets and other conveniences of Nathon are only a 10 minute car journey away from the tranquil beach of Lipa Noi.

The beach at Lipa Noi is one of the best on the West coast. Not only does it have a spectacular sunset over the sea it also has fine white sand that is free of dead coral. Many of the other beaches in Koh Samui have sea beds with pieces of coral that can cut the feet. This is not the case at Lipa Noi so it is a better spot for swimming. The sea gets deep gradually so the beach is good for people with children.

There are a few shops and local Thai restaurants in the Lipa Noi area. The best place to get food, however, remains the perennially popular Big John Seafood that serves up seafood that is both fresh and well presented.

Along the beach there are a number of resorts to choose from. Places such as Viva Vacation Resort, Lipa Lodge Beach Resort, Rajapruek Samui Resort and The Lipa Lovely Resort all offer rooms with air-con, hot water, TV and fridge with a communal pool. There is also the luxury option of the Kanok Buri Resort and Spa that has private pool and Jacuzzi villas. The Kanok also has a fitness center and a spa.

Lipa Noi attracts families, couples and pensioners looking for a beach holiday away from the egregious behavior on display in Lamai and Chaweng. It is also a beach like Laem Set that draws those people wanting to detox and spiritually rejuvenate. Such people head for the Samui Dharma Healing Center. This is a place where guests undertake fasts to detox and study meditation.

Finally, in Lipa Noi there is the Samui Handcraft OTOP Place. This is a small shop and workshop that produces a variety of bowls, vases, condiment holders and other household products all made from coconut. It is a reminder of how the coconut used to be the mainstay of the Koh Samui economy, and how versatile the palm is.

If you have been to Koh Samui before and you are looking for a beach less hectic than Chaweng but still in touch with the amenities of the island then Lipa Noi is not a bad option.