This page is a bit old now. But it will give you an idea of what to expect if you visit Koh Mak.
For up to date information, please see Koh-Mak.com
Guide to Koh Mak
Koh Mak, an island to the south of Koh Chang, is definitely worth a visit if you plan on staying in this part of Thailand for all of your holiday. It is a mid size island which is becoming increasingly popular with families due to its deserted beaches and lack beer bars and ugly concrete block hotels. It’s a haven for people who want to avoid the bright lights and over development of larger islands and beach resorts but still want more than just a basic beach hut.
But rather than try to have an extensive Koh Mak section on this site I’ve included a page of basic information. For more details on Koh Mak, visit my new Koh Mak website – www.koh-mak.com I made this site with a Thai friend ‘Ball’ who lives on Koh Mak and works with all the resort owners. He also runs his own site – www.kohmak.com Although not a native of the island, Ball is involved with organising most of the events and activities that take place there, plus the setting up of bike trails and recycling projects.
The map below shows all the points of interest and resorts on the island.
And this Googlemap will also help you get your bearings. Click the icons for more info.
Koh Mak is a relatively small, island, far more the typical desert island model than the mountainous Koh Chang and Koh Kood. It lies approximately 20 kilometres south of Koh Chang and covers an area of 16 square kilometres. It’s roughly 10km wide and 5km from north to south.
And as most development is limited to the western side of the island, no matter where you stay you are usually within a walking or cycling distance of wherever you want to go . . . which is just as well as you can’t expect much in the way of public transport. Although there are a couple of pick up truck taxis on the island now which charge 50 Baht/person pretty much regardless of where you want to go. Coconut palms, rubber plantations and dusty dirt roads account for 90% of the scenery on the island with which equates to this not only being a beach destination but one that’s also suitable for people wanting to explore by mountain bike.
There are 2 villages on Koh Mak, ‘Ban Ao Nid’ on the Southeastern coast is home to around 50 families plus the island’s school, temple and clinic and ‘Ban Laem Son’ which lies in the northwest corner of the island away from virtually all of the tourist development. Elsewhere you will find smallhamlets of a few homes clustered in areas on the eastern shores.
As you can see from the above map pretty much all the resorts lie on one of the two main beaches. But as most resorts are relatively small and there is plenty of undeveloped beachfront land, you’re in no danger of feeling as though you are on a busy touristy island even in peak season. And it is still easy to head off and find a few hundred metres of beach to yourself.
In the northwest of the island, Suan Yai Beach, offers sun worshipper’s the chance to toast themselves along a 2 kilometre stretch of white sand beach. (For a good photo op. head up the ridge at the western end of the beach, to Koh Mak Vista, for an amazing view north towards Koh Chang.) From Koh Mak Vista it’s only 5 minutes walk to the southwestern shore of the island where you’ll find Ao Kao beach, the northern stretch of which is the most developed area on the island which small resorts lining the beach and an increasing number of small cafes and restaurants on the main road which runs along the rear of the resorts.
Other areas of the island that you might like to visit include:
Ao Nid Pier – Located on the east, Ao Nid Pier is the main cargo pier and has good views south to Koh Kood. From the pier, a paved road leads to the centre of the island and then branches off to the various beaches. There is a good coffee and cake shop on the hill above the pier. Nearby is Wat Samakkeetham, Buddhist temple which also overlooks the bay and is open to all. Highlights include a huge tree and if you look at the standing Buddha statues you’ll notice that the images have definite feminine curves and features – in tribute to the founder of the temple, the mother, and grandmother, of many of the island’s current resort owners, who donated the money to build it. At Koh Mak Seafood, by the shore below the pier, the owner has put together a small collection of old photos and artifacts which give you an insight into the history of Koh Mak. He will be happy to talk you though it. A far different history to Koh Chang’s.
Ao Pai – Located near Ao Nid Pier, another long beach but one with red sand and stones. Nice to walk on with great views of Koh Kood but not ideal for swimming.
Laem Son – An area of pine trees in the north east of the island with good views to the nearby island of Koh Kradad. This is a good area for fishing. You can also usually find a guy with a longtail boat who will take you over to Koh Kradad for the day. If not, Little Moon Villas, nearby, offer the service for 350 Baht/person round trip.
Ao Kao Beach – The busiest beach, faces southwest, on the island where most of the accommodation is located. Often has rougher sea and more debris on the beach than Ao Suan Yai beach on the opposite side. Due to the prevailing winds coming form the southwest.
Koh Kham – This used to be a popular spot to stay, with only one small resort on the private island. However, the island was sold and it now being developed and having 20 super luxury villas built on it which you’ll soon be able to rent for an astronomical price.
Koh Pee – Also just off the northwest coast, is this smaller island, which is more a very large rock than anything else. There isn’t much to see above water but it is a good spot to snorkel. Rent a canoe from Cococape Resort and paddle here.
Koh Rayang Nai and Koh Rayang Nok – Just off the western end of Ao Kao Beach you’ll see these two small islands. There’s nothing to see on Koh Rayang Nai, except one shrine in memory of one of the founders of the island. Koh Rayang Nok, on the other hand is home to a small resort ‘Rayang Phurin Resort’ that caters to people wanting to get away for a while and enjoy the simple life. There’s a lovely little beach with good snorkelling and peace and quiet.
Koh Kradad – Another, larger, private island just off the northeast cost of Koh Mak. It’s flat and featureless. But is home to a herd of deer and has a few kilometres of white sand beach along the east coast. Also a small restaurant and three fan huts that cater to the few tourists who stay there.
Although there are now almost 30 resorts on the island, the better accommodation and that in prime locations often fills up quickly in high season. Many resorts still rely on walk in visitors and send staff to the pier to welcome boats and tout for business. So if you haven’t booked anything in advance but have a couple of places in mind that you’d be happy to stay at then during most of the year you’ll be able to find a room when you arrive.
However, an increasing umber of resorts are taking online bookings and if you want the best beachfront rooms or to get a better rate at a more upmarket resort, then it pays to book in advance. You’ll find several budget and mid-range resorts along with my recommendations in the Koh Mak Hotels section on this site and pretty much all the resorts listed on Koh-Mak.com
Getting to Koh Mak
*The details below are for High Season. During the rainy season, June – September, not all services run, although you can still get to the island from the mainland. Boats from Koh Chang to Koh Mak dont operate from June-September. *
** Will be updated for 2011-12 when new schedules are known. But they say pretty much the same year on year.
From Laem Ngop
By slow boat: Daily departure at 1500, return from Koh Mak at 0800. Takes around 3 hours. 300 Baht
By speedboat: Panan & Leelawadee Schedule from 1 October 2010 – May 2011. Ticket price 450 baht/person each way.
Departure from Koh Mak Resort at 9:00 am and 13:30 pm and 08.00am and 10.30am from Makathanee Resort
Departure from Laem Ngop 10.00am, 12.30pm 14:00 pm and 16:00 pm
There are also daily speedboat services from Laem Sok, a pier on the peninsula south of Trat. However, for the vast majority of foreign visitors to the island who are heading this way from Bangkok, the Laem Ngop pier is much more convenient and easy to reach.
From Koh Mak to Koh Kood
By speedboat: From Ao Nid pier daily at 0950 and 1350. Return at 0930 and 1300. Takes around 20-30 minutes. 350Baht
From Koh Chang to Koh Mak
By slow boat: Daily departure at 0900 from Bangbao. Return at 1200. Takes 2 hours. 400 Baht
By speedboat: Daily departure from Bangbao at 1200. Return at 1030. Takes 40 minutes. 600 Baht
In 2010 a new speedboat service from Kai Bae to Koh Mak was launched, departures at 0900 and 1200. Price 600 Baht. For many people on the west coast this is a preferable service to departing from Bangbao as it saves a pick up truck ride along narrow steep road and you also get to see the west coast of Koh Chang from the sea.