Nov 30 2011
Off the beaten path of speedboats packed with sticky tourists, the small island of Ko Sukorn sits tucked away off Thailand’s southwest coast. It may not be the quintessential white sands and turquoise water Thai island experience, but a trip to Sukorn offers an unforgettable look into a different but still beautiful shade of Thailand’s ever colourful landscape.
Covering a not too big but not too small area of 16 square kilometres, Sukorn is connected by a relatively substantial network of narrow paved roads, so it’s the perfect place for exploring on bicycle. On my recent visit I did exactly that, and while the whole island is picturesque and tranquil, I found a few special hidden gems. Hidden until now, that is.
Setting out from the west coast where a handful of resorts are located, I pedalled due north past the island’s biggest stretch of dark sand beach. After winding along a narrow concrete path through rubber trees planted in rows on rolling hills, the road turned sharply up hill. It got so steep that I had to stop and walk the bike, but after huffing it under the hot sun for a while I was rewarded with a stunning view where the road curves at Sukorn’s northern tip.
There’s an excellent viewpoint perched here next to the road and over steep cliffs that tumble down to the sea, but another cliff inland from the road enticed me to search for an even better view. After poking around, I found a climbable natural ramp that brought me up another good 30 metres over the road, and at least 70 metres over the ocean. After completing the climb and gazing out to the northern islands, the mainland and open sea, I had one of those unforgettable, almost religious travel moments that send goosebumps up and down the spine.
Back on the bike, I took off down hill along the east coast, and after a few minutes of relaxing next to the expansive mangroves that are found here, I found myself in Sukorn’s village. Upon arriving at Ko Sukorn’s pier, travellers are greeted by a sign that reads, “Ko Sukorn: A Beautiful Community”, and this is very true indeed. The homes of the small village are surrounded by vibrant and well-kept flower bushes and tropical plants, and are occupied by some of the most genuinely friendly locals in the entire region. The village is also a good place to grab a quick chaa yen (Thai iced tea) and sweet khao niew khanom (sticky rice dessert) from the local vendors.
From the village I rode south, into Sukorn’s pastoral rice fields and grazing land. Animals of all kinds – from wild monkeys and rare birds to domesticated goats and countless water buffalo – are found throughout the island.
After reaching the southern pier, I turned back north along the west coast, passing locals collecting coconuts and hoeing their gardens. A dark sand beach runs almost the entire length of Sukorn’s west coast, and with hardly any effort I found a totally secluded beach where it was just me, some hermit crabs, and the sound of the waves.
Ko Sukorn may be a little different than many of its Andaman Sea neighbours, but if you’re tired of the swimsuit-clad hordes on places like Ko Lipe and Ko Phi Phi, or just in search of peace and quiet and a unique experience, then Ko Sukorn is for you.
Good places to stay include Sukorn Cabana Resort along the northwest coast and Bahn Dang Guesthouse along the road connecting east to west are recommended for backpackers. For those with a little more to spend, Sukorn Beach Bungalows is a decent bet, and this is also the place to rent your bicycle.
Ko Sukorn on Travelfish.org
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