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There’s not a lot in Thong Krut but that’s not a bad thing; anyone who complains that Samui has become too developed and commercialised need only head down to Thong Krut for a day to appreciate the quieter side of island life.
With its brightly coloured fishing boats and backdrop of small islands to the one side, and coconut plantations to the other, Thong Krut is a picturesque little village. Located in the southwest corner of the island, this is where you’ll come if you’re after a longtail to take you to the small islands of Ko Tan and Ko Matsum. Lining the shore you’ll find a selection of simple restaurants offering Thai food — particularly good seafood – as well as tour operators offering trips to the islands. Although prices are usually fixed, it doesn’t hurt to try to negotiate a better rate with a smile.
One well-known operator is T.K Tour, which started taking tourists to Ko Tan for snorkelling back in 1986 and still do so today using longtails, which means more money for the local community as well as a more “Thai” experience. They offer charters and joining trips for snorkelling, fishing and diving to not only Ko Tan and Ko Matsum, but also to other nearby islands such as Ko Rarb, Ko See and Ko Haa, all off the south coast of Samui. You can grab a bite at T.K. Restaurant (unsurprisingly owned by T.K. Tours), situated near the private pier right in the middle of Thong Krut Bay.
Ko Tan, a few hundred metres off the coast from Thong Krut fishing village, is a small, mostly unspoilt island, known for its good snorkelling. Here you’ll see giant clams, coral and various tropical fish living in and around the protected reefs. Also named ‘Coral Island’, Ko Tan is the best snorkelling you’ll find in such close proximity to Samui. Ko Matsum is just south of Ko Tan and its long white beach makes it a popular spot for a day trip and picnics with the locals. Trips with T.K. leave at 09:30 and return at 15:00, and include snorkelling around Ko Tan (equipment provided) and lunch on the beach at Ko Matsum, where you’ll have time for a bit of relaxing too. Various trips are available and average 1,500 baht per person.
Ko Tan is known as ‘the island without dogs’. According to local legend, any dog that has been taken to live there has quickly lost its mind, but oddly the local dog population seems unaffected by this fate. Truth be told, it’s the high-pitched calls of the bats on the island, not audible to the human ear, that cause the dogs to behave oddly. There’s just one small village on Ko Tan, with a population of about 30 people who earn their main living from fishing. You’ll find very limited tourist facilities, such as five simple bungalows and a Thai restaurant. The island is roughly triangular in shape, having three distinct hills, with Khao Kiam at the south of the island being the highest, at 218 metres above sea level, and covered with lush forest.
If you’re after a wholesome meal in a retro setting, try the Sweet Sisters Cafe on the corner of Route 4173 and Route 4170. The menu has a strong vegetarian and vegan influence, but there’re plenty of seafood, chicken and meat options too. Noiy, who owns and cooks for Sweet Sisters Cafe, uses fresh, local produce, she doesn’t use farmed fish, shellfish or MSG, and she grows a lot of her own produce too.
Accommodation in Thong Krut is limited, so if you’re overnighting chances are you’ll stay in one of the neighbouring bays, or even on the other side of the island, making a day adventure to this little village of fishing boats and coconuts. Arrive early or stay late, as here you’ll see great sunrises and sunsets with views of the little islands. The beach is about one kilometre long with very few vendors. Don’t expect sun-loungers with cocktails on call, but if you’re after a little tranquillity and an insight into village life, it’s worth spending an afternoon here hanging out.
By Rosanne Turner
Last updated on 19th November, 2013.