Shacks by the sea
Koh Wai Paradise is the largest and most popular of the island’s cheap bungalow spots and while some aspects of it are great, we were put off by the many signs declaring: “No entry!! Private zone.” With all guests using shared bathrooms, this is as close as you’ll come to camping without staying in a tent.
Most of the thatch-roofed wooden shacks are so cramped that swinging a cat would cause injuries—there’s barely enough space to drop a pack on the floor. You also get a padlock to secure a flimsy door along with a rock-hard bed, mosquito net and plastic chair on the sea-view porch. A few larger rooms include one highly coveted bungalow, #P1, featuring a loft design opening to dual porches set right above the sand.
Many huts are lined up to the east of the restaurant and several more sit in a more secluded spot at the west end of the property, where a trail cuts to a smaller beach—we’d aim for a room down at that quieter western end. Two large blocks of shared bathroom facilities come with tiled floors, concrete walls and cold-water shower stalls, with sinks and mirrors set outside.
Paradise backs the full length of Ao Yai, the longest beach on Ko Wai (though it’s not huge). With coconut trees for shade and a wood platform set above the sea, it’s simply sublime once the daytrippers leave. We were impressed by how clean the sand was when beaches fronting parts of Good Feeling and Pakarang were stacked with trash. Tidal garbage also washes up at Paradise, but staffers were putting in serious work to clear and sort it.
At the centre of the property stands the island’s largest restaurant pavilion with lots of tables and a large book selection. WiFi is not available but you will find snorkels and kayaks for rent. A trail starting beyond bungalow #20 leads across the island to Sunset Point, although management would prefer you weren’t aware of that.
About the signs: We can see the point of telling guests not to pee behind their bungalows, if this is a problem, but the owners have no right to tell non-guests to stay off the beach. By Thai law, all beaches in the kingdom are public. Though we faced no resistance when strolling on the sand and swimming, the overall vibe was a lot less welcoming than on our previous visit, when the only signs said, “Enjoy the sounds of nature.” Those had disappeared.
A man who appeared to be managing was welcoming enough when we first stopped by, but we sensed some passive aggressiveness when returning later to rent a snorkel. At that point he asked us, twice, where we were staying, which seemed a backhanded way of telling us to buzz off.
Address: Ao Yai (west end of the north coast), Ko Mak
T: (061) 424 1556 ; (082) 486 3448;
Coordinates (for GPS): 102º24'0.97" E, 11º54'16.91" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: Under 600B
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Bungalow fan share bathroom||closed or n/a||400 baht|
Upto 700 baht
|closed or n/a||600 baht|
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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