Chilled beach scene
Like most of the accommodation, Lipa Noi's food scene is laidback and low key. With the exception of Nikki Beach Club at the northern end of central Lipa Noi, there is nothing fancypants around here – which isn't to say there isn't some good eating however.
For a meal and a drink on the beach, Think Retro Cafe was our favourite. With an upstairs deck with mismatched distressed wood furniture, or hammocks and lazy chairs down on the beach, all either under umbrellas or a large shade tree, there are plenty of comfortable spots to eat and drink here. The menu is a bit of everything, though with an emphasis on the Thai side of things. We had decent Thai spicy salads, a gobsmacking bowl of pork fried in garlic (thank god we were travelling alone) and also chicken satay, none of which disappointed and all mostly in the 100-200 baht range. While none of it was fabulous either, the setting however was. Drinks are also extremely well priced and Think Samui has a very generous happy hour. The owner has a second property, i-Talay over on Taling Ngam, which has an identical menu and a similar laidback, lazy beach setting. If you have your own transport, do try both.
For back to basics Thai, there is a cluster of open-air food stalls with some seating at the northern end of town, just after the road turns inland, where you can get simple one-plate dishes and Thai curries for 50 to 100 baht, while if you'd prefer something slightly more, well, permanent looking, a couple of simple Thai restaurants lie on the off beach side of the road a little to the south of here, including Mai Thai food and drink (keep an eye out for the scooter hire shop). We didn't try them, but we're sure they'd be fine for simple Thai fare.
A little further to the south sit two places, Mango Tree and Gulaytu. While the menu is all-encompassing, we had a satisfying Thai lunch at Mango Tree of stir-fried rice noodles, done to a good standard. They also offer Western dishes and the fruit shakes are delicious. Prices are reasonable. Friendly staff too.
Slightly south again, the unusually named Gulaytu has a pleasant streetside cafe and restaurant – they also have a few chalets for rent out back. Gulaytu does both Thai and Western food, including some vegetarian dishes, and it's good. We has a curry powder seafood dish here that certainly packed a punch; they also do a decent cup of coffee.
Further south, on Taling Ngam, you have the aforementioned i-Talay which sits just before the Intercon, but then, further south again, on the southern side of the Intercon, sits Am Samui, which has good beach frontage and a comfortable resort restaurant. Further south again, sits Marga Yoga Soul Food Cafe, which we're sorry to say we didn't try, but it gets very good reports. They also run detox and yoga retreats.
Down on Thong Krut, you'll find a string of seafood restaurants strung out along the waterfront, TK Seafood and Hemingways on the beach are both worth a go, the latter is particularly comfortable, but we also liked Lai Thai Seafood further to the east, just before the road turns inland, for their back to basics feel and cheaper prices. All places along here enjoy the sunset.
Heading further east along Bang Kao, there are three spots worth a mention. Bang Kao Seafood, which does, you guessed it, seafood, right on the beach. Directly inland from here you'll find the cute and popular with expats Sweet Sister's Cafe which does a good mix of food including some tasty Thai dishes and some great fruit shakes. About 100 metres or so east of here you'll find the Magic Alambic Rum Distillery, where you can pick up locally made run and rum syrups.
Am Samui 39 Moo 3, Taling Ngam. T: (084) 440 6713 http://www.amsamui.com/
Gulaytu: T: (094) 796 6800; http://gulaytu.com/.
Hemingways on the beach: Thong Krut Beach Rd. T: (061) 178 5550 https://www.facebook.com/hemingwaysonthebeach
Lai Thai Seafood: Thong Krut Beach Rd.
Magic Alambic Rum Distillery 44/5 Moo 3. https://www.facebook.com/rumdistillery
Mango Tree: T: (081) 693 8381; https://www.facebook.com/MangoTreeRestaurantBarSamui; open daily 11:00-22:30.
Marta Yoga Soul Food Cafe T: (080) 889 9960 http://www.marga-yoga-koh-samui.com/.
Nikki Beach Club: T: (077) 914 500; http://www.nikkibeachhotels.com/en/koh-samui/.
Sweet Sister's Cafe Corner of route 4173 and 4170. T: (086) 470 8631 https://www.facebook.com/sweetsisters.cafe.samui
Think Retro Cafe: T: (077) 485 619; http://www.thinksamui.com/.
TK Seafood Thong Krut Beach Rd. T: (081) 895 1178 http://tktoursamui.com/
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
Our top 10 places to eat and drink around Ko Samui