Photo: Another busy day on Ko Jum.

Introduction

Our rating:

The dueling name island of Ko Jum, or Ko Pu, happily preserves a Muslim-Thai lifestyle in surrounds that will transform even the most wound-up individual into a puddle of relaxation. It remains a favourite of ours, even if the beaches don’t quite sparkle like those on some islands.


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We use the name Ko Jum because it covers the island’s busier half, but do give Pu its due too.

Late light on Golden Pearl Beach. Photo taken in or around Ko Jum, Thailand by David Luekens.

Late light on Golden Pearl Beach. Photo: David Luekens

The name Ko Pu (Crab Island) covers the island’s northern half, from ultra-mellow Lubo Beach to the traditional Muslim village of Baan Ko Pu and mangrove forest tangling up into Ko Si Boya. In between stands Khao Ko Pu, a lush 422-metre mountain that would surely be featured on Ko Pu postcards, if anyone ever made them. We call it Mt Puji.

The name Ko Jum covers the island’s narrower yet busier southern half, including five-km-long Haad Yao (Long Beach) and the smaller, rockier beaches of Ao Si and Ao Ting Rai. The southeast corner is home to sedate Baan Ko Jum, the island’s largest village with a population of maybe 150. It’s home to Muslim- and Chinese-Thais who run some good seafood restaurants.

Beaches are pram friendly. Photo taken in or around Ko Jum, Thailand by David Luekens.

Beaches are pram friendly. Photo: David Luekens

While Jum can look darn handsome with the weather turned on, the island is close to the mainland and murky water can conspire with the many rocks and sea urchins to make low tide swimming a painful adventure. Travelfish member Amnicoll also reported sandfly bites during her 2018 visit. Rising seas push high tide lines back a little further every year, bringing fresh tidal garbage with them each day.

Yet Jum’s seemingly endless soft tan beaches are beautiful, backed by casuarina trees with small bungalow resorts peppered here and there. Expect plenty of breathing room, even in peak season.

All sorts of pretty on Ko Jum’s Andaman Beach. Photo taken in or around Ko Jum, Thailand by David Luekens.

All sorts of pretty on Ko Jum’s Andaman Beach. Photo: David Luekens

Both halves of the island are quiet, but if Jum is a morning birdsong, then Pu is hardly a whisper. While the island is large enough to do some exploring, there are no ATMs or 7-elevens and we love how it still feels like a backwater. Longtails lie beside stilted homes with birdhouses on their porches and fish laid out to dry. Great bushes of flowers burst over the road as chickens cluck and farmers tend to the rubber trees. We think it is heaven.

The fact that Jum held onto its soul is a big win given its location near places like Railay, Ko Lanta and Ko Phi Phi, to name a few that were seriously developed for tourism over the past couple of decades. Jum attracts guitar-strumming beach bums, families and anyone looking to side step the party crowd. Islanders seem more concerned with their schools, mosques and boats than making Jum the next Phi Phi, which serves them only as a picture frame for sunsets.

Oh Ao Si, I think this might be love. Photo taken in or around Ko Jum, Thailand by David Luekens.

Oh Ao Si, I think this might be love. Photo: David Luekens

Active types can climb Khao Ko Pu with the assistance of local guides Mr Ann (T: (062) 223 5540; (088) 381 7855) or Mr Ponchai (T: (080) 625 6074). Snorkelling trips are also available to Ko Phi Phi Leh, the Railay area, Ko Rok and around Ko Jum itself. There was no longer a scuba diving outfit on Jum as of late 2018, and the snorkelling right around the island is nothing special. You know what is special? The hammocks.

Ko Jum is a highly seasonal destination. Tourism season runs through the dry months from November to May. Most resorts close when the rains are unleashed between May and October, although more of them are staying open outside of the wettest period from July through September. On the flip side, expect room rates to spike from late December to mid January.

Please respect local sensibilities. Photo taken in or around Ko Jum, Thailand by David Luekens.

Please respect local sensibilities. Photo: David Luekens

If you’ve taken a shine to Ko Jum, you might also like Ko Phayam, Ko Phra Thong, Ko Yao Yai, Ko Libong and Ko Sukorn.




Orientation
Ko Jum is only 40 km south of Krabi town, a main jumping off point for visitors along with Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta.

Covering the entire southwest coast, Haad Yao is so long that it goes by two names (again with the two names!). The southern part, Andaman Beach, is quintessential Jum in our opinion. Further north, the island’s only real upscale resorts join the ochre- and amber-hued shells that wash up in the northern corner, hence the name Golden Pearl Beach.

Get a bike and explore the interior. Photo taken in or around Ko Jum, Thailand by David Luekens.

Get a bike and explore the interior. Photo: David Luekens

Up in the isolated northwest corner of the island, Haad Lubo (or North Beach) hits with a laid-back hippie personality, plenty of mosquitos and considerable rocks and low-tide silt flats. Spanning much of the central west coast, Ao Si and Ao Ting Rai both have more varied accommodation within easier striking distance of Haad Yao and Baan Ko Jum.

A narrow sealed road starts at Baan Ko Jum and runs north, passing within sight of Golden Pearl Beach on the way up to Ao Si, Ao Ting Rai and the turn for the east-coast village of Baan Mutu. Continuing north, the road passes the turn for Baan Ko Pu before turning to dirt for the final stretch to Haad Lubo. It also passes a couple of small north-facing beaches: Banyan Bay has one resort, and Coconut Beach is largely uninhabited.

Found a map with an island on it? There it is. But where you are is better. Photo taken in or around Ko Jum, Thailand by David Luekens.

Found a map with an island on it? There it is. But where you are is better. Photo: David Luekens

While there is a small police office on the main west coast road near Golden Pearl Beach Resort, we’ve never seen a police officer on Ko Jum. Medical facilities are limited to a clinic in Baan Ko Jum, so anything serious will require a trip to Krabi town. The 4G signal on our phone worked all right on most of the island, but WiFi was slow and usually limited to resort restaurants.

Travelfish subscriber resources

 Please sign up as a Travelfish member to download the Ko Jum guide PDF (6.4 MB, 26 pages). Membership costs just A$35 per year (less than A$1 per week) and gives you access to over 250 PDF guides.




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