A thin slip of an island off the coast of Trang province, Ko Kradan boasts a gorgeous white-sand beach stretching between fluffy green hills and the cerulean blue Andaman Sea. Also home to some good snorkelling and low-tide sandbars that make for the beach walk of a lifetime, Kradan is among Thailand's more visually spectacular islands.
With some advanced planning, anyone from solo gap-year backpackers to groups of old friends to honeymooning couples and flashpacking families can enjoy a quiet getaway in a sublime setting on Ko Kradan. Though you won't find fishing villages like on neighbouring Ko Muk, a few of the eccentric resort owners give the otherwise uninhabited island some character. If you're trying to decide between here and nearby Ko Ngai, go with Kradan!
The long but thin beach affords breathtaking easterly views to Ko Muk, Ko Libong, the mainland and a number of karst islets. Apart from gentle waves and a sea breeze rustling the casuarina trees, the only sounds are the hum of longtail boats and perhaps the laughs of children playing with the beach dogs. If you're daydreaming of a quintessential island paradise, you'll find it here.
The swimming is excellent at high tide, when clear water immerses a patch of powdery sand and deepens fairly quickly as you wade out. Low tide is also a special time thanks to sandbars that make it possible to be surrounded by sun-drenched water many metres from shore. The shallows stretch so far out that it can feel like you've walked halfway to Ko Muk.
Watch out for beach whales.
Though many visitors are content with a good book and a hammock, Kradan is also a fine option for snorkelling right off the shore. The vast South Reef
, accessible just south of the national park headquarters, and harder-to-reach Ko Kradan North, both have their share of marine life — even if the coral is banged up and dormant
. Snorkels are provided freely or for rent at most resorts.
For between 600 and 1,500 baht, longtails will whisk you off to the islets of Ko Waen
and Ko Chueak
for more snorkelling, perhaps with a stop at Ko Muk's magnificent Emerald Cave
. Further west and reachable for 4,000 baht (per boat, not per person), Ko Rok's bubble coral garden and divine beaches beckon. While no scuba operations are based on Kradan, some resorts can arrange for a diving boat from another island to pick you up.
More hordes arriving…
One way to ensure that you can dive right off Kradan is to take part in the underwater wedding ceremonies held annually around Valentine's Day. If wearing an oxygen mask for that first “kiss” as a married couple sounds utterly romantic to you, contact the organisers at www.underwaterwedding.com
Ko Kradan is a highly seasonal destination
Kind of lovely.
; all but a couple of the resorts close down for the May to October rainy season. Accommodation is limited
and advance reservations recommended at any time from December through February.
Measuring in at just 240 square hectares, Kradan is a tiny island with no roads, villages, ATMs, convenience stores, police stations or medical clinics. Some 90% of the terrain is controlled by Hat Chao Mai National Park
, which has a small station towards the south end of the beach. Be warned that the park rangers reserve the right to collect a 200 baht entry fee if they spot you in park-controlled areas, including South Reef.
In recent years, the main beach's northern stretch has filled in with small flashpacker to midrange resorts, with the swanky Seven Seas Resort fronting a lengthy central part of the beach. Marked by a sign towards the beach's southern end, a sandy track begins just south of the characterless Kradan Beach Resort
and runs 400 metres inland to one of our all-time favourites: Paradise Lost
. Each resort has its own generator and some shut it down during the daytime.
Some days it is all just too much.
It looks like the beach ends just south of the national park headquarters and a beach club run by Anantara Resort in Pakmeng, which shuttles its guests here by speedboat during the day. In fact, the beach cuts sharply southwest before thinning to a strip of sand that disappears at high tide. Keep going and you'll reach the hidden-away Ao Nieang Resort, which feels like it belongs to a bygone era.
Reachable from the main beach via a 500-metre-long trail, tiny Sunset Beach is, you guessed it, the go-to spot to watch one of the Andaman's dependably marvelous sunsets
. For more of a bird's eye perch, take the trail that continues left (west) just after the main path descends down to the sand. While tidal garbage is common here during low season, the Paradise Lost gang tidies it up every November.