Koh Kood: Simply beautiful….

Since I visited the island of Boracay in the Philippines more than 15 years ago, I have always imagined that one day I would semi-retire to an island somewhere and build a small ‘resort’ of ten bungalows in a beautiful cove. I would enjoy a laid back lifestyle on the beach enjoying the island life, with local fishermen and islanders as my friends.

The view from our bungalow…

When the opportunity to volunteer for three weeks on the beautiful island of Koh Kood came up, we jumped at it. In exchange for accommodation and three meals a day, we would shoot photographs and video’s of the resort for use on their website, Booking.com and social media. Spending several weeks in one place would also give us a break from the sometimes hectic pace of constant travelling and allow us to relax a bit. Of course, any opportunity to gain an insight into the running of an island resort is exciting to me, given my long-term interest in possibly running a resort of our own one day.

A beautiful setting amongst palm trees…

So it was with a certain degree of excitement that we boarded the bus from Bangkok to Trat, followed by a 45min ferry ride to Koh Kood. The island is not particularly popular with Western travellers, but is a favourite with weekend tour groups of Thai tourists from Bangkok, who come on all-inclusive deals and stay at one of several large resorts on the island. The resort we were headed to is the only resort owned by a foreign owner on the island, and it caters more for foreign tourists. At B2800/night (US$80) it is not considered a budget option, and has one of the best locations on Koh Kood with great views.

A view of the bay shot with our little drone…

On arrival at the resort we were met by the owner and manager and shown to a very basic room with a single mattress on the floor….although it did have aircon and a TV. The manager realized that additional sleeping space was needed, and as he moved the mattress he discovered a venomous snake underneath it. Not a good start to our island adventure J We were not impressed by the lack of an actual bed, and I made it clear that for a three week stay a minimum requirement would be a decent bed to sleep on. After a discussion between the owner and manager we were moved to a bungalow that was less popular with customers, which suited us just fine.

Our home for three weeks…

After we were settled in we met with the owner to discuss our assignment at the resort. We were to photograph the interior and exterior of the bungalows, the views from the bungalows, guests eating in the restaurant and menu items for the new menu. I would also shoot drone footage of the resort and the snorkeling area, as well as a short video showing snorkeling around the resort. Akhona would shoot a video on the resort itself and assist me. We managed to shoot all of the required material even though there were several days of constant rain, etc which messed with our schedule.

Cool palm trees five minutes walk down the beach…

On our off days, which we could determine we hired a scooter from the resort and explored the rest of the island, visiting other resorts as well as the fishermen’s village on the other side of the island where we enjoyed a fresh seafood feast for the the princely sum of $30 for the two of us including two massive smoothies, prawns, scallops, crab, lobster and seafood fried rice. On the way to the village we had some excitement when our scooter had a flat tire in the middle of the jungle. I had to push the bike up and down the hill so that we could shelter in an abandoned cottage while we waited almost an hour for help to come. Once the tyre was replaced we were on our way…that seafood meal tasted all the more delicious following our little adventure.

Seafood feast for $30!
The fishermen’s village…

There were some great photo opportunities on Koh Kood, especially when it came to the sunset, which we could view from our resort. Our first two days yielded the best sunsets of our stay, and luckily we were right there to capture them. We also found a few cool spots with coconut trees drooping into the sea which produced some cool shots of Akhona. On the beach in front of the plush High Season Resort we found two cool coconut trees and I ordered a coconut from the bar to use as a prop, together with a Coke for myself. I was not prepared for the 330B ($10) bill that came with my order though 🙂 That coconut was photographed to death!

The most expensive coconut on earth 🙂
Sublime sunsets….

With Thailand becoming increasingly popular with international tourists, many travellers we have met along the way have complained about the overdevelopment of islands like Phuket, Phi Phi, Samui and the like. Koh Kood was refreshingly quiet, with hardly any cars or bikes on the roads, and very few people on any of the beaches we visited in the two weeks prior to the official peak season starting. We had a relaxing stay, and enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere on the island. Our prolonged stay in a resort also gave us valuable insights into what it takes to run a resort on a tropical island…Read all about it in my Reality Check article to follow. 

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Derek Antonio Serra is a photographer and filmmaker who has run several successful businesses in the film, tourism and advertising industries. He has recently embraced the nomadic lifestyle after selling his businesses and home. His passions are photography, travel and writing.