We spent a total of 2 months in Thailand, during which time we visited 5 islands. Without a doubt Koh Kradan came the closest to what we imagined a paradise Thai island should look like. Its Paradise Beach was voted in the top ten beaches in the world twice already, and with good reason. It met our expectations for the following reasons:
- The truly amazing 2km long fine white sand beach runs along almost the entire side of the island.
- We counted a total of ten relatively small resorts along the aptly named Paradise Beach. No further resorts can be built as most of the island is a national park. So no over-development for a change.
- Because of the limited number of people who can stay on the island, the beach is always relatively empty, especially at sunrise and sunset. Day trippers arrive at around 10h00 and leave at around 14h00, but only seem to occupy the area adjacent to the National Parks office and a fancy resort.
- No party animals seem to visit Kradan, so you tend to share the island with more serious travellers
- Fantastic snorkeling right off the beach was possible, and at low tide you can walk out on to a big sandbank which is just next to the reef. So a few meters walk and you are surrounded by reef fish
- Accommodation costs range from $25 – $250/night, so budget travellers are welcome. We paid around $40/night for a wooden bungalow at Kuleme Kradan Village.
Getting to Koh Kradan is also fairly easy, as there are daily ferries from Trang to the island via Koh Mook, its larger neighbor, which we also visited. It may be a good idea to first visit Koh Mook for a few days, then stock up on fresh fruit and snacks before catching either the ferry or a longtail over to Kradan. There is no pier, so expect to get your feet wet clambering over the side of the boat. We made sure to contact our resort a few days prior to our arrival to request that someone meet us with a trolley to transport our luggage up the beach. Travellers who hadn’t done this had to lug their own bags almost a kilometer…wheeled bags don’t work well in sand 🙂
Kradan is perfect if you just want to take it easy and enjoy lazing about on the beach or in the warm water of the Andaman sea. We snorkeled several times during our four night stay, and the conditions were perfect even for an inexperienced swimmer like Akhona, as I could just tow her alongside me. Luckily I was able to borrow a set of fins to propel us through the current…without fins you need to be a stronger swimmer to avoid drifting with the current.
The biggest expense when visiting Kradan is the cost of food at most of the resorts, which is 2 – 3 times more than on neighbouring Koh Mook or the mainland. The only place selling pretty tasteless 80 baht fried rice with chicken was the National Park canteen. Everywhere else the cost was 160 baht. There are no ATM’s on the island, so we took cash with us, unlike a few tourists who we saw walking around trying to buy lunch with a credit card – only the 5 star resorts could help them….We bought fresh fruit on Koh Lanta and brought it with so that we could enjoy a fruit breakfast each morning. We also brought with mosquito repellant as the jungle is the perfect breeding ground for these pests.
After our experiences on the Thai islands Koh Kradan was the perfect island to end our time in Thailand on. Our experience was sweetened by the fact that we got on really well with Marco and Sofie, the Italian couple who own the Kuleme Kradan Village resort where we stayed for the 4 nights. I shot some drone footage of the resort and the adjacent beach and gave the photographs to Marco to use on his website and on Booking.com, etc. He was kind enough to give us a nice discount on our food bill at the restaurant as a little trade exchange. By exchanging our expertise for food or accommodation we are able to sustain our travels for that much longer on the budget that we have…