An off-the-beaten-track island that'll blow your socks off
Forget All Islands You've Heard of Before - Explore this Deserted Thai Paradise
Still hunting for beaches that you don't have to share with others?
I know, tour operators cajole you into going on a tour, showing you leaflets with white sands, abandoned shores, and happy customers.
Eager to find Eden in Thailand that's popular for good reason, you book the trip.
And indeed, your first stop the day after is a dazzling white beach. Unfortunately, you're not alone.
What a tour!
I feel you.
Don't fret. You can still find secluded places in this magnificent country. Let's jump in, I'll show you a truly off-the-beaten-track island.
Koh Lung Ga Jiew
If you're keen to wind up on a quiet beach, you've got to support a local fisherman by paying him for an independent trip.
If only he spoke English.
That's where Magic House comes into the picture, a hotel within walking distance of Chumphon’s pier. Speak to the receptionists, they’re able to help you get a private tour.
'Can we go to Ao Thung Sang?' I asked the darkly-tanned fisherman who had a spare tyre.
'Moment,' he answered, and walked away. The 'moment' was obviously an opportunity to avoid the question. Little did I know he was making for a near-flawless paradise just 8 kilometres off Chumphon's coast.
As we approached the isle on the choppy sea, passing little specks of land reminiscent of the Similan islands, I couldn't believe my eyes: an islet with three white beaches - devoid of people in the peak season - surrounded by transparent, turquoise waters. Leaves of coconut trees were swaying in the wind, and a handful of dilapidated bamboo shacks looked abandoned. One of which was snuggled into a rock, peeping down the cliff.
How could such an idyllic place have remained undiscovered in this age of mass tourism?
The boat's owner dropped the anchor and showed me some photos of colourful fishes swimming through white, aquatic plants. He pointed to the rock in front of the island and offered me snorkelling gear.
Staghorn corals looked like brown sets of deer antlers, and massive brown, arched stones seemed to have adjusted their shape to the sea's surf - a sight for sore eyes.
A school of bright yellow fish encircled me, curiously checking if I'd brought any food.
Moving towards the beach, a shoal of silvery trumpet fish greeted me. And before long, I spotted the unmistakable movement of a 1-metre reef shark that remained unfazed by my appearance.
Stepping on the pebbles, I set out to explore the island. Even wet, the white sands were exceptionally soft, too innocent for the copious amounts of plastic, lined up neatly a metre from the water's edge, clearly washed ashore to this heavenly place.
Why look further in the Land of Smiles? Sit down here, sink your toes into the warm, powdery grains, listen to the waves lapping your feet, and smile contentedly to yourself.