Paradise Found on Koh Pu, Thailand
A nearly deserted island in a busy island district
After the first airing of the movie “The Beach”, it has become the dream of many travellers to discover that ‘hidden secret’. A deserted island that is rich in beauty, beaches and delicious food. People want to stray from that populous, resort ridden environment, and get in touch with nature, the locals and have a sense of tranquility and solitude. Finding such places certainly isn’t easy these days. Often to find a place such as this only comes through the word of mouth of another intrepid explorer who has sought out the same. I happened to be fortunate enough to meet one of those explorers, who gave me the ‘secret map’ to such a place. A place that’s right in the heart of the busy islands of southern Thailand, yet has managed to remain off the radar for most. A deserted island that goes by the name of Koh Pu.
Arriving to the seemingly deserted island of Koh Pu, I immediately knew that I was about to embark on a life changing journey of discovery and adventure. Even the mission to get here is not your typical tourist flagged journey most are accustomed to when visiting the southern islands of Thailand. Taking a series of buses, taxis, cargo ships and tuk tuks, it’s no wonder not many have found this place, and this essentially acts as a filter to allow only those dedicated enough for this type of adventure to experience.
The island itself is actually connected by a land bridge to its neighbouring island, Koh Jum, which sees a little more traffic. The landscape is slightly different than some of it’s other neighbours, with the absence of the large limestone pinnacles that jut out of the landscape. The beaches are groomed well, albeit a bit rocky in places. There is a mountain in the middle of the island which creates a great lookout point, and the majority of the interior is covered in lush jungle. It really is a paradise, with a sense of ruggedness, and raw beauty.
There is substantially more choice in places to stay in the conjoined counterpart, Koh Jum, though Koh Pu is strategically located to experience some of the best sunsets. With the absence of many neighbouring bungalows, it is truly a safe-haven from crowds, allowing you to enjoy your time and really get in touch with your inner peace.
The bungalows have several activities, such as kayaks and volleyball nets, so for those seeking more than just a quiet escape, you have options to fill your day with as well. It is an incredible, nearly-deserted island and now, my fellow intrepid explorer, I can share that secret map with you!
Taking a bus or taxi to the small fishing village of Laem Kruat, about 30 mins outside Krabi City, we were welcomed by a few supply shops and some basic street food stalls, thatched bamboo restaurants and fruit markets. There was a small pier nestled between two buildings, and no ticket booth. We merely had to wait until the next cargo ship was ready to head over.. which luckily only took about 45 mins before they started boarding. The ships are fairly infrequent, so it’s best to ask around in Krabi before heading over to Laem Kruat if they know if any more ships are leaving for the day.
The price was relatively inexpensive, given that this is not a typical tourist style means of transportation. It was roughly 100 Thai baht total for the two of us to take the half hour ferry (that’s approximately $3.50 USD) over to the pier in Koh Jum. The cargo boat was long and narrow, and packed mostly with local fishing catches, living supplies like canned goods and toilet paper, some motorbikes, and of course, people. There was very few real seats, and almost no shelter from the sun on the long cargo-filled vessel, so make sure to lather up some SPF 30 sunscreen!
Upon arriving to the Ilsand of Koh Jum, we caught a local tuk tuk (motorized rickshaw) to get to our final destination. You have to be quite specific that it’s Koh Pu that you are trying to get to, as most of the tourists arriving want to head to the hotels and bungalows found in Koh Jum. The tuk tuk ride was lightning fast (or perhaps that was just our driver), while we travelled through the jungle, small villages and actually had to drive about a kilometer off road, across the yellow sands of Lubo beach, also known as North beach. Finally, after an exciting (and somewhat confusing) journey there, we arrived to our destination! It’s a journey and a half to get here, but once we did, we understood that we would be amongst the very few who are fortunate enough to find their ways here.
View Where Sidewalks End in a larger map
Upon arriving to the island of Koh Jum, we caught our local tuk tuk (motorized rickshaw) to the Sunset Beach Bungalows. At the time, we didn’t realize that Koh Pu and Koh Jum are actually different parts of the same island. In fact, we didn’t even realize that we had arrived to Koh Jum, rather than the Northern part, Koh Pu. Apparently there’s another bungalow in Koh Jum called Sunset Beach Bungalows… and it’s a bit fancier, quite a bit more expensive, and definitely more on the trodden tourist path. We ended up having to call the owner of the Sunset Beach Bungalows (Mr Sent – +66 (0) 83 182 5142) in Koh Pu to have them give directions to our driver.
With approximately 6 bungalows to choose from, each with their own unique characteristics, this place screams boutique, but in the most rustic style. There are a few bamboo bungalows nestled upon a hillside, a large round bungalow was built right next to the sea, it’s neighbouring bungalow is actually built up in a tree, and yet another is suspended by it’s four bottom corners by rope attached to the adjacent trees causing it to swing gently like a hammock in the wind. Each bungalow was quite reasonably priced at approximately 300 Thai Baht a night (roughly $10 USD). There is a main building which was used as both office and restaurant (in addition to being the host family’s home). There is the “No Have Bar”, a reggae bar situated right on the beach of the property. What would a bungalow be on a deserted island be without a Sauna? You got it.. they even have a sauna hut, though depending on what the weather is like when you go, I think I’d almost rather have a walk in refrigerator!
The host family just consists of Mr Sent and his wife. They are incredibly friendly, and perhaps over a little accommodating (as we saw a fairly inconsiderate guest abuse their goodwill while there). The family has had bungalows for over a decade, though in 2003, the Tsunami that devastated much of Thailand also came knocking down their door. The parents of the family were lost to the sea that day, and rather than give up, they decided to rebuild and make something special in their honour. They are more than happy to talk about their life there, and share family photos which survived the angry seas. They will do anything to make sure you are comfortable during your stay there.
Being a deserted island and all, there’s not a huge variety of restaurants to choose from, especially in the North Beach area. Your choices primarily consist of the restaurants associated with any one of the few sets of bungalows there. That being said, the food is phenomenal, and cheap! With all different types of options (including the fresh ‘catch of the day’ seafood), you certainly won’t be going hungry. We decided to hop between the few bungalows and sample all their menus while, in doing so, distributing some of our tourist dollars amongst the various families there. You may be able to rent a scooter and head down to Koh Jum if you want to find more options, though I felt the selection was adequate to keep me as stationary as possible in my little piece of paradise.
This is quite possibly the most relaxed setting I’ve found in the south of Thailand. There isn’t many places which give the feeling of a deserted island left, though given the slightly more difficult journey to get there, I have a feeling this place will remain off the beaten trail for some time to come.
A few things to know about staying on a deserted island
- There is no internet at the Sunset Beach Bungalows (at least not at the time of this publication), but the neighbouring bungalows have it available for a minimal charge.
- Air con does not exist, though the sea breeze does a pretty good job.
- Most of the bungalows have basic washroom facilities (shower, toilet, sink) – though the tree house and hammock bungalows did not, for obvious reasons.
- The food is absolutely fantastic, but options will be limited to what food is actually present on the premises at the time. It’s sometimes best to choose a few items before ordering. If there’s something you really want to try, perhaps ask if it’s available in the morning, so they can get the supplies for dinner that night.
- The No-Have bar was aptly named as there’s a chance that they ‘no have’ what you want. This said.. they can make some pretty delicious drinks with what they DO have!
- Lubo Beach is unlike other beaches in the area. Many beaches in this part of Thailand are known for their pristine white sands. Here, you will find yellow sand, and there are many large volcanic rocks all across the beach. There are plenty of places to go swimming nearby, but this destination is best suited for isolation, and not necessarily it’s beach activities.
- Before making the journey out there, it may be best to call Mr Sent (+66 (0) 83 182 5142) just to make sure there’s space available.
- This place definitely lives up to it’s name. You are almost guaranteed a gorgeous sunset every night, weather permitting of course!
Surrounded by jungle, and a fair distance to the next neighbouring bungalow, this is the epitome of a lost paradise on a deserted island. It felt like we had just stumbled upon a secluded deserted island, and with only one other guest, a bartender, and the host family staying there, it was as close as you can get to isolation, especially in this part of Thailand.
Have you ever found a deserted island? Was it so magical, you wondered if you should even tell anyone else about it? Share your stories in the comment section below!