Some of Thailand’s best–and least known–beaches and islands are just a stone’s throw from the country’s underrated treasure, Rayong. From a secluded bay on Ko Samet to a baby turtle haven on tiny Ko Man Nai, here you’ll find your very own slice of beachside paradise just waiting to be explored.
Just a 45-minute boat ride from Rayong, the island of Ko Samet is full of clean beaches and turquoise water. Though it’s a popular spot for weekend visitors from Bangkok, Ko Samet is still relatively unknown to most tourists. Head to the northern part of the island, where jet ski and paddle board rentals abound near popular Haad Sai Kaew beach, or find a secluded stretch of sand, like the idyllic Ao Phut Sa beach, farther south. You can also find a well-equipped visitor centre, complete with public restrooms, maps and up-to-date information on the day’s activities at Haad Sai Kaew.
Mae Ram Phueng Beach
This 12-kilometre stretch of golden sand is one of Thailand’s most pristine mainland beaches, and best of all it’s just 20 minutes away from the Holiday Inn & Suites Rayong City Centre. With enough space to accommodate weekend crowds, it also offers plenty of hawker-style restaurants and cafes to ensure you can spend an uninterrupted day on this piece of paradise. Mae Ram Phueng Beach is ideal for little swimmers, as its shallow water and gentle slope make it safe to paddle farther out than at other beaches in the area. While you can rent umbrellas from vendors right on the sand, the Casuarina palm trees that line the waterfront ensure there’s plenty of shade to keep you cool throughout the day.
Ko Man Klang
One of Thailand’s best kept secrets, Ko Man Klang is part of a chain of three tiny islands just off the mainland. Known collectively as the Ko Man Islands, Ko Man Klang is the most popular of the trio, due to its impressive bays and glassy water that is ideal for both snorkelling and diving. Ko Man Klang also boasts a range of amenities, including sea kayak and bike rentals to keep you occupied for hours. To reach the islands, head to Rayong’s Sri Ban Phe Pier where you can climb aboard the next departing boat for the three-minute trip to this piece of island paradise.
Ko Man Nai
The other Ko Man island that is accessible to the public is Ko Man Nai, the smaller sibling to Ko Man Klang’s busy shores. In fact, at only 100 metres wide it boasts only one single—but spectacular—beach, with the rest of the island consisting of rocky slopes that plunge into the surrounding water. When you’ve had your fill of the shoreline, head to the Sea Turtle Conservation and Hatchery to learn about the region’s efforts to restore Thailand’s wild turtle population. Set up by Thailand’s Queen Sirikit in 1979, here you can watch newborns, meet some of the centre’s rescued turtles and learn all about these majestic animals.
Laem Mae Phim Beach
If your idea of beachside perfection is calm, clear waters with no surfers in sight, this may be the beach for you. Loved for its long, sheltered shoreline, Laem Mae Phim Beach is a quiet piece of heaven that is never overrun by crowds. Striking the perfect balance between natural wonder and fun-filled amenities, here you’ll find beachside restaurants, umbrella rentals, shopping and a sprinkling of beachside bars. Try renting a banana boat or paddle board to explore its calm waters, or simply laze on the shore with a cocktail in hand.
Ko Saket Petch
Climb aboard a speedboat leaving from Bang Phe to find beachside paradise on Ko Saket Petch. This tiny island is only 15-minutes away from Rayong, but offers the clear water and pristine shores travellers dream of. The island’s lack of infrastructure means amenities are limited, but the payoff is that the sand is clean, the water is clear and there’s ample marine life just offshore.
If you want to find your own slice of beachside perfection just moments from your Rayong hotel, include this fabulous Thai city on your next visit to the Land of Smiles.