My favourite go-to website for boredom busting (AKA Buzzfeed) just posted a feature on 10 Paradise Islands That Will Take Your Breath Away. The ninth island in the list is Koh Samui – although I am glad that Thailand got a well deserved placement I can’t help thinking they haven’t managed to select the best island. Those of you that have been following for a while will know that I did my TEFL training on Samui and went back for a break over New Years – while the island is a great place to go for a party filled holiday it’s not quite what I would consider a ‘paradise island’ and here is why;
- No paradise island should host a Tesco Lotus, Big C or any other chain megastore.
- Home delivery McDonald’s/KFC is not a requirement for paradise relaxation.
- I do not want to see a Brit pub boasting beer on tap or Eastenders on the telly.
- I don’t need the services of a prostitute, hostess or lady of the night thank you very much.
- Similarly, paradise will not be found amidst the sequined knickers of a lady boy.
- There should be no queuing on paradise islands, lest of all behind a 50-something year old man and his bored looking Thai counterpart, or topless UV-clad stag parties.
- The only thing I want to be looking over my shoulder for is mischievous monkeys, not scam artists or pickpockets.
- Dodging mopeds being drunk driven by steaming farangs does not lead to rest and/or relaxation.
- I want the alcohol in my cocktail to be what it says on the bottle, not ethanol.
- I don’t want to have to double check if I am in fact in Benidorm at any point!
Instead, I would like to nominate the island of Koh Lipe as one of the 10 islands that truly will knock your socks off. And, in keeping with the feel of this post, here are ten reasons why it truly is paradise found;
- I have never seen clearer water in that perfect hue of blue-green-turquoise. I mean just look at it!
- This is an island where a beachfront hut truly is on the beach.
- You can walk from one side of the island to the other in 15 minutes. On one side of the island you have Sunset and Sunrise Beaches (about 5 mins apart at their closest points), with a view across to some of the other 50 plus islands that help to make up Tarutao National Marine Park. A short walk through the Chao Lei village where the once-sea gypsies indigenous to the island live and you are at the Walking Street (with a mix of chilled bars, restaurants and little boutiques – all pretty much closed during low season) and then on to Pattaya Beach that is the more active stretch of sand but still a place of mega chill, massages and beachside cocktails. A typical Chao Lei home on the island.
- Koh Lipe maintains an air of being unspoilt. Yes, there were plenty of spots being developed when I was last there and it is no doubt going through a period of expansion, but there remains the feeling that it will only be developed so much – there aren’t any big vacant spaces that can be taken over by resorts with unnecessary swimming pools and sunbed reserving clientele.
- Koh Lipe is part of Tarutao National Marine Park which was only the second area to be given national park protection status way back in 1974. This means that the islands in the area, the coral and the water have been protected for a lot longer than many areas in Thailand. This makes for beautiful, crystal clear waters, amazing coral (fantastic for snorkeling) and limits on how much on land development can take place; making sure that paradise is kept in pristine condition.
- The only real road running through the island is little more than a glorified dirt track and is only used by the locals – there is no moped hire to drunken farangs here – yay!
- There is no McDonald’s, no Tesco, no KFC, not even a 7-eleven on this island!
- There is always plenty of space on the beaches (as in, they are crazily abandoned) and there are zero touts selling tickets, or crappy sunglasses, or neon things that spin around.
- I don’t think I looked at the time once while I was there, and I even let my iPhone run out of battery and didn’t charge it until I got home – this is an unknown occurrence for me.
- People do things like this with palm leaves and it just looks perfect.
And there you have it – my thoughts on why Koh Lipe should be considered as a true paradise island. We just spent four days here and we are already checking the calendar for our next chance to return. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve been away and actually feel like I’ve had a rest. Smiles all round : )