If you’re looking for paradise, look no further than Ko Muk. This small island off the coast of the Trang province in Thailand is a blissful respite from the rest of the world. While the island is not without tourism, the fishing villages with their hard working, mostly Muslim inhabitants will make you feel like you are a part of the day-to-day life of the islanders. Come prepared to live like a real islander and soak up all of the activities this island has to offer!
1. Farang Beach
The most popular location on Ko Muk is Farang Beach, which is also known as Charlie Beach or Haad Si Yo. The name Farang Beach literally translates to “foreigner beach,” which is fitting because this is the center of tourist activity on the island. The coast is lined with resorts and restaurants and it has a touristy vibe. The beach is located in a bay making the water gentle, perfect for swimming or kayaking, which you can do easily as there are numerous options for boat rentals. Farang Beach is also one of the locations where you can depart on a boat trip to a natural wonder the island is most known for.
Access: On the west side of the island
2. Tham Morakot Cave
Tham Morakot Cave is Ko Muk’s claim to fame. Also known as the Emerald Cave, visitors come on boat trips from miles around to experience this magnificent spot. To enter the cave, visitors must enter the hidden entrance and swim through a small, dark passage. It is important to go with a tour or a guide, because they will be sure that the tide is the right height for swimming, will provide life vests and a tow rope, and can ensure swimmers do not get pinned to the walls of the tunnel by a current.
Once you emerge from the cave you will find yourself in a lush, sheltered beach with emerald green water gently lapping at the shore. Though it looks like something created by a movie, Tham Morakot is actually the result of a sinkhole. This small beach is best enjoyed when it’s not crowded by hordes of tourists, and by staying on Ko Muk, you actually have the advantage of seeing it at the best times before and after the tour boats: early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Tham Morakot Cave
Duration: around 2-4 hours
Access: On the west side of Ko Muk
3. Kayaking in Tam Yai Bay
One of the best ways to experience Tam Yai Bay, on which Farang Beach and Tham Morakot are both located, is by kayak. Kayaking is a fun sport and easy for those of all ages. Tam Yai Bay is the perfect spot for kayaking because of the gentle waters. There is also a shallow spot where you can spy a beautiful coral reef from your boat. Rent kayaks from Charlie Beach Resort, Sawasdee Resort, or a stand at the southern end of Farang Beach. Prices at the resorts are slightly higher. Note that the further out into the bay you paddle, the less gentle the water becomes. Unless you are an experienced kayaker, stay closer to the shore.
Kayaking in Tam Yai Bay
Price: from 3 USD to 15 USD
4. Ao Kham Beach
Ao Kham might well be the first place you see when you arrive at Ko Muk, because the ferries from Trang arrive near this beach. It’s the less touristy one of the island’s two most well-known beaches, with more locals living nearby, but the tourist influence has increased in recent years as more lodging has cropped up. Ao Kham is divided into the more typical east beach, Sivalai Beach, and the west beach. The west beach has several resorts as well as houses built on stilts, giving you the feeling of walking through a neighborhood rather than strolling down the sand.
If you continue walking, you’ll find yourself in one of the island’s fishing villages, which are some of the few in Thailand which remained intact after the 2004 tsunami. Just west of Ao Kham is a beach called Ao Kuan, also known as Jungle Beach. It is named so because of its mango borders and its secluded setting. This beach is also where you’ll find the start of one of the island’s hiking trails.
Ao Kham Beach
Access: Located on the east side of Koh Muk
5. Hiking on Ko Muk
Trekking through the lush jungle interior of Ko Muk is a drastic transition from enjoying its sandy shoreline. After you’ve packed your water and covered up with mosquito repellent, your journey starts on Ao Kuan Beach. The trail is located behind the Ko Mook resort. As you follow the dirt path, you’ll find yourself wandering through rubber farms and spying wildlife like hornbill birds, macaques, and snakes. The trail weaves between the jungle and the beach, giving you plenty of opportunities to take a break and a swim. Two beaches you will pass through are Haad Lo Dung and Haad Sabai. There are some signs to direct you, and as long as you don’t get too lost the round trip from Ao Kuan to Haad Sabai takes about a half day.
Hiking on Ko Muk
Duration: around 6 hours
Access: Trail starts behind Ko Mook resort
6. Ko Kradan
Another advantage of staying on Ko Muk is its proximity to numerous small islands which one might find too rustic to stay on, but too beautiful to stay entirely away from. One such island is Ko Kradan, a small bit of land known for its snorkeling and which was voted the 9th best beach in the world by readers of The Guardian newspaper in 2016. This island is uninhabited except for the owners and workers of its few resorts. Its lack of roads, villages, or ATMs makes you almost feel like you’re on a deserted island.
To get to Ko Kradan, most boat trips will be done by longtail boat, not a speedboat, which can carry around four people. Ko Kradan is located in a national park, so when you arrive expect to pay a fee of 3-12 USD. However, it’s a small price to pay when you can snorkel right off the shore or lay on the white sand beach and peer out to the other islands on the horizon. If you’re up for a jaunt, take a hike from the southern end of the main beach through the jungle interior of the island and end up at one of the smaller beaches like Sunset Beach or Ao Niang.
Price: from 36 USD
Duration: around 6 hours required
7. Ko Rok
Another small island you can reach from Ko Muk is called Ko Rok. This island is actually made of two smaller islands which are joined by soft coral in the clear water between them, making this a perfect spot for snorkeling. Strap on a mask and view the underwater world for a chance to see angelfish, pufferfish, and anemones, as well as larger marine animals like sea turtles, moray eels, sea snakes, or even a black-tip shark.
Back on the island, take a hike up to Pha Samed Daeng, where you can see views of all the other islands. To get to Ko Rok, you must book a private boat as there is no public water transportation. Some of the best boat trip companies from Ko Muk are Duong Family Travel, which can be found at Mayow Thai Kitchen on Farang Beach, or Mr. Yong Tour which can be found on Ao Kham Beach near the pier. Also plan to pay 12 USD for entry to the Koh Lanta Park which the island is located within.
Price: from 105-135 USD
Duration: around 12 hours required
8. Boat trip and diving at Koh Chueak, Koh Ma, Koh Waen
Koh Chueak, Koh Mah, and Koh Waen are not so much islands as just rocks jutting out of the water. However, these landmasses support extensive coral reef and abundant sea life. Koh Ma is a horse-shaped island which has shallow water containing coral and seaweed. Koh Chueak is made of two smaller islands, with water that moves quickly between them. Snorkelers should hold on to their tour guide’s rope or buoy to not get swept away while peering down at the colorful reef and fish. Koh Waen is the site where underwater marriages were first held. However, this practice was later moved to Ko Kradan. Boats often pass by these islands on their way to or from Ko Muk. However, you can also reach them directly from Ko Muk by private boat, or by booking a tour package from Pak Meng Pier in Trang.
Koh Chueak, Koh Mah, and Koh Waen
Duration: 6-8 hours
9. Ko Yao Viewpoint Restaurant
After a day of hiking, kayaking, island hopping, or just laying on the beach, a relaxing meal will be at the forefront of your mind. One of the most beautiful spots to have a meal is the Ko Yao Viewpoint Restaurant. This restaurant is slightly more expensive than some of the other fare on the island, but consider that you are also paying for the ambiance as well as the food. Its wooden deck reaches out onto the rocks. It is located in the perfect spot to overlook Farang Beach and the pier, giving diners beautiful views especially at sunset. They serve some western dishes but also delicious Thai classics and seafood that is fresh out of the ocean. The service is leisurely, so sit back, relax, and take in the views.
Ko Yao Viewpoint Restaurant
Address: Ko Yao Rd. 5, Ko Muk, Thailand
Access: Farang Beach
Contact: +66 76597345
10. Mong Bar
For a funky after-dinner vibe, head over to Mong Bar, one of the best bars on Ko Muk. It’s also located on Farang on the eastern end of the beach. They serve cocktails and beer as well as some beautiful ocean views. Perch yourself on one of their cushioned seats or spread out on a lounge chair in the sand. This spot is run by a father and son duo who happen to know the popular Thai reggae singer Job 2 Do. If you’re lucky, your visit will coincide with a night that he performs there.
Address: 157 M.2 Amphoe Kantang, Trang, Thailand 92110
Access: Farang Beach
Contact: +66 807171517
A peaceful place for island life
If you’re seeking a quiet destination where you can experience life on the sea, Ko Muk is the perfect place. The fact that Ko Muk is inhabited makes it a little less pristine than some of the nearby uninhabited islands, but there is also a wide variety of food and accommodations at a variety of prices. You’ll find plenty of shops and travel offices to cover your basic and travel needs, but note that there are no ATMs on Ko Muk. Compared to some of the more touristy Thai islands, where the beaches are clogged with so many resorts and restaurants you’ll wonder why you went halfway around the world for an environment that could be found on any American beach boardwalk, Ko Muk is a calm, serene haven.