travel

Untouched Thailand – Koh Yao Noi

You’ll come away from this tiny Thai island whispering its name. Torn between wanting to tell everyone you’ve ever met just how special it is, yet not wanting to risk revealing its untroubled beauty to another soul. Sleeping in a room with only three walls proved more romantic in principle than in practice. We drew our mosquito nets close, all too aware our thatched bungalow left us entirely open to the elements – with darkness soon setting in, we were lost to the sounds of the night, soothing waves against the shore, backed by the creaking canopy of the jungle chorus, jolting awake every time something brushed up against our mosquito net.

If there were ever a sleepless night worth having, it would be to wake up to this: 
We woke to dawn light spilling over a palm-fringed shore, sun just tickling the horizon pink – illuminating the silhouettes of the limestone karts that scatter Phang Nga bay. Swinging out of bed, just a few short steps led us down to a wide sweep of sand, spread out like spilt sugar against an emerald ocean – postcard-perfect plinths rising impossibly from the distant deep.

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It’s all about this backdrop at Koyao Island Resort. Whether you’re lounging in your bungalow, wallowing in the glassy infinity pool or indulging in another aloe vera massage (the perfect excuse for sunburnt shoulders) you’d be hard-pressed fail to be seduced by the scenery. The rooms are ocean facing, boasting dark teak and airy interiors a pleasing mix of Thai and Balinese influences, all far enough away from each other to offer seriously sweet seclusion and each with a wild jungle rain shower out back. Grabbing some of the free kayaks and heading out to explore, we venture up the coast to one of the sleepy villages, pausing in secluded bays and scarcely seeing another soul.

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That’s the real charm of this lovely little island. With just a handful of restaurants and one or two high-end hotels, it’s where laid back island life meets understated luxury. Granted, you won’t find any nightlife, but in a remote retreat as dreamy as this, who needs it?

The closest we got to a night out was sneaking into the Six Senses next door for sundowners. After a hefty hike to the accurately named Hilltop Restaurant, we staggered through the doors – robbed of our remaining breath by the dazzling view…


Huge wooden beams frame three tiers of sheer, piercingly beautiful blues – curved infinity melting into the endless ocean above – sapphire sky streaked with cirrus clouds. Granite monoliths are strewn so prettily across the hazy horizon, we’re sure they must have been placed there by some giant architect to perfect the seascape. We drink in all we can of the view, conscious to savour every second before the sinking sun steals it away. 
After a few cocktails, we delved back into the depths of the rainforest, in search of a little place we’re sure we saw on the drive in. Armed only with the light from our phones, we’re quickly engulfed by the jungle, the only light a scattering of stars above the treetops. Ten mosquito-ridden minutes later, we stumble across La Luna Pizzeria, an authentic, Italian joint run by charming host Romano and serving the most delicious pizzas you’ll ever find in the middle of a Thai rainforest!

Forgoing the torchlight on the walk back, we stood beneath an inky sky emblazoned with stars and promised to return to this secret slice of Thailand that had so captured our hearts.


The How: Long-tail boat ferries make daily trips to Yao Noi from Bang Rong Pier on the east coast of Phuket. From the airport, a taxi will take you to the pier in 25 minutes.

The Hurt: Rooms at Koyao Island Resort from £167 per night in March, Six Senses from £948 in March for an Ocean Deluxe Pool Villa (sneaking in for drinks – free)

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3 replies »

  1. I loved reading your blog about Koyao Island Resort as it brought back many happy memories of my daughter’s wedding which was held there in Oct. 2014. 24 family members and guests arrived at the resort from all over the world ( we live in South Africa) and it turned out to be the most memorable wedding and holiday for all of us. The setting, resort and staff were amazing, and I would go back tomorrow if I could! PS. We had the rehearsal dinner at the Para Bar not far from the resort, where we were served an excellent buffet and had very entertaining live music.
    Ingrid Wilson.

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    • Hi Ingrid, Thanks so much for your comment – I’m so glad to hear it brought back fond memories! Your daughter is so lucky to have had such a stunning wedding venue – we loved our time there. We’re due to go back in November so will be sure to check out Para Bar B x

      Like

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