Koh Phra Thong Island
Koh Phra Thong is one of the most undeveloped beach islands remaining in Thailand. It currently has just one resort, some budget beach huts and some homestay accommodation. It is just off the west coast of Phang Nga, north of Koh Kho Khao Island. The nearest mainland base is Kuraburi.
Koh Phra Thong translates as Golden Buddha Island (Koh = Island, Phra = Buddha, Thong = Gold). A local legend tells of a precious golden Buddha image that was stolen by pirates and buried on the island. It was supposedly never found again and still lays hidden.
The island has very similar geography to Koh Kho Khao island to the south. It has a fabulous 14km stretch of unspoiled beach all along its western coast. The western side of the island is a sandy plain while the eastern side is mangroves and rainforest.
However while Koh Kho Khao island feels fairly quiet, Koh Phra Thong feels like an undiscovered backwater. Most of the 14km stretch of beach is utterly deserted and unspoiled. It is a beautiful beach with a couple of small islets offshore. There is some nice snorkelling in some areas straight off the beach. You can also take a boat out to the islets for some snorkelling.
There is a small village on the northeast corner of the island with a pier. There is some agriculture in the fields surrounding this village but very little agriculture around the rest of the island. The road network is more like paved tracks and as you go further south these tend to become sandy dirt tracks.
At the northwest end of the island is Baan Lions Village. It is so called because it was funded by the Lions Club International Foundation and other benefactors to replace Pak Chok village which was destroyed by the tsunami.
The new village has more than 100 simple homes with running water and showers. Electricity is available for a few hours in the evenings provided by communal generators. This is a community of Thai people living a wonderfully simple life here. They fish and trade with the mainland. Most of all, they like to live together as a community of friends. They don't lock themselves away in the evenings. Instead they like to gather, socialize and tell stories.
Baan Lions Village other main source of income is running a homestay program. They welcome visitors to stay in their homes and enjoy their community. You can stay here and enjoy the friendly hospitality of these people. The rooms are simple but comfortable and only cost 250-baht per person. You can book through travel agents in Kuraburi or just go directly to the village.
These two villages really are the only local communities on the island. Most of the beach is also undeveloped but there is an area on the centre of the western coastline that has just a few holiday accommodations.
The only major resort on thee island is the Golden Buddha Beach Resort. It is a group of 25 wooden villas and is actually a well regarded resort.
A few hundred meters south of this resort are a handful of budget cabin operations. These are very basic accommodations. Some of them are no more than huts but they can be rented for just a few hundred baht per night. Most well known is Mr Choui's. He runs a simple group of huts close to the beach. Mr. Choui is a very amenable host and his restaurant is said to be the best on the island. Even the guests at the Golden Buddha Beach Resort come here for dinner.
There is no car ferry so you cannot get your vehicle over to the island. There is a large longtail ferry that makes the return trip daily from the Kuraburi pier but its schedule depends on the tides.
If you are driving yourself you can park at the Kuraburi Pier and hire a longtail boat. The single trip boat fare is around 1,000-baht so it works out cheaper if there are a few of you. The longtail can take you to either of the villages or to one of the holiday resorts at the beach.
If you arrive at Kuraburi by bus then it is better to use one of the local tour agents in town to arrange the trip. They can also arrange your transport to the pier.
You can rent a motorbike on the island if you ask at the villages or resorts.