Volcanic hills, cliffs and hidden beaches
Koh Phangan Airport is being built on the east coast of the island on a spot near Than Sadet, and not far from the famous twin beaches of Thong Nai Pan. The average tourist to the region is probably familiar with Thong Nai Pan and its luxury hotels; they have probably heard about Than Sadet and its royal connections; but probably much of the rest of the area is an unknown quantity. This post will look at the east coast region where Koh Phangan Airport is located.
The east coast of Koh Phangan is the most mountainous part of the island. It is a rugged coastline dominated by volcanic hills that run down to sheer cliffs that are battered by waves. Storms coming in from the South China Sea hit the east side of Koh Phangan. There are no coral reefs on this side of the island to break up the waves. The few beaches on this side of the island have been formed by rivers eroding the volcanic rock and creating deep coves.
The largest beaches on the east coast are Thong Nai Pan Yai and Thong Nai Pan Noi. Following the coast down from these beaches there are a series of rocky outcrops until a small island is reached that is called Koh Kong Than Sadet. It is a deserted island. South of this island is the famous beach of Haad Sadet. It is located in a national park. Just back from the beach is a famous waterfall that runs all year round and flows over 3km down a series of basins. It is here that several Kings of Thailand have visited and the signature of King Rama V can be seen carved into a rock.
Haad Sadet is reached by boat or by a rough jungle road that joins on to the main Bantai to Thong Nai Pan Road. Work is under way to improve this road. Than Sadet used to have really cheap and basic fan bungalows on the beach, but recently the accommodation has improved and the prices have gone up.
At the southern end of Haad Sadet a river flows out to the sea. There is a small rocky outcrop and to the south of this is another smaller beach called Haad Thong Reng. Haad Sadet is a quiet beach and its neighbor Haad Thong Reng is even quieter with just two bungalow resorts.
Further south is another small sandy beach. It too has a nearby water fall. The beach is called Haad Nam Tok and the nearby waterfall is called Than Prapad. It is near here that the new airport is being built. As with Haad Sadet there is a very rough road to this area. It is only for 4 wheel drives and for experienced drivers. There is one beachfront resort. There is also Kung Bungalows about 20 minutes walk away up a trail. Also about 20 minutes walk from Haad Nam Tok is Than Prapard Resort. Both are remote sea view resorts that few people know about. They are also both currently available for rent. They are not on the power grid and so use diesel generators. Water comes from Than Prapard Waterfall. There is a jungle footpath connecting Haad Thong Reng with Haad Nam Tok. It is not a well marked trail and few foreigners have done the hike.
Continuing south the beaches are in order Haad Yang, Haad Yao East, Haad Wai Nam, Haad Thian, Haad Yuan, Haad Khontee and finally Haad Rin Nok.
All the beaches on the east coast are spectacular, all have great mountain backdrops, all have year round swimming, and all are (with the exception of Haad Rin Nok) hard to get to.
No doubt the introduction of a fully functioning airport on the east coast will go a long way to making some of these great and largely unknown beaches more popular. However, the untamed geography of the region will deter developers from building large hotels for several years to come.