If you’ve spent any time on busy Phuket then you may have wondered what it would be like to escape the hustle and bustle at some point. Well stop wondering and fuel that desire for escapism by slipping off to Koh Racha as soon as you can.
Situated 12km due southeast from the foot of Phuket, Racha is just half an hour or so away by speedboat and you’ll be amazed at what you find there.
Koh Racha is special
Really? What’s the big deal? Among others, there are 3 main reasons why Koh Racha is such a breath of fresh air kind of getaway.
1. It is vehicle-free
There are no songthaew’s blaring out event invitations through loudspeakers, no gangs of bikers on Harley’s, no taxis and no buses. The only kind of vehicle you’ll find on the island are the odd motorbike and sidecar type that will carry you and your luggage to your resort. You can just as easily walk to your accommodation as the scale of the island is positively miniature in comparison to the sprawl of Phuket (see next point). It is possible to hire a motorbike here but no-one does because it’s pointless.
2. It is tiny (and tiny IS beautiful)
There are actually two islands that make up Koh Racha – Racha Yai (‘big’) and Racha Noi (‘small’). Racha Yai is the one we’re talking about here as it’s the only one you can stay on but it really isn’t that ‘big’ at all. In fact, you can walk between the main beaches and resorts on different sides of the island within 10-15 minutes or so. The size of the island really adds to its charm and the fact you can get around it on foot stokes those Robinson Crusoe feelings within the soul.
3. It has squeaky white sand
This really is true. You’ll forever be thinking you’ve trumped when you’re walking on the beaches here as the sand is so squeaky white that it lets out an audible sound to impress you. Sure, the Thai islands are known for this kind of sand but Racha Yai’s is the whitest and squeakiest.. no doubt about it and especially on the irresistible and relatively overlooked treasure that is Siam Bay.
Days and nights in paradise
Hopefully you’re already sold but if you need some more persuading, take a look at some of the wonderful things you can do while you’re here.
Be a beach bum
One of the most popular things to do here is relax, get horizontal and enjoy views like this from the beach. Many who visit the island do nothing but lounge in the sunny paradise of the place.. and why not! There are two main beaches on Racha Yai to soak up the tropical sun on – Batok Bay and the often overlooked and far superior Siam Bay (above).
Go diving or snorkelling
Newbies, keen divers and snorkelers alike love it around the Racha islands. There are several dives sites off the shores of both Racha Yai and Noi where reefs teem with large tropical fish, eels, turtles and a plethora of colourful soft and hard corals. Visibility has been known to knock on the door of 30m here at times and as an extra bonus many sites can be dived straight off the beach here.
Soak up the views over dinner and drinks
Wherever you choose to stay or happen to be visiting for the day, you’ll find some amazing views to behold as you eat your lunch or sip on ice-cold sundowners. Whether you’re relaxing in a restaurant on the cliffs above Konkare Bay or down at sea level watching the sun drop into the ocean from west-facing Batok Bay, you’ll find incredible views and sparkling ocean vistas await you. Drinks at sunset in the restaurant at Siam Bay (above) is another firm favourite.. the light show from here is spectacular because the headland between there and Batok Bay softens the brightness of the sun from Batok, creating a richly warm sky to savour.
Gaze lovingly up at the stars
Being 12km away from Phuket has several advantages, one of which is the lack of light pollution on Koh Racha. There are only a smattering of resorts on Racha and the result of this is that you can see the stars particularly well when they come out amid clear night skies. Stroll along the beach whilst gazing dreamily upwards at them or watch from the clifftops as they appear before your eyes.
Sounds great.. how do I get there?
It’s fairly straightforward to get to Koh Racha so there are no excuses not to go! Head for Chalong Bay or Rawai Beach on the southern end of Phuket where you can hop aboard a speedboat and make the journey across to Racha Yai in half an hour or so. The price you will pay will generally depend on the amount of fellow passengers on board your vessel, the more there are the cheaper it will be. Boats drop off on Batok Bay, the busiest beach on the island which is enclosed within an aesthetically welcoming cove.
Stay for a few days
Rayaburi Resort, Siam Bay – On the island’s best beach sits a resort that is made for it and has a lot going for it. The plush, modern bungalows are set back from the beach and run up to and along the front of it, depending on the price paid. The beachfront restaurant serves up delicious Thai food, the drinks are suitably cold (try the iced lime or fresh coconut juice) and the staff are friendly.. what more could you ask for in a place like this?! [see reviews]
The Racha, Batok Bay – Jet-set, extravagant, 5 star, deluxe.. these are all words to describe Racha Yai’s most famous resort. With all of this comes a price tag to match but if you’re that way inclined this could be your preferred accommodation choice on the island. You won’t have far to go to get here as it’s located right on Batok Bay, the main beach where arriving boats dock on a floating jetty. Was that James Bond I just saw? [see reviews]
Ban Raya Resort & Spa, Konkare Bay – Set above the cliffs of Konkare Bay, Ban Raya Resort & Spa offers cool and calm seclusion amid lush and well-landscaped tropical gardens. The restaurant and pool are located in the middle of the complex and offer the usual mix of tasty snacks, meals and drinks. There are several strips of sunbeds spread out on the clifftops above the predominantly rocky bay below. It’s all about escapism here. [see reviews]
Although it is mainly perceived as a day-trip destination due to its beauty and abundant snorkeling possibilities, Koh Racha is far better experienced over a relaxing few days stay. Turn up, feel that squeaky sand between your toes and make up your own mind.