Once the realm of the backpacker and the bohemian, travelling in Thailand has become fairly mainstream over the last decade. As the main cities slowly become westernised, those looking for an authentic Thai experience need to go further afield. Therefore, Ko Kut’s untouched beaches, deep mangrove forest and warm, crystalline seas come as a welcome surprise. Long kept secret from mainstream tour operators, perhaps due to the fact it is only accessible by boat, one should not expect the bright lights of Phuket or Koh Samui in Ko Kut. Patches of tourism are beginning, but these are charmingly rudimentary to what one might expect elsewhere.
Set 50 kilometres west of the Cambodian border, at 100k2, Ko Kut is the fourth largest island in Thailand’s archipelago. The deserted beaches are clearly the jewels in the crown of the island, but those who want to venture further afield will enjoy getting to know the island by bike, songthaew (traditional Thai pick-up) or long tail boat. If you can peel yourself off from the beach, you could be plunging into the warm waters for some spectacular fish-gazing, hiking up the trio of spectacular waterfalls (and cooling off in the adjacent ponds) or simply exploring the ancient mangrove forests on the lookout for exotic flowers and passing geckos . A trip to the traditional working fishing village of Baan Aow Salad will give you an authentic taste (quite literally if you stay for lunch), of life on this Thai island, so far removed from its neighbours.