Koh Kradan has been named the world's best beach in the “Top 100 Beaches On Earth (2023)” by the World Beach Guide.
While this is undoubtedly excellent news for the island's residents, who depend on tourism for their livelihoods, it may not bode well for the local ecosystem, as the surge in visitor numbers that comes with such recognition can have an impact on the delicate balance of the island's ecosystem.
Either way, I'm sure this award has piqued your interest and you're thinking about a visit. In this guide, I'll cover everything you need to know for a trip to Koh Kradan.
- About Koh Kradan
- How to Get There
- Best Beaches
- Where to Stay
- Getting Around the Island
- Best Snorkeling Spots
- Things to Do
- Nightlife & Restaurants
- In Summary
About Koh Kradan
Koh Kradan is located in the Andaman Sea, off the west coast of Thailand, in Trang Province. It is a picture-perfect tropical paradise that boasts crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches, in particular the 2-kilometer long Ao Kradan Beach, which is considered one of the best beaches in Thailand
Koh Kradan is one of the 51 islands that make up the Hat Chao Mai National Park, a protected area that encompasses over 200 square kilometers of land and sea. The island has a population of only around 200 people, who make a living mainly from fishing and tourism.
The island is relatively small, with an area of only about 4 square kilometers. It is shaped like a horseshoe and is surrounded by turquoise waters and coral reefs.
Koh Kradan is written as เกาะกระดาน, and pronounced as “ko kra-daan”
How to Get to Koh Kradan?
Getting to Koh Kradan is quite easy. The nearest airport is Trang Airport, which is about a one and a half-hour drive from the island.
From the airport, you can hire a taxi to the Pak Meng Pier, where you can catch a boat to Koh Kradan. The boat ride from Pak Meng Pier to Koh Kradan takes about 30 minutes.
You can easily reach Koh Kradan by speedboat from Koh Lanta, and the same holds true for the connection between Koh Lipe and Koh Kradan.
Bangkok to Koh Kradan
Getting from Bangkok to Koh Kradan also requires a combination of transportation methods:
- Take a flight or bus from Bangkok to Trang. There are several flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport or Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok to Trang Airport, which take about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal to Trang, which takes about 12 hours.
- To reach Pak Meng Pier from Trang, you can take a shared pickup truck called a “songthaew” or a taxi. The journey typically lasts between 30 and 45 minutes, and the cost is approximately 400-500 baht.
- You can purchase a ferry ticket to Koh Kradan at Pak Meng Pier, with ferries running multiple times per day. The journey from Pak Meng Pier to Koh Kradan typically lasts approximately 30 minutes. The cost of a ferry ticket is generally around 400-500 baht.
Phuket to Koh Kradan
If you're traveling from Phuket, you can do the following:
- Take a flight or bus from Phuket to Trang. There are several flights from Phuket International Airport to Trang Airport, which take about 1 hour. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Phuket Bus Terminal to Trang, which takes about 5-6 hours.
- From Trang, take a taxi or songthaew (shared pickup truck) to Pak Meng Pier. The journey takes about 30-45 minutes and should cost around 400-500 baht.
- At Pak Meng Pier, buy a ferry ticket to Koh Kradan. Ferries run several times a day and the journey takes about 30 minutes. The ferry ticket should cost around 400-500 baht.
It's important to note that the ferry schedules may change depending on the season and weather conditions, so it's a good idea to check the schedules in advance and book tickets early if possible.
Alternatively, you can also hire a private transfer from Trang to Koh Kradan, which may be more convenient and faster, but also more expensive. There are also tour companies that offer package tours from Phuket to Koh Kradan, which can include transportation, accommodation and activities.
Best Beaches on Koh Kradan
Here's a curated list of the beaches on Koh Kradan. To be fair, all the beaches here are beautiful: crystal-clear waters, powdery white sand, and an abundance of tropical marine life.
1. Paradise Beach (Kradan Beach)
Located on the north-west side of the island, this is where most of the resorts are. The water is beautiful. You can wade out around 25 meters until you reach a coral reef.
2. Ao Pai Beach
Situated on the northeast of Koh Kradan, Ao Pai is reachable by Kayak from Paradise Beach, or by wading around at low tide.
3. Ao Nieng Beach
Nestled on the southern shore of the island, I think Ao Nieng Beach to be the crown jewel of Koh Kradan's sandy stretches. A veritable paradise for beach-goers, this idyllic spot can be easily accessed on foot from the nearby Paradise Beach during low tide. Even at high tide, you can make your way here, but beware of navigating the rocky outcrop, which may require wading through waist-deep waters.
4. Sunset Beach
As its name implies, Sunset Beach offers a stunning vantage point for watching the sun dip below the horizon. To reach this picturesque spot, follow the jungle trail that traverses the island, beginning just south of the river adjacent to Kradan Beach Resort.
After a leisurely 5-minute stroll, you'll arrive at Lost Paradise Resort, where you should veer right and continue on for another 5 minutes over the hill. While Sunset Beach's breathtaking scenery is sure to impress, litter build up occurs here on occasion, which is truly sad to see.
5. Ewu Beach
Nestled on the northwest corner of the island, Ewu Beach is a charming, lesser-known spot to catch the sunset. To reach this hidden gem, take the walking trail that begins behind Mali Resort and winds its way over the island, delivering you to Ewu Beach in just over 10 minutes.
It's important to note that some beaches may have strong currents and waves, so visitors should always be cautious and follow safety precautions. Additionally, it's important to respect the environment and leave no trace when visiting the beaches on Koh Kradan.
Where to Stay On Koh Kradan?
There are just 8 hotel/resort options on Koh Kradan. It isn't really for the budget traveller, but there are a couple of mid-priced options that are well worth the money.
That being said, for those traveling on a tight budget, camping on Koh Kradan is an option, starting at approximately 400 THB per night. It is arranged at the national park office, and includes equipment rental.
However, it's important to note that camping on the island can be hazardous given the high prevalence of mosquitoes.
Here are my 3 top resort picks.
1. The Sevenseas Resort
Located on the west side of Koh Kradan, The Sevenseas Resort is a 4* luxury resort with stunning ocean views. The resort offers various room types, including deluxe rooms, pool villas, and beachfront villas. Prices start at around 10,000 Baht per night and go up to 30,000 Baht per night for the most luxurious villas.
2. Mali Kradan
Located on the south of Koh Kradan, Mali Kradan is a 4* boutique resort with beachfront bungalows and rooms. The resort has a restaurant and offers stunning sea views. Prices start at around 4,000 Baht per night for a bungalow and go up to 6,000 baht per night for a family room.
3. Reef Resort
Situated on the south of Koh Kradan, the Reef Resort is a mid-range option with beachfront bungalows and rooms. The resort has a private beach area and a restaurant. Prices start at around 3,500 Baht per night for a bungalow and go up to 6,000 Baht per night for a family room.
Getting Around Koh Kradan
With no cars, motorbikes, or roads on the island, walking is the primary mode of transportation on Koh Kradan. The entire east coast can be covered by foot in just over 30 minutes, while hiking across the island to the west coast beaches takes approximately 20 minutes.
Fortunately, due to the island's compact size, everything is conveniently located within a short walking distance.
Best Snorkeling On Koh Kradan
Snorkeling enthusiasts will love Koh Kradan, as it two excellent locations for exploring the island's stunning underwater world.
The first location is situated about 200 meters from the shore of Paradise Beach (Kradan Beach). This reef is teeming with an array of hard corals, including striking staghorn corals, and a myriad of marine life such as colorful fish, elusive eels, and even the occasional octopus sighting.
To make the most of your snorkeling excursion, begin on the northern end of the reef in front of Seven Seas Resort, and let the gentle ocean current drift you south until you reach Koh Kradan Resort. Be sure to stay on the island side of the floating buoys, as the reef depth drops off sharply beyond this point.
The second snorkeling spot is located approximately 50 meters from the shore of Ao Nieng Beach. This reef boasts a vibrant collection of soft corals, which are home to smaller reef fish like the iconic clownfish. The average depth of the reef is around 5 meters, but it drops off steeply about 100 meters from the coast.
Things to Do On (Nearby) Koh Kradan
If you get bored of the amazing beaches and want to venture out into the ocean, there are several nearby islands that can be easily reached via a short long-tail boat ride lasting less than an hour. Here are three worth visiting.
1. Koh Mook
First on the list is Koh Mook, which, apart from the beautiful beaches, plays host to the must-see Emerald Cave – an ancient pirate hideout.
The Emerald Cave, also known as Tham Morakot is a cave that can only be accessed by swimming through a 80-meter long tunnel that leads to a hidden lagoon at the center of the island. Once you reach the lagoon, you'll find yourself surrounded by towering cliffs, emerald-green waters, and a small, pristine beach.
The cave's name comes from the color of the water, which appears to glow a brilliant green due to the sunlight filtering through the cave's roof and reflecting off the water's surface. The experience of swimming through the cave and emerging into the lagoon is truly unforgettable and is considered one of the highlights of any visit to Koh Mook.
2. Koh Libong
Next up is Koh Libong, visible in the distance across the ocean to the south. Like Koh Mook, Koh Libong has a charming fisherman's village, but it's most famous for its Dugong sightings. A Dugong is a large marine mammal, commonly referred to as “sea cows” due to their herbivorous diet of sea grasses and algae. Koh Libong is also the closest launching point for a day trip to Koh Lao Liang.
3. Koh Ngai
Last but not least, there's Koh Ngai, which can be spotted across the ocean to the north, with its steep cliffs rising into the skyline. This island offers a relaxed atmosphere, fantastic snorkeling opportunities, and plenty of diving options.
Nightlife & Restaurants
While Koh Kradan offers a handful of cozy restaurants and bars, it's not the place for those looking for a bustling nightlife. However, if you are a fan of Thai cuisine, you'll be happy to know that there are some great dining options available.
Restaurants on the island operate within specific hours and are typically open during three time slots. These are breakfast from 8-10am, lunch from 12-3pm, and dinner from 6-9pm.Check out the Kraden Beach Resort and Mali Resort for good food.
The majority of resorts on Koh Kradan have their own restaurants where visitors are welcome to dine, regardless of whether they are guests of the resort or not.
Additionally, a small supermarket located near the main beach and the Paradise Beach Resort offers a selection of refreshments and snacks.
It's worth noting that there are currently no ATMs on Koh Kradan, so visitors should plan accordingly and bring enough cash for their stay on the island.
Koh Kradan's recognition as the world's best beach is well-deserved, given its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life. While increased tourism may have an impact on the island's ecosystem, visitors can still enjoy the island's beauty and tranquility by taking steps to minimize their environmental impact.
Whether you're arriving from Bangkok, Phuket, or nearby islands, getting to Koh Kradan is relatively easy. Koh Kradan is definitely worth a visit for anyone looking for a tropical paradise, just don't forget to bring all the cash you need, and some extra snacks – as there is no 7-Eleven!
Tips to Start Planning Your Trip:
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. Me and many of my readers use SafetyWing.
Book Bus, Train & Ferry Tickets
Organize your travels in advance by booking tickets with 12Go.asia
Need Some Help Preparing?
Use this holiday checklist to make sure you have got everything covered