Best known for powdery shores, Koh Samui was once a sleepy island that Malay and south-Chinese fishers and traders called home. The island takes its name from saboey, or safe haven, a vibe Koh Samui has retained to this day. But rather than the sailors’ beach shacks, villas and posh resorts provide a heavenly background for the island’s palm-fringed coast. 

Think quiet holiday homes to unplug yourself, snuggled into the bounty of white-sand beaches framed by jungle. Beyond the idyll of this tropical paradise, local eats and souvenir shopping await travellers at Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village, where timbered stilt houses radiate the charms of yesterday. For a livelier atmosphere, head for Chaweng’s bars and follow the pumping beats. Or if you prefer a family getaway, then visit the tranquil, palm-lined Lipa Noi. 

With over 40 Koh Samui beaches to choose from, it can be hard to decide where to stay. Rest assured, whichever beach you pick, we have an elite haven that’s perfect for you. Here’s our pick of the best beaches on the island for your Koh Samui stay. 

Mae Nam Beach  

For Nature Lovers 

Stretching for kilometres in Koh Samui’s north, Mae Nam is a Caribbean-like shore with green-tinted water and coconut trees leaning over soft, golden sand. While neighbouring Koh Phangan with its full moon parties is within sight of this dream beach, Koh Samui’s own fire-spinners on Chaweng seem like a world away.  

The stunning coastline is ideal for long beach walks, though sun worshippers like the odd hammock strung between palms, and swimmers and snorkelers appreciate the safe, shallow spots. Aside from kayaking along the shore, a popular water sport to do here is stand-up paddleboarding. That’s because the conditions are perfect particularly in the dry season between December and February, when waves roll gently up the sand. 

A couple of resorts along the six kilometres or so offer creature comforts and massages, but beach clubs have not been planted in this part of the island. The nearby village of Mae Nam has a few more bars and restaurants, and hikers can lap up the natural beauty of the area on the nature trail overlooking the coast. 

Mae Nam – Villa Chi Samui

Bophut Beach 

For Families 

Some people come here only at twilight. Granted, with its unbroken views of Phangan Island, Bophut is a great place for watching the sun sink orange. But it’s also the amenities that make this coarse-sand beach more appealing for families than the peaceful environs of Mae Nam.  

Clubs, cafes, spas, dive and jewellery shops, plus beach restaurants offering alfresco dining are all close by, cheek by jowl with rustic houses telling the stories of Chinese immigrants. While the fishers have moved on, a traffic-free stroll through the night market at Fisherman’s Village will boost your mood. Whether you’re after chic handbags or cool sunglasses, or simply want to listen to live music at a cocktail bar, the easy-going vibe is palpable.  

Bear in mind this place is slightly heavier on your pocket, and the beach itself is not the best for swimming. Rocks can be hard on your feet and the waters may be murky. Even so, Bophut’s serenity is well worth experiencing, as are the restaurant menus that tour the globe. 

Bophut – Villa Solana

Lipa Noi Beach  

For Tranquillity Seekers 

To get away from it all, one of the best beaches in Koh Samui is Lipa Noi. Spend time here during weekdays, and you’ll have ravishing beauty almost to yourself. Jungle backdrops, a brilliant white beach with powder-puff sand, and swaying coconut trees complete the picture-postcard scene. Given Lipa Noi’s visual appeal, it’s hardly surprising that exclusive beachfront villas dot the shoreline, and they offer a range of services. 

From kayaking the coastline to joining Thai cooking classes and yoga sessions, there’s plenty to do to unleash your holiday spirit. As a chill-seeker, you can let the hours slip past gently while bathing in the warm blue sea, or recharge during a beach massage or in a hammock beneath a canopy of coconut palms. Enjoy the solitude until the sun dips behind off-shore islets, accompanied by relaxing strains of deep house warbling at high-end beach clubs. 

Complete with a ferry pier, the main jumping-off point for the nearby islands, this two-kilometre-long haven gives you the space to reconnect with nature. 

Lipa Noi – Tawantok Beach Villas – Villa 2

Na Mueang  

For Active Travellers 

While Na Mueang on Koh Samui’s south coast doesn’t have a namesake beach, the area boasts tidal flats and dazzling white sands. The shoreline is not exactly on the tried-and-tested track, though there’s plenty to do in the region.  

You can enjoy a peaceful afternoon on the beach, hopping from rustic beach bars to fishing villages. For a change of scene, hike to popular waterfalls to immerse yourself in nature. Six-and-a-half kilometres from Na Mueang’s shore is the 18m-fall of the same name, which gushes into a milky-green pool that’s fine for a swim. 

Sure-footed travellers can venture to Na Mueang 2, a forest-hidden cascade that stands 80 metres tall. Even less crowded is Ta Nim Magic Garden, which rewards die-hard hikers with the sight of Buddha and animal statues framed by bubbling mini-waterfalls. 

Back at Na Mueang’s unspoilt coastline, rocky coves and mangrove forests are waiting to be explored on a kayak. There are also a few upmarket villas that cater for the grown-up clientele with yoga, fitness, and spas, while longtail boats bobbing gently on turquoise water epitomise the area’s relaxed atmosphere. 

Na Muang – Villa Thansamaay

Taling Ngam  

For Privacy Seekers 

Overlooking Ang Thong National Marine Park, this area in the southwest of Koh Samui lives up to the island’s reputation as a tropical paradise. Think emerald water and fine white sand that’s backdropped by luscious coconut groves. 

Split into beaches dotted with branches and coconut husks, Taling Ngam is the place for peace and privacy, ideal for nature walks and bicycle rides. What this verdant area lacks in commercialism, it makes up for with an authentic slice of Thainess. Nipa palm-roofed beach bars cater for local appetites as well as the odd farang’s hunger pangs, and family-run grocery stores and Thai villages surround the stretches of sand, all the way down from Lipa Noi. 

Such a paradisiacal setting has captured the attention of select luxury villas which flank some of these wild beaches. Apart from diving and fishing trips with barbecues of your catch, they offer boat tours beyond the colourful reefs of Taling Ngam.  

Taling Ngam – Element of 8

Laem Noi  

For Seafood Lovers 

One of the best Koh Samui beaches for affluent travellers, Laem Noi hides near the north-western tip of the island. Save for two luxury resorts and a few beachfront villas, there’s nothing in this Crusoesque corner. And perhaps that’s why people don’t know the one secret it hides. Just steps from Laem Noi is Bang Po Beach, which is awash with rustic beachside bars and restaurants serving the freshest seafood on the island, including grouper, shrimp and scallops. 

Beyond the cove and its coastline, rocky in the east and sandy in the west, Laem Noi also attracts pleasure boats, which stop so people can sample mantis shrimp, steamed sea bass, and fresh grilled scallops.  

Salty, sweet, and perfectly-seared food from the sea, plus a good dose of privacy and beach life – Laem Noi ticks all the right boxes. 

Laem Noi – Villa Riva

Visit and discover Koh Samui in these far-flung areas and beyond, and stay in one of our villas for a restful beachside retreat.