Koh Mak . . . Thailand’s Family Island
The island of Koh Mak, or Koh Maak, depending on your pronunciation lies a few kilometres south of the larger, better known island of Koh Chang. But whilst Koh Chang is developing into a pretty busy island with all the trappings of unrestrained development – beer bars, nightclubs, roadside shophouses blocking the sea views and sprawling beach areas, Koh Mak remains a world apart. Whilst it is still possible to find good, quiet beaches on Koh Chang, Koh Mak definitely has the edge if you are looking for a tropical, escape from it, laze away the days type of beach holiday.
The two main beaches lie on the northwest and southwest facing shores of the island. However, smaller, almost entirely undeveloped beaches easily be found by visitors. A single lane paved road circles the centre and west of the island and unpaved dirt tracks lead off this taking those who have rented scooters or mountain bikes down overgrown plantation trails that end up on deserted beaches or in fisherman’s hamlets.
In addition to the thirty resorts on Koh Mak and ever increasing number of small restaurants, coffeeshops and internet cafes you’ll also find a temple, a clinic and a school plus local minimarts and a weekly outdoor markets.
How Busy is Koh Mak? The beach below is the second busiest on the island. I took this photo on beautiful day in the 2010-11 High Season. ( Click it for the larger image.)
So far the members of the five local families who still own the vast majority of the land on Koh Mak have managed to keep developers at bay and have encouraged smaller bungalow resorts and upmarket boutique resorts. You’ll also find Koh Mak to be a quiet place – there are no beer bars or loud karaoke places and very little traffic as there are only passenger boats to the island.
The five families are all descendants of Lung Prompakdee, a Chinese Affairs Officer during the reign of King Rama V in Koh Kong, now part of Cambodia. He bought the island, for the sum of 24,000 Baht, from Chao Sua Seng who had previously established the first coconut plantations on the island. Another think that makes Koh Mak’s history unique is that it has been well documented by generations of family members. There is also a small museum on the island with old photographs dating back to the early 20th century. Read: The History of Koh Mak Island
Until relatively recently there were only a handful of resorts on the island and these mainly catered to Thai visitors booking packages that included transport from the mainland and all meals. So development outside these resorts was limited.
Getting between the island and the mainland is now relatively simple with boat services running even in the rainy season. Although boat services between Koh Mak, Koh Chang and Koh Kood do stop between June and September.
Koh Mak is not an activity island. Sure there are some trips and tours you can do but on the whole it is a place to go to do very little except laze and enjoy the local hospitality, clear sea and kilometres of empty beaches.
Now you have a taste of the island and what makes it a special destination, feel free to explore the rest of this site. We have tried to include as many of Koh Mak’s resorts, restaurants and activities as possible in order to give you a full picture of Thailand’s Family Island.