Ko Wai is a small crescent-shaped island about 45 minutes south of Ko Chang by slow boat or 20 minutes by speedboat. This tranquil island paradise is a throwback to another time.
There are no villages, roads, stores, or transportation facilities. There are no ATMs, pharmacies, ateliers, or police stations. There is also no electricity, only power from generators.
There are small picturesque beaches on Ko Wai with soft white sand, clear shallow water and snorkeling right off the beach. A coral reef stretches along the northern coast, about 40 meters from the shore. It is the latter, which also attracts many tourist boats and day-trippers to the island.
The beaches are concentrated on the northern coast. The vast majority of the shoreline elsewhere is cliffs and cliffs. There are several small sandy coves, and the island can be traversed by a steep trail adjacent to Bungalow #20 in Ko Wai Paradise, through the plantations, over the hill, and down to Sunset Lookout, where you can swim.
If you go at sunset, go back as soon as the sun goes down, because it's not easy to walk the trail at night without identifying signs.
Thus, the perfect island is a great place to relax and do nothing at all away from the real world.
There are no bars or places to hang out at night. Only a few resorts have very slow internet. And the same ones, Pakarang Resort and Koh Wai Beach Resort, are also the only ones that have electricity all day.
Three small places - Ko Wai Paradise, Good Feeling and Grand Mar Hut - have electricity for a few hours in the evening. These budget huts also have only shared bathrooms.
So before you decide to stay on the island, it is better to take a day trip from Ko Chang to see if you like it or not. Especially if you are not used to a very simple life.
Outside of peak season, you can easily call the resorts and make reservations. Only Pakarang Resort and Koh Wai Beach Resort can be booked online. Other resorts can only be contacted by phone.
There are five vacation spots on the island. They are neatly divided into two categories - those with 24-hour electricity and those without. There are three main types of beach huts on the island, all located on the north shore of the island and connected by a path that runs along the shore.
The north coast resorts have been in operation for 20 years. Only one other resort has opened since then, which is astounding considering the pace of development of any other island in Thailand. During the low season, from May to October, Pakarang Resort usually stays open, but the other resorts are closed.
On the map of Koh Wai, farthest to the west, is Koh Wai Paradise. It is a vast place with huts spread out along one main beach plus two smaller bays. The main beach is often used by day travelers and can be busy in the middle of the day.
But the two small beaches are for guests only. There is a large restaurant with long tables. There is no bathroom, but there are some shared toilet blocks. The bungalows are very basic and cost about 400 baht/night.
Ko Wai Island on the map
Good Feeling. These are probably the best of the cheap huts. Some are their own, and they are built next to the beach behind the resort's restaurant. Other bungalows lie to the east on the hillside behind the beach.
A 15-minute walk east will take you to Parakarang Resort, the largest on the island is within walking distance to the east. It is the largest pier on the island and a large rotunda built over the water. This is now unused.
It was built by the resort and the National Park as part of a project to breed and reintroduce turtles to the area and to educate visitors. However, the national park later announced that their own building was built illegally. Pakarang boasts colorful bungalows and rooms suitable for couples and families. It is not a well-designed resort and not aesthetically pleasing, but it is functional.
If you are here just for snorkeling and a seafood dinner, you will be satisfied with your stay. The water here is very shallow, making it ideal for children and a variety of colorful reef fish swim around them.
To find a quieter place to swim and snorkel, follow the path around the east coast of Koh Wai and you'll arrive at Grand Mar Hut (or Grand Ma Hut), depending on which misspelling your guidebook uses. Here you'll find small fan huts clustered in the trees, with a shoreline restaurant and nets full of fish in the shallow waters.
Thai guidebooks rate the seafood here as the best on the island. There are three small beaches next to the restaurant that are usually only used by adventurous guests who avoid the crowds at the Pakarang resort and take the occasional speedboat excursion. You'll see just as many fish here, and it's a great place to avoid the crowds.
Another more prestigious resort is Koh Wai Beach Resort. It is located on a small beach on the southeast coast of the island. It is the newest resort on the island, which opened in 2011 and is popular with weekend Thai groups. The only way in and out is by boat. So it's not the place to stay if you want to explore the island on foot at all. Overall, it's better than Pakarang. But without being able to walk to other beaches or resorts.
A day trip to Ko Wai
If you are staying in Ko Chang, Bangbao Boat offers a half-day trip to Ko Wai for 500 baht per person. This includes transportation between your hotel and the pier at Bangbao; snorkeling gear and a 50-baht voucher for food and drinks at the Pakarang Resort hotel restaurant.
The boat leaves Bangbao around 09:30 and will drop people off at about 10:15 - 10:30 for Ko Wai. The boat then continues on to Koh Mak. It will return and pick up on the way back to Bangbao around 1:00 pm.
So you will have two and a half to three hours on the island. That doesn't sound long, but enough time to walk around, explore the main beaches and go snorkeling. Because the beaches on Ko Wai Island face north, you get stunning views of the interior mountains and the southern coast of Ko Chang Island.
You can get another hour or so on the island by taking the same trip on the Bangbao Boat speedboat, but for most people a 500 baht, half-day tour is all they need.
How to get to Ko Wai
From the mainland: to High season boat 14:30 Seatales and 16:00 boat Panan from Krom Luang pier, Laem Ngop, both stopping in Ko Wai on the way to Ko Mak.
From Ko Chang: The wooden boat Bangbao Boat departs daily at 09:00 during high season and always stops on Ko Wai, en route between Ko Chang and Ko Mak. In addition, their boat service at 09:00 and 12:30 also makes a stop on Ko Wai. Buy your tickets from any travel agent on Ko Chang.