Ko Samet, blessed as it is with clear blue waters and crystalline sand, is popular with foreigners and Thai weekenders. Because it is only 4 miles (6 km) long and 2 miles (3 km) wide, most of the island is access ible on foot. The interior’s dense jungle, home to the usual geckos and hornbills, is riddled with trails. Despite attaining national park status in 1981, in common with all Thai resorts and islands, Ko Samet has suffered from development and has experienced a huge increase in high-quality accommodation. The small fishing town of Na Dan, which links Ko Samet to Ban Phe on the mainland, was an ancient checkpoint for Chinese junks. Legend has it that its calm, sheltered waters were once the hunting ground of pirates. Several beaches on Ko Samet offer one-way boat trips back to Ban Phe
The kite-shaped island’s finest beaches are on the east coast. With its clear shallow waters, Hat Sai Kaeo (“glass sand beach”) is the longest and liveliest beach. Water sports on the beach include windsurfing. Boat trips around Ko Samet and snorkeling day trips to nearby islands leave from here. Heading southward along the east coast are the equally popular Ao Phai and Ao Nuan. Near the first is a windbattered statue of the prince and the mermaid in Phra Aphaimani, a poem by Sunthorn Phu, Thailand’s most famous poet.
Farther south, the bays are less crowded, with the exception of the wide beach at Ao Wong Duan (“moon bay”), which can get quite busy. At the narrow isthmus of Ao Kui, solitude and beauty are guaranteed. It is merely a short stroll between sunrise and sunset vistas of Ao Kui Na Nok and Ao Kui Na Nai. The island’s best coral is found just off the southern tip.
The only area to have undergone development on the largely inaccessible west coast is Ao Phrao (“coconut bay”). Due to its isolation, the beach here doesn’t receive as many overnight visitors as those on the east coast.
In July 2013 the island was hit by a devastating oil spill caused by a broken pipeline. A clean-up operation has now restored the beaches to their former glory