Bophut & Maenam
Bophut is the beach/bay just to the east of Maenam. Its lifestyle is relaxed and more traditional than the larger communities, referring to itself as Fisherman’s Village. Bhophut’s laid back vibe is popular with the more chic sort of travelers, and has a number of pricey but very good French-owned cafes and restaurants. Also there are also some smart English and Irish Pubs, an exceptional (and expensive) Italian restaurant run by a chap named Guido, some great Thai seafood grill restaurants, and Indian Restaurant. Bhophut has kept the girly bars out, and its very family friendly. Try to do the annual ‘Fisherman’s Festival’. The Lodge & The Apartments in Bhophut are a very class act, with brilliant accommodations designed and built by an Irish developer who is something of a local legend.
Just two kilometers east of Bhophut, and part of Bhophut ‘province’ is also known by the name Big Buddha Beach, after the 19-metre gold tinted statue of the ancient spiritual master which overlooks the entire bay (Big Buddha). Bang Rak is quite close to the airport, and is one of the calmest beaches, though the huge sweep of it’s jade colored waters are often a bit murky. Bang Rak is the jump off point to sister island Ko Phan Ghan, and the ferry goes every day. Bang rak is a crazy mix of beachfront mansions and, nowadays, noisy girl bars.
In the center of the North coast of the island, Maenam offers spectacular views of Ko Phangan to the North, and the Ang Thong National Marine Park to the East. The waters are calm and clean, being protected from the North Easterly currents by Ko Phangan. Because the sans are golden rather than white Meanam is usually much less crowded than Lamai or Chaweng, and Maenam’s restaurants and bars still retain much of the local Thai flavor as well as being more reasonably priced, or even inexpensive. Overall Maenam is quieter, more relaxed, with local Thai community still pretty much intact. Meanam is also home to the Santiburi Resort, still considered by many to be the premier hotel on the island. The major golf course on the island is also in Maenam.