Thailand's Top 10 romantic resorts on Andaman beaches & islands

insider's guide to the best true beachfront, romantic resorts on Thailand's Andaman coast

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Choosing the most romantic resorts along Thailand's Andaman coast is a huge challenge – there are so many beautiful resorts well-qualified for the title 'romantic'. As the photos in this website demonstrate, the writer has personally visited virtually every beachfront resort in every destination along this amazing part of Thailand, but he has stayed in only a relative few of them. However, he is a photographer and experienced hotel critic, and was the founder and publisher of this region's premier print media for 20 years, PHUKET Magazine, which he launched in 1989 and helped put Phuket on the global map. With this experience, and an unstoppable passion for life that has made many call him a 'romantic', he identifies resorts that he believes have what it takes to prove romantic in the eyes of others.

But the ultimate proof of romance, however, lies with the passion of any couple who decides to stay in on of these chosen resorts – if they arrive with something smouldering inside, the resort might provide the spark that sets things aflame.

Sivalai Resort – remote on a stunning tropical beach on Koh Mook, Trang

Unusual form, soft sand, crystal water and superb beauty – that's the two-sided arrowhead beach that gives Koh Mook Sivalai Beach Resort a privileged, true beachfront location in Trang's trilogy of famous offshore islands. The beach is so unusual and picture-perfect that it conjures images of a beach in The Maldives. For any couple dreaming of the perfect beach in Thailand, on an island far from anywhere, Koh Mook Sivalai Resort is a top contender.

The 4-star Sivalai Resort offers comfortable island-style beach chalets spread out among the coconut palms, and has a pool and shady restaurant near the sandy triangle beach that highlights everything here. The only habitation on these three famous islands – Koh Mook, Koh Ngai and Koh Kradan – is the fishing village just down the beach from here. Guests can wander down to the village and its fishing jetty, and if desired, rent a longtail boat for island touring, snorkelling or fishing.

Otherwise, there is not a lot to do on a tropical island like this, save relax and chill out, read books and, for the right couples, enjoy each other in the nearest thing to beach paradise that Thailand can offer. And at sunset, there are lots of sparks among the coconut palms here.

Pimalai Resort & Spa – ultimate location in the wilds of Koh Lanta, Krabi

Sitting on a huge tract of prime land that runs from the beach high up a mountain, Pimalai Resort offers a bit of everything, from on-the-sand accommodations and dining to high mountain views across picturesque Kan Tiang Bay. This beach-in-a-bay is so picturesque it was named in our Top 10 beautiful beaches of the Andaman. Being the first high-end resort to open on Koh Lanta, Pimalai got the choice of locations, and no other on the island can rival it. As the beach map of Kan Tiang shows, this resort's 450 metre beachfront accounts for almost half of the entire beach.

Most accommodations are in small, 2-storey buildings scattered in among the existing trees, while they also offer both beachfront and mountain villas. The beachside restaurant and bar is especially attractive, while the entire beachfront area is dominated and shaded by big, beautiful trees, making this one of the most natural of environments on an island where too many hotels have removed their big beach trees.

As a place for escape and relaxation, Pimalai is hard to beat. The resort also has its own boat and, during the high season, a floating jetty to facilitate island tours and diving trips for its guests. Guests can also arrange boat transport directly into the resort from Phuket or Krabi airports.

Romantic? If you can't find the fire here, you've come with the wrong person.

Paradise Koh Yao – alone in the amazing geography of Phang Nga Bay

The Paradise Koh Yao - Boutique Beach Resort & Spa has the enviable distinction of being the resort closest to the amazing, towering rock islands of Phang Nga Bay. With a sheer wall of rock towering over one end of its beach, it's right there among them. As one of the early arrivals on Koh Yao Noi, this was able to choose one of the top locations, or perhaps the location within this famous bay. From the resort, guests can paddle kayaks around the corner into dramatic scenery.

Access to the resort is almost entirely by water, with the resort running its own boats and shuttle services from Phuket airport. Their boats are also available for touring the magnificent bay, something that comes highly recommended. Pack a picnic lunch and head off into this geographic wonderland for the day, and you will return with lifelong memories and photos to surprise friends.

The Paradise offers all of the luxuries expected of a high-end, 4-star establishment, including atmospheric spa and a gourmet restaurant among the coconut palms that attracts the occasional yacht to stop for lunch. Couples contemplating an isolated, romantic hideaway like this should be certainly that they want absolute tranquillity. At the Paradise Koh Yao the only outside entertainment is that provided by nature, and couples need to find all the entertainment they need in each other.

Marina Phuket – opulence in wild, romantic jungle at Karon Beach, Phuket

Despite its location between two of Phuket's busiest beaches, Marina Phuket is both one of the island's most tranquil and atmospheric beach resorts, and its most admirable. Its expansive patch of green lies in a prime location on the side of the headland overlooking Karon Beach, with direct access to the sand. Guests here thus enjoy tranquillity well away from the road, and can choose accommodations snuggled into a lush forest or seaside rooms with great views of ocean, sunset, sand and mountain. Walking up from the beach into this jungle of verdant foliage gives guests the sense of entering an entirely new, and very private world – which indeed is what this is.

The green oasis in which the swimming pool lies transports guests to the heart of rainforest. The Sala Restaurant and bar share this quiet, green world, while Marina's most famous restaurant, On the Rock, is down by the water, and indeed, hangs out over the rocky shore. Tables here require booking in the high season, for this has built up a solid reputation by serving the best seafood and Thai dishes to both visitors and Thais for about 30 years. If you want your dishes authentically Thai, full chilli power and all, just tell the chef.

But Marina is 'admirable' too, for Thai owner Khun Somchai has resisted the temptations that have seduced most land owners on this island, to knock down his scattered bungalows and throw up a hotel block with four times the number of rooms. Instead, Marina Phuket protects its trees, keeps its long-term customers and helps Phuket preserve a little of its fading natural beauty.

How romantic? There's simply no place on Phuket's most famous strip of beaches, from Patong to Kata, more suited to couples seeking private time for themselves in a natural environment.

Centara Grand Krabi – clinging to a spectacular rock wall at Ao Nang, Krabi

For spectacular locations, resorts don't have it much better than Centara Grand Beach Resort Krabi . Snuggled up against the towering rocky cliffs of its private bay, this resort is unique in several ways, and its views are perhaps unmatched in Thailand. Those rock walls are solid – there's a kilometre of hard stuff right behind the resort – and the only entry is by boat. Inconvenient? The trip takes guests through such amazing scenery that the arrival becomes a real highlight, and sets the tone of every stay here – you know you are entirely cut off from the world, sequestered in a geographic wonderland with luxuries and pampering all around.

Here you get cool, moody views with breakfast, amazing vistas from the pool all day, and finally, warm, glowing sunsets that should light even the coolest embers of fading emotion. There is simply no resort environment in Thailand to match this in grandeur – and where else in the world?

The resort gives easy access to famous Railay Beach, the adjacent Thum Phra Nang Beach and the many little stunningly beautiful, uninhabited islands offshore. Ao Nang, the local tourist village and transport hub, is barely 500 metres away, though it's out of sight of the resort, and out of mind. You can trek over the mountain, following many of the hotel staff, to get to Ao Nang, if you so wish.

Romantic? If Centara's arrival doesn't put you and yours in the mood, the scenery and glow of sunset across the surrounding rock walls surely will. Of course, if you choose to come during the monsoon season (which can be a delight in other ways) expect the boat arrival to add a dash of adventure to heighten the romance.

Khaolak Resort – unpretentious, out of sight in its private forest at Khao Lak

With a name like this, we know Khaolak Resort was one of the first accommodations to open on this now-famous stretch of beaches north of Phuket. And being one of the first, this was able to secure one of the top locations on what might be considered the most beautiful beach on Khao Lak's 20 kilometre-long coast. The resort's bungalows are set back into the thick forest that runs down the side of the mountain to the sand. From the beach, the resort is almost invisible. The restaurant lies over a waterway, and the swimming pool runs long and thin, parallel to the beach. While the resort is a little old, it appears quite well maintained. A little weathering helps it blend into the very natural environment here.

But it's not so much the resort as the location, and the beach in front, that make this place so atmospheric, and yes, romantic for the right couple. Everything along this sector of beach is hidden in the deep shade of big trees. The mountain behind throws up picturesque green backdrop. The beach in front of Khaolak Resort is sandy and attractive, with scatterings of large granite boulders to one side. The water is deep enough for swimming at all tides, making this Khao Lak's best swimming beach.

What's makes this resort and beach more romantic than the others nearby? The mood, the forest, the mountain behind, the swimming, the beach rocks at sunset, the old-styles within the resort – all stories the photos of Khao Lak Beach North will do a better job of telling.

The Paresa – enjoy grand ocean views, superb cliff-top sunsets at Kamala, Phuket

At Paresa Resort & Spa you trade the beach for grand ocean views – and what spectacular views you get for your money. This chic, modern resort sits alone, high on a hillside – or should we call it cliff-top? – surrounded by natural forest. Old trees have been preserved within the resort itself, and now serve cool midday shade to guests. From every room and corner of the resort grand views of the tranquil Andaman Sea are just a glance away.

The resort runs regular shuttles to Kamala beach, which is barely 5minutes away. But this is not a resort for those for whom beach takes precedence – it's for those seeking privacy, intimate time together or a complete chill-out break to shed stress.

Despite the steep slope on which Paresa is built, it offers pool villas as well as hotel-style rooms in small blocks. For a honeymoon or romantic tryst, the pool villas don't come much better. Especially at sunset.

Nakamanda Resort – the plush life in old Asia, here at Klong Muang, Krabi

This little-known resort hidden in a corner of Krabi that few people see is something of a surprise – its high levels of style and luxury outshine many bigger and better known neighbours. The plush, tropical design exudes a warmth that embraces guests as soon as you enter the reception of this, Nakamanda Resort & Spa , and grows as you wind down walkways through veredant foliage and pass motifs rich in Asian history. The architecture and tropical landscaping blend to create a soothing, Asian/Bali-style whole. At the beachfront the design reaches its zenith with the wall of an ancient Asian citadel shadowing the swimming pool and sundeck.

The beach in front of the resort is narrow, shallow and not particularly good, though the whole scene, with small island just out in front, is especially scenic at sunset. But guests can walk just 50 metres to the left onto the wide sands of Klong Muang Beach.

One advantage of this location is the easy access it gives to the many small islands in Phang Nga Bay. Take a longtail or speedboat for the day, with a picnic lunch, and many amazing experiences in a wonderland of islands, beaches and strange rocky formations are yours.

Why does this resort rank above others on the romance scale? Being not too big, it is intimate. The architecture, design and motifs help transport guests to another era. And Nakamanada exudes an internal warmth that could easily ignite fires in a couple looking for that something extra.

Sala Phuket – creative design, open spaces on tranquil Mai Khao Beach, Phuket

For trendy, creative style, resorts don't come much more daring than Sala Phuket . This ultra low-rise beachfront resort has created a unique atmosphere where privacy is paramount. The rooms are in self-contained, walled compounds permeated by the stylish design that is the feature of this establishment. The public areas highlight the designer's love of green and natural materials, both in the grass underfoot and the stylized forest of twig-like trees through which we walk.

The privacy of the compounded rooms will bring passion to the fore, while there is, naturally, a full service spa on call – in cool design, of course. However it's Sala Phuket's stunning beachfront restaurant and pool area that overshadows all else with its wide open spaces, old trees, low pool construction and sparse, modern furniture.

This resort, along with its varied high-class neighbours, is lucky to be separated from the ocean by a National Park, all 40 metres of it. That untouchable buffer adds to the spaciousness of the resort, adds natural trees and green to the scene – and besides, who minds walking the extra 40 metres to get to the beach?

For privacy and intimacy in a hi-style, spacious beach environment, Sala Phuket is hard to match, on Phuket or any other Thai island.

The Sarojin, winning awards in the wilds of remote Pakweep Beach, Khao Lak

The Sarojin loves to boast of the many awards it has won for cool, tropical design. Not surprising, guests will think when they enter the special green world that the designer has created here, using the existing trees and landscape to maximum effect. Restaurant tables share their space with the cascading aerial roots of the local banyan trees. Some of Sarojin's neighbours have simply bulldozed the land and native foliage, then tried to recreate a tropical-looking, yet foreign environment – but those efforts didn't win awards.

The Sarojin is set into a spacious park-like area separated from the beach by a small waterway and wetland, though it has a direct walkway to the sand. And here on the beach no landscaping is needed to win accolades, for this section of Pakweep Beach (also called Ao Thong Beach) is simply one of the most strikingly pretty on Khao Lak's 20 kilometre-long coastline.

The modern, minimalist design blended into the local environment has created a supremely relaxing resort. Enhanced by such a beautiful beach, Sarojin is an idyllic spot for couples interested in enjoying each other in a tranquil sphere where the outside world hardly seems to tread.

final note: no paybacks here, just honest opinions

I suggest this in defence of the choice of 'most romantic beachfront resorts' above, because in most cases (seven out of these ten) the writer has not slept in the hotel. As the images show, I have done a hotel 'inspection' of every one, shooting photos and making experienced observations along the way. In all but one case I have been to the resort to shoot photos on multiple occasions, and am quite familiar with all of the resorts. In no case is a hotel included here as a form of payback, and there are many more excellent hotels in this region where I have stayed that are not included here. This is a list of honest opinions, and I believe many others will concur that these resorts belong here.

by John Everingham

Free advice on beachfront hotels and beaches in Thailand is available from True Beachfront’s expert on the subject, John E, who’s visited virtually all beaches in the country with beachfront hotels. See his photos on more than 1,100 Thai beach hotels in this website. E-mail

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