Trio of Paradise Beaches Haad Rin – Past and Present Times
Posted on Sep 6, 2014
The Magic of Haad Rin
The journey has remained the same for the last twenty years. Take the Haad Rin Queen ferry from Big Buddha on Koh Samui, and soon you are traversing that turquoise sea back to Koh Phangan. Which returning traveller hasn’t felt that sense of excitement deep in their belly, aware of the wonders that await them? As the mystical island rises out of the deep blue sea, time expands and the vortex draws us in, until we arrive at Haad Rin pier – ready for another adventure of a lifetime.
Once upon a time, the world outside Haad Rin used to disappear into another existence. It would be weeks or months before us wide-eyed travellers, weary of the Asian trail, would leave these shores again. Haad Rin would draw us in and keep us spellbound, until another magical season had passed on by. Nowadays visitors may stay only a few days, but the magic still remains! Once the Full Moon Party has passed, Haad Rin, quite paradoxically, remains the best kept secret on the Thai islands.
Today Haad Rin is quietly undergoing a facelift. The image of drunken youth trashing their party wonderland is fast becoming outdated, as beautiful, aesthetic resorts spring up all around Haad Rin’s three beaches. At the pier, Haad Rin Resort’s pool has an unsung olympic opulence to it. Up the hill, Sun Cliff boasts stunning views over Sunset Beach. While higher up still, Sea Breeze has spectacular views over another of Haad Rin’s sublime and unheralded jewels: Leela Beach.
The Sublime Leela Beach
Twenty years ago Leela Beach was a deserted palm lined cove, with a shack restaurant and one lone beach hut. I remember a straw blond German staking out his territory in that lone beach hut for a few seasons in the early 1990’s. You’d see him at every party in his silver ‘Spaceman Spiff’ trousers. He was either wearing those trousers or nothing at all, frolicking in the warm coral seas of Leela Beach. As Koh Phangan veteran Mario will tell you, our strange ways were tolerated back then.
Nowadays the uncompromising beauty of Leela Beach can be enjoyed as much as it ever was, from the sensitively integrated resorts of Coco Hut and Sarikantang. The old Leela Beach Bungalows further down the seashore still remain, and this beach remains a favourite hang out for both those looking for a little more luxury – and those Koh Phangan long-termers in the know! What better waterfront jewel on Koh Phangan to spend the afternoon on than the wondrous Leela Beach?
Bohemian Haad Rin Sunset
Haad Rin Sunset is still my all time favourite stretch of beach on the planet, probably. Not only does it have million dollar views to Koh Samui in the distance, it also has the most sublime sunsets I’ve ever seen. I’ve stayed at family run Bird Bungalows for the last twenty years. The three-tiered coloured sea is shallow here, but in recent years some classy poolside resorts have sprung up on Haad Rin Sunset too – upping the Bohemian sense on Sunset Beach from shabby to chic luxury.
Of course long-standing Coral Bungalows with its pool parties, and high profile Muay Thai contests, is a must visit for the backpacker crowd. As is Seaside for a traditional happy hour beer. But if you are seeking charm and style, the resorts of Best Western Phanganburi and The Coast provide the perfect holiday atmosphere. Expect good service, spa treatments, great food and superb cocktails. Both have the lavish allure of a relaxing stay in Haad Rin. And, my oh my, those sunsets!
And then… explore! Who doesn’t want to get off the beaten track and discover untouched beaches on their travels? And that is the beautiful paradox of Haad Rin. Keep walking ten or fifteen minutes after Bird Bungalows on Sunset Beach, and you will soon discover the best kept secret of the lot: virgin territory, granite rocks and empty beaches like something out of a Robinson Crusoe movie. Surrounded by lush vegetation, a forgotten world exists, so very close to the Full Moon Party.
Full Moon Party Bay
And then there is the most famous beach in Asia. Think of Haad Rin, and most think only of the wild chaos of the Full Moon Party. But in my opinion this gorgeous bay still comes top of the most beautiful beaches in South East Asia. That fine white sand, that jungle backdrop, that wide, sweeping, crescent moon bay! It’s just such an exquisite shore, where we can play in the turquoise surf and lie on a sun-drenched beach under the palms. It fulfills all our ideals of paradise.
Cactus and Drop In may come alive by night, but during the day Sunrise, Phangan Bayshore and Fairyland offer some of the best chilled beach living anywhere. That’s where you’ll find us lounge lizards soaking up the sun, sea & surf! For those more active there’s volleyball at Tommys, Muay Thai at Jungle Gym, not to mention some of the best yoga on the island at Lighthouse. Secret coves, sunset beaches and hedonistic luxury… Haad Rin has got it all! What’s not to love?
Why don’t you stay a while longer and discover the delights of Haad Rin for yourself?
Welcome to Paradise!
Freelance writer and Koh Phangan party girl. Loves to blog about the Full Moon Party island scene, past and present. 20 year love affair with the Thai islands, still ongoing.
Visit her Blog Mia Escobud Koh Phangan Tales!