The Ang Thong Marine Park in Thailand was the inspiration and setting for the ‘perfect hidden beach’ in Alex Garland’s novel The Beach. Yes the film was filmed over at Koh Phi Phi on the east coast of the Thailand Isthmus but this is where it all started.
As with so many things in south-east Asia, organising yourself to get to the An Thong marine park is a doddle. I did it during my overland travel South East Asia as a side trip from the train journey from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. Just get off the train at Surat Thani and get the ferry to Koh Samui.
Day tripper boats leave from the Koh Samui wharf regularly. You can also do kayak trips and go on tours where you can stay the night out in the park. It’s a few hours cruise north-west out into the archipelago before you get to Ko Mae Ko, or Mother Island.
The boats pull up on the beach of the island and the boatmen wait while trippers embark on the walk up and over. This is a view back down to the exterior beach.
It’s approximately a 40 minute return walk (not counting time for gazing at your beautiful surroundings). This is the view from the top of the hill, back out over the An Thong archipelago.
Then, finally you can see the secret. It’s like a giant hand has scooped out the middle of this marine mountain, leaving a lagoon of water coloured brilliant turquoise or emerald, depending on the light.
Limestone cliffs surround the Emerald Lagoon and there is an underground tunnel connecting it with the sea beyond.
It’s really paradise!
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you been to the Ang Thong National Marine Park in Thailand? Did you like it?