There is a myriad of ways to spell the name of this island and attempting to lay out all of them is like a study in probability. But just the same, Ko Kho Khao or any of its variations–Koh Kho Khao, Koh Koh Kao, Koh Kho Kao, Ko Kho Khao etc.–would do just fine. What is important is the array of beaches that you can comb all around this part of southern Thailand.
No matter the spelling differences, there is only one Ko Kho Khao in Thailand and to be sure, the point of reference is Takua Pa, the municipality across the strait that serves as the jump off point to the island. Many tourists troop to the island from Phuket itself, located about 75 kilometers (47 miles) to the south. With a population of only around 1,000 spread over 64 square kilometers (25 square miles) of mostly grasslands towards the center and mangrove forests to the east, there is a lot of space to explore on the island.
Number one on the list to discover on Ko Kho Khao are its beaches that fringe the western and northern coasts. There are four beaches on the west coast fronting the Andaman Sea where most of the tourists visit. Nok Nah Beach up north occupies about a fifth of the island’s coastline. Far from many residential areas, this part of Ko Kho Khao is the place to be to experience the ruggedness and serenity of the so-called Thai beaches of yore. With almost half of the island’s beach length, Bang Neang Beach is a long stretch of white sand and perfect for a whole day beach affair.
Crossing the narrow Chan Kaow Canal from Bang Neang is Thung Tuk Beach that promises to be the next epicenter of tourism activity on the island. Several seaside residences are being developed in this area for long time visitors. The focal point of Ko Kho Khao for travellers is Pak Koh Beach. From the headland that separates it from Thung Tuk Beach down to the point in the south, rows of resorts, hotels and restaurants line up the coast. To get in the crowd, this beach would be ideal, but to enjoy lonely beaches, the coast up north would be perfect.
There is still this atmosphere of a secret place that lingers on the island, and complemented by the casuarina trees lining the up the beaches, a traveller could not ask for more. Egg-laying turtles also make these beaches their secret breeding grounds and those fascinated by these animals may have the opportunity of observing them in their natural habitat. Also hidden in various pockets are the remnants of a glorious past when the island was engaging in commerce with ancient India, China, the Middle East and its Southeast Asian neighbors.
Running the entire north-south length of Ko Kho Khao is a sealed road and every point on the island branches off from here. Though not exactly worthy of a visit, there is a World War II airstrip to the north, but what is sure to catch everyone’s attention is the elephant camp where you can ride the animals by the shore. A few bird watching tours can be done in the north while some kayaking expeditions are offered in the canals. Overall, Ko Kho Khao is where you hie off to get away from the mad scramble of the tropical urban jungle that is Phuket.