For those aficionados of Koh Phangan it is a moot point to declare the best beach. Is it Thong Nai Pan Noi? Is it Haad Yao? Is it one of those obscure beaches on the east coast where they do colonic irrigations? Or is it Haad Rin Nok, the Full Moon Party beach? It is very much open to debate. A great beach isn’t just the sand, sea and palm trees. Often people are attracted to the atmosphere of a beach location just as much as the natural beauty of a place.

This is where Haad Yao scores so highly. Yes, it is a beautiful long beach with soft white sand; yes the palms tower into the sky; and yes the distant mountains display vast virgin forest. But that isn’t the whole story. People love Haad Yao because it is just at that right level of development. You can find cheaper wooden bungalows as well more luxury rooms. The beach front hasn’t been taken over by 2 or 3 large businesses. There is still room for the locals and the proverbial ‘little man’ to set up a reggae bar, a mom and pops shop or a little restaurant.

Along Haad Yao beach as well as back in the village there is an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants, shops and massage houses. There are local characters. There is a feeling of staying in a little community of beach folk when you go to Haad Yao.

At dusk the beach gets lit up with lights, cool music can be heard mingling with the sound of the surf and the cocktails are downed while everyone looks out to sea and the invariably fantastic sunset. No doubt at any given time many of these sunset gazers are wishing that their holiday didn’t have to end so quickly.

If you want to go back then you know it is a great beach.

Although Trip Advisor ratings go up and down as new entries are posted it seems that the general consensus is that Haad Yao is one of the best beaches in Koh Phangan. Only Thong Nai Pan Noi, Thong Nai Pan Yai, Haad Yuan and Haad Salad came out with a higher rating in the ‘Things to Do’ list. Haad Yao was rated much higher than Haad Rin, Than Sadet and Jungle Experience.

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