Koh Mak isn’t really an island for a wild and crazy activity holiday. You won’t find jetskis, banana boats, ATVs, a water park or golf course here. Of course, there are some activities, trips and tours available but in the main it’s an island suited to relaxing, unwinding and getting away from it all. Here is a quick rundown of things to see and do once you finish your holiday reading or get bored of suntanning yourself.
As you travel around Koh Mak, you may well notice some weird and wonderful statues – for example a giant crab or naked female rubber tapper. These are creations of a local artist, Khun Somchai. he is responsible for the, now sadly overgrown, sculpture garden called ‘The Kingdom of Somchai’s Affection’ ( pictured above ) which is located a few hundred metres inland from Koh Mak Resort.
One view is that his works mirror his perception about affection in art and individual freedom. You decide, but it probably isn’t the place to take young kids – unless you want to answer some questions on female anatomy.
You can usually find a game of beach volleyball in progress at Baan Koh Mak or Ao Kao Resort. Just show up late afternoon and you’ll find someone who wants a game.
Smile Koh Mak cooking school, run by Leng offers Thai cooking classes for small groups of up to 4 people. You’ll learn all about the ingredients that go into your favourite dishes and then learn how to make them. Leng will teach the class in English and pass on the tips and techniques for traditional Thai cooking that her father passed on to her. So you’ll learn how to make the dishes the correct, original way.
Transport to/from your resort to the cooking school, located right by the sea close to Koh Mak Seafood Restaurant near Ao Nid Pier, is included in the price and you’ll also receive a cookbook with the recipes in it for the dishes you have made. A fun day away from the beach.
The lack of traffic combined with the flat terrain and and multitude of shady trails through the rubber and coconut plantations make Koh Mak a great place to explore by bicycle. The island is small enough that you can’t get lot but large enough for you to discover fishermen’s hamlets and deserted beaches. Bicyces are available for rent and many resoirts now have free bicycles for guests to use.
Head to Coco Cafe and pick up a free bike with your coffee, they also have maps and recommended routes for you to try in order to see different parts of the island.
Koh Mak is a relatively flat island. However, the land does rise to just over 100metres above sea level near the western shore . There is a trail that starts near Baan Ing Kao Resort but it is probably best to find someone to guide you. During the rainy season there is a small waterfall on the hillside.
Sea kayaks can be hired from several resorts on the island and having a handful of small islands dotted around Koh Mak, means that you will have a ready made destination when you head out to sea in your kayak. If you are staying at Koh Mak Resort or Cococape then you’ll have Koh Kham, with it’s small white sand beach and black volcanic rocks, about 1km away and the smaller island of Koh Pee also lies within easy reach.
To the northeast of Koh Mak is the private island of Koh Kradad, where you’ll find a large herd of deer, is a couple of kilometres paddle from Cinnamon Resort & Greenview Resort. And if you are staying on the busier Ao Kao Beach, Koh Rayang Nok and Koh Rayang Nai are within easy paddling distance. Expect to pay around 100 Baht/hour or 500 Baht/day for a 2 person kayak with lifejacket & paddles provided.
Koh Kood Day Trip
A full day trip to Koh Kood by private speedboat can easily be arranged. You’d leave Koh Mak at around 9am and return back at 4pm. During the day you’d see the sights on Koh Kood including the waterfall, beaches and fisherman’s village. A stop at Koh Maisee pearl farm can also be included. Prices are around 2,000 Baht/person – minimum 4 people. Includes lunch.
Massage & Spa
More resorts now have their own massage staff and some also offer spa treatments. Expect to pay around 250-300 baht for a beach massage. All resorts now have spas with a range of treatments, try Seavana Resort and follow it with a swim in their beachfront pool.
There are a few paved roads on Koh Mak but the only vehicles belong to resorts and so it’s rare to see any traffic other than motorbikes on the roads. Scooters are available for rent for 300 – 400 Baht/day. Most of the roads are pretty good, even the dirt tracks are relatively smooth but care is needed as a remote plantation trail isn’t the place to get a puncture. Gasoline is available either from a couple of small filling stations with a single drum and hand pump or from shops and restaurants who sell old whiskey bottles full of fuel by the roadside.
As on any island, fishing has long been the mainstay of the local economy, but whilst most locals don’t fish for a living nowadays they still enjoy spending time out on the sea. The best time to fish in the waters around Koh Mak is from dusk till dawn. The fishermen will leave Koh Mak early evening and first catch some squid to use as bait. They will then head to the deeper water and the fishing grounds. Private trips can be arranged for 1,000 – 4,000 Baht for a few hours night fishing or join one of the scheduled trips that run 3-4 times a week in High Season. These cost around 500 Baht/person.
Close to Koh Mak lie three private islands – Koh Kham, Koh Rayang and Koh Kradat. Koh Rayang is the easiest to get to with a regular longtail boat service running from Makathanee Resort pier. It is home to one small resort – Rayang Island Resort and as such non-residents must pay an 80 Baht fee to land on the island. This gives you the use of a sunlounger on the beach and a free soft drink in the restaurant.
Koh Kham was sold to a property developer who is in the process of destroying the natural beauty of the island by building a luxury resort. There is a small bar on the island and a boat service is available from Koh Mak Resort. Alternatively, it is easy to kayak there. As with Koh Rayang a small fee is charged to visitors to the island.
Koh Kradat is definitely worth a day trip. Cinnamon Resort can arrange a boat for you. There is also a 100 Baht entry fee to the island but this includes a tour by tractor to see the island and its herds of deer. Plus a stop at a beautiful untouched beach. There’s a small restaurant near the pier that doesn’t have a menu, the staff just make you what you want – but don’t expect much choice other than basic Thai dishes.
Rubber Tree Plantations
Koh Mak was the first island in Thailand to be planted with rubber trees. You’ll see some very old rubber plantations in the centre of the island which have now fallen into disuse and are overgrown. But look around and you’ll find neatly manicured plantations where the rubber is collected daily, usually daybreak or very early morning before the sun gets too high in the sky. The white latex is collected and mixed with chemicals to set it and then hand rolled into mats which are hung to dry. These are then sold.
There are three dive companies on Koh Mak. BB Divers, a large company with their main offices on Koh Chang and Koh Kood plus Paradise Divers and Koh Mak Divers both of which have been running dive centres on the island for several years. The latter having been on the island for over a decade. All offer the full range of PADI certified dive courses plus dive trips for qualified divers . Most dive trips will take in the sites around Koh Rang, to the west of Koh Mak. This is the same area as dive trips from Koh Chang head to – so if you plan on diving on both Koh Chang and Koh Mak check to make sure you wont be visiting the same sites.
Daily snorkelling trips and boat trips that take in the islands around Koh Rang, the best snorkelling sites in the area, and also some of the other islands close to Koh Mak can easily be booked once you are on the island. Expect to pay from 600 to 1,200 Baht for a full day trip – depending on where you go and what type of boat you go in.
The Buddhist temple on Koh Mak overlooks Ao Nid Bay. It is a small temple which has several resident monks and is the focal point for the community with the covered hall also used as a meeting room or polling station. Look closely at the golden statue of Buddha and you’ll notice that it is more curvaceous than you might expect. The more feminine form is a reminder that the construction of the temple was paid for by the wife of the founder of the island.