Remote Island Resort Steeped in Thai Culture
Half a century ago, there wasn't a road or car to be found on the Thai island of Koh Samui. The locals—mostly fishers and farmers—often had to navigate dense rainforests just to reach neighboring villages. Today, the island has paved roads and is easy to get around, which has helped it emerge as a popular vacation destination. It’s also the setting for Elements Boutique Resort & Spa, which honors Thai traditions while cultivating a modern aesthetic. The 4.5-star resort is near the Gulf of Thailand’s beautiful beaches, which have fine, white sand and seem almost untouched.
With the water so close, it's only natural that a lot of the resort's activities take place are aquatic in nature, whether it's kayaking along the shore, snorkeling, or touring the gulf in a long-tail boat—a watercraft that's covered by a canopy and powered by an automotive engine (a half-day island tour is included with this deal). Early-morning yoga classes often take place along the beach. Bicycles are also available for rental, and this getaway includes a bike tour that heads past the gorgeous wildlife and coconut farms en route to a local rubber plantation.
After a day out adventuring, stop by the onsite restaurant, Fai, which serves fresh-caught tiger prawns and lobster. Once a week, you can head to the beach at nightfall to savor barbecued meats and pineapple as local performers dance or spin fire sticks.
Back at the sea-view apartments, there are wooden beds veiled with sheer white curtains. Head out to the private terrace and you can lounge around and peer out at the sea. For a traditional Thai experience, dine at the Bamboo Beach Bar Cafe, where eight open-air bamboo huts allow diners to enjoy Thai cuisine on the beach.
Koh Samui, Thailand: Island with Exotic Wildlife and Rich Buddhist Culture
Koh Samui is set amid a cluster of islands in the temperate Gulf of Thailand off the country's eastern shore. Temperatures typically hover near 86 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, thanks to tropical winds off the gulf. The warm climate and clear waters attract visitors to the island's many white-sand beaches, where they can sunbathe, fish, or snorkel along vibrant coral reefs.
For a day trip, pay a visit to some of the area’s ornate temples or take a short drive east to Tar Nim's Magic Garden, which was built by a local man when he was well into his 70s. These remote "secret" gardens can be tough to get to, but it's worth the effort to see the misty waterfall, tropical plants, and ornately carved Buddhist sculptures.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.