Sai Nuan has long been my favorite beach on Koh Tao. Tucked into the southwest corner of the island and more or less unreachable by road — I’d certainly never drive that treacherous dirt path some might call a road — you have to either take a longtail or hike a pleasant twenty minutes through a palm tree filled jungle to get here.
When I want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Sairee Beach (that sound you hear is big city dwellers cackling at the idea of me calling that hustle and bustle), this is where I go.
Some of you have picked up on my hints here and there that I was seeing someone again while I was back on Koh Tao — a few of you even took guesses of who in my usual cast of characters it might be! (Love it.) I don’t know why I was keeping mum, exactly, as it is quite out of character for me. But the secret’s out now — because there’s no way I couldn’t blog about the amazing birthday present Bearded Bartender — as my nickname-loving friends back home liked to call him — treated me to.
Not too many are up for making the effort to get to Sai Nuan, and so I was lucky enough to get to be the first one to show Bearded Bartender — or I mean, we could just call him Ian — my favorite beach not long after we met. That day I mentioned how I’d always dreamed of going off the grid and spending a night in one of the little beach huts dotting the bay — shown in the photo above — but for some reason I’d never made it happen.
So, for my birthday, he did.
is the one and only accommodation option at Sai Nuan. Supposedly you can book online but Ian didn’t really trust the system, so he ended up making two round trip visits to the resort to make our reservation. Even then, things were a little off — he’d specifically requested Bungalow #2, which we arrived to find another couple very much settled into. Actually, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise — Bungalow #1 had better views and more privacy.
But I mean, ocean front with balconies bigger than the rooms themselves? You can’t go wrong.
The rooms were extremely simple — wooden bed with mosquito net, fan, curtain for a bathroom door, clear ocean views from the holes in the wall of the cold water shower. We loved it.
And did I mention the balcony?
In spite of what these photos show, our first day at Sai Nuan was actually super rainy and overcast. That was fine with us. We’d brought in both lunch and dinner takeaway from in Mae Haad (yes, that is the actual name of the establishment and they have my full and unwavering support in that decision) as well as several bottles of the most mediocre wine Koh Tao has to offer, and we were perfectly content to sit on our porch and watch the storm pass by.
With no internet and barely any phone reception, we were truly off the grid. It might have been just for one night, but wow, did it feel good.
The next morning I woke up to the sound of water and thought, oh no! It’s rained all night and we’ll never be able to get out of here. Then I realized it was just the waves crashing on the rocks right below us. A peek through the slats of the wall revealed a perfect blue sky day.
After breakfast at the onsite restaurant with free entertainment provided by the little ragamuffin above, it was all about beach time.
I believe paper-book-loving Ian may have uttered the words, “Burn that photo of me reading a Kindle and never let it see the light of day,” but I’m pretty sure by that he meant please post it on the internets for literally any human on planet earth to see. Right? Right.
In the little bay right next to Sai Nuan — technically I think they are one and the same — lies one of the most scenic and rasta-tastic bars on Koh Tao, Banana Rock. It’s an absolute must to toast to the end of a castaway getaway somewhere as epic as this.
I can’t tell you what a special little getaway this was or how idyllic and dreamlike it felt. As the constant planner for myself, for my friends and for my family when we travel, it was indulgent and sweet to have someone plan something so thoughtful and sentimental all for me.
We still talk about it all the time.
Best part? The guy knows me well — he knew this social butterfly could never go off grid on her actual birthday! So this was more of a warm up, planned a few days before the actual date. And wow, were my friends about to pick up where he left off in the spoiling department. Stay tuned.
Would you rather splurge on a sleek resort or a rustic getaway like this one? I love a bit of both, but I can’t imagine a better two days than the ones we had here…