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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.

Sai Nuan Getaway Koh Tao

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.

Sai Nuan Beach

Sai Nuan Beach

Sai Nuan Beach

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.

Saithong Resort

Saithong Sai Nuan Koh Tao

Saithong Resort

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?

Saithong Resort

Saithong Resort

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.

Koh Tao Beach Dog

Sai Nuan Beach Koh Tao

After breakfast at the onsite restaurant with free entertainment provided by the little ragamuffin above, it was all about beach time.

Saithong Sai Nuan Koh Tao

Sai Nuan Beach Koh Tao

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.

Sai Nuan Koh Tao

Sai Nuan Koh Tao

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.

Banana Rock Koh Tao

Sai Nuan Koh Tao

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.

Sai Nuan Koh Tao

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…

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54 Comments...
  • Kacy
    February 16 2015

    I’ve always wanted to stay in one of those huts too! I love the idea of retreating to a place that most people find too difficult to reach.
    Kacy recently posted..

  • Beautiful! I’m envious. This looks exactly like the type of getaway I could use right now! šŸ™‚
    Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      I would say “me too!” but I’m actually currently on another beach right now šŸ™‚ Life is good!

  • becky hutner
    February 16 2015

    omg alex, you went & bagged the crazy binge-drinking canadian dude! obviously, i approve.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Ha! This comment cracked me up šŸ™‚

  • Sonja @ Breadcrumbs Guide
    February 16 2015

    He passes the test :). Looks absolutely gorgeous. The beach, I’m talking about the beach now. šŸ™‚
    Sonja @ Breadcrumbs Guide recently posted..

  • Amanda
    February 16 2015

    Awww, that’s adorable! And it sounds awesome.

    I splurged on a beach resort on Koh Lanta for my last few days in Thailand. It wasn’t entirely off-grid (there was wifi near the lobby), but I had no connection in my bungalow or on the beach. I basically just spent two days lying on the beach reading my Kindle – it was bliss!

    (Also, I totally approve of a guy who knows you that well!)
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      That’s the best way to end any trip — taking a little vacation, no matter how short! Good for you, Amanda šŸ™‚

  • Katie
    February 16 2015

    Beautiful, looks so much like Fiji!
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Ah, can’t wait to get there someday!

  • Justine
    February 16 2015

    This looks like my kind of place. I would definitely splurge on a night or two there! It kind of reminds me of the huts on Long Beach on Koh Rong, Cambodia. I was just there a few weeks ago and I completely regret not booking a couple of nights at one of the few beach bungalows there. There is just something special about being off the grid in paradise šŸ™‚
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Ah, Koh Rong is so beautiful. One of my absolute favorite islands, what a paradise!

  • Francesca
    February 16 2015

    Amazing! I remember reading his earning abroad and laughing so hard, then reading it again. Seems like a keeper for sure, those beach huts look incredible.
    Francesca recently posted..

  • Silvia
    February 16 2015

    Ahh I remember thinking his earning abroad was so funny! Lucky girl (and guy, duh). Those huts look pretty okay as well.
    Silvia recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Yeah, they weren’t awful šŸ˜‰

  • Chris
    February 16 2015

    Awesome spot, but I’d never call a place with phone reception (however bad) off the grid! šŸ˜‰
    Chris recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      When I say, “phone reception,” I mean that you can stand on one rock and wave an arm in the air and get a text message to send from a cheap Nokia. Not exactly that you can make clear calls or upload to Instagram šŸ™‚

  • Marni
    February 16 2015

    That little getaway sounds (and looks) perfect! Especially to such a paradise. It’s making me want to go on a mini trip!

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Do it! šŸ™‚ You won’t regret it!

  • Sasha
    February 17 2015

    Meihoukai your blog is my happy place on this sh*tty, overcast, work-filled, office-bound Tuesday in South Africa. Dont ever stop!

    • Julia Nix
      February 17 2015

      I concur. I go to this blog at work too. It is a great escape (like a compulsory break when there is too much goings-on, stress!), Meihoukai.

      • Meihoukai
        February 17 2015

        Makes my heart happy to hear that, Julia. Thank you!

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Aw, thanks Sasha! So happy to hear I can bring you somewhere sunny and warm for a bit šŸ™‚

  • Wow! Wow! Wow! I came back from Thailand just half a year ago and now I want to go baaaaaack!
    This island looks amazing. I’d do both. I’d spend a few days at the beginning of the break “chilling” with just the basics and end with out-of-control pampering to prepare for the rude awaking of being back in Europe and the daily commute.
    P.S. I love my daily Berlin commute LOL!
    [email protected] The British Berliner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Yup! That’s how I like to wrap up all extended trips as well šŸ™‚ A nice transition back to the Western world!

  • Julia Nix
    February 17 2015

    The unveiling of the “secret hunk” has now surfaced. Oh Meihoukai šŸ™‚ Also, I’m sure you noticed/realize that one of the most interesting things on the boat is the journey to the 3 islands (Samui – Phangan- Tao) You can tell the hot guys ratio difference and then the hot ones go to Koh Tao. Ahaha. Even on my first trip to Koh Tao, the return boat journey is already an interesting event itself (People watching šŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Why do you think I picked Koh Tao to live on? KIDDING! But only sort of.

      • Julia Nix
        February 19 2015

        Ha, so many cute guys there. šŸ™‚

  • Jenia from HTL
    February 17 2015

    Looks pretty special — I won’t be able to say which I love more – rustic or luxury – they are both great in their own ways. I guess it all depends on how you are feeling. Right now its freezing cold in Washington D.C. and I could really go for either. Or just anywhere warm, doesn’t even have to be a beach…
    Jenia from HTL recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      I feel you on that one, Jenia! I guess the best trip has a combination of both.

  • Leah
    February 17 2015

    Meh………24 birthday shots in Arequipa was obvs better. šŸ˜‰
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Haha… just wait till you hear about the actual day!

  • Amanda
    February 17 2015

    What a fun birthday surprise! I would much rather stay somewhere rustic for my birthday… seems more authentic than a fancy luxury resort, not that I would turn that down either šŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2015

      Haha, right?! I think I’d be down with any gifted getaways, really šŸ™‚

  • jasmine
    February 18 2015

    this island looks magical ! i lived in Thailand a few years ago, and made it to some of the islands although i found many of them really overcrowded – i did enjoy Koh Chang on the east coast a little more as i visited in the shoulder season and had most of the beaches to myself – Thailand really is amazingly beautiful isn’t it <3

    • Meihoukai
      February 24 2015

      Koh Chang has been on my “to visit” list for FAR too long! Can’t wait to check it out one of these days… Thanks for the tip!

  • Mike | VagabondingMike
    February 18 2015

    As if I needed another beach to add to my list… Now I think I’m stuck picking out of a hat rather then hitting them all.

    Oh well, more fun that way I suppose šŸ™‚
    Mike | VagabondingMike recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 24 2015

      You can’t go wrong with a good stretch of sand… I’d start with picking out of that hat šŸ™‚ Good luck, Mike!

  • Leigh
    February 18 2015

    That balcony is to die for! So….are the rooms buggy? Major bug phobia here šŸ˜‰
    Leigh recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 24 2015

      I’m not bothered by bugs other than spiders so they probably wouldn’t stand out too much in my memory but I don’t recall any creepy crawlies around šŸ™‚ And I can DEFINITELY assure you there were no spiders, ha.

  • Will
    February 21 2015

    Sigh … what a pleasant hideaway. I’ll have to seek it out when I get back to Thailand!
    Will recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 25 2015

      Let me know how you like it when you do!

  • Angela
    February 25 2015

    Hi Meihoukai,

    I’m heading to Koh Tao tomorrow and I’m so excited! I may check this place out. Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      February 25 2015

      Enjoy, Angela! Jealous you are heading to my favorite island in the world šŸ™‚

  • TammyOnTheMove
    February 26 2015

    This reminds me so much of a bungalow I stayed at in Koh Rong/Cambodia. It was fairly rustic too and had no electricity, but it was so beautiful. It makes you appreciate the simple things in life, away from all the technology. Every now and then I need that.
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 26 2015

      I feel ya! Especially now that I’ve hired someone to help me out with behind the scenes blog stuff part time, I can really appreciate those rare days off.

  • Lucy
    March 9 2015

    Ah what a dreamy birthday treat….and man alive, in this day and age – yeah, having a slight signal is way off the grid in my opinion. Bravo on the beard too, love a man with a beard!

    • Meihoukai
      March 10 2015

      Ha, anything without wifi is off the grid to me!

  • Julia Nix
    March 21 2015

    I am looking back at this article again and dreaming of this place to chillax. Ha, thanks for these great pictures Meihoukai.

    • Meihoukai
      March 23 2015

      You are so welcome Julia! I can’t wait to return here myself.

  • Lena
    August 7 2015

    Now, this is a place i want to go to in Thailand! thanks for helping me choose. Thailand has so much to offer that it is difficult to pick one.

    • Meihoukai
      August 10 2015

      It really is! I’ve been traveling there for six years and still have a very long list of places to go to…