We write this hopelessly biased – Choeng Mon Beach was our first love, and remains so 12 years later. Yet, just as we’d choose different things on a menu, Koh Samui’s Maenam Beach might be the perfect spot for you. Is it? Let’s discuss…
Maenam Beach (FAQs)
What’s Maenam Beach like? Maenam beach is resolutely not a Place To Be Seen. Our empirical evidence suggests that Maenam has more square feet of sand available per person, compared to other large Samui beaches. It tends to be quiet, with far fewer beach vendors and more room to find your spot and spread out.
TIP! Maenam pronunciation? First things first, pronunciation? ‘May nam’, as in ‘Vietnam’. Some people emphasise MAY nam, others May NAM. As Thais say with a shrug, “same same!”
Is Maenam a good beach? The suggestion that you could choose a wrong beach, or a bad beach, can make planning a holiday from afar very stressful. Koh Samui has vast variety in its beaches – so it’s a matter of getting the right fit for you, not selecting “The Best, bar none”. Use The Koh Samui Guide to simplify your choice. In it, we cover every Samui beach, and lay out all the pros and cons.
Maenam Beach size and tides? Maenam is approx 5 – 7 km (3 – 4.3 miles) long (Wikipedia claims the latter, we haven’t the means to measure it), however tides mean it’s not always possible to walk the full length. Still, it’s a great walk (especially early in the morning or at sunset) and, with so few people, very romantic as well.
Is Maenam good for families? Yes! We often see dads on sand castle duty as mummy gets to sleep in. There’s great shade available under palm trees along a beach that remains undeveloped in many spots. We think Santiburi Beach Resort and Belmond Napasai are amongst the most family-friendly resorts on Koh Samui.
What about swimming? Assuming good weather conditions, yes.
What’s the sand like? Ok. How finicky are you about sand? To us – if it’s sunny and we can walk barefoot, we’re happy. Others seek sugary white stuff only. Every Samui beach has its own sand texture and appearance – Maenam’s is “coarser” but is still “sand” (not rocks, pebbles or shell shards). We find it very walkable and have – in mad moments – gone for runs along Maenam as well.
What’s the ambiance like in Maenam? More village than town, Maenam, genuinely, has just one traffic light. For hustle and bustle, absolutely head elsewhere, as Maenam tends to pack up shop around 10 or 11 pm. (Although it’s so beautiful early in the morning – you’ll want to get up!) Maenam is small and its charm is that it hasn’t tried to be pretty for your benefit – or any other tourist. Outside of a few big resorts, don’t expect decorative lighting or Disney-fied landscaping but take it as you find it – much unchanged for the past decade or so.
Things to do in Maenam
For things to see and do, there’s a weekly walking street (Thursday nights), a few Thai temples and a Chinese temple but very little else at your doorstep. On the main road, a few upscale furniture and home interior shops can easily arrange shipment of anything that catches your eye – from friezes and sculptures to Thai furniture. Should you want a Thai massage, pedicure or spa treatment in Maenam – well, this one got our attention:
Maenam food and drink? As for food, you’re on the doorstep of Angela’s Diner and Bakery – one of our favourite spots for lunch and the best (and biggest) sausage rolls around. Also nearby (a short drive) is a great local spot specialising in Samui seafood, Had Bang Po. A few high-end resorts along the beach offer fancier dining and sunset cocktail options.
Nightlife in Maenam? Something of a backwater, Maenam’s nightlife options are friendly but unimpressive bars – with some live music (try The Lazy Coconut). Nothing noisy into the wee hours, after sunset it’s more or less a cold beer and your own good company. (Which sounds pretty good to us).
Where to stay on Maenam Beach?
As the ratio on many Samui beaches shifts to resorts over bungalows, Maenam happily believes that ‘time’s forgotten us’. Quite removed from the main road, accommodation tends to be very quiet and many have gorgeous gardens. (They likely don’t have gorgeous websites, though, so your search for low-key Maenam accommodation will be more DIY).
Maenam’s a great place to base yourself if you’re coming to Samui for golf – or, rather, if you need a nice place to leave your family as you desert them for the greens. As non-golfers, we noticed the beach and pool beds at Santiburi Golf Resort and Spa – they’re especially nice, and they have plush beach hammocks, too! Some suggestions for where to stay on Maenam beach (all reviewed highly by recent guests):
5 star: Santiburi Beach Resort Golf & Spa and Belmond Napasai Koh Samui
4 star: Saree Samui and Paradise Beach Resort
3 star: Escape Beach Resort
2 star: Maenam Bay Resort and Moonhut Bungalows
1 star: Palm Point Village
TIP! Simple, thatched Thai beach bungalows can be a lot more charming than 1-star rooms in the Western world, but do spring for air-conditioning in warmer months.
What’s nearby? Of course, if you want the quiet and privacy of Maenam, but not all the time, it’s easy to hire a car on Samui or catch a songthaew. Fishermen’s Village is approx. 10 minutes’ drive (not walkable unless you’re traffic fearless and fairly intrepid) and nights there could easily fill your happy hour or dinner calendar for a week or two. In the other direction, we recommend an afternoon in Nathon, Samui’s capital town. If you’d rather someone else do the work, ask your hotel when booking if they offer shuttles to other towns and attractions – many do.
For our full Maenam assessment, and to better compare it to the likes of Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut and Choeng Mon (amongst other Samui beaches), The Koh Samui Guide is waiting to help.