In Search Of The Beach: Angthong National Marine Park


I was about 15 when the film The Beach was released in cinemas. I can’t remember if I read the book or watched the film first, but I loved both of them. This wasn’t the first time I had heard of people going ‘off travelling’ as it had been common with British gap year students for some time, but it certainly got my imagination going. I’ve now watched the film many times and I’ve been obsessed with finding deserted islands like this ever since.

Anthong National Marine Park


Everyone knows that Maya Bay is the place where scenes from The Beach were actually filmed. But, when planning our trip to Koh Samui in Thailand, I was excited to learn that the nearby Angthong National Marine Park was one of the places that originally inspired Alex Garland and where the story is supposedly set.

Angthong is an archipelago of around 42 Islands, accessible on an organised boat from the larger island of Samui. There was no doubt that we would be visiting this place! Of course, this is in the busy, popular beach holiday destination of Thailand. Would I really  be able to find a deserted island paradise?

After much research we chose a fantastic sounding dive and snorkel company to take us out there from Samui (They are called 100 Degrees East and I seriously recommend them). They were more expensive than other tours but we chose them because of their interest in the environment and the fact that they only take out small groups.


IMG_5436After a bumpy boat ride (it was a windy and slightly grey day in paradise), we began to see the cliffs rising up from the sea. This was actually my first trip to Thailand and I must have exclaimed “This is how I always imagined it!” several times. We snorkelled in warm water, spotted hundreds of fish and swam right into the middle of a huge school of them. Sadly, there was also some rubbish floating around the water and washed up on some of the beaches. Our guides collected as much as they could during lunch time.

On one island we hiked up to a view point to see the lagoon that supposedly inspired Alex Garland. It was beautiful and you could definitely imagine Leo jumping in there! You are not actually allowed to swim in the lagoon however, as authorities are worried about it becoming contaminated.


We were so lucky as, other than hiking up to see the lagoon, we rarely saw any other tourists outside of our group of 10! We visited several quiet, empty beaches and even kayaked over to one of the most stunning, deserted beaches I have ever seen. It was only accessible by taking the kayak and was a true cast away, secret island! Sadly, we don’t have any photos from that one as we didn’t bring the camera in our kayak. But let me tell you; there was no doubt in my mind that this was was The Beach!

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I have since found out that, with a little research and preparation, you can sleep in Angthong National Marine Park. A few bungalows and tents are available to rent from park authorities. This really would be the ultimate secret beach experience; imagine having all those islands just to yourself at night time! You could wake up early and kayak to where ever you wanted!

After we returned to Beijing, I reread The Beach. Reading it again after visiting Samui and Angthong cast a whole new light and sense of excitement on the story. I was happy to confirm the places all match up and, although never explicitly stated, it is clearly set in Angthong National Marine Park. It turns out The Beach location is not completely fiction after all. If you could find someone willing to take you over in a boat and leave you there, I really believe you could live undetected on an island for a while. I just hope it’s minus the chaos of the book/film ending! 🙂

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Have you ever been to Angthong? What about another deserted island?

24 thoughts on “In Search Of The Beach: Angthong National Marine Park

  1. What they heck, I want to go there!! It looks amazing at that lagoon. Awesome girl, good find! 🙂 Thanks for linking my post too!

    1. Hi Katie, I only snorkelled there myself (I’ve never dived before but I’m going to learn this summer!). The company I went with also did diving though. I guess you’ll just have to go back… 🙂

  2. This is truly an amazing beach and place to chill out and relax. I’ve been to Thailand many times and never made it there, but Kho Phangan was also nice and beautiful. How old are you if I might ask? We might be the same age as I was 14-15 years (1989) old when the beach movie came out.

  3. I must admit that I’ve never seen the film or read the book for The Beach. Everyone speaks so highly of them though that I really think I should.

    I have however seen lots of blog posts about it. Compared to the other articles though it looks as though your visit was very well timed, the beach looks a lot less crowded than when other people visit. It is easier to appreciate the beauty of the place with less people around.

    The lagoon looks wonderful as well. No wonder Garland was inspired!

    1. The lagoon was beautiful. I was definitely inspired too! 🙂 I wonder if some of the other blog posts were of the place where The Beach was filmed rather rather than this place, which is where it was set? There are 42 islands here so (with a good boat company) it was easy for us to find a deserted beach. I think there are quite a few dodgy tour operators taking huge groups of people out here as well though- but the one we picked only took 10 people.
      Oh yes, you should definitely give the book and the film a try. The book is a good read and the film is, well, full of beautiful beaches and beautiful people! 🙂

  4. I am so looking forward to Thailand. Also, I’ve never read/seen the beach but I feel like I need too? I keep hearing how amazing it is. For some reason I thought it was a horror movie…

    1. Haha Becky- Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a horror movie but everything is not all idyllic all the time for the residents of the beach 🙂 You should definitely read/watch it 🙂

  5. I also love the book The Beach. I read it the first time I traveled to Thailand a few years back. It such an amazing and beautiful country, and I find myself returning there every time I visit Southeast Asia. However, I completely missed out on Angthong National Marine Park when I was there! It looks absolutely stunning. It will definitely be going next time I visit Thailand. Thanks for the tip!!

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