There are many beaches near Hua Hin and many of the hotels along the beach have concessions offering various water sports. Wind surfing, sailboats and para-sailing equipment are available, and “banana boat” rides can be arranged in both Hua Hin and Cha Am and there is a growing marina at the Phatra Yacht Club complex in Pranburi, about 26 km south of Hua Hin.
Hua Hin and the west coast of the Gulf are becoming well known for windsurfing and kite boarding or kiting (for more info) with strong northeasterly winds. As important however is the clean water inshore and the absence of the curse of water scooters and jet skies which have ruined the east coast, especially the Pattaya and Jomtien beaches.
There are dive shops in town but the shallow water around Hua Hin is not really known for its coral or reefs as this part of the gulf is not overly clear. Tours to nearby Singhtoh Island can be booked through these shops though. Half day tours for snorkeling, fishing or just hanging with the marine dudes around the island are also available.
The beach is widest south of town and an ideal spot for football or a friendly game of frisbee.
The twin hills of Khao Takiab (Chopstick Peaks) are visible to the south down the beach from Hua Hin 3-4 km and one can also make out the 20 meter tall Buddha image at the base of the hills. The walk along the beach is guaranteed to test your ankles.
From the temple (Wat Khao Lad) atop the hill, Singhtoh Island, about 800 meters offshore can be seen and boats to the island can be chartered from either the Hua Hin pier or the small fishing village at Khao Takiab. Be careful of the monkeys wandering the lower grounds of the temple. They’re not fierce but enjoy grabbing eyeglasses and pens.
The Khao Takiab area now boasts an increasing number of boutique hotels, guesthouses, small hotels, resorts and stylish restaurants.
Just south of Khao Takiab is Suan Son (Sea Pine Gardens). The beach is long and quiet and there are small food shops and accommodations. Entrance is through a military camp – just tell the guard at the gate that you’re going to the beach and/or the golf course. If even there, he may charge you 20 Baht admission. Suan Son can get very crowded on weekends.
There is a newly-opened golf course at the Suan Son Army Camp so this beach is ideal for families where some want to golf and some want to use the beach. Mom and Dad can golf while the kids frolic, only a couple of hundred meters from each other. Both the beach and the golf club have restaurants.
Still heading south, beyond Suan Son is Khao Tao where the Sai Noi and Sai Yai beaches are located. These are smaller beaches but also quiet.
Paknam Pran to Khao Kalok
For more photos of Pranburi beaches and more click here.
Pranburi is the district just 26 km south of Hua Hin and has some beautiful unspoilt beaches. The Paknam Pran beach stretches about 8 km from the mouth of the Pranburi River to Khao Kalok, a small hill extending out into the sea with a small temple. This area has slowly been developed over the years and is the home of some very nice resorts and restaurants. For a map of Pranburi click here.
The sight of squid drying in the sun used to be very common in Hua Hin though is now rarely seen. Squid fishing and curing is still a major industry in Pranburi however and the turquoise colored lights of the squid boats can be seen twinkling each night out on the bay.
Most development has centered just south of Paknam Pran town though newer development is now going on closer to Khao Kalok. Here many new boutique hotels and spas are going up along side stylish housing developments.
Compared to Hua Hin or Cha Am, the beaches here are very quiet. There are no banana boats, pony rides, massage ladies or deck chairs; just kilometers of white sand and the occasional fishing boat.
The beach just north of the outcropping at Khao Kalok is quite nice and there are a couple of small caves that provide shade on those extra sunny days. There are also kids who represent some of the restaurants along the road that will take your order for simple Thai seafood dishes and cold drinks.
There is also a toilet and showers at the small parking lot on the road.
The area just south of Khao Kalok has long served as a marina for the squid boats and there is a thriving though small fish market. From here the Sam Roi Yot and Phu Noi beaches stretch for miles south to Ram Island. For a map of Dolphin Bay click here.
Boats can be arranged if you want to try your hand at squid fishing or just for a tour of the islands at dawn or dusk. You can also arrange for a boat to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.
The coast road follows the beach and is shaded by tall sea pines–great for bike riding. Mountain bike tours can be arranged from Hua Hin and less fancy bikes are available for rent locally.
This area is very quiet. While the resorts and spas closer to Paknam Pran may have a small bar, many have private pools for each suite with the emphasis on privacy. There are few resorts south of Khao Kalok, mainly small bungalows. There are few private restaurants and beer bars.
One comes here to relax, spend some quality time with the family or a good book. It’s beautiful here but don’t expect any bright lights or late night entertainment. It’s much like Legian in the mid-1970′s, even down to the haunted resort.
The sea here is very shallow for at least a hundred meters out and normally quite calm. During the day you will see fishermen preparing their boats for the nightly search for squid off shore. There are many shells and hermit crabs on the beach that will keep the children entertained while you work on your tan.
At the southern end of Phu Noi beach are four islands, the largest of which is Ram Island. South of Ram Island is Nom Sao Island with the twin very small Rawang and Rawing islands just south of there. There is a monkey colony on Ram Island.
All of these islands are within easy rowing distance of a sea kayak, many of which are available for use either from resorts or shops along the beach in this area.
There is also a small military camp here with a 9-hole golf course that tourists may use. Take the southernmost road inland from the beach and the golf course is about 500 meters on your left. This is also the road to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.
For more photos of Cha Am beaches and more click here.
Cha Am, in neighboring Petchburi province, is 26 km to the north. The beach is long and white and there are beautiful casaurina pines planted all along the beach. Cha Am is a favorite for young Thai families and college students and on weekends the action never stops.
There are many restaurants along the beach in Cha Am along with many bungalows and hotels. Cha Am may not have the historical charm of Hua Hin but it’s certainly worth a look, especially on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.