Scattered across the sparkling blue waters of Phang Nga Bay are dozens of islands; some such as Phuket and Phi Phi are world famous, others such as Rachai Yai or Khai are popular dive sites while dozens of others are admired by passing boats and planes, but sparsely populated and little known.
One such island is the rarely discovered gem of Koh Jum. Set amongst the scattering of islands closer to the western coast of the south, Koh Jum faces Phi Phi island to the west, making for wonderful sunsets. The island is small – it takes a happy hour to gently ride a bike from one side to the other – and feels as though it is far far from the madding crowd.
There are no clusters of bars to make for a rowdy nightlife, there are no large chain hotels with masses of matching towels to litter the beaches, there are hardly any cars and the only noise on any given day is the putt putting of long tail boats as they deliver and take away, trading people and goods in and out of the quiet little island paradise…and the lapping waves making slushing noises on the coral and sandy shores.
In keeping with the spirit of the island is one of its best secrets – Koh Jum Lodge. This eco lodge which offers a self-styled ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experience opened its doors for business three days before the 2004 tsunami. Following utter devastation, it valiantly rebuilt and has been a well-kept secret by those of us who have discovered it ever since.
“A very loyal and regular number of guests come here each and every year,” said Jean Michel Limandas, General Manager, with some pride. “Our guests are mainly from Scandinavia, Switzerland, France and Germany and they appreciate the simplicity and true paradise feel of their experience with us.”
“We don’t have, or need, air-conditioning, the constant sea breeze is what people come here for,” Limandas explained, adding that room fans and multiple windows also keep bungalows cool year-round. “Each of the 19 spacious bungalows are built with local wood and bamboos and set far apart for privacy. Many front the beach while others are near the salt-water pool.”
Koh Jum Lodge is all about leaving the world behind and truly indulging in island life. Guests fly into Krabi Airport from which they take a 45-minute drive in a minivan before transferring for a half hour boat ride to the island; the extra two hours in itself helping to shed the stress and worries of the world, left behind in the blue wakes.
There isn’t a whole lot to do on Koh Jum, which is precisely the reason so many come back year after year.
Breakfast is served all day, so you can wake up at any time, have a cup of coffee from a hammock on your private balcony overlooking the sea before strolling to the beach-side open-aired restaurant for some scrumptious morning fare. You can then simply flop into any of the many hammocks strung up between palm trees which scatter the resort, or laze on a sun lounger under some shady trees which line the beach or by the fresh blue waters of the pool.
Daily excursions to Phi Phi Ley, Phi Phi Don, Bamboo and Mosquito islands for snorkeling, or to various dive sites in the region are available and if you are feeling energetic, then a lovely walk down the three kilometre long beach or a bike ride around the island, which is a mere 11kms long, is in order. The Koh Pu mountain, the highest of any Andaman Islands at 420 metres is an invigorating walk with a guide and perfect for a half day outing with a picnic. The island is also home to three charming villages where a few shops and restaurants can be found.
In the evenings, you can either enjoy the fresh seafood served at the resort’s restaurant, known as the best on the island, or wander down the beach for a cold drink at any of the chilled and charming reggae pubs which can be found on rocks and shores. The resort’s restaurant serves catch of the day food cooked Thai style, but also has some international favourites which are designed to appeal for those with a less adventurous palate as well as children and teenagers. Its wine cellar is particularly impressive and the French general manager says that it is a great source of pride for him, featuring both old and new world wines.
“When we say we are an eco-resort, what we mean is that we do the minimum,” said Limandas. “Of course we support the local people 100%; we hire locally, we buy locally and we have a very close relationship with the people of the island. Our guests come here for simplicity and comfort in a spectacular setting and we aim to simply let them indulge. There is a library where they can sit and read, and a bar on the beach to sip and chill. When asked, I always say that we have more hammocks that activities.”
The reason you haven’t heard of Koh Jum is that the regulars don’t tell anyone about it!
And the reason you are hearing about it now, of course, is because there are no more tourists coming in from the cold west to soak up their annual quota of sun.
That is why Koh Jum is a treat you must indulge in now that there is a special promotion to mark its reopening this month. Starting at only 3,500 baht per night, you too can have your very own Robinson Crusoe experience – all in utter comfort and style.