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Ko Bulon Leh/Thailand

Introducing Ko Bulon Leh

This pretty island, 23km west of Pak Bara, is surrounded by the Andaman’s signature clear waters and has its share of faultless beaches with swaying casuarinas. Gracious Ko Bulon Leh is in that perfect phase of being developed enough to offer comfortable facilities, yet not so popular that you have to book beach-time days in advance.

The exceptional white-sand beach extends along the east coast from Bulone resort, on the northeast cape, to Pansand. At times the beach narrows a bit, especially where it is buffered by gnarled mangroves and strewn with thick sun-bleached logs. But those nooks and crannies make it easy to find a secret shady spot with dreamy views.

Bulon’s lush interior is interlaced with a few tracks and trails that are fun to explore – though the dense, jungled rock that makes up the western half remains inaccessible on foot. Bulon’s wild beauty is accessible on the southern coast at Ao Panka Yai, which is blue and laden with coral gravel. There’s good snorkelling around the western headland, and if you follow the trails through remnant jungle and rubber plantations – with eyes wide lest you miss glimpsing one of Bulon’s enormous monitor lizards – you’ll wind your way to Ao Muang (Mango Bay), where you’ll find an authentic chow lair squid-fishing camp. Ao Panka Noi, accessible from the path leading down from Viewpoint Resort, is another fishing village with long-tails docking on a fine gravel beach. Here you’ll find beautiful karst views and a clutch of simple but very good restaurants.

Resorts can arrange snorkelling trips (1500B, four hours) to other islands in the Ko Bulon group for a maximum of six people, and fishing trips for 300B per hour. Trips usually take in the glassy emerald waters of Ko Gai and Ko Ma, whose gnarled rocks have been ravaged by wind and time. But the most stunning sight has to be White Rock – bird-blessed spires rising out of the open sea. Beneath the surface is a rock reef crusted with mussels and teeming with colourful fish. Snorkelling is best at low tide. The area’s best coral reef is off Laem Son near Bulone Resort, where you can rent masks, snorkels (100B), fins (70B) and kayaks (150B).

Bulone Resort also offers internet (per minute 3B), and battery-charging services for laptops (50B) and digital cameras (10B).