Half an hour south of Hua Hin is the country 'suburb' of Pranburi (ปราณบุรี) district, which serves as a quiet coastal alternative. There are many expensive boutique resorts ideal for anyone looking to escape the crowds without travelling too far from civilisation. On the other hand, many people who want the city life end up here by mistake because some resorts deceptively put Hua Hin in their name.
The core area is the small town of Pak Nam Pran (mouth of the Pranburi River), which has the biggest resorts but not much beach. Though tourism is growing here, fishing is still the key to the economy and most Thai visitors return home with some dried squid. Every morning the boats dock in the river, unload their catch and people all around town begin the pungent process of sun-drying squid on large racks.
South of Pak Nam Pran there's a sandy shore and the coastal road provides a quick pleasant trip to Khao Kalok (Skull Mountain), a mammoth, oddly eroded headland that shelters the most, and pretty much only, attractive beach in the area. It's signed as Thao Kosa Forest Park, but locals and road signs all call it Khao Kalok.