Built by a local couple almost 20 years ago and managed since 2011 by a co-operative of nature-loving Thai and French friends, Blue Lagoon is a simple "resort" consisting of 20 charming bungalows on the edge of a tidal lagoon just behind Klong Prao beach, one of the longest beaches on Koh Chang (Elephant Island), Thailand's second largest island.
Three words sum up Blue Lagoon: calm, creative and eco-conscious. The lagoon-view bungalows (there are also family-sized bungalows in the garden) are cute, European-style cottage-cabins with tropical touches such as thatched roofs and wicker over-water hammocks. There's art everywhere: coral-and-shell mobiles that tinkle in the sea breeze, hand-painted signs, paper lanterns in the trees and, in some bungalows, murals featuring trees and marine life by Thai, French and Belgian artists. Eco-friendly touches include filtered drinking water on tap at reception (to reduce guests' use of bottled water), hand-made biodegradable soap and mosquito repellent, and a permaculture garden that supplies the restaurant.
Despite their unromantic names (mine was "D3"), the bungalows ooze charm and a certain "je ne sais quoi". Mine was white with a pale blue door and blue window frames, and had its own over-water verandah with striped deckchair and wicker hammock. Inside, there was just enough space for a double bed (with pink mosquito net) as well as a small table, a fan (some cottages have aircon) and a few wall-mounted shelves. There's free Wi-Fi at reception and at the restaurant, and a children's playground, volleyball court, petanque pitch and kayaks for rent.
One of the most peaceful beaches in Thailand, Klong Prao is a place to unwind, de-stress and sleep late. The beds are comfortable, the nights noise-free (and surprisingly mosquito-free when I was there, despite the lagoon location) and you'll wake to birdsong most mornings. My bungalow's best feature: folding French doors that open up one entire wall for an uninterrupted lagoon-and-trees view from the bed.
Blue Lagoon's open-air restaurant serves authentic Thai food at thatch-roofed decks (one per table) connected by wooden bridges. There's also a well-known Thai cooking school on site. A five-minute stroll up the driveway takes you to Klong Prao's main road where you'll find more cafes and restaurants; two of the best are Ka-Ti Culinary (which also has a cooking school) and Tonsai. Or cross the little wooden bridge back to Klong Prao to dine with your toes in the sand at one of the many lantern-lit seafood places right on the beach, where fire-dancers entertain tourists for tips most nights.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR
Klong Prao is quieter than more popular spots such as White Sand Beach – it has no jet skis, speedboats or parasailing operators, for instance – and that's its beauty. Activities beyond beach massages, sunbathing and swimming in bath-warm water include: guided walks to Klong Plu waterfall (the source of Blue Lagoon's lagoon and the largest waterfall on the island), "three islands in a day" boat trips for diving or snorkelling, and ziplining through the rainforest at Tree Top Adventure Park (Thailand's first ecotourism operation, see treetopadventurepark.com). Just make sure you're back at Klong Prao by late afternoon to watch the blazing sun extinguish itself in the sea.
Blue Lagoon is simple, clean and low-impact, offering an authentic Thai beach experience with a dash of French style, on a budget, for couples, solo travellers or families. Best of all, it has bucketloads of serenity.
HOW TO GET THERE
Bangkok Airways (bangkokair.com) flies from Bangkok to Trat three times a day; from Trat it's a two-and-a-half-hour taxi ride to Koh Chang, including 30 minutes on the car ferry. Air-conditioned buses also leave Bangkok airport three times a day and make the trip to Koh Chang in six hours, including the ferry ride and a transfer to Blue Lagoon, at the southern end of Koh Chang, in a covered ute (a more basic version of the "songthaew" seen elsewhere in Thailand).
Bungalows at Blue Lagoon from 550 baht a night April-October (low season), 750 baht a night October-April (high season). 30/5 M.4 Klong Prao, Koh Chang, Thailand. See kohchang-bungalows-bluelagoon.com/en/, and kohchangisland.com.
The writer travelled at her own expense, but flew as a guest of Thai Airways.