If you’re visiting Khao Lak, or even if you live here, you have probably been recommended to go to White Sand Beach. The name of this beach has changed a number of times over the years, you might also have heard it referred to as Ao Thong Beach as that is it’s actual name. Ao Thong means Golden Bay in English, clearly named after the beautiful golden sands out-skirting the Andaman Sea. Commonly the beach is referred to as White Sand Beach: this is a much more tourist friendly name, it’s memorable and depicts an idillic beach, which it really is. Do not confuse White Sand Beach Resort with Ao Thong Resort though, the latter is owned by Mr. Neung and his lovely wife, Nong. The former is Mr. Neung’s brother in law’s business. When looking for Ao Thong Bungalows look for the bright blue umbrellas on the beach!
If we go back more than 20 years this little patch of coastline near Khao Lak was known as Ao Ling Beach, “Monkey Bay Beach”. It was covered with mangrove forests and was inhabited by monkeys and other exotic animals. The area was also populated with shrimp farms, which have gone from White Sand Beach today but can still be found in areas of Pakarang Cape.
In 1997 the beautiful white sandy beach started attracting a lot of tourists, so small bars and restaurants starting popping up to cater for these new visitors. The Similana Resort was just next door, so this area was the perfect spot for them to enjoy the sun, sea and sand with a cocktail in their hand and some delicious Thai food in front of them. Two years later and five bamboo bungalows were built. These were a very simple accommodation option, with mosquito nets and power from a generator.
When famous high end resort, The Sarojin, was built in 2003 Mr. Nueng and the other small business owners were very pleased. Not only did they bring a whole barrage of new customers to the local shack restaurants and bars, but they also brought power with them. Ao Thong Beach Resort was no longer dependant on the weak generator electricity and things were starting to look up for this modest stretch of beach.
Then disaster struck. On the 26th December 2004 an earthquake in Indonesia sent tremors through south east Asia, starting a horrific giant wave: the tsunami. All that Mr. Neung and his neighbours had worked so hard for over the past few years was destroyed in just a couple of hours.
Like many Thais in the Khao Lak area, Mr. Neung picked up and carried on, this time bigger and better. He built concrete bungalows, a toilet block, new bar and restaurant. His brother in law then decided to build next to him, creating ‘White Sand Beach Resort’. This once again changed the commonly known name of the area to White Sand beach.
These days White Sand Beach, or Ao Thong Beach, is a very popular destination for tourists to the area. The stunning golden sand and beautiful tree lined edges lying next to the sea make it the perfect place to spend the day and a very romantic setting for an evening dinner in front of the sunset. Mr. Neung’s wife, Nong, continues to draw customers back with her excellent cooking. She has more than ten years of cooking experience and always prepares dishes to Thailand’s “Clean Food Good Taste” standard at her Khao Lak restaurant.
White Sand Beach is also the perfect location from which to set off on a fishing or wreck diving trip. Mr. Nueng can arrange both using only the best guides and companies available, in fact there is only one dive company that uses the beach as a departure point from which to dive the wreck, so it is an exclusive starting off point too. From a little beach with bamboo shacks to a stretch of coastline with high end resorts and the beautiful Ao Thong Bungalows, White Sand Beach has come a long way.