“Ko Samet (Thai: เกาะเสม็ด, Thai pronunciation: [kɔ̀ʔ samèt]), is one of the Eastern Seaboard Islands of Thailand. It is located in the Gulf of Thailand off the coastline of the Thai province of Rayong, approximately 220 kilometres (140 mi) southeast of Bangkok. Ko Samet is part of the Phe (Thai: เพ) Subdistrict of the Amphoe Mueang Rayong (Thai: เมืองระยอง, the capital district, or Amphoe Mueang), of Rayong province. Ko Samet is the largest and westernmost of a cluster of islands not far from the coast.
The island derives its name from the cajeput tree found throughout the island, as the Thai language word for cajeput is samet (the cajeput tree is formally known in Thai ต้นเสม็ดขาว). In the past, this island has also been referred to by its colloquial name, Ko Kaeo Phitsadan (Thai: เกาะแก้วพิสดาร), or the “Magic Crystal Island”.
Popular with foreign tourists and as a weekend getaway for residents of nearby Bangkok, most of the island (excluding the Na Dan area) belongs to the Khao Laem Ya – Mu Ko Samet National Park. In 1981, the Royal Forest Department declared the archipelago of Samet, along with nine other small islands, the headland of Khao Laem Ya, and the 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) Mae Ramphueng Beach to be a National Park, and is thus Ko Samet is under the protection of the National Parks Division of the Thai Government.
Travel to and from Ko Samet is typically via the small local port at Ban Phe (Thai: บ้านเพ) on the coast. Travelers from Bangkok frequently travel by bus, with departures to Ban Phe from Bangkok’s Eastern Bus terminal, the Ekkamai bus station, and travel time from Bangkok to Ban Phe of approximately 3½ hours. Owing to the island’s close proximity to the coast, just 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) offshore, boats travel casually from Ban Phe to Ko Samet in approximately 30 minutes.
Geography and climate
Located just 220 km from the capital in the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Samet is approximately 13.1 square kilometres (5.1 sq mi) in size, and shaped somewhat like a letter “t”. Along the length of the “t” (north-south) the island measures approximately 7 km, and measures 4 km across the “t” (west-east). Forest remains blanket up to 80% of the total area.
Closest to the Rayong coast, lies the small island port village of Na Dan, commonly known as Ko Samet Village, with its popular nearby beach Hat Sai Kaeo (Thai: หาดทรายแก้ว), the longest beach on Ko Samet. Most of Ko Samet’s beaches lie along the eastern shore of the island. Other beaches on the island include: Ao Phai, Ao Wai, Ao Kio Na Nai, Ao Cho, Ao Kio Na Nok, Ao Wong Duean, Cape Kut, Ao Toei, and Ao Karang at the southern tip, and Ao Phrao on the western shore of the island. Just off the southern tip of the island are three small rock-islands, Ko Chan (Moon Island; Thai: เกาะจันทร์), Ko San Chalam (Shark Fin Island), and Hin Khao (White Rock; Thai: เกาะหินขาว).
Ko Samet is one of the driest archipelagos in Thailand. Ko Samet gets significantly less rainfall than Rayong Province, even though it is only a few kilometres offshore. The island’s “rainy season” extends only from May to July, but even during this season it has less rain that other islands in Thailand. The island despite being arid, consists of lush forested hills, covered with evergreen and deciduous forest and cajeput trees grow abundantly. Owing to the lack of rain, Ko Samet still ships in potable water to the island.”