A long, 400 metre stretch of white sand on the West coast, Ao Prao is surely the quietest long beach on Koh Samet.

There is a pier here with ferries giving easy access to the mainland, but this beach is really about solitude and serenity. The most action this beach sees is when everyone comes to sit on the sand for the glorious sunsets.

The beach is rather narrow, and again, it is completely submerged at spring tides. The sand is coarser and harder packed than the soft stuff on the eastern beaches. There are good trees at the top for shade. The water is quite deep, providing good swimming.

There are just three, more comfortable beach resorts here, each with a long beachfront and spacious beach gardens. All are low-rise, and built into their gardens and trees, and from the water the beach still looks very natural.

Ao Prao Resort has beach suites plus garden cottages, and has a conference room for 70. Its focus is on beach sports and activities, and offers sailing, windsurfing, snorkelling, diving, fishing trips, boating, sunbathing, bike riding and, of course, just plain swimming and relaxing on the sand.

The 4-star Le Vimarn Cottages & Spa has just 31 large, more comfortable cottages spread through a wide tropical garden. It boasts a full-service spa with massage, body therapy and a health club. It provides free internet. The last of the three, Lima Coco Resort, is 3 star and ideal for families.

Ao Prao Beach is the most exclusive of Samet's many beaches, and thus ideal for couples, or anyone looking for the most romantic beach on Samet.

by John Everingham