Koh Samui’s Top 10 best family beach front hotels & resorts

Koh Samui; good beach hotels for families, interesting cultural experiences for children

Koh Samui is well-suited for family beach holidays, for a number of reasons. Thailand at large is quite safe for families and children, and Koh Samui is certainly the same. The quality of beachfront hotels is generally good, with a wide range of styles and prices. But perhaps most important are the beaches - especially for little ones – and the wide range of things to do and see – for older kids. Most of Samui’s beaches have relatively shallow water, and a gradual slope towards the deep, leaving lots of safe shallows close to shore where young ones can splash and play in relative safety. It’s sometimes inconvenient for adults who want to really swim, but safer for families with young children. Also, the water is especially calm through most of the year, with small to medium waves only crashing on the beaches during the northeast season in November – January.

Older children also enjoy the beaches, but when they need further stimulation there’s a whole range of places to go and things to see on this coconut-covered island. Some excellent new cultural experiences await children of Western families, from visiting local markets to see what the Thais eat to visiting the Muslim fishing community at Hua Thanon or contemplating the Big Buddha statue and its intriguing surrounds.

Driving non-stop around Samui takes just one hour, so it’s the ideal size to spend half a day, or even a full day, going slowly, taking side roads, stopping off and exploring. Renting a car is easy and relatively cheap on Samui, and families will get great value from such trips. There are more pages here suggesting interesting places to see, like Koh Samui’s 7 secret, little-seen beaches , or explore Samui’s admin town, Nathon . Below we list our top choices for the island’s best resorts for families with children of all ages, and give reasons for each selection. The writer has personally visited and photographed virtually all 270 hotels and resorts qualified by this website as true beachfront.

Centara Grand Samui Resort

This large beachfront resort of 203 rooms occupies some 260 metres of Koh Samui’s famous Chaweng Beach, the biggest resort here in number of rooms, with by far the most expansive area. Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui was one the first large beach hotels constructed by this industry leader, done before it began installing water parks in its bigger beach properties. However, the number of pools, including one for babies, plus activities, shows that they had families in mind from the beginning.

As expected of a top family hotel, Centara Samui has children’s pools in different depths, a kid’s club, both children’s playground and play room plus baby-minding and child-care services. The wide lawns and gardens, with lots of shade from coconut palms and mature trees, are excellent areas for children to run, romp and play. And of course it has the full range of 5-star facilities to keep parents occupied and satisfied.

The beach in front of Centara is good for children, especially those old enough to really swim. The beach is wide and sandy with no rocks in sight, and the ocean bottom is completely sand. The water is quite shallow at low tide, and good for toddlers to run and splash about in, but it will be over little children’s heads at high tide.

Do check the tides if coming to Koh Samui, for high tide lasts all day from November through March, and low tide runs through the day from April to September.

Samui Beach Village

Isolated on an exceptionally wide and almost deserted beach in Samui’s far southeast, Samui Beach Village is not so much a beachfront hotel as a holiday housing community offering luxury villas complete with their own swimming pools and full kitchen and living facilities. It’s ideal for bigger families who would like to do some of their own cooking, and live as they would in their own beach home.

The Village also offers a comprehensive common clubhouse with restaurant, swimming pool, tennis court, gym, games room and electronic gaming machines with high-speed internet. Services include massage and beauty treatments, plus baby-and child-minding. Adding up the private home, an excellent beach and the good common facilities, this appears as one of the best places on Koh Samui for entertaining a whole family, and exhausting kids day after day with plenty of activities.

Chaweng Regent beach Resort

Chaweng Regent Beach Resort could be described as the original family beach resort on Koh Samui. When it opened in the early 1990s the island was still largely a backpackers’ destination. Few global tourists older than 30 had ever heard of the island, but the opening of Samui airport in 1989 had begun to change that. Chaweng Regent’s bold move up to a middle class resort with basic family facilities, including a children’s pool, has paid off handsomely over the years, making this one of the best-regarded accommodations for families.

Chaweng Regent is now well entrenched in the itineraries of both couples and families coming to Samui to experience its famous blend of tropical beach and vibrant lifestyle; shopping, street markets, local restaurants, high-octane nightlife and modern shopping malls – much of which is within walking distance.

The resort offers all of the basic facilities for children, including children’s pool, kid’s club and activities, plus child- and baby-minding services.

The shallow lagoon in front of the resort is also ideal for young children – if not for adults who want to swim. The reef 200 metres out in front cuts off all waves and has created a shallow lagoon resembling a heaven-made children’s playground where parents can let their young ones have fun in the ocean with minimal danger.

Bandara Resort & Spa Samui

Bophut Beach is good for those who like to swim, but it is not ideal for very young children. The sand is quite narrow, with a steep gradient to the water, which quickly runs relatively deep. In general, that’s a major advantage, for it makes this one of Samui’s best swimming beaches – great for adults and older kids who can swim, but not for toddlers or babies.

However, more beach resorts have invented themselves in the family-friendly mode on Bophut than on any other beach on Samui. Bophut has three on this list of Top Ten Best Family-friendly beach resorts. The list of services on Bandara Resort ’s page in this website suggests that this beachfront hotel makes the biggest effort of all to both attract and satisfy family business. Shallow pools for little children are high among those family facilities.

Bandara’s long services list includes family rooms, free baby cots, children’s pool, kids’ club, games room, baby-sitting and child-minding services, a doctor’s clinic and friendly check- in and out times. Bandara’s facilities list for parents is even more impressive, suggesting that here is a resort that tries a little harder than most.

Bandara certainly looks like one of the best bets for families on this part of Samui.

Mai Samui Beach Resort & Spa

Seemingly lost on a quiet beach far from the tourist crowds, Mai Samui Beach Resort is something of a surprise. Here in an old coconut plantation where we might expect backpacker bungalows lies an ultra-stylish, modern resort with full 4-star facilities. The beach in front is quite pretty and natural, but so shallow that hundreds of metres of sand is exposed at low tide. High tide is much better, and this lasts through the day from November through March.

To compensate for shallow, or no water, and give guests lots of different environments to swim in, the resort has built four swimming pools. These are divided into so many sections that a guest’s first impression is one of multiple pools in all directions.

Some of the 97 rooms enjoy direct pool access, an all-time favourite with children – just be sure they are swimmers if booking this room type. The resort offers the standard, full range of children’s facilities, including plenty of pool areas for little ones, a kid’s club and a Fun Zone. For the bigger ones there is a squash court, plus mountain bikes and sea kayaks for hire.

Note that the resort has a second accommodation section across the small road that cuts through the resort. There are also small pools in this area, but children would best be accommodated towards the beach close to the bigger pools.

Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort

The name Anantara is associated with romantic hideaways more often than hotels suited for families and children. But Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort manages a comfortable balance, catering to these two disparate ends of the human spectrum. It provides a good range of services for families, even when its major clientele is couples. A glance over the beach shows that many of those couples are not so young and romantic, but mature and seeking solace from sun and beach.

Children and families fit in here by design. Anantara provides a good range of services for families, including a pool for children, a kids’ club and baby-sitting and child-minding services. The beach at Anantara Bophut is just OK, with the coarse-grain sand (see the sand detail photos on the beach map) quickly running into quite deep water. The beach is a bit narrow. While the beach is especially good for those who can swim, toddlers are best kept in the pools.

The location of Anantara Bophut has real advantages for families with children old enough to benefit from new cultural experiences – perhaps about seven years and above? Bophut’s famous Fisherman’s Village is just 200 metres walk away, putting a whole range of diverse Thai and international experiences for growing minds within a few minutes walk.

Imperial Boathouse Resort

The Imperial Boat House Beach Resort is one of few resorts on Koh Samui with a distinct theme running right through it, to the delight of many guests – especially children. ‘Boats’ are the theme, of course, and many rooms are built into genuine wooden rice barges anchored for their last journey in a lush tropical garden. The main pool at the beachfront is also modelled as an ancient ship’s hull, with old cannon lining each side – more hot fodder for little imaginations.

This, the biggest resort on Choeng Mon Beach with 210 rooms, has enough land to give the resort an open and spacious feel. Most rooms are in three-storey blocks towards the back that overlook a central courtyard with more pools and gardens. Imperial Boat House is built child-friendly, and in addition to those excellent swimming pools, it offers a kids’ club, games room with table tennis and other activities. Baby-sitting and child-minding services are also available for parents who want to get out to see a little of nearby Chaweng’s nightlife.

Bo Phut Resort & Spa

Bo Phut Resort is one in a line up of good quality resorts on Bophut Beach West, though this aspiring 4-star beachfront hotel beats most of its neighbours with better than average family facilities. First, children up to 11 years old stay free if sharing their parents’ room. It offers a good young children’s pool, while the large main one, attached, is shallow enough for many bigger children. It has a kids’ club plus games like table tennis. Another sign tells that Bo Phut Resort & Spa has gone to greater lengths than most Samui hotels to care for guests other than couples; it is also disabled-friendly.

The resort has quite a lot of space and its 61 rooms are all single storey bungalows in a contemporary interpretation of traditional Thai architecture. There’s a natural water feature in the middle, and lots of open space with lawns and gardens, giving this resort a lush tropical ambience – and places for children to explore and amuse themselves in.

The beach runs into some of the deepest water off any beach on Samui, making it popular with swimmers. However, while this will be good for older children, the young non-swimmers will need watching.

Melati Beach Resort

This luxurious resort facing a lonely beach at the top of Koh Samui might first appear like the perfect hideaway for romantic couples – and it often is. However, Melati Beach Resort & Spa is the sister resort to another that we have suggested is Koh Samui’s first-ever family hotel, Chaweng Regent. After their success with that resort starting in the early 1990s, the Thai-Chinese owners developed this, apparently as a kind of hideaway beach front hotel. But they did not forget the other markets they were accustomed to satisfying –families included.

Few people ever find their way to Thongson Bay, a good reason that helps Melati remain ones one of the better ‘hideaway’ resorts, though it’s only a few minutes ride from the restaurants, shopping and nightlife action of Chaweng and Bophut.

Melati Beach Resort begins well with the most important of children’s facilities, large swimming pools with diverse depths and corners for different ages. It also has the requisite kid’s club plus child-minding and baby-sitting services. Five luxury Family Pool Villas are also available, with living rooms that convert to children’s bedroom when needed.

Napasai Koh Samui – enough space for both romance and children

Napasai Resort enjoys one of the most beautiful and private beachfront locations on Koh Samui. Few people, save guests, ever get to see just how idyllic and peaceful it is, even romantic. So what value for families?

Napasai Koh Samui does not have as many indoor facilities for families as do resorts dedicated to the family market. However, its outdoors environment is extraordinary, and very well suited to children who need open spaces and lawns to run about and tumble upon. And it offers a soft-sand beach running into rather shallow water where they can fall and splash. It’s not a resort for toddlers or teenagers, but for those in between - like this writer’s super-active son, aged 8 years, who I am sure would simply love the space, the beach and the swimming pool.

Napasai offers a wide range of services, and it is obvious they value weddings more than families. There’s no kids’ club, and no organized activities for children. But this writer has been in Napasai when there was both a wedding about to unfold, and children having heaps of fun in the swimming pool. I didn’t get to witness the couple tying a knot, but did see the children performing one of the great, exuberant celebrations of life that results from a wedding – kids having a ball in Napasai’s pool.

by John Everingham