Sensi Paradise

Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Thailand Book from Book from £57 per night

Beach lodges on the remote island of Koh Tao with 46 simple thatched houses dotted about landscaped gardens
There are 3 good reasons to go to Koh Tao. First, it offers the most exciting diving in the Gulf of Thailand. Second, it is a picturesque island near Samui. And third, it is a mighty fine place to sit and do nothing.

We chose the third reason, and fulfilled our task without the slightest difficulty. Days passed by in a coma of sunbathing on sandy beaches, snorkelling through fish-filled seas, reading atop granite boulders, and nipping around the island on longtail boats, with only fresh seafood, spicy soups and cold beers for interruption. Staying at Sensi Paradise certainly helped. It's a good-value and well run lodge, one of many dotted around the island's 20km of palm-fringed shore-line. Of course, if you want action, the adjacent village of Mae Haad offers bars, clubs, dive courses, mountain bikes and kayaks for rent.

Highs

  • There's a variety of accommodation, from simple backpackers' huts to larger stilted houses at the water's edge
  • Lovely landscaped gardens with palms, lawns, bright flowers, tropical birds and a huge, secluded pool
  • Beachside restaurant with seafood BBQ's and fresh fruit pressés
  • Sandy beach on your doorstep, and more secluded coves within a short walk
  • Handy location for dive courses, bike and kayak rentals, and more...

Lows

  • We've received mixed feedback on this property of late; it's been some time since we were last able to visit and experience it for ourselves, but we hope to stop by personally soon. In the meantime, please note that our review may not entirely reflect the experience of staying at Sensi Paradise
  • Being near the main pier means a lot of noise from the regular boats serving the island, and the recent reports suggest the beach is quite dirty
  • Only a few of the houses are immediately on the sea
  • Prices have risen of late, and you must buy their water in glass bottles (no plastic)
  • Reports suggest the quality of the food has dropped
  • It may take a while to get an answer to your enquiry

Best time to go

Like all islands on the eastern (gulf) side of Thailand, Koh Tao is affected by the northeast monsoon from October to December, with the worst of the rains coming in November. Travel to/from the island can be difficult during these months. January to April is high season, with hot and humid days; May through September are cooler, with pleasant breezes spilling over from the southwest monsoon during July - September.

Our top tips

We loved the gorgeous landscaped gardens with flowering shrubs, bright hibiscus flowers, tropical birds flitting about, and even a moat-ringed wooden pavilion for lazy book-time.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Beach Resort
  • 48
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Snorkelling equipment
Room:

Rooms

The 48 houses are cleverly spread out along the beach, among the huge boulders and up the palm-covered hillsides, so it feels much smaller and more private. The houses vary from simple houses to beautiful beachfront villas, with various other options in between. Throughout, the emphasis is on stylish simplicity: thatch panelling and roof, smooth hardwood floors and furniture, stilted balconies, and open-air shower rooms incorporating boulders and branches. Aesthetes might scoff at the over-shiny varnish or the unfaced brickwork of the bathroom walls, but it's a good effort given the remoteness.

Pride of place goes to the Royal Villa, which fronts a small sandy cove surrounded by granite outcrops. Failing these, there are assorted Family Houses set back from the sea, some overlook the beach, other the pool and some the gardens.

The best options for couples are the Romantic Sea View Houses and Sea View Suites, at the far end of this cove, also with direct access from bedroom to balcony to sea (a gratifying early morning progression!).

The Superior and Deluxe Houses are basically single-space huts on stilts, with a simple shower room out the back and a shaded porch out the front. We’d still be happy in these as they offer a little more privacy.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net

Eating

It's amazing how hungry you can feel after a gruelling day of sunbathing and swimming! Happily, Sensi's beachside restaurant fills the spot with an extensive menu of Thai and international dishes and drinks, served on a wooden platform looking out over Mae Haad's sandy beach and its busy boat piers.

At breakfast, choose from American-style (including eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes), Continental (fruit salad, breads, pastries) or Asian (rice soup with chicken or prawns, fruit salad). Or you can order individual dishes - muesli with fruit salad and yoghurt for the healthy and pancakes for the kids.

The a la carte lunch and dinner menu offers a good range of curries. We ordered a 'mild' tom yum goong soup with prawns, it was rather like a seafood broth - lovely and fresh. Some evenings, a seafood BBQ is laid on.

If you (or your children) prefer to play safe, there's a choice of western dishes (lamb chops, DIY pizzas, classic pastas and even fish 'n' chips!), plus some unexpected salads (Caesar, Greek…).

Drinks include a dangerously addictive banana-mango-strawberry smoothie, as well as wines, champagnes and beers … not bad for a remote island.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Sunbathe and relax on the sandy beach in front of the resort, by the large pool, or at a quieter cove a short walk away. Jansom Bay is idyllically poised between gargantuan boulders, and well worth the small fee
  • Go swimming and snorkelling through the bay or round the cape. The reef starts a stone's throw from the beach, with fantastic coral formations (giant cabbages, bulbous brains, luminous green mould, wavy razor edges, stalky lattices), not to mention a plethora of exotic fish gliding silently in front of your nose as on a screensaver. Masks and fins are available free of charge
  • Or, go diving with one of the many reputable schools in Mae Haad. There are 25 prime dive sites within close proximity to the shore (around 15-20m depth), boasting caverns, swim-through arches and pinnacles, and home to fantastic coral fish and anemones, as well as passing pelagics, sharks, turtles, manta etc
  • Head off on a chartered boat-trip around the island, stopping at the famous 'triple beach' of Nang Yuan, where the spits from 3 tiny coral islands converge. Or head to Ang Thong Marine Park, a cluster of 40 tooth-like islets inhabited only by wild animals and birds

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Yoga

Kids

This is a great place for children of all ages. The food is kid-friendly and the sandy beach (with boats, snorkels, kayaks etc) is a godsend.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Family Houses and Royal Villa are the best options as they can sleep from 3 to 6 in 2-3 bedrooms and fit an additional bed or baby cot.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities nearby:

If parents would like some time to go diving, out to dinner or visit the spa, there's a Koh Tao Play School and Day Care centre which provides daily childcare and babysitting services from pre-school upwards. Kids over 5 can join the kids camp themed days (such as pirate, mermaid/shark, circus). They even offer weekend camp outs across the island and scuba diving for older kids

Families Should Know:

Few twin-bedded rooms (most have doubles); and a few dangerous raised balconies for tiny toddlers (check when enquiring)

Distances:

  • Airport: 2-4 hours (boat service from Koh Samui)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 5 independent reviews from i-escape guests

7/10
Room
6/10
Food
7/10
Service
6/10
Value
7/10
Overall

Resort is nice. Team super friendly. Food was good. Room was ok but very basic. Bed mattress pillars and sheets were a bit grubby. The worst thing about this place...which made us change our flights and leave early are the mosquitos. Absolutely terrible. Everywhere. Horrible. Also the ferry over is not a pleasant experience at all.

8/10,

Hotel is tired, beds are very uncomfortable. Overpriced and disappointing.

5/10,

Location is good - not far from the ferry port and close to restaurants (although there is some port noise 24/7). Pool is absolutely stunning - two levels & spacious. Service was nice - friendly and helpful. What lets this resort down is the rooms which are tired and in need of a refresh. Breakfast is also of a poor standard.

5/10,

I liked the hotel itself – casual & relaxed. What I didn’t like was the excessive noise from the motor boats which travel in & out of the port next to the hotel day & night. Also there was doof-doof noise and vibrations from nightclubs along the foreshore. While none of these are the hotels fault, I would never stay in Koh Tao again due to noise. Even though it is a remote island, it is also a party island and I came for rest & relaxation which was hard to find. Food in the hotel was ordinary and got boring after a day or two

6/10,

You should take the speed boat from the lompraya company which is faster.

8/10,

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Rates for Sensi Paradise