The unexpected beauty of Maiton Island
Maiton island an understated paradise with a long and interesting history. It’s a superb day out, only 15 minutes from Phuket by speedboat. The island is small but with a large and quiet beach and a green hill as a backdrop. Maiton is a private island with a small hotel and just a few bungalows that used to be the ultimate luxury in Phuket. If you visit as a day trip, you can have lunch, drinks or even a massage at the hotel.
There is not so much to do on this small isle, but it feels like a total escape from busy Phuket. Swim, relax, explore a bit eat and drink, go snorkelling and enjoy the peace in a lounger under the trees and the day feels perfect.
How to go to Maiton Island
We booked Love Andaman tour online via QBIC Travel just the day before. While the company provides a hotel pick up, we prefered to drive to the Panwa pier, on the east coast of Phuket (near Phuket aquarium). This pier is a lot quieter than the big Rassada to Phi Phi Islands and Chalong pier to Coral and Racha Island. As we arrived very early, we had coffee and a light breakfast offered in a surprisingly comfortable and aircon waiting room by the water. The staff was very friendly and helpful, giving the small groups a clear and concise description of how the trip and the day would look like.
Our Thai guide spoke excellent English, and his enthusiasm didn’t feel rehearsed. The team was actually great for the whole day.
Our small group of about 20 passengers boarded the big and comfortable speedboat. The 5 minutes ride went smoothly, (which may not always be as quiet in low season) and sooner than we expected we arrived at a large and very photogenic pier. If you look at the photo, it felt like arriving in the Maldives again. At this point, you choose to stay on board to go snorkelling a little further or disembark to enjoy the island. We decided to disembark and explore.
As soon as you arrive, the beauty of the place put a smile on everyone’s face. The water is so clear and so blue, the sand so white with the green hill in the back… it’s a real tropical dream. The beach is immense, and it’s a relaxing walk to go all the way to the end with your feet in the warm water.
The hotel is a bit… surprising, to say the least, and I hope people who book one of the expensive bungalows are aware of the situation. This used to be a 70 bungalows luxury resort for wealthy Japanese travellers. But only 7 to 10 rooms are still in operation.
The problem is that the 60 other rooms are still standing in a wreck condition. Some are converted in abandoned storage rooms, to neglected staff houses, all the way to total wrecks by the sea… it’s really surreal! Imagine going to tour villa at night, having to walk by a few wrecks? That’s a little creepy. (Look at the photos lower in the page). We suppose that running such a big and expensive resort so far from the main island was not profitable in the long run.
The main building and the once iconic swimming pool are still beautiful but a little run down. The best spot is the little wooden beach bar when you can buy a beer for 120 baht.
At 12 noon, the visitors are invited to enjoy a small but good lunch buffet in an open restaurant by the sea, with tables under the trees. It’s a relaxing moment and a chance to meet and talk with other visitors. Food is good and atmosphere pleasant. You can buy beers at the hotels, but as recommended by our guides, you can bring your own too, it’s a lot cheaper (you can buy them at the pier!)
The viewpoint at the top of the hill behind the hotel is not difficult to reach, but not really impressive either. Up there is a small shrine up and the hotel set up a little selfie spot to take a couple of photos.
Surprisingly, Maiton is somewhat unknown. Maybe because it’s a little more expensive than Coral Island (2,900 baht)? Perhaps people think it’s far (but it’s not really)? Or maybe the illusion of once very private and exclusive island still remain from the past. However, we believe that despite its beauty, it’s not much talked about.