Yes, Belinda Carlisle, Heaven Is a Place On Earth

Railay Beach
Railay Beach West

The list of superlatives that could describe Railay Beach, Thailand hardly do its stop-you-in-your-tracks beauty justice. I’ve got to admit, after the unforgettable Maldives, it’s hard to be overwhelmed by even the loveliest beaches. So many are truly gorgeous, like Koh Kong, Cambodia, but few will be as pristine and unforgettable as those islands. And yet. There’s Railay.

The town and its beaches form an isthmus of sorts, a small nub jutting out into the sea from the coast, narrowing at the center, and flanked by beaches and looming limestone cliffs.

Rock Climber, Railay Beach
Rock Climber, Railay Beach

I spent my days lying in the shade of a fir tree, scrunching my toes in sand that felt downright silky, and reading. Maybe there’d be a dip in that turquoise bathtub of a sea, the Andaman.

The tiny town is a haven for rock climbers; the towering limestone rocks are no joke, and the hard bodies meandering about town make the kite surfers of Mui Ne look weak.

My activities were far less than athletic, though we did take a hike to Tonsai Beach, around the limestone cliff bend, that I thought would surely be the end of days for me – fears of heights, slippery steep paths, and nothing but flip flops and a sarong had  a good deal of my phobias realized. Refusing to return the way I came, I opted instead to hike through the sea, around the rocky cliffs. Though not deep, damn rocks in the sea are slippery!

Railay Beach
Railay Beach

I took an epic, slow motion fall into the water, heroically saving my satchel back and the camera and Kindle tucked inside. I proudly showed off the resulting scratches on my hand. “I got these on some rocks!” I declared, only to hang my head, and add, “The rocks were 6 inches high.”

Oh, but I won’t soon forget my arrival here. (See more pictures here) That first moment, emerging from amidst the cliffs onto the beach, looking up at the craggy rock walls, and around at the cerulean water and sugary sands truly stopped my in my tracks, and left me gasping. This is perfection.


  1. And we thought Belinda’s heaven was at the Aurora Bistro:) Oh lady, I want to be there with you frolicing on the beach and belting out Belinda’s tune (the Thailand version of us dancing on the Philly streets and singing Bob Seger)! Heaven, indeed. Love the pic of you with your binoculars–classic. As always, I continue to be excited for you and your adventures and the beauty you are discovering all over the world and within you. Life is good:) XOXO!

  2. I’m glad you love it as much as we do! Where did you end up staying?

    • Valerie Conners says:

      Thanks for all the great tips, Claudia – though I was too chicken to do the crazy hike up to the blue lagoon! We stayed in East Railay at a pretty nice resort, Ayavee – not too expensive, but actually quite lovely. The whole trip there was perfect – you were right, it’s paradise!

  3. What beautiful pictures! Sounds and looks heavenly. Meanwhile, I’m looking out the window at a snow-covered deck! Wish I were there enjoying the beautiful beach with my toes in the sand! Maia particularly enjoyed looking at the pictures of the rock climbers now that she started her rock climbing class. 🙂