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How a secretive hippie hideaway in Thailand transformed into a world-renowned beach retreat

Koh Phangan, Thailand (CNN) — Michael Doyle started making regular trips to Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand in the mid-1980s, enjoying laid-back life in rustic beach bungalows around the island between stints as a psychiatric nurse in Australia.

Eventually, he took up residence in Hat Rin, a sunset-facing beach at the southern tip of the island where a fast-growing international hippie scene offered everything from trance music and tai chi to hedonism and spirituality all rolled into one.

By 1989, Hat Rin had become world-famous for its monthly Full Moon Party on the beach, and Doyle melted into the flow of “the new Goa.”

One day in 1991, a chance acquaintance invited Doyle to a celebration for the opening of a new spot on a secret beach further up the coast. It was called “The Sanctuary,” and it could only be reached via hired boat or on foot over steep hills and rocky headlands.

He accepted, and choosing the latter route, he and his new acquaintances began the strenuous hike.

“As we came over the first hill, the sight of a crystal-white beach below, without anyone on it, was pure magic,” recounts Doyle. But they hadn’t yet reached “the beach,” and so the group trekked on along a narrow path threading between clusters of giant boulders.

“We glimpsed the second bay just before sunset,” says Doyle. “Walking down from there, I felt as if I were passing through some kind of invisible membrane and I realized, ‘well, my life has changed.'”

The Sanctuary, 6 153/14 Ban Tai, Koh Phangan District, Surat Thani 84280; +66 (0)77 954 073Want to know more on click here go to tour news source.