It’s been a long time coming, but it’s happened! Other sea-side resorts like Phuket and Pattaya have had all this for a long time. But, even though we’re completely surrounded by water, Samui has chugged along oblivious. We’ve had scuba trips. And boat trips. Kayaks. Fishing. And a few jet skis. And . . . well, that’s about it. But not anymore. If you wanted, you could now come here for a ten-day break and hurl yourself at a different watersport on every one of them. Parasailing, paddle boarding, kite boarding; even flyboards and jetpacks, and a host of others.
Of course there are those who don’t really want to thrash about on holiday. And those who can’t, perhaps due to the onset of advancing years. And then there are also many who are upset by the very thought of it all: Samui is a lovely island and still largely unspoiled. And it’s a good idea to keep it that way. But that’s OK. Because you aren’t going to see this sea-carnival on every beach, wherever you go. It’s all sensibly centred close to where most of the tourists are. That means in and around Chaweng, one part of Lamai, and a bit on Bangrak Beach. And, in any case, there are still a lot of quiet and gentle things you can do on the water, which I’ll get to later.
There isn’t scope here to list the details of all the companies that are getting these things together. Not that there’s really all that many, although new ones appear to be popping up quite fast. But it’ll only take you a few minutes or so to Google this, and then, with a quick look at TripAdvisor to check if there are any horror stories, to decide on what grabs you, and then investigate more.
Jet skis have been around for a long time and, until the last few years or so, seemed to limit themselves to Chaweng and Lamai. But recently (as mentioned) Bangrak, and even Bophut in the vicinity of Fisherman’s Village, have sported a few tied up here and there. Plus I’ve noticed that several of the bigger resorts have even bought them for the use of their guests.It’s great to take a dip in the sea – but there are lots of thing to do on top of the water, too!
Interestingly, I’ll just mention that it’s not common to see water skiing around the island anymore. I’ve noticed the odd one or two from time to time, but curiosity leads me to dig further, and a quick search online reveals just one company advertising this.
There is a company however, that now seems to be specialising in some of the more extreme aspects of watersport. They’re over in Lamai, on the coast, not that far away from where the post office is located. And if you’ve never tried jetting your way around, you’re in for a treat. Jetpacks look something like one of those sci-fi inventions that James Bond used at one time. Only instead of taking off on a blast from a jet engine on your back, it’s water-powered. The harness has two hi-pressure water tubes pointing down, controlled by a throttle like a motorbike. A skilled rider can rise up to 60 or 70 feet; to the full length of whatever the trailing inlet tube is, in fact. Beginners will do nothing but fall over! But with practice you’ll be able to crash up and down, for a short time at least.
The jetboard (aka the flyboard) works on a similar principle and is much like a skateboard, and correspondingly trickier to master than a jetpack. But it’s far more manoeuvrable, allowing rollercoaster spins and even triple flips. Although just one teeny word of warning here. It’s going to cost you somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 baht for half an hour for these things. (In America the time for training is not less than one hour. Here you’ll get between five and ten minutes.) Then 20 minutes on your own. Making the hourly rate slightly more expensive than leaning to fly a light aircraft like the Cessna 152!It’s great to take a dip in the sea – but there are lots of thing to do on top of the water, too!
Happily the same can’t be said about other such rip-roaring activities as parasailing, the fun flying fish or, that old favourite, the banana boat. You’ll also find it easy to go paddle boarding, wakeboarding and kite boarding, although you’ll need to shop around a little as there doesn’t seem to be one single company that’s offering the entire spectrum of water sports. In the same way that wakeboarding seems to have replaced the more-traditional water-skiing, so these other and newer extreme water sports seem to have dealt the hand of death for the old-style traditional windsurfing, which seems to have disappeared completely.
And so to watersport activities which don’t involve stress, speed, thrills or anything at all to do with adrenalin. One of the most practical of the new wave of tours to emerge involves jet skis. Often cursed by grannies, they are now to be seen in sedate fleets of eight or nine at a time, cruising over to Angthong Marine Park, Koh Tan or Koh Mudsum, or even the pleasant 5 Islands sunset tour. (Which will only cost about the same as two hours tuition in a Cessna 152 – probably a bargain!)
But Koh Mudsum, way down off the southern edge of Samui, is the perennial favourite for a much more boat-potato style of daytrip, involving nothing more hairy than lolling in the sun, drinking beer, and cooling off under a snorkel for a while. Or there’s always the snorkel’s big brother, the tried and tested scuba dive. The best places for this are off Koh Tao, where there are a couple of sunken wrecks and regular sightings of sailfish and the occasional whale shark. And you could always go fishing – or does that sound a bit old fashioned? I suppose it all depends whether you want to laze and graze or thrash and splash, doesn’t it?
Rob De Wet