A couple of weeks ago we made a trip over to Phuket to participate in the 4th Thailand SUP Festival. The event was held on Saturday 5th March 2016, at Bliss Beach Club on Bang Tao beach. It was such a fun day, and we especially loved hanging out with such a friendly group of paddlers, Local paddlers came from Bangkok, Pattaya, Samui and some participants even made the trip from from Australia, Canada, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea and Singapore. We were even joined by members of the Starboard Dream Team – Daniel and Bruno Hasulyo and Tomo Murabayashi.
Ian and I entered the 6km Elite Race (Distance) which involved 3 laps of the course and a 100m beach run in between each lap. And we also joined in the fun of SUP Polo, Team Relays and 200m Sprint races. Conditions were ideal for racing with crystal clear waters and clear blue skies, and a light breeze coming from the south east.
Make sure you put this event in the diary for 2017. It doesn’t matter if you’re just a new paddler or if you’ve been racing for years. It’s such a fun day and you’ll be glad you made the trip!
Click on these links for more information about the Thailand SUP Festival.
We start the North Coast Stand Up Paddle (SUP) tour early in the morning while it’s still cool and before the speed boats set off on their day trips. The plan is to paddle along the north coast of Koh Samui, exploring the waters around Bophut and Maenam. If the conditions are right and we get a good breeze, we can make it all the way to Baan Tai or Bang Po. NOTE: This tour is reversed in the summer months (May-October) due to the prevailing winds. So we start at Ban Tai and paddle towards Bophut or Bangrak.
There’s a stretch of coral reef along the coast just after Maenam (near the Napasai Belmond resort), and sometimes we stop to do a little snorkelling. There’s not much coral to see, but a few fish to take a peek at.
On our last north coast SUP tour we had a lovely 10 knot breeze coming across from the South East, which made it a great day to paddle all the way from Bangrak to Bang Po. We covered 12.5km in about 2.5 hours, and arrived on the quiet beach of Bang Po in time for an early lunch. Note, the tour includes a free fruit shake or fresh coconut. You should bring a little extra money if you’d like to stay for lunch after the paddle.
It’s a one-way paddle, so one of the SUP Instructors gets the fun task of traveling back to the starting point in a Song-Taew (local bus / pick up truck) to collect the car and bring it to the end point (so we can collect the paddle boards) and take everyone back home. Paddlers are welcome to join us on the song taew, or they may prefer to relax on the beach for an hour or so while we get the car.
Contact us to find out more about the Samui North Coast SUP Tour – call 092 737 9705 or email [email protected]
The Samui North Coast SUP tour starts on the beach in front of The Wharf Shopping Centre, at Bophut Fishermans Village. Depending on the weather and the paddler’s experience we can also start in Bangrak. Depending on the wind, this tour may be reversed.
Tour length: around 4 hours
Total paddling time: 2-3 hours (excludes breaks for swimming and snorkelling)
Come paddling with us on the Virgin Coast of Samui. There’s not much here except for long sandy beaches, clear water, sleepy fishing villages, a few private villas and a couple of resorts. Most tourists don’t even realise this peaceful side of Samui exists.
The Five Islands (known as Koh Si Koh Ha in Thai) are about 5km offshore from the South West corner of Koh Samui. The islands are known for their famous nests which are the main ingredient in birds’ nest soup. The only inhabitants out here are the Sea Gypsies who live in small wooden homes perched on the rocky islands and protect the birds.
Long Tail SUP Tour to Five Islands
We start the tour with a private Longtail boat out to the Five Islands. There’s time for snorkelling and maybe a swim with the local turtle. If the conditions are good we paddle around the islands. Also on the way back we paddle along one of the most beautiful coastlines of Samui, often referred to as the ‘Virgin Coast’.
2,200 Baht per person (without transfers), minimum 2 people. We suggest you bring another 500 Baht per person for lunch and drinks after the Longtail SUP Tour. Depending on your location, we can also assist with transfers from your villa/resort.
Starboard paddle board equipment
Qualified ASI SUP Instructor
9-9:30am Pick up at your hotel
10:00am Longtail departs Taling Ngam
There’s time for lunch (at your cost) at the end, before heading back to your hotel.
Click here to book your private SUP Tour to the Five Islands.
Jump on a paddle board and explore the coastline of Koh Samui at your own pace. You’ll paddle past empty beaches with countless coconut trees. And there’s hardly any traffic out on the water. It sure beats sitting on the ring road waiting for the lights to change to green.
Last week we started the Silent Beach SUP Tour in Bophut. We paddled for about 30 minutes before stopping for a swim at the beach near the W Retreat. The W Retreat has a lovely white sand bar sticking out into the sea, marking the start of Maenam. We turned around the corner and paddled another 30 minutes before stopping for lunch and a swim at The Treehouse on Silent Beach, which is at the eastern end of Maenam Beach.
It’s just a few steps up from the beach into the shady comfort of the restaurant, where we enjoyed drinking fresh coconuts whilst perusing the menu. There’s lots of Thai food on the menu, along with quite a few western options. I chose the Larb Gai (spicy chicken salad, Thai style), but next time I’m going to try one of their fresh western style salads.
After a delicious lunch, a swim and some refreshing drinks, it was time to leave the beautiful sands of Silent Beach and cruise back to Bophut on the paddle boards. Another perfect day exploring the island.
For more information about Stand Up Paddle (SUP) tours and lessons in Koh Samui, contact iSUP Samui on +66 92 737 9705. Ask us about transfers from your resort/villa -depending on your location, we might be able to pick you up and bring you to the beach for no extra cost.
The Silent Beach SUP tour starts and finishes on the beach in front of The Wharf Shopping Centre, at Bophut Fishermans Village. Although if there’s a breeze, we will start in Bangrak and paddle one-way to Silent Beach. After lunch we take a song-thaew (pick up truck / local taxi) back to the starting place.
All equipment is provided – we paddle on high quality Starboard Paddle Boards
Tour length: around 3.5 hours
Total paddling time: 2 hours (excludes breaks for swimming and lunch)
One of our favourite paddle tours is across to Koh Som (literally translated that means “Orange Island”). Koh Som is the small island that’s overlooking the north-east corner of Koh Samui. There’s actually two islands over there, but it looks like one because there’s a small reef joining the two islands (Koh Som and Koh Lum Mu Noi). Both of these islands are uninhabited.
You’d normally cruise past these islands on the ferry across to Haad Rin, Koh Phangnan. And a quick Google search tells me could buy the island of Koh Som for a cool $3.8m. But the good news is we can give you a close up paddle tour around the islands for just 1200 Baht (around US$35).
November is officially rainy season in Samui but we had a glorious sunny day yesterday. We took advantage of the blue skies and light winds and paddled over to the islands. We’re having high tides at the moment, which makes it easier to access the the beach in Plai Laem, close to our SUP HQ. We paddled around 500m across the channel and then went around the north side of the island first. We found some swell and a little chop, but nothing big enough to make either of us fall in. Once we got around to the southern side of the islands – facing Koh Samui – it was lovely and flat. We cruised along the shore and stopped for a water break on the beach of Koh Som, and then kept paddling home.
Koh Samui is just one hour away from Bangkok by plane
Paddle Tours operated by iSUP Samui, the only mobile SUP school in Koh Samui
We have been quite lucky over the past few weeks, and haven’t been affected too badly by the haze caused by the Indonesian fires. Earlier this month, we had a couple of hazy days where the flights were disrupted, but other than that it’s been mostly blue skies.
Unfortunately the haze has come back to bother us in Koh Samui, and we woke to hazy skies yesterday and again today. The Air Quality Index (PM10) peaked at 154 this afternoon and fortunately it’s now back down at 72. Anything over 150 is considered unhealthy, and below 100 is considered moderate with no health concerns.
We were out paddling this morning when it was hazy, but the air quality was still moderate. It’s quite eery to be out paddling in these conditions, especially when the water is so glassy, like it was today.
Flights in and out of Samui have been affected today. Some flights were re-directed to Phuket, and others have been delayed and cancelled.
We’ll keep an eye on the conditions over the next few days, and make sure we only take paddlers out when the conditions are right. Let’s hope we get some rain and wind to clear the skies.
“Five minutes until the buses arrive. Everyone make your way to the road to welcome the children” shouts Holly over the microphone. We join the group of volunteers and walk about two hundred metres from beach to the roadside, together with Holly the event organiser.
In the distance we can see the flashing lights on a police car leading the procession, and we can hear the rumble created by the Asian Nomads Motorcycle Club. These guys have assembled in the small coastal town of Khanom for the weekend to escort the children as they travel by bus from the orphanage in Nakhon Si Thammarat up to Khanom, a distance of one hundred kilometres. The buses pull up and the children are madly waving at us from their seats inside the bus. They’ve had a long bus ride to get excited about the day ahead.
It’s our first time helping out at Charlie’s annual “Fun on the Beach & Beach BBQ Day” for the children of the Nakhon Orphanage, and I’m not sure what to expect. Charlie lives in Khanom and owns CC Beach Bar & Restaurant, overlooking Nadam Beach. He has generously hosted this event for several years, supported with kind donations of local businesses and assistance from many volunteers, giving the children one day a year where they can be thoroughly spoiled.
Around one hundred kids descend from the two buses in a very orderly manner and they form lines in their age groups. Some of the younger children are a little unsure of their surroundings and there’s a couple of tears, but within minutes all of the children are smiling as they make their way down to the beach.
The Thai kitchen staff at Charlie’s restaurant have been cooking throughout the night, preparing for this moment. The children are being treated to a royal feast, and they tuck into platters of fried chicken drumsticks, grilled sausages and chicken skewers, burgers, french fries, pizza and fruit. I’m sure they eat much simpler Thai meals back at the orphanage, so this must really feel like a festival.
There’s a bouncy castle taking prime position on the beach, and the football pitch and volleyball court have been setup. The first thing the kids want to do is swim in the sea. A very generous donation from Similan Dive Centre means that there’s a life jacket available for every child. The children are quickly fitted with lifejackets, and just a few minutes later we have around fifty children heading towards the shoreline.
We offered to help with water safety at the event and were assisted by a small team of professional lifeguards, who have travelled up from Nakhon Si Thammarat. The lifeguards are wearing full wetsuits (we’d call them ‘steamers’ back in Australia), along with bright yellow rash vests and neoprene booties. I guess the water seems cold to them at this time of year. In comparison, we are wearing t-shirts and board shorts, mostly for sun protection but also out of respect for Thai people who consider western swimwear too skimpy to be worn at public beaches.
It’s only one day of the year that these kids get to swim in the sea, so it’s humbling to see the boys having so much fun. Although there’s an onshore wind, and the usual calm water has been replaced by regular sets of white fluffy water coming into shore.
My Thai language skills are still very basic, and I didn’t expect that I’d need to have Thai phrases ready to control the children in the water. But the conditions were rougher than we expected and there’s a current sweeping the children towards the northern end of the beach.
“Bpai thee nan! Bpai thee nan!”
I started telling the kids to ‘go over there’ and pointing to a large blow up Coca Cola bottle anchored to the beach, which was where the flags were marking our supervised swimming area. This had limited success, so a few minutes later a few more Thai words came to mind.
At the time I was feeling confident with my extended vocabulary and the children seemed to get the gist of what I was saying, although I’m not sure that the words were in the right order. I was telling the kids that they couldn’t swim here, and that they needed to move further up the beach, towards a big blow-up Coca Cola bottle.
It wasn’t easy getting such a large group of kids to move in the same direction, and fortunately the professional lifeguards stepped in with their whistles and we got all of the kids out of the water and walking back up to the sandy area in front of the restaurant. The life jackets were packed away, and we moved onto the organised activities. The younger children were happy making sand castles, getting their faces painted and taking turns in the bouncy castle. Whilst the older children started rotating between beach football, volleyball and video games.
In the afternoon, a variety of flying machines made an appearance, including a group of paramotors circling over the beach. Imagine guys dangling on parachutes with small hovercraft motors on their backs that they use to propel themselves forward, and you have a visual of the paramotors. There was also a jetpack demonstration and a helicopter fly by.
After the sack races, 3-legged races and wheelbarrow races, the children filled their plates one last time and the volunteers were gathering clothes and shoes ready for the bus trip back to the orphanage in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
All credit goes to Charlie Wij, for generously hosting this special event every year at CC Beach Bar, and the amazing Holly Chaitongkam for her amazing organisational skills. It was a pleasure to meet both Charlie and Holly and to participate in the event. We’re looking forward to coming back next year. Hopefully the sea will be flat next time, and we can get some kids out on paddle boards.
Tammy & Ian.
For more information about Charlie’s Children’s Charities click here. The “Fun on the Beach & Beach BBQ Day” was held on Nadam Beach in Khanom on 19th September 2015.
Photo credits: Charlie’s Children’s Charities.
We took the Seatran Car Ferry from Koh Samui to the port of Donsak on the mainland. The ferries leave the port of Nathon every hour, and it’s a 1.5 hour crossing across to the mainland. (http://www.seatranferry.com/en/index.php)
I’d recommend pre-booking your ferry tickets, so you don’t have to queue for the ferry. We pre-booked at the Seatran Pier in Bangrak. A one-way ticket for the car and driver costs 450 Baht, and it’s 120 Baht for each additional adult.
Khanom is a small coastal town located on the east coast of Thailand, around 700km south of Bangkok. It’s just 30km south of the port of Donsak, where the ferry arrives from Samui.
We stayed at Bamboo Bungalows, which is really easy to find. It’s about 6km south of the town of Khanom. Our bungalow was clean and comfortable, and cost 800 Baht per night. (http://www.bambookhanom.com/). Some of the other volunteers stayed in a modern apartment building next door, called Khanom Beach Residence (http://www.khanombeachresident.com/).
The event was held at CC Beach Bar, a lovely restaurant and bar located right on the beach. You could easily spend a few hours here, enjoying great food, cold drinks and overlooking a peaceful beach. (https://www.facebook.com/ccbeachbar)
You’ve probably seen people paddle boarding at the beach, and wondered what it’s like? Well, why don’t you come down to Choeng Mon beach next Tuesday morning and join in our weekly iSUPtastic! session.
For just 100 Baht you can have a 15 minute trial on one of our Starboard SUP’s. If you like it, then we can easily arrange another session. During our lessons, you will learn paddling techniques from our ASI accredited instructors, take in the view of the coastline, and jump in for a swim too!
When: Every Tuesday morning from 10am
Where: Choeng Mon beach, we meet in front of Crystal Restaurant
More information: Call 092 737 9705 or email [email protected]
The weather forecast indicated that we’d be facing 10-12 knot winds from the west, so we decided to start the iSUPcore! session in Choeng Mon today. The eastern side of the island being more protected from the breeze meant we had flat water to paddle on. And the weather was a little overcast, making it quite pleasant to paddle.
We headed out past Koh Fan, a small island just off Choeng Mon beach, and then paddled along the coast line for about 3km. It’s mostly a rocky shoreline and cliffs along the coast, until you turn the corner into Hanuman Bay where there’s a stretch of white sandy beach. Paddling at a cruisy pace, we stopped for a swim, and then headed back to Choeng Mon.
This might become one of our paddling tours for experienced paddlers. If the conditions are right, and we pack some refreshments, we could paddle into one of the beaches at Hanuman Bay, or even further down to the north end of Chaweng.