Don’t even think about visiting Australia without jumping on a paddle board! We were visiting family and friends in Sydney recently and took the opportunity to get out on the water a few times with our SUP mates.
We love paddling on Sydney Harbour, even if it’s only the beginning of spring and the water is a little cooler than what we’re used to in Thailand. Ian joined Traci and Rod for a harbour paddle on Saturday 27th August, and then on Sunday 28th August we joined 40 paddlers in the Balmoral SUP-X Series. We paddled to 5 separate beaches around Middle Harbour. It was a beautiful morning out on the water. Check out this amazing drone footage of the race here.
If you’re ever in Sydney, why not take a lesson with the friendly guys at Balmoral Paddlesurf. We were lucky to demo a couple of their Lahui Kai 14′ paddle boards.
Tammy joined a sunrise paddle with the guys from Sydney Paddle Surf Club on the first day of spring. Traci and the guys were on 14ft carbon race boards and they set off from Clontarf towards Manly. Tammy in the meantime was cruising on a borrowed 12’6 inflatable paddle board, just enjoying the magical sunrise over North Head.
We also planned to do a social paddle with a few of our Sydney SUP mates on Saturday 3rd September, which would usually entail a leisurely paddle along Sydney Harbour and a coffee stop at one of the Harbour beaches. Although this time there was 30+ knot winds predicted, so instead we planned for an exciting downwinder across Botany Bay. We’re so thankful to Rod and Anna who were our support crew, driving the cars across to meet us at the end of the paddle in La Perouse.
We started the paddle at Dolls Point. It was so windy at the beginning some of us needed help just carrying our boards down to the beach. Once we set off there was no stopping us. With a 30-35 knot wind behind us, we were racing towards the finish line. It was a little bumpy and we fell in quite a few times, which made it even more fun! It’s a little tricky getting back on your board in windy and choppy conditions – which is exactly the reason downwinders are only for experienced paddlers, and why we all wear PFD’s (personal floation devices) and carry mobile phones.
Andrew set the record for the top speed across the bay that day at 20km/hour, closely followed by Traci at 19km/hour. Everyone had a great time, and Andrew was heading asking “can we do it again?”. Boards were loaded and we stopped for well earned fish & chips at the Georges River 16ft Sailing Club.
If you’re traveling to Australia, get in touch with us first and we’ll suggest some great places to paddle and friendly people to contact for SUP lessons and tours.
Meanwhile, we’re back in Koh Samui now. So don’t forget to plan a stopover in Samui on your way to Australia – and come out on the water with us! Contact us today!
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)
“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)
Inflatable SUP’s are super convenient if you don’t have anywhere to store a hard board, and they are fairly light which makes it easy to lift onto your car’s roof racks. The best part is that they pack into a backpack that’s small enough to be your check-in luggage on a plane, which means you can take your paddle board on every holiday!
We have been paddling on inflatable Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boards for a couple of years, and we love them! When it came to buying our own boards, we decided to buy the Starboard 12’6 x 30″ Astro Touring boards. They are great for gliding along flatwater and provide enough balance when you’re the chop. In the right conditions, you can even catch a few small waves.
We’ve travelled with our inflatable boards on long haul flights to Singapore, Thailand and Tonga; and domestic flights from Sydney to Hamilton Island, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. We even took them on a 5 day live-aboard sailing charter around the Angthong Marine Park, Koh Tao and Koh Phangnan in the Gulf of Thailand! FUN!
Bring your family and friends along to one of our iSUPtastic sessions, held at Cheong Mon beach every Tuesday at 10am, and we’ll show you our range of Starboard inflatable paddle boards.