There’s much more than beaches to keep you busy and interested on Koh Samui. An assortment of water sports, and other sports, is on offer around the island, as well as animal shows, boat trips and jungle tours. With even the slightest sense of adventure you will find something active and challenging to fill your free time.
Apart from diving and snorkelling in the waters around Samui, there are also several other water sports available for those who like to get wet. Jet-skis can be rented off Chaweng and Lamai beaches, and there are speedboats available for charters through One Hundred Degrees East Land and Sea Adventures on Big Buddha Beach – this company also offers snorkelling trips to the offshore islands of the national marine park. You can also learn kite surfing, get your PADI diving certificate, and go fishing with various companies based on the island. Swimming is also a good choice, whether in the warm seas or up and down one of the many hotel pools.
If you prefer your adventures on dry land, there are several other options on Koh Samui, including Canopy Rides, Quad biking through the jungle, and rifle practise at a professional shooting range, where you can actually fire off rounds from an AK-47. There’s a bungee catapult set-up on a huge crane near the famous Reggae Pub, too, along with go-cart tracks in Chaweng and Mae Nam.
All of these facilities are managed to international standards, but make sure you remember to check safety procedures, more so than you would in your own country. Samui Water Ball is a hilarious way to spend a couple of hours; that is, rolling downhill in a giant rubber ball. Canopy Adventures, Maenam Beach, tel: (077) 430 811, 087 046 7307.
Koh Samui is becoming a popular choice for families and one reason for this is the wildlife shows. You can see monkeys collecting coconuts, ride an elephant to a waterfall, wrap a snake around your shoulders, stare down the jaws of a crocodile, watch buffalo ploughing the fields, or spot different types of butterfly in a tropical garden. These shows are not for everyone, but the animals are generally kept in good condition and handlers appear to show concern for their wellbeing. However, if you see animals being mistreated, please report it immediately to a reputable wildlife charity, such as WWF Thailand.
Sport and Fitness
The number of sporting options is continuously growing on Koh Samui thanks to the ever-improving facilities and services. Several of the larger hotels, such as the Imperial Samui, provide tennis courts, which can usually be hired by visitors, plus there are also beach volleyball nets on most beaches. There is a driving range next to the Bandon International hospital and a four-hole golf course in the grounds of the Fairhouse Beach resort in Chaweng.
Santiburi Country Club (12/15 Moo 4, Maenam Beach, tel: (077) 421 700-8) is an impressive international standard 18-hole golf course in the foothills behind Mae Nam Beach, and attracts lovers of the sport from all over the world. For a different take on the game you can also play Frisbee Golf in Bophut and Football Golf in Choeng Mon, or visit one of two mini-golf courses.
Many of the top hotels have a gym with the latest training equipment and regular exercise and aerobics classes. Some of these, like the one at the Central Samui Beach resort, are also open to outside customers for a fee. There are also several public gyms with circuits and weights, such as the World Gym on the main island road in Chaweng, and a similar set-up at Lamai Gym. There is also a fully-equipped fitness centre and gym right in the centre of Chaweng, overlooking the main shopping strip opposite the Captain Kirk restaurant, open: 05:00 to late; 167/42 Moo 2, 2nd floor, Koh Samui, tel: 081 270 5376. This gym has running and step machines, weights and all the usual accessories.
Football is a national passion and many local companies have teams who love to have foreigners join in their friendly games. These often take place on public pitches in the early evening when it’s cooler. Badminton and snooker are also options, and the 99 Sport Club just outside Chaweng is a good choice for both.
Many of the bars around Samui have pool and darts competitions and visitors are welcome to join in. Prizes are usually in the form of cash for first and second and a drink for the third. Tropical Murphy’s Irish Pub and The Islander in Chaweng are both hotspots for these types of activities.