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Koh Samui See And Do

Beaches on Koh Samui
Koh Samui
Thailand

Koh Samui's beaches are the postcard-perfect vision of paradise, with the vividness of the green hills and sea matched only by the brilliant white sand. While the beach and bar parties draw crowds onto Chaweng and Lamai beaches on Koh Samui's east coast, other stretches of white sand remain calm, quiet, and often deserted—at least for now. Pass traditional Thai wooden houses on stilts to access quiet Lipa Beach, just south of Nathon, where soaring palm trees, longtail boats, and local fishermen far outnumber sunbathers along a pristine bay. Head further south to similarly chill scenes at Taling Ngam beach and the white sands of Thong Krut along the southern coast. For those sticking to the northern shores, Choeng Mon beach offers a convenient, surprisingly unpopulated escape from the overdevelopment along nearby Mae Nam and Bophut beaches.

Boat tours around Koh Samui
Koh Samui
Thailand

Private Thai-style boats known as longtails are an ideal way to explore Koh Samui and its surrounding islands. The Five Islands Experience (Five Islands Beach, Taling Ngam; 66-77-415-359; www.thefiveislands.com) leaves from Five Islands Restaurant on Taling Ngam beach, taking in Koh Samui's soaring limestone pinnacles and rare bird-nest harvesting spots. The nests are sold for use in the Chinese delicacy bird's nest soup. You'll stop for snorkeling before returning to Taling Ngam for fresh seafood with coconut and lemongrass.

Fishing Around Koh Samui
Koh Samui
Thailand
Tel: 66 77 415 387
www.fishingthailand.com

Serious fishermen come to Koh Samui to catch Mekong catfish, carp up to 150 pounds, and arapaima. Those species are among the 4,000 fish swimming at the TopCats Freshwater Fishing Resort, the world's first lake to be stocked with nonindigenous Amazonian predator fish. If you'd prefer to stick to the sea (and indigenous species), you can book a deep-sea excursion through the Four Seasons. However, TopCats is the most popular game in town.

Kayaking in Ang Thong National Marine Park
Koh Samui
Thailand

Koh Samui's paradisiacal reputation grew out of The Beach, the 2000 Leo DiCaprio movie shot around Ang Thong National Marine Park, an intimate archipelago of mostly uninhabited isles to the west of Koh Samui. Blue Stars Kayaking offers daylong paddles to the park's bays, caves, and deserted beaches. Above water, keep eyes peeled for dolphins and monkeys by the shore.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling around Koh Samui
Koh Samui
Thailand

Scuba diving enthusiasts flock to the reefs surrounding Koh Samui, especially around Ang Thong National Marine Park. The preserve's northern islands, like Koh Wao, Hin Nippon Yai, and Lek, have the clearest water and best diving. Twenty documented dive sites cover all levels two-and-a-half hours by boat north of Samui at Koh Tao. The most experienced come to free dive, which means going under without tanks or scuba gear to swim with whales and dolphins. Do it only if you've received some training; Apnea Total (Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, 66-8-7813-2321) runs free-dive classes and excursions.

Hotel Photo
Spas and Wellness in Koh Samui
Koh Samui
Thailand

Like yin to the island's raging nightlife yang, Koh Samui's spa and wellness offerings are impressive and diverse. Absolute Sanctuary, a retreat in the hills above Choeng Mon Beach, boasts some of the island's best yoga, Pilates, and meditation classes along with the Love Kitchen, a vegetarian café. Offering house calls by appointment, healer Jennifer Thompson educates clients on raw food and performs iridology, an ancient science of reading the iris of the eyes to identify physical and emotional concerns. The American transplant is developing a loyal following that extends far beyond these restorative shores. Down south on Laem Set Beach, Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary deserves its reputation as the island's most comprehensive spa. The treatment menu lists more than 70 healing therapies, including colonic hydrotherapy, a far infrared sauna that burns up to 600 calories in a 30-minute sweat session, outdoor pedicures overlooking azure waters, and lotus-seed body wraps. For pure pampering, step inside the Spa at the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui. Its five double treatment pavilions nestled among the palm fronds are Samui's most romantic spa spots, with intimate steam showers built for two and an outdoor relaxation area with day beds for Thai massage plus a roomy terrazzo bathtub.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.