27 July 2012
Koh Samui: Beyond the Beach
Napasai's sands are just an hour by boat from islands that await you, and you alone.
Early morning by the beach at Napasai and the blue waters beyond have an irresistible allure. Not only do you want to walk barefoot over the sand and splash straight in, but there's the pull of countless - often uninhabited - islands beyond.
Suddenly a boat appears on the horizon, drops anchor by the beach and you step on board. Minutes later you are heading out into a heat-haze of aquamarine sky and sea.
Behind you are elegant breakfast tables under sun shades and chilled towels by the infinity pool. Ahead? Wild and wonderful shores where nothing has changed since these limestone crags rose out of the waves.
Dramatic rock formations clad in jungle-green line bays fringed with silver sand. It's just you, the seabirds circling overhead and the rich marine-life below. These are the tropical islands of everyone's imagination that you always dream of experiencing but that seem so remote and inaccessible. How can it be that an hour after sipping your morning cappuccino, with the froth just right, you have left 'civilisation' behind, and stepped ashore in this pristine, natural world?
Speedboat charter company 100 Degrees East whizz you almost without your realising it into a wide range of experiences out on (and under the surface of) the water. Owners Ivan and Caz explain "We avoid the other crowded boat tours, and take small groups on relaxed schedules to exclusive spots. We set off from and finish at the beach here at Napasai."
One of the most popular trips is a day in the protected reserve of Ang Thong National Marine Park (pictured top), a cluster of 42 green islands about an hour away. The tour (which can be either private or shared) includes snorkelling, guided kayaking and a visit to a landlocked salt water lake.
Mangrove forests, home to a variety of creatures including long-tailed monkeys, line crescents of sand where you can stretch out undisturbed and spot sea eagles and egrets high above. Nature trails lead through the trees to caves with stalagmites and stalactites. Or dip down among coral reefs to see shoals of brilliantly-coloured fishes and, if you are lucky, turtles and rays.
Speedboat trips to the many other islands and the huge number of dive sites that surround Koh Samui can also be arranged. You might want head to Koh Tao, one of the region's top places to spot sea life in abundance, and seek out grey reef sharks, barracuda and bat fish. Or choose Sail Rock for the eels, angelfish, grouper and anemones that inhabit its magical coral gardens.
Anyone wanting to take the plunge with Scuba diving can arrange with 100 Degrees East to complete all their theory and pool sessions within the resort before heading off out to sea. Snorkelling and diving are great family activities: even children as young as eight years old can explore the underwater world in the Napasai pool, while for those of ten years and above, the full range of PADI Junior courses is available.
Another way to discover neighbouring islands such as Koh Phangan, with its famously-beautiful beaches, is by catamaran or sailboat, for a day of gentle swimming, snorkelling and leisurely lunching. Or set out in the late afternoon for a sunset cruise and look back towards Koh Samui's white sands and green hills and perhaps take a dip in the sea as the last rays of orange sun descend into the horizon. As Ivan puts it: "Everything we do comes down to making it easy - and just having a fabulous day."
For further information, please contact Ivan or Caz at: email@example.com
Which islands and dive sites did you visit from Napasai?