The big island and more SCUBA
11.04.2008 - 13.04.2008
Our final beach stop in Thailand :-( Koh Samui is the big island on the East coast. Certainly the most developed location on the East side with lots and lots of 5 star resorts, top notch restaurants, and, of course, plenty of distant beaches for tourists to consider. Samui is much bigger than Koh Tau and Koh PhanGan. Going to Samui requires some consideration when selecting your hotel location. Depending on your choice you might have busy, busy touristy beaches with busy with discos and girly bars or might be removed from the action (but also the prettiest sand and water). Generally, prices also edged upwards a bit on Samui vs. Koh PhanGan, but not too much. Maybe 10-15% more all around.
We chose to call Bo Phut home in Samui. Our moderately useful tourbooks called this “their favorite beach” because it was removed enough but still offered nicer restaurants and shops. Well... they're probably right about the shops and restaurants, but the beach? No way. Coarse sand and very little of it. No doubt the place to go to is Changwa beach. Changwa is the busy, famous beach with extremely clean, blue water and white sand. Coming to Samui and not visiting Changwa would be an error. Perhaps other beaches rival it, but we doubt it.
Beaches aside, Ren took his second diving trip from Samui. As famous as Samui might be for diving (at least for those of us who don't know any better), it turns out that all of the diving here actually takes place on or near Koh Tau. So, I went with the BoPhut diving school to enjoy two more dives. The first off the shores of Koh Tau and the second at Sail Rock. Absolutely amazing! Really, no doubt one of the best experiences I can hope to have during the entire trip. The boat we were on was great (and fast). Fun divers together with me. The first dive on Koh Tau (my 3rd dive) was straightforward and easy. At the end of 50 minutes or so, I still have 70 bars of tank pressure. So, while others were getting instruction and completing training, my dive instructor told me just to hang around. I did. But my tank really lasted a long time, so I swam around on my own for another 40 minutes. I went probably around 10 meters deep and checked out the area. I also practiced some skills like removing my mask completely underwater and putting it back on. Sounds impossible, but its quite easy to do. I stayed under until my tank was fully exhausted.
The second dive though... wow. Sail Rock was majestic. This is a 40 meter deep wall in the middle of the ocean. There's no bottom for us beginners because we're supposed to stay above 12 meters. So we're literally just gliding along in water checking out fish, eel, shrimp, corral, anemonies and more. Our max depth was 21 meters and we even swam through a “swim hole” where you enter a cave at 18 meters and exit above at 12 meters. Very cool for a complete beginner. I definitely wish I had taken the time to get cerified. By the way, if anyone is thinking of getting certification, definitely do it in Koh Tau. Its about $300 for everything including housing during the 3-4 days of course work.