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Explore the extraordinary world surrounding Samui with Sa-ard’s Watersport Center.

Explore the extraordinary world surrounding Samui with Sa-ard’s Watersport Center.Blue waters. Palm-fringed beaches. Endless summer days. The fact that Samui is surrounded by sea probably has something to do with why you’ve chosen to come on holiday here. There are beautiful beaches aplenty, and the sea is warm all year round making it an ideal place to unwind. Most people have come a long, long way to be here, and once they arrive on the island, they’re more than content just to stay put and soak up the atmosphere and all the beauty. And why not? With dozens of beaches within driving distance, is it really necessary to step foot off Samui? Certainly not … but that means missing out on some truly amazing experiences.


Looking out from Samui at the intriguing islands that lie just offshore, you may already feel a bit tempted to go exploring. Many a resident regret that they don’t have a boat that would enable them to regularly spend more time at sea discovering what’s out there.


If you’re here on holiday, you can easily spend a day or longer at sea exploring, thanks to a myriad of companies who offer trips. There’s a bewildering variety of packages and it can be hard to decide between them. Amongst the companies there are some who go the extra nautical mile to offer the very,

very best and who have a captain and crew that have exceptional knowledge of the area. They aren’t just professionals, they are experts to boot. The least of their knowledge is that they know where all Samui’s secrets and those of her sister islands are to be found: the white sand beaches that few ever get to see because you need a boat to be able to access them – these definitely aren’t the tourist beaches, beautiful as they are.


One of the stand-out companies is Sa-ard’s Watersport Center, which was founded by Khun Sa-ard Panyawan, more usually known as Khun Lek. He’s one of Thailand’s champion windsurfers, and took part in two Olympic Games. He’s won gold medals at the South-East Asia Games no less than five times. He’s also a long-time member of the Thai National Windsurfing Team. As you can imagine just from reading the above,Explore the extraordinary world surrounding Samui with Sa-ard’s Watersport Center. he’s a very dedicated person. He’s at home not just on a windsurf board, but also on most kinds of boats, his other passion being sailing. He started off working for the prestigious Santiburi Resort before deciding to buy his very own boat, along with his brother, who runs the company with him. The company became increasingly popular and went from strength to strength, steadily adding more boats.


It’s a bit of an understatement to say they know the local waters. Over the years Khun Lek and his brother have invested a lot of energy and enthusiasm to seek out what’s best in the Gulf of Thailand and beyond. They have an uncanny knowledge of where the bluest waters are to be found, and can take you swimming and snorkelling in some of the best spots in the country. They’re also extraordinarily good at weather forecasting, and thanks to the modern technology they have on board, they also know what’s beneath their boats – they’re able to see undersea maps of whatever’s in the immediate vicinity.


Sa-ard has various tour destinations for you to enjoy. To start with, there are tours round Samui where you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of the island as you sail past. You’ll also stop off at the small island of Koh Taen, right in the south, and experience a nature trail that takes you through a mangrove forest. On another trip you can head up to Koh Pha- Ngan, stopping to snorkel at beautiful Koh Ma, and then explore some of Pha-Ngan’s best beaches. If you’d like to go further afield, there’s a separate trip to delightful Koh Tao, justly famed for its dive sites. From there onwards, a speed boat takes you to the small island of Koh Nang Yuan, where you can swim, snorkel and wander to your heart’s content.


Khun Lek can also take you west of Samui to the enigmatic Angthong National Marine Park, an archipelago of almost 70 islands, some big, some tiny, but all enchanting. With their contorted karst shapes – the same kind of topography that you’ll see in the Krabi region – they’re amazing to look at and also have to-die-for tropical beaches.Explore the extraordinary world surrounding Samui with Sa-ard’s Watersport Center. As if that’s not enough, you can also see something quite unusual – it’s on one of the larger islands; you climb up over a rocky lip to gaze down on an emerald green stretch of water entirely enclosed by cliffs.


It goes without saying that on day trips there’s a delicious lunch included, so nobody will go hungry. This is definitely not one of those companies where you feel you’re roughing things in the least. Sa-ard also offers day fishing trips in the local waters and a romantic sunset cruise along the northern shore of Samui, taking in Tongsai Bay and Big Buddha.


You can also opt for something even more special: a charter speed boat trip or other itinerary that you can talk over together with Khun Lek and his team. And there’s also the possibility of doing overnight trips thanks to the types of boat that he has.


Recently launched, there’s a brand-new catamaran, ‘Kindred Spirit’, which can easily take 15 passengers on a day trip, and can sleep six. It’s a luxurious way to travel as there are two staterooms and a living room, all of which is air-conditioned. There’s also the extraordinarily fast touring boat, ‘Sting’ which is the quickest way possible to reach any maritime destination, short of flying. There are other boats too, and all of them are fully licensed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and have complete international-standard insurance.


Once you’re on board you’ll have this whole feeling of being on a trip that will live up to expectations. You’ll be in very professional hands and with Sa-ard, and you’ll be able to discover just what makes the islands here so different and so wonderful. A world awaits you just beyond Samui’s idyllic bays and tree-clad hills, and it’s absolutely worthwhile taking the time to explore it.


Dimitri Waring



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