When following our suggestions on where to anchor, please be aware of any coral in the area. Always pick up a mooring buoy in preference to anchoring if there is one available. While public moorings are mostly a big improvement on ‘the old days’, we strongly advise you to dive and check the condition of any mooring as soon as practical after picking it up.
Samui Island is a rare gem. Preserving the idyllic simplicity of a tropical hideaway, it’s characterised by beaches of powdery white sand backed by many hotels and bungalow resorts.Read more
All beach bungalows have their own restaurants but small establishments have all but disappeared on the main beaches. Fresh seafood and tropical fruits are the natural specialities of Samui, with emphasis on coconut sauces, though you’ll find menus sufficiently varied to cater to all tastes – and the coconuts are now mostly ‘imported’ from the mainland.
The island, Thailand’s third largest, measuring 22 kilometres at its widest point and 26 kilometres in maximum length, is one of a group of more than 80 tropical islands, only a few of which are inhabited.
A mountain ridge runs east to west; most of the hinterland comprises forested hills. The most developed bays are Chaweng and Lamai, both on the east coast and featured as anchorages here.
Principal among Samui’s natural sights are two picturesque waterfalls, Hin Lat and Na Muang; on neighbouring Koh Fan, connected to Samui by a causeway, is Wat Hin Ngu temple and meditation centre. At the southern end of Lamai bay are the phallic granite rock formations of Hin Ta and Hin Yai.
A 50-kilometre concrete and tar ring-road skirts Samui’s coastline, giving ready access to all beaches and the administrative centre of Nathon, where most of the ferries arrive. The best transport is a motorbike which can be readily hired.
In some areas, Samui retains its charm, but the ribbon development along the main ring-road is almost unbroken. Shops and supermarkets are found all over the island, while the majority of the nightlife is concentrated in Chaweng and Lamai.
140 miles from Songkhla
Anchor in 7-10 metres well clear of the jetties. Nathon, the main town on the island, offers a market as well as shopping, banking, postal and other facilities. This is also where you go to deal with Customs and Immigration. The main jetty is designed for fast passenger and car ferries, the local fishing fleet and bulk transport. Fuel and water are available on the jetty by arrangement only.
5 miles from Ao Nathon, Samui
This is the location of another car ferry terminal from Donsak, and is not particularly recommended unless you are meeting passengers from the ferry.
11 miles from Ao Nathon, Samui
Approaching from the east beware of the unmarked rocks just past Lamai Beach. Anchor between the islands in 5-6 metres on a muddy bottom, clear of the fringing reef on Koh Katen’s east coast. The approach from the west is clear and deep, following Koh Katen’s north coast.
With a small resort ashore, this is a pleasant and secluded overnight spot or an ideal day destination from the main island. There are trails through the mangroves leading to caves ashore.
On the southwest corner of Samui are five islands where the locals collect bird’s nests. The waters around the islands are deep, so this is not one of our recommended overnight anchorages although day anchorage can be found on the eastern side of Koh Mae Tap.
On the southwest side, shelter can be found from strong winds without dropping the pick. There is a cave that runs right through the island. Koh Bon is great spot for a swim to cool off.
Many small shacks cling to the steep cliff faces and bamboo scaffolding used by the nest collectors can be seen rising to the top of the sheer rocks.
18 miles from Ao Nathon, Samui
The best anchorage is in 6-8 metres on a sandy bottom in the middle of the bay. Take care to avoid the sand and fringe coral outcrops to the northwest of the bay. The anchorage may become uncomfortable in the southwest season due to ground swell.
Ao Lamai is the second-most-developed bay on the island, with plenty of action ashore. Accommodation of all types is available, together with the usual minimarts, bars, discos and restaurants.
21 miles from Ao Nathon, Samui
This small indention in the coast north of the headland makes a nice lunch stop and is used as such by many local fishing boats. Anchor outside the bay in 10 metres on sand, as the inner bay has a rocky bottom.
20 miles from ao Nathon, Samui
The main tourist bay on Samui, Ao Chaweng is separated by a rock formation into two beaches: Chaweng Noi (south) and Chaweng Yai (north). The gradually sloping sandy bottom permits anchorage in 5-10 metres anywhere in the bay. In the southwest season, even in quite strong prevailing westerlies, a ground swell from the east can make this anchorage uncomfortable.
Major hotels, resorts, bungalows, restaurants, shops and discos sprawl along the road behind the beach. The main part of town is at the northern end. Towards the southern end of Chaweng Yai, the red roofs of the Centara Samui Resort can be clearly seen. Transport can be arranged by local bus or taxi from the road behind; Nathon is about 45 minutes away.
15 miles from ao Nathon, Samui
This is a reasonable daytime anchorage, affording access to the resorts ashore, but it is not suitable for overnight stays due to the rocky bottom. anchor in 8-12 metres well clear of the beach.
12 miles from Ao Nathon, Samui
One large bay divided by a rocky promontory forms Bo Phut to the west and Bang Rak to the east. These bays are shallow, only 4 metres up to a mile offshore with anchorages on a sandy bottom in 2-4 metres. They offer the best protection from swell and wind during either season.
Approaching either bay from the northwest, beware of the reef at the western end. Arriving from the east, the passage between Koh Som and the headland has a depth of 4 metres. In the east of the bay are several wooden and concrete jetties operated by tour companies where fuel and water can be arranged.
The best organised, giving all-tide access, is Petcharat Marina, in essence a pier to deep water and a shore-based speedboat operation that can provide some services. At Bo Phut there’s a night market and walking street. The Billabong and the Frog and Gecko are lively pubs offering great food, laundry and car hire services nearby. Refueling larger quantities can be pre-arranged at the nearby PTT service station or by jerry can at the western end of the village.
These north-coast beaches developed more recently than Chaweng and Lamai and are less built up. In Bangrak, look for the huge Buddha on Koh Fan, the island north of Haad Bangrak. This bay is directly on the approach path of the airport, so it can be a little noisy. There’s a large concrete ferry pier in the southwest corner of the bay which is deep enough to go alongside.
Ashore in each bay you’ll find clusters of small resorts and bars and a variety of small shops and local markets along the road. Many restaurants and small resorts line the bay, particularly in Fishermans Village. Further west at Maenam, anchor in 4-6 metres on a sandy bottom. Beware of the submerged rock off Laem Na Rang.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.
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