Angthong National Park is a series of little islands and awe-inspiring rock formations surrounded by clear water- you can’t help but think the word “paradise.” As a budget traveler, the only tours I could afford were group tours, though private sounded more enticing. However, even though there were twenty people on the same speed charter boat, it was really a well-run day. Tours Koh Samui has the itinerary down- from pick-up (on time), to check-in (coffee and motion sickness pills provided!) to great guides (props to our wonderful guide Mai!)
After check-in, the day begins with a quite long boat ride (1 ½ hours) to the first snorkeling spot. If you’re adventurous and don’t mind getting sprayed, sit in the front with the other partiers. I ended up in the back by default because the boat was full, but it was a nice spot- the only downfalls being lack of back support, a little splash here and there, and the beating sun (my friend got an awful sunburn from not anticipating this). However, the pictures I got from where I was seated were perfect.
First stop: Snorkeling. So I was a little nervous at first, they just go to a reef area in the middle of the water and say, “jump out!” Uhh… OK. But truly, it was a great spot (another traveler said it was the best tour he’d been on around Koh Samui, because other areas didn’t have as many colorful fish and coral reefs to look at.) We enjoyed the spot very much- you put your head in and ocean life is all around you. But that “ocean life” comes with a price- we wish they would have warned us a bit more strongly about the coral reefs and how far to swim. We stayed pretty close to the boat, but my friend cut her foot on coral reef anyway. Which are not fun- coral’s jagged edges do not make for a clean cut. But our guide was prepared and immediately brought out the first aid supplies.
Next, we viewed many limestone rock formations, cliffs and small islands on the way to our next stop, a short hike up to the top of a scenic viewpoint allows you to take amazing pictures of islands and Emerald Lake which inspired the movie “The Beach.” All along, our guide Mai showed his great sense of humor and genuine love for people as he chatted with the group.
At the next stop, we got an authentic and tasty lunch with various curries, cabbage soup, and fruit. Lots of family style dishes and the local fruit in season, Rambutan- a fun fruit unlike any in the states that makes great pictures and juicy bites.
Finally, we stopped at a relaxing beach where you can hang out in the clear, warm water, lounge on the beach or go kayaking. I recommend all three! We felt like we really packed it in, but there was plenty of time to relax at the same time. The salty water and hot sun made for a sweaty, dirty day, but the price was right, the guide was perfect and we got great photos. All in all an enjoyable day.