Notes on a few relaxing days in Koh Samui with three childhood friends after volunteering with elephants in Chiang Mai.
In early May, we have the beach almost to ourselves. The sand is soft, both in and out of the water, and there are no rocks or seaweed to impede our wading. Mornings are peaceful. There’s a man who catches fresh fish, then brings it into the restaurant of Cactus Bungalow, where we’re staying.
Day tripping to other beaches we realize that while Choeng Mon Beach is picturesque, the jagged rocks underfoot make it almost impossible to enjoy the water. Chaweng Beach has more to do, but it’s almost too much. Bophut Beach is perfect and we return happy with our choice. It’s peaceful but with several bars and great food options. The massages are inexpensive and available all day. We spend hours bobbing in the warm, salty water with large Singhas, chatting about Britney Spears and other 2000s-era joys, and realizing we’re getting old.
The family size bungalow was perfect for four of us. The hot shower was nice after a few days without one. At the same time, the air conditioning was a life saver. The on-site restaurant is fantastic. Get the green curry soup, the seafood salad, any of the breakfast items, or the pizza, which was surprisingly and genuinely good. The massages affiliated with the hotel were a highlight. A traditional Thai massage, a foot scrub, a pedicure, a manicure, and a neck massage later, I had only spent about $50. I would have spent at least four times as much to feel so relaxed and free of aches that come with life at a computer mixed with frequent hours on airplanes.
At $105 for three nights and four people, I was a bit worried about Cactus Bungalow before we arrived, but was pleasantly surprised at the clean and spacious rooms, incredibly sweet staff, array of wonderful menu options, amazing massages, and location literally on the beach. I considered moving in permanently.
Koh Samui has a reputation as being a very touristy, very crowded, very party-centric island, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. Accommodations range from luxury to backpacker, and there’s a beach for every kind of traveler. My friends and I were looking for a low-key place to relax, eat good food, and catch up with each other’s lives, and Bophut Beach was perfect.