The Magic and Mystery of Coconut Island, Koh Samui Thailand

The Magic and Mystery of Coconut Island, Koh Samui Thailand

Hello Nomads and adventurers! 

Our latest adventure takes us to the Island of Koh Samui, Thailand.

Let me start by saying Sawadee

Sawadee kah to the women and swadee krap(pronounced krub) to all the men. This is how you say Hello and also goodbye in Thai.

The Thai people always seem to have a smile on their faces. Thailand is known actually known as “The Land of Smiles” because of the friendly and hospitable nature of the Thai people. It is an important part of their Thai culture. The importance of smiling and the many cultural practices and festivals help to contribute to a sense of community and connection throughout the country. You will definitely feel this inclusivity while you are here in Ko Samui and other locations in Thailand.









They are also a reverent people with the majority of the population following the religion of Buddhism. You can experience the many temples while in Ko Samui and the other locations in Thailand. They are most impressive sights and are awe inspiring. For those who are not familiar with Thailand temples, they are called Wats On Koh Samui the most iconic landmark is Wat Phra Yai.. Wat Phra Yai is a giant 12 m or 39 foot high golden Buddha in the lotus position which can be seen across on a small island close to Samui and is known as the Big Buddha temple. 

Other temples like Wat Plai Laem, the newer architectural area recently constructed is not only one of the newest temples on the island but is one of the biggest complexes. There are beautiful pools and sculptures including the 18 hand goddess that is its central decoration. Like many temples or wats, it offers many beautifully decorated buildings in their complex.

Each one is very different from the others, and remember to wear clothing to cover your shoulders and knees to be respectful in temples.

The first time we went to Thailand our local guide’s name was Chai. He explained that his name is like the tea. Like Chai Tea. Which in Indian actual means tea tea. The funny thing that in Thai Chai means yes and Mai Chai mean no.

Chai said by the time you have finished visiting all the different Thai temples you will be saying OAT. We asked what does that stand for. Oh Another Temple. You will be saying OAT as well but not in a bad way as every temple is so unique in Ko Samui and Thailand.

Ko Samui is actually pronounced Gaw Samui. Gaw like Raw. But for the most part you are going to hear Koh Samui.

You can also just call it Samui and either is acceptable. Like Hawaii, we normally don’t say Hawaii Island, we just say Hawaii.

The word Ko in Thai actually means island Koh Samui

The origin of its name is unknown and a mystery but there are many theories. The word Samui has different meanings due to cultural influences from a Malay word Saboey which means “safe haven” to the Hainanese Chinese meaning that literally translates to beautiful beach. Or it could be from a tree in Thailand called the mui but I prefer to loosely translate it as an island that is a safe haven with beautiful beaches and trees.  

Not a bad place to visit and a great place to start our journey through Thailand, the country formerly known as Siam.

Samui is rich in history and is home to some of the most beautiful palm fringed beaches, lush dense mountainous jungles, coconut groves and rubber plantations, as well as and ladies, luxury spas and resorts. This leaves a visitor with many diverse options while being on the island.  I can feel us relaxing already.

Until the late 20th century, Samui had little connection to mainland Thailand. It was isolated but self sufficient and had agriculture of cotton, coconut, rubber, and a strong fishing industry. This lead to unique habits and customs different from mainland Thailand which also makes it a special place to visit. One notable thing is the residents of the island take great care in their hygiene. Due to their climate they will also shower twice a day or more. This is very noticeable to visitors. It is common to find many different types of hygiene products for visitors to enjoy.

Also available is Havea milk otherwise known as latex to us is available due to the local production of rubber. Many latex products from tires to stylish goods are produced locally. Residents refer to it as liquid gold as it is a stronghold in their economy. Now in Calgary liquid gold is known as oil but Samui, latex.


Don’t’ forget to try the ethnically unique Magic sugar cane rum originally created by a couple from France on this island. It can be found throughout the island with many options and flavours for the tourists to partake in and also take home as a souvenir.

Prior to the late 1970s, there were not even roads on the island. Before this it would have taken all day just to traverse the 15 kms or 9.3 miles across the island due to the dense foliage and mountainous terrain. Imagine that journey at that time. Make sure to bring your machete and bug spray for that trek! Now there is a roadway that traverses through the mountains that make it accessible for all.

As a result of tourism, the prosperity of the island has improved greatly and the environment and culture of the island has changed with it. Almost 3 million people visit the island per year which normally has approx. 63,000 residents.

 The island has many available mountain biking routes that will take you over rustic paths to the top of the island for amazing views. Sometimes weather does not permit these trails to be open especially during any wet season. I personally like having a spa treatment with mud but not a mud bath while exercising. More likely to find me in one of spas on the island for that kind of treatment.

There are approximately 3.5 million palm trees in flat area of the island. Once the largest producer of coconuts for the country of Thailand., monkeys and handlers have been known to harvest the coconuts.  

Coconut production is how the island got the nickname of Coconut Island. Some of the best coconut products in Thailand can be found here on the island including their purest high quality virgin coconut oil. Make sure to take advantage of these products when you are there.

Surrounding the island, there are over 40 other small islands that are close by that can be visited for day trips which are part of the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park  or for short Ang Thong National Park. Amazing marine park to visit as well as an island lake.   Ko Samui is the access point for this marine park and other small islands.

It is best to see the island and its true flavour though by exploring the outlying areas  for the full island experience. In the capital of Nathon and outside the city you can enjoy the flavourful Thai cuisine. Fresh fish and seafood is available everywhere to enjoy and worth venturing out to try.

Around the port city of Nathon, you will find many other attractions including the Butterfly Garden. If you have never been amongst a “flutter” of butterflies, it is a one of a kind experience. Yes a group of butterflies can be a flutter and I did not make that up. Many attractions within the park and also a view point where you can see the entire park from are worth the trip. Of course, more great cuisine is available there to and of course you to will need your stretchy pants there as well.

The beaches, resorts, and spas are not to be taken for granted. Many people travel for many miles just to enjoy these luxurious locations. If you just want to enjoy the beach, there is long stretches of white sand to enjoy for the beachgoer. If all you want to do is soak up the sun and enjoy the hospitality of the island followed by a massage on the beach, then enjoy. Massages on the beach are common and available to you to partake in. Nothing like starting your vacation with a local rum drink followed listening to the waves lap on the sand after your massage. I can feel it now.  

There are also great parks to see elephants and monkeys in a safe environment with their handlers. Not likely to see wild monkeys on the island as they avoid people but the parks are an amazing way to get up close and personal with these animals. I absolutely loved my visit to an elephant sanctuary where we were up close and personal with them.  I thought they just loved me but it was the bamboo treat in my hand that they were really after. So what did I do, bought more bamboo treats to get more elephant love. We even purchased a painting by an elephant that we still cherish and have in our home today. An amazing experience.

If you are a nature lover there are waterfalls and hikes to enjoy while you are there as well. These are hidden jewels and there are many in the jungle to enjoy like the Secret Waterfall or Tang Rua or Nu Muang.

If you have never toured to experience a waterfall this is a great opportunity. There is nothing like coming upon a beautiful water fall in the jungle. Don’t forget your bathing suit and towel or it will be an uncomfortable walk and ride back to the ship. Been there done that and remember it well. Will not make that mistake again. Hopefully you wont either.

One of the most significant areas on the island in a very secluded and mostly deserted area callled the Secret Buddha Garden or The Secret Garden. It sits at the top of the Tar Nim waterfalls and is considered one of the most amazing landscaped areas in Thailand.  Over twenty years ago, a local monk created the very first Buddhist sculptures out of wood that occupy the garden and his disciples from the local monastery helped him to create additional works of art. Against the beautiful stone landscapes and exotic background of plants, this is a magical place to visit. It is a journey to get there and in this case it is the destination and the journey that will make it memorable with its steep cliffs by the roadside to enjoy amazing views. I leave that kind of driving for the professionals.

Whether you just want to enjoy the beach or islands, go shopping, venture to the jungle to enjoy the scenery or gardens available, or visit the wats on the island, there is something for everyone. With all the exploring, biking, kyaking you will do make sure you check out our store for watches to help you track your progress! I have just touched on the magic and mystery of the coconut island of Samui, Enjoy your time on the island and please feel free to let us know what other magical and mysterious things you find while on Samui. 

Sawadee kah, sawadee krap from Thailand

Stay safe and adventureous!

The Nomads

Darin and Suzanne


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