Samui Wining & Dining
Island Hopping

The sophisticated way to cruise, wine and dine at Rocky’s.


17Everybody does it. It’s impossible to avoid. Whether you’re a sun-lover or a bookworm, you’ll give in. And, anyway, it’s a part of the Samui experience! After a week in the sun you’ll become restless. And that’s when the tour brochures come out. It’s good to get out and about and see Samui. But we’re an island and so there’re just two ways you can do this. You can explore the mountain viewpoints and waterfalls and other attractions. Or you can take advantage of all that crystal-clear water and head-off on a boat for the day.


One of the problems here is that it’s impossible to know exactly what’s on offer. You’ll come across brochures and tour options in every resort. And very good they are, too. But here we’re right out in the mainstream, so to speak, with hundreds of others just like you going out daily on ‘longtail’ boats around Samui. With exceptions, it can be a bit of a conveyor belt to say the least.


So how about something more relaxed? How about a really leisurely trip where you’ve got the boat to yourself, meaning a group of friends or family, anything up to 10 in total? And on a smooth, quiet wooden river-cruiser, too, not a narrow fishing boat with a car engine bolted raucously on the back. It sounds tempting already but add-in the fact that this is based at one of the island’s prettiest boutique resorts, which is also renowned for its two superb restaurants, and it quickly starts to look like a winner.


Rocky’s Boutique Resort is to be found on the ring-road just a little way south of Lamai, not far from the turning to Hin-Ta Hin-Yai, the famous ‘grandfather and grandmother’ rocks. Unlike many resorts, you won’t end up speeding past it on the road: just look for the line of red flags outside. And it is rocky, delightfully so, being terraced into the steep cliffside here and culminating in a scattering of boulders containing three tiny private coves along the beach. You’ll descend and move through the delightful fine-dining restaurant, The Dining Room, pass the beach bar and pool, and make your way down to the cove below where Josephine will already be waiting for you.


‘Josephine’ is a 40-foot traditional Thai river boat that was brought here from the mainland and meticulously renovated and modernised. The original removable canvas top was replaced by an open-sided integral wooden roof, under which there are comfy padded seats, with a small bar at one side. This space easily accommodates ten people but there are more loungers and seats in the bow area and a big padded sun area at the rear. And the restored marine diesel engine is inboard, making the entire experience as smooth and quiet as could be.


The captain, Khun Baow, and his two-man crew will greet you at around 10:00 am and help you wade through the knee-deep warm water and onto the boat, where you’ll be welcomed with an icy-cold napkin and soft-drink to match. Refreshments and snacks are included as standard. But, with Rocky’s legendary cuisine so close to hand, a popular option is to consult beforehand with the award-winning Executive Chef, Malaysian-born Azizskandar Awang. Although guests have been known to ask for a chef and three-course meal on board, a far more usual request is for a hamper of cold cuts, finger-food, salads and sparkling wines to match. Or simply ice-cold beer! Either way, you won’t need to bring much, as towels and soft drinks are provided; even snorkels, fins and fishing lines, too.


But you definitely will need the sun-cream, and an effective one at that. On the water there’s no escaping the reflected rays, which bounce and scatter from every surface. And don’t forget your camera. No matter how breathtaking the views are from the mountain top, actually being on the water really shows Samui in all its island splendour. And take binoculars if you’ve got any, as you’ll be just a bit too far away from the land to see the details clearly and you’ll find that scanning the shoreline becomes hypnotically compulsive!


Josephine heads southwards, down towards Samui’s most south-eastern tip. It’s both relaxing and invigorating at once, with the almost sleepy beat of the engine and the shoreline drifting past punctuated by the cool bursts of spray that bounce up from the bows. The first destination is the oddly-named ‘No Dog Island’, otherwise known as Koh Tan. You’ll anchor here for half an hour for swimming and snorkelling amidst the teeming tropical fish. And then, with drinks replenished, head off for a spot of lunch on the nearby ‘Robinson Crusoe’ island of Koh Matsum with its deserted beaches and crystal clear waters. Choose to eat on board or flop down on the sand under the dappled shade of the palms. It’s usually at around this point that folks suddenly appreciate that this is exactly why they’re taking a break on a tropical island paradise. No amount of time spent by the pool can even come close to this!


And then it’s a slow and lazy drift back home again, dabbling absent-mindedly with a fishing line en route: it’s just too perfect to put much energy into anything. You’ll get back at 4:00 pm, brown and glowing, smiling and sated, and flop down delightedly to sunset cocktails.


And this is the time that you can extend a delightful day into an eventful evening. Why not shower, change, and eat here, too? That’s only what you’d be heading back to your resort to do, anyway. And, with the choice of super fine-dining at ‘The Dining Room’ or in the nearby and very laid-back ‘The Bistro’, why rush back? Plus, if I now mention that with six or more people your private day-trip on Josephine will cost about the same total as going out in a crowded long-tail boat, and also that children are half-price.


Rocky’s offers two different trips, with the second being the ‘Sunset Cruise’ which drifts out towards the legendary Five Islands (famous for their birds’ nest soup industry) running from 4:30 pm until 7:30 pm. And when you wrap this all up together with some of the best dining anywhere, and at one of the most attractive spots around, then you’ll understand that when it comes to choosing a boat trip, there’s really no contest.


Rob De Wet


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