(or activities for families with teenagers, on Koh Samui)!
Just recently my brother was visiting from the UK with his teenage kids, aged 17 and 15 years. My twins are 12, and all are at the age where parents are uncool, activities are boring and mornings are non-existent.
The non-existent mornings suited us well as the adults got to have a leisurely breakfast, lengthy catch-ups and peaceful swims in the pool overlooking the ocean.
My brother stayed at Villa Red Samui - a super-cool and gorgeous property situated right on the beach, overlooking Big Buddha. www.villaredsamui.com
After midday, the kids would emerge bleary eyed from night-time xbox games, social media catch ups and Netflix binges, almost human and ready for action! Before 12 any kind of human interaction was most definitely off-the-cards and once we accepted this, we came to enjoy our morning adult-only time.
The kids however, uncool though we are, came without fail, at lunchtime, demanding interesting, fun and insta-ready activities! We on the other hand had boring things like budgets, age-appropriateness and safety to consider - studiously avoiding the likes of the Green Mango 'strip' after sunset and activities during which my 12 year old would be likely to kill or maim himself or someone else.
Here is a list of where we went and what we did and why the kids enjoyed each activity:
3/196 moo 2, Chaweng Lake · +66 77 413 302
This seemed on arrival quite an expensive activity, however between the two families we purchased a 20 race card, which meant the kids (and dads) were able to participate in quite a few races on both the kids only slower and smaller track, as well as the larger track.
The kids loved this and the competition between them was fierce. Statistics were provided at the end of each race so we could see who was the fastest driver and how each person was progressing.
2. Central Festival & Cinema
Regular cinema trips are a family hobby for us - and the UK cousins are also fond of a trip to the movies. We are lucky to have two movie theaters on Koh Samui - we usually go to the one at Central Festival, as we like to make an afternoon of it by mooching around the shops and eating out afterwards.
On this particular day there was a tropical storm - and boy did it rain... we just about made it to the cinema and enjoyed a late afternoon movie followed by dinner. The kids had free time to wander around the shops, which are largely covered, however they chose to stay with their parents (the source of cash)...!
This afternoon out turned out to be the surprise of the holiday.
It was an overcast day and after a leisurely lunch in Nathon (Will Waits for an authentic Thai experience, or The Road Less Travelled, for a gorgeous, hip and quirky cafe) - we set out for Namuang 1 - the lower of the two waterfalls in this area. All the kids have previously claimed the higher of the waterfalls which is 80m up but on this occasion, as the weather was a bit damp and the rocks slippery, we decided to swim the lower waterfall.
This was still a challenging climb due to the recent heavy rains, but because of this, the place was virtually deserted.
The kids (and we) had a brilliant time, climbing, jumping and (horror!) somersaulting from the rocks into the pool below.
There were many instagram posts made and I caught my nephew posing on more than one occasion!
After this day, the kids asked every day without fail if we could go to another waterfall.
Ozo (a resort on Chaweng Beach) was recommended to us by friends as a family friendly resort, with a beach-club vibe, which welcomes outside guests.
Wow! - was our first impression as we walked through reception and down towards the beach. The pool is HUGE - and surrounded by comfortable sunbeds in hues of blues, sun umbrellas and serviced by a poolside restaurant and beach bar. For only 500 THB per adult (deductible from our lunch bill) - we spent a gorgeous day swimming in the pool, overlooking one of Samui's most beautiful stretches of beach.
The kids were fascinated by the giant chess-set on the lawns of the resort and the boys hired boogie boards and took advantage of some great waves, spending a happy couple of hours in the surf. The food was really delicious and the resort is big enough to accommodate lots of people without feeling over-crowded.
5. Shiva Samui
Shiva Samui is a firm favorite of all of ours and a go-to for family days out.
As well as being beautifully decorated in beautiful shades of turquoise, that blend perfectly with the blues of the sea and sky, Shiva caters extremely well for families with kids of all ages.
Jane, the owner, has left no stone unturned in the creation of this leading family beach-club and as well as offering water-sports, volley ball, a tight rope, table tennis and beach games, there are salsa nights and beach parties regularly held - with outside guests warmly welcomed to all events.
For smaller children there is a small play area and for mums and dads, a great restaurant and bar and massages available in the delightful sala, overlooking the sea.
6. Water Sports
Our kids are all very sporty and have energy in abundance (as long as its after 12 noon), so all were keen to do some water sports during the vacation.
There are lots of options available on Koh Samui for anything from Stand-up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking to Kite-surfing and Jet-skiing.
We had already decided to let the kids go Jet-skiing, however as it happened we ended up wake-boarding and having fun on the half-pipe.
We are lucky enough to own a small speedboat, so as well as having fun on the half-pipe and wake-boarding, we also pulled up at favorite beach restaurant, Eden beach for lunch.
Obviously not everyone has access to private speedboat, however, i would recommend a boat trip (speedboat or catamaran) whilst on vacation. They really are a fantastic day out and we recommend Boutique Yatching
Bang Rak Beach, Petcherat Pier; Phone: +66 80 695 0801
7. Bophut Walking Street/Co-co Tams
This is another firm family favorite and an event that has grown with us as a family, from the days of toddlers, buggies, flashing toys and helium balloons to hanging out with friends in relative independence, knowing that mum and dad are having dinner close by.
My kids are regulars her on a Friday night and meet up with school friends to enjoy the live music, street food, shopping and cool street vibes.
On this instance, we ate together at Co-co Tams (after enjoying cocktails at the bar upstairs) whilst enjoying their fire-show. The kids played pool in the bar area and messed about on the beach and we relaxed knowing that they were closely and having fun. We literally had to drag them away...
8. Open-air Cinema
There are a couple of options for open-air cinema on the island. The W resort in Bophut has long been offering a Monday night movie and includes kids movies, classics and Hollywood blockbusters. The newly opened Sala in Chaweng has also started to offer a regular movie night.
Our kids and we love to taken a movie under the stars - we even have a projector at home and we frequently have a movie night - but for the ultimate treat - you can't beat either the W or Sala Chaweng.
9. Crystal Bay/Rockpool
Another day out saw us heading for some snorkeling at Crystal bay -with newly purchased snorkels and masks in hand, we headed for Rockpool resort for lunch and a dip in their beachside pool (open to non residents).
Whilst we did not see much in the water (due to the recent rains), the kids had a great time climbing the rocks and jumping off of them, and playing in the sea.
10. Ark Bar
The kids are always keen to go our at night and view eating at home as rather dull. We on the other hand, find going out with four teenagers in tow, fraught with cost and potential hazards!!!
Not to mention that we like to be in bed by 11 at the latest, when their night is just beginning.
To keep them all happy, we ventured to the Ark bar, owned by friends and hugely popular amongst Samui's young set. Now a huge operation, covering a large area on Chaweng Beach, the Ark bar did not disappoint. With great table service, a wide variety of nicely cooked food and drinks at reasonable prices, we settled back to enjoy the amazing (the best I have seen) fire show.
The kids were happily entertained people watching, dancing, playing pool and blending into the vibes of Samui's young scene.
Again, we had to drag them away, with promises to return on another evening.
Other activities that our kids loved which did not make this list included - Yoga (free acro-yoga on Saturdays at Vikassa resort was particularly popular)
- Foot Massages and Manicures - enjoyed by the two girls and the mums
- Samui Cobras Football club - training at the Arena on Mon/Wed/Fri evenings and welcoming guest players for a kick-about
- Take a Nanny - for families with older and younger children, a Nanny is a welcome addition to the family, allowing the parents and older kids to explore whilst the younger children are kept safe and amused by the Nanny.
And always, always take a ball and a pack of playing cards!