If there’s ever a time to ditch the Fitbit, it’s when you finally arrive on Koh Samui. To fully augment your lazy-days-in-paradise situation (and ensure you accrue 0.0 steps), might we suggest a resort with a swim-up bar? With seven top choices on all the island’s best corners, you can take a week to paddle to a new happy hour every day.
*Starting in Chaweng, clockwise around Koh Samui
Samui swim-up bar #1. Chaweng Regent Beach Resort: A really popular hotel with our readers, you’re in triple-threat territory here. Chaweng Regent has a beach to brag about, an easy-to walk location close to everything in Chaweng, and a totally Thai environment with bungalow suites in gorgeous gardens. As for the swim-up bar, you’ll find it in the second of the resort’s two fresh-water pools, set in the showpiece of Chaweng Regent’s tropical garden. Back at the beach, regular beach parties offer free-flow drinks packages and special cocktails each month.
Samui swim-up bar #2. Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui: Ding-ding! You’ve found a swim-up bar with a sea view. With bar seating on multiple sides, you can choose sun or shade as your skin requires. A massive resort universe exists beyond Centara’s impressive entrance, and with such space and range of choice (in restaurants, pools and on-site activities), it’s great for families and really popular for groups and weddings. Indeed, Samui’s centrepiece ‘enormous resort’ is ideal for discarding real world responsibilities for your entire trip – you’ll never have to leave (or put on shoes). Centara also has a large beach bar, Coast, with couches built into the sand and shady and sunny spaces alike.
Samui swim-up bar #3. Shiva Samui: A peaceful spot on a very quiet stretch of beach in Laem Set. Shiva is the only all-inclusive option on Koh Samui (so you can swim up and never worry about the bill). If Centara in Chaweng puts you in the thick of things, Shiva feels like you’ve landed on an island all your own (though it’s just a 10-minute drive to nearby Lamai). You’re also offered the use of beach toys galore, including beach volleyball (should daiquiri #3 remind you that you’re definitely god’s gift to the sport). Time to switch swim-up bar for the sand? There’s a coconut thatch beach bar, too.
TIP! What to pack? For any time in the water at all, let alone kicking off an aquatic noon-hour session, arrive as prepared as an Einstein water baby: bring #1 the truly impenetrable Sum Bum waterproof sunscreen, #2 a UPF rash-guard, #3 a waterproof case for your phone and #4 an enormous sun hat.
Samui swim-up bar #4. Mai Samui Resort: Nearby Four Seasons Resort might have a 50-metre lap pool, but Mai Samui has three pools and together they’re acres big. Were you to bring a T-Swizzle inflatable swan, you could take hours to circuit these meandering pools (with a water-polo detour, perhaps). If you really love the water, Mai Samui offers balconies that step straight into the pool, with built-in loungers, too. The bar offers two sides (a swim-up pool bar and beach bar seating opposite), so you can follow the sun round until your toes land in the sand for sunset.
Samui swim-up bar #5. Anantara Bophut: It’s fitting that Anantara follows Mai Samui as, from a quick glance at their photo galleries (here and here), you’ll notice they have an architect and landscape designer in common (who knew you’d need coconut trees growing from the middle of your pool). Of the two, Anantara is the higher end option with a fantastic and very walkable location (see the many reasons we recommend it for a family vacation). On the other hand, ‘way out west’ Mai Samui has less on its doorstep meaning you’ll often find competitive rates for a resort with so much to entertain you on site. Anantara’s swim-up pool bar is tucked underneath Full Moon Restaurant, and as such offers valuable shade when you want to stare out to sea as you cool colada off. Of your 7 options, we think Anantara’s swim-up bar ambiance is extra special – hanging aerial roots and a fully stocked shelf of Samui rum make it the quintessential Samui experience.
Samui swim-up bar #6. Melati Beach Resort & Spa: We Instagrammed Melati’s swim-up bar a few months ago – a sneaky pic of a ‘Pearl the Landlady’ early alcohol adopter. Melati has a staff so sweet you’ll want to make some serious substitutions in your Christmas dinner roster and, if you’re lucky, you’ll grab a front row seat swim-up bar stool to their regular staff show – a frankly terrible and thus all-the-more-endearing dance/lip-sync/‘Thailand’s Got Talent’ delight. At other times of day, do your parents proud by taking full advantage of generous happy-hour promos (or find your hands full with a legitimate weight-lifting alternative to water aerobics). Melati is the sister resort to Chaweng Regent, discussed at the start – tough choices!
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Samui swim-up bar #7. Sea Dance Resort: One last stop on our 7-day Koh Samui swim-up bar crawl and it’s possible we saved the best for last. Why so? Entire. Mojito. Menu. We’ve done an earlier gushy post on the hundred or so reasons you’ll love Sea Dance, and its swim-up bar was a mere afterthought to this magic little spot ready to treat you to the best of Thailand’s service (and its spring rolls).
Want more choices and total Samui expertise? Our 5th edition of The Koh Samui Guide answers everything you’re worried or wondering about (… not to mention our very favourite bars back on dry land, too). Enjoy!