It’s easy to visit Koh Samui and have our days in the sun. But behind the scenes of waving palm trees and beckoning waters, dedicated locals make their paradise a true haven.

Words Susan Field Photos Lesley Fisher

On the first visit to Koh Samui in 1986, my mother and I arrived by ferry. I promptly fell in love with this idyllic island with its azure waters, soft white sand beaches, gently swaying palm trees, fantastic food and friendly people.

The love affair continued over the years and in 2004, I commissioned my first villa which rented out successfully for the next ten years, giving plenty of excuses to spend more time in Samui. And with each visit, I became more enchanted!

In 2015, after selling my busy PR company, it was time to leave the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong after thirty fun, hectic years and settle in Samui. With hourly connections to Bangkok as well as two direct daily flights to Hong Kong and Singapore, it made traveling to other places in the world very easy.

While still idyllic, Samui has changed and developed so much. Those of us who want development to be more ecologically and ethically sustainable are doing our part.

Koh Samui has a number of active organisations that work tirelessly for the greater good, care of animals and preservation of the island.

An experience not to be missed is Samui Elephant Sanctuary which opened in January this year and already has five adorable elephants in residence. Getting up close to the elephants is a memory you can never forget! According to the founder Khun Pao, “Here at the Samui Sanctuary, we treat our elephants with the dignity and respect they deserve. We do not allow riding or any type of performance; instead we work with our herd through positive reinforcement via food! Our tours follow a very relaxed programme which starts with an introduction to our work, followed by feeding the elephants. Then (it’s) a leisurely stroll through the sanctuary – accompanied by other elephants!”

There are two tours each day, from 9am-12pm, 2-5pm., Tel: +66 95 269 8343, email:

Founded in Phuket in 2003, Soi Dog (which means Street Dog) has an excellent animal welfare programme, having efficiently spayed and neutered more than 200,000 dogs since opening its doors. They also work tirelessly providing medical treatment, sheltering, adoption opportunities and sponsorship of dogs.

Funded entirely by donations, Soi Dog currently has a mobile sterilisation unit in Koh Samui which neuters many dogs and cats every month. To find out more or to donate, please visit

Every month, around 50 ladies gather for an informal lunch at one of Samui’s excellent restaurants. Aside from a fun social event, SOS supports local charities and has been the driving force behind several important causes.

Its current focus is on raising funds to renovate the Children’s Ward at the government-run Nation Hospital. In addition to the refurbishment programme, SOS is looking for sponsors and donations to provide new pyjamas for the children and to install bright new cheerfully coloured curtains. Details of the work by Sisters on Samui can be found at

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