CIRCUMNAVIGATING KOH PHANGAN BY SUP


 Paddling off Zen Beach, Koh Pha Ngan

Paddling off Zen Beach, Koh Pha Ngan

Four years ago I started a personal adventure challenge that didn’t get past the first leg. I’ve loved Stand Up Paddleboarding since I completed the longest ever recorded journey by SUP during a source to sea descent of the Mississippi River in 2011, but one of the downsides of my self-set Expedition1000 project is that each journey of 1000 miles or more must be undertaken on a different form of non-motorised transport.

So, to fill the hunger for adventure in between bigger trips, I conjured up a scheme to take on twenty-five different Stand Up Paddleboard journeys of 100 miles or more. For many reasons I haven’t yet added to the first of these journeys, a world-first circumnavigation of the Caribbean Island of Martinique. But now it’s time to start again.

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I’m once more the owner of a Stand Up Paddleboard, which helps, and the fact that it’s inflatable means that I can travel the world with it. It just so happens that we’re honeymooning in the Gulf of Siam - otherwise known as a the Gulf of Thailand - and much to the chagrin of my wife, I’m struck with a healthy affliction that means I can’t visit an island without at least considering a circumnavigation. 

There are three main islands in our vicinity: Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. In order, there is an extraordinary balance to the distance around these islands: Samui is 75km, Pha Ngan is 50km, and Tao around 25km. Add them up and we’re not far off 100 miles.

The full intent was to take a couple of days out of our honeymoon and circumnavigate all three islands, but an ear infection and a week-long storm put paid to the Tao and Samui circumnavigations, so a one-day, 50km rounding of Pha Ngan will have to do. For now.

I adore being out on the ocean on a paddleboard, and the feeling of being just a few hundred metres offshore in this part of the world is somewhat how I’d imagine a shipwrecked sailor to feel, drifting in the water only to see this tropical, white beach, palm tree’d mountainous island on the horizon.

Stand Up Paddleboarding is my favourite way to explore - access from the water always feels far more exciting than discovery by land - and I’m looking forward to setting out on a challenge that in total will take no more than five or six days in total.

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My board

In 2011 I travelled 2404 miles down the Mississippi on a Lakeshore River River and my current board is Lakeshore’s Inflatable, the Pathfinder

  • Length: 12 foot

  • Width: 31 inches

  • Weight: 24 lbs/ 10.9kg


The last time I travelled over 100 miles by SUP

PHOTO GALLERY


ROUTE MAP


TEAM

Spike Reid, 32

Photographer, Expedition Leader

Spike has undertaken numerous mountaineering expeditions from the Arctic and the Altai, to the Hindu Kush.  With two friends, Spike won the Royal Geographical Society & Land Rover's 'Go Beyond' bursary and undertook a circumnavigation along 50° North, carrying out climate change research.

 

Robyn Green, 26

Independent Researcher, Wilderness First Responder, Guide, Pro Consumer of Peanut Butter

Robyn's insatiable hunger for travel led her to spending recent Summers guiding in Costa Rica, and three years working for Operation Smile, who provide free cleft lip/cleft palate repair surgeries around the globe.

Rob Green, 26

Martial Arts Instructor, Wilderness First Responder, Guide, Expedition Engineer and Outreach Manager

A genuine jack-of-all-trades, Rob's hunger for adventure has pulled him to nearly every corner of the globe. From Barcelona to Kathmandu, Guatemala to Morocco, Rob is always looking to dig in deep.

 

Ben Arthur, 19

Adventure enthusiast, Student

After finishing sixth form, Ben has spent the past year and a half travelling, working and volunteering around the world. He's no stranger to SUP, having paddle boarded solo from the source of the Thames to London in 2014.