geography gave Samui stunning beaches backed by a high central mountain
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Samui is essentially a big mountain of granite sticking high out of the Gulf of Thailand, with a flat top and a strip of flat land around most sides. This narrow coastal strip disappears on the central east coast where the mountain drops directly into the ocean, creating a rugged coastline of weather-worn rock. Here waves have carved out small coves, deposited sand and created several little-seen, sandy patches among the huge boulders that, while small, are among Samui's most beautiful, unseen beaches .
The central mountain range has a roof of undulating hills covered with lush orchards of durian, rambutan, papaya, long-gong and other tropical fruits. A white crown of cloud often rests gently over this dominant, central core, giving Samui a rainbow of natural, tropical colours. It starts in the turquoise of the surrounding seas, crosses the brilliant yellow-white of the sand, runs into the lush green of the hillsides before meeting the brilliant white of cloud floating below the vast blue beyond.
With the island roughly 20 kilometres deep and 13 kilometres wide, it takes about an hour to drive around Samui, following the ring road that hugs the coast most of the way. The few roads up the mountain are steep and difficult, and those across the top are often just farm tracks. Some safari companies take tourists up here in rugged 4-wheel drive trucks – though the average visitor to Samui sticks to the narrow coastal strips, never seeing this pretty, rural part of the island. Driving around the island's ring road, however, is strongly recommended, for it is indeed a pretty trip through a lush environment, with many difference beaches and atmospheres to be visited and absorbed along the way.