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“Pretty cool experience. Not the best value for money.”

Blue Stars Kayaking
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Longtailboat at Koh Sam Sao, National Marine Park, Bluestars
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Nottingham
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Pretty cool experience. Not the best value for money.”
Reviewed April 13, 2013

It's a very professional service and friendly staff. The Marine Park is pretty nice and the green lagoon is amazing. You only have about 1hr 30 mins on the kayak total and the pace is very slow. There is hours of traveling but food is provided. It was a pretty cool day trip but definitely not worth the price. Would do again if it was about half the cost (you can do can get far better for your money in Thailand)..

Visited April 2013
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1 Thank beardandbible
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Date | Rating
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English first
Singapore
1 review
“Good Job!”
Reviewed April 9, 2013

driver was punctual. He picked us up at the hotel lobby on time.
Crew lead by Marcus were awesome. They were friendly and helpful to assist taking pictures and brought us beyond one island during kayaking.
This was the only tour during my trip in koh samui which provided light breakfast, lunch and snacks for tea.
Blue star has given us a good and memorable first time experience.
I will engage blue star services when i visit koh samui again
Kudos to marcus and team!

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
Thank FidahFirman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“A very memorable experience”
Reviewed April 8, 2013 via mobile

The marine park and kayaking was amazing. I went with a group of friends and the trip was one of the highlights of our trip.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank anderson_caa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Wonderful location, average company”
Reviewed April 4, 2013

First of all it needs noting that the Angthong Marine Park is absolutely breathtaking and should absolutely be seen by the Samui visitor. Secondly, kayaking is definitely a great way to see it. Thirdly, Blue Stars Kayaking seems to be the only company that takes tourists beyond the first island and this secured our booking. This last point is also why I am rating the company 3, instead of 2 stars.

Where it falls down spectacularly is in it's antiquated equipment and half-hearted service. One of these could be overlooked, the combination is teeth-grinding. The boat is old, old, 1970's I'm guessing. This means that a trip that would take 25min by catamaran or speedboat (the islands are visible from the mainland), takes almost 2 hours, one way. This means that exactly half of your 8 hour trip is transit. Kayaks are adequate though several had their seat fixtures moved from the original spot and created a knuckle-beating spot if the paddle was grabbed too low. Approx. 70% of life-jackets are absolutely disgusting, old and dirty, so much so that I wouldn't let my kids touch them which meant we had to wait till newer ones were returned (and believe me I am NOT a bacteria-phobe!). Certainly it is not a cheap trip and it would be nice to see some of the proceeds invested in newer equipment. (In fairness I will add that masks and snorkels are of good quality and looked after).

The overall feel of the trip was unfortunatelly chaos. Our trip was full, overbooked it seemed, because there wasn't enough seating for everyone. More than several people were left standing or sitting on the floor. Customer seats are wooden, though the staff quarters have padded ones :) There are more customers than kayaks, which means the group is split up, with half having to do some uninteresting snorkelling while waiting to kayak. It offers a welcome opportunity to cool down but means that kayaking time is short. Later on the group is split up again with one half trekking up to the salt-lake and the other kayaking. We found the group-splitting frustrating as the owner is German with a heavy accent, speaks quickly and softly. No other staff seem to know English and act totally disinterested in customers (except when helping them on and off the boat and kayaks). Most frustratingly, staff spend the 2 hour boat ride each way wandering around the boat smoking. Smoke is everywhere because they do not just use one spot of the boat to do this, there are dirty ashtrays on each table and seat.

Lunch is served onboard and is tasty and plentiful. This is also the only day-trip company I have used who serve afternoon tea during the trip back, nice to see.

In summary - there is too little time to enjoy the beautiful park. There is no opportunity to pull up onto any of the abundant small beaches to just rest and admire. Kayakers follow a line around a leader (who offers no information about the park, marine life, etc, NOTHING) and get back on the boat. I must point out that this seemed to be the norm amongst all companies we saw bringing kayakers throughout the day. All boats were run-down and all customers enjoyed the park for a very short time. And so if the owners respond to my review they will undoubtedly claim being within standards, which seems to be such a popular excuse for mediocrity within the tourism sector. I say - this CAN be done better. But is there any company out there who does it better? Maybe not on Samui, I don't know. .

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank 475valeska
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bromme, Owner at Blue Stars Kayaking, responded to this review, April 6, 2013
Thank you for your detailed review. We always appreciate the feedback.

You are correct in saying that the Angthong Marine Park is a must visit for anyone coming to Koh Samui and you are correct in your assumption that we are the only company bringing people to the northern region of the park where the caves and hidden lagoons are.

We feel however we need to address some of your more negative comments.

Our boat is not a young boat. However it is well maintained and dry-docked every year for a full overhaul. In a perfect world we would love to operate with a high-tech super fast boat but as this is Thailand and not the Great Barrier Reef there are few options available for such boats. Also the cost of such a boat would mean charging Great Barrier Reef prices which would be 2 and 3 times what we charge for a day trip. Luckily most tourists understand this and appreciate the certain charm of using a more traditional tour boat against a high-speed air-conditioned "juggernaut". Each to their own we guess but it is unfortunate that certain tourists have higher expectations even after booking through our website(as we believe you did) where nothing is hidden. Our boat is not described as a modern high-speed boat, the itinerary is quite clear in the time taken to the Park and time spent in the park. So it is a little confusing why someone who viewed our website would have a different idea of what is offered. Yes a large part of the day is spent in transit to the park but if you have ever been on a day trip in areas like the Great Barrier Reef you would know that it is the case there too. And again we are lucky that most tourists can appreciate the unfamiliar and often spectacular scenery around them. Scenery they may never experience again so are happy to soak it up.

The kayaks we have always used are the World’s No. 1 sit-on-top kayak and these we import ourselves from Australia. Other companies use locally made kayaks that are inferior in every department and despite being much cheaper to obtain we will continue to choose the best equipment available. The backrests you refer to whether they are in the original position(which they are in fact) or not makes no difference as they are always in the same position to your body, that is at your back to support it while paddling. So if you were finding that you were in a “knuckle-beating” situation it would be simply a matter of adjusting your grip on the paddle correctly.

Life jackets together with mask and snorkel are items we regularly update. Of course we can’t be updating every week as this would not be economically or environmentally sensible. All equipment is cleaned every day but unfortunately with the life vests there will always be certain marks left from sun cream and perspiration but they are effectively clean.

Our boat is licensed to carry 100 passengers but we take a maximum of between 44 and 48 people. The boat has 3 levels with seating comfortably for over 70 people on 2 levels and then there is the 30sqm sundeck. Perhaps those that were standing or sitting on the floor chose to. The captain’s cabin on board is where he sleeps of a night so this is the reason he requires padding.

Yes the group is split into 2 but again the program is quite clearly described in the website and you did not miss out on anything or have your time shortened for the activities described. Better to have 2 smaller groups than one large group do the activities together. Once again a little confusing why you expected more than was offered.

Your comments regarding smoking is taken seriously and this is something we will discuss with our staff. Unfortunately if customers want to smoke there is no way really to stop them as it is not an enclosed area you sit in but open aired. People are encouraged to move to an area such as the sundeck where it won’t affect others.

We get many good reports about our food and we are pleased that you also enjoyed it.

Our tour guide gives a detailed briefing in the morning about the activities you will do and about the Park. Most people prefer this rather than having a running commentary while paddling as they want to enjoy the peacefulness of the nature. Our guide is available for any questions people may have during the day.

So in summary, we feel that what is described within our website is what you should expect…not more. Of course safety is our first priority and if conditions change during the day then our program may have to be adjusted to suit the conditions. But we are sure on your tour you missed out on nothing that we offer. We would prefer not to see the Park become too “modern” and are certain that most visitors appreciate to keep it more traditional with slower cruising tour boats rather than have high-speed catamarans churning the peaceful waters of this spectacular location.

Again thank you for your review.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Great Crew”
Reviewed March 25, 2013

The crew, lead by Mr Y where excellent. The Marine Park is beautiful. Lunch was very good. A memorable day.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Susan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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