The island of Koh Tao in Thailand: beaches, diving, snorkeling and much more!

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Aina Martin

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Koh Tao is the small sister of nearby Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, the latter very famous for Full Moon Party, a party where hundreds of kids go wild on the beach.

The island of Koh Tao, known as the turtle island

Ko Tao also took the name of turtle island. The situation is different from Akumal in Mexico, where turtles live and reproduce; in this case the appellative derives from the past. Once, Koh Tao was a favorite destination for these beautiful animals that laid their eggs on the white beaches of the island.

The characteristics of Koh Tao

Koh Tao is renowned for being one of the best places in the world for practice diving. Not only. It is also considered very important in the didactic field. Should anyone want to take the patent for diver, this is the right place. There are countless Diving Schools that dot the inner pedestrian boulevard of Koh Tao where you can do PADI courses.

If you don't want to go diving, know that it is also splendid for simple snorkeling. I was pleasantly surprised by the Japanese Garden area near theKoh Nang Yuan island I had already told you about.

How is the island structured?

It is not a large island and certainly the most experienced part is the one on the west side, or where there are the two main centers: Mae Beach (where the ferries dock) e Sairee Beach. The rest of the island is not easily accessible, or rather, it is accessible but by taking advantage of the internal pick-ups, renting mopeds or quads or using taxi boats.

In the case of autonomous rental, two problems arise:

  • You must have an international driving license, if you want to know how to get it just click on the link "international driving license" in blue
  • You have to be very careful because the local drivers don't go too far in driving, moreover the roads are particularly bumpy and the risk of falling is not so remote.

Consiglio: if the intention is not to completely isolate yourself and live on the beach without seeing a living soul, then the best solution is to base yourself in Sairee Beach or Mae Haad and then leave every morning for the chosen destination.

How to get to Koh Tao

There are several ways to get to this island.

Substantially it depends where you come from. A company that can do for you is there Lomprayah that with its combined bus + ferry allows you to reach Koh Tao from the most disparate places in Thailand.

For those coming from Bangkok there are several choices. The best are:

  • the combined bus + ferry of the Lomprayah
  • the combined flight + bus + ferry of Nok Air or Air Asia
  • the flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui combined with a ferry from Samui to Koh Tao

I left Chiang Mai and used the combined service of Air Asia. It was an excellent choice both from an economic and logistical point of view.

I told you about it in this post which could be very useful: From Chiang Mai to Koh Samui by plane and ferry!

Please note:: at the ports of departure from Koh Samui, not all boats operate the service in the same port. For example, the Lomprayah ferry to Koh Tao from Koh Samui departs from the Lomprayah Samui Maenam Pier which is not really in the center of Maenam.

Where to sleep in Koh Tao

The concept of "where to sleep in Koh Tao" follows the same line of "what kind of stay" do you want to do on the island.

If you want to be in complete tranquility, then you can go to the east coast where there are several resorts where you will find absolute peace as well as a splendid sea.

If, on the other hand, you want a more lived-in area and you want a place where you can go out for a stroll in the evening, then surely the best area is Sairee Beach. There is certainly more hustle and bustle but not over the top. Among other things, there are few places that stay open late and consequently at a certain time Koh Tao becomes very quiet.

I have tried both situations and I had a great time. If you have the opportunity to make a mix, I think it's ideal.

I spent two wonderful days in Dusit Buncha Resort on the northern tip of Koh Tao, the one overlooking Koh Nang Yuan. A beautiful place with an infinity pool, a restaurant by the sea and a view of an exceptional sunset.

I think this photo is enough to make you realize how beautiful this resort with the bungalows in the middle of the jungle of Koh Tao is. The ideal place to unplug.

I then stayed for the last few days in theInn Touch Resort , directly on the beach of Sairee. Again I had a great time and I highly recommend it.

If the question is: better to book in advance or you can find accommodation directly on the spot… the answer is: it depends!

It depends on the period and it depends on how important the hotel or accommodation in general is to you. In principle there are no major problems finding where to sleep because as soon as you arrive at the port many people will offer you rooms; it is also true that you will have to take "the one who passes the convent". Usually I organize myself first because I like to customize everything and plan the travel very punctually.

In this case I would say: "fate vobis"

Consiglio: if you want to experience something truly exceptional, then one night at Nang Yuan Dive Resort , the only resort on Koh Nang Yuan, is a must-try experience.

What to see and what to do in Koh tao

Koh Tao is an island where you can go on a lot of excursions, it's hard to get bored. As already mentioned in the previous paragraph, Koh Tao has become very important for those who want to do a "full immersion"In the world of diving and be able to obtain the diving license in a short time. There are various types of courses based on your level of preparation and knowledge of that world.

Snorkeling, sunbathing and excursions on the east side of the island are the other experiences you can do.

Excursion to Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Nang Yuan is that small islet with a strange shape that faces the north-west of Koh Tao. Every day it is invaded by tourists who arrive thanks to organized tours or autonomously with the boats that leave from the beach of Sairee.

I believe it is the most beautiful place around Koh Tao. The water, especially on the side of the Japanese Garden, is beautifully colored and for snorkeling it is perfect, there is a lot of fun.

Also, you can go up to the headland behind the hotel and from there you will have a view of the whole beach and its strange shape.

How to get to Koh Nang Yuan?

In this article: Koh Nang Yuan: by taxi boat from Koh Tao I have explained everything to you, even what you cannot bring to the island ...

Koh Tao: beaches and snorkeling excursions

It goes without saying that the whole island of Koh Tao is stunning, there is no better spot. Each beach on Koh Tao has its own peculiarities, some are sandy and substantially more suitable for families, others are in pleasant places accessible by boat and others are included in the resorts therefore private or with a cost to access them.

Here are the beaches of Koh Tao.

  • Sairee Beach: I would say that it wins the palm of the busiest beach. A long sandy beach lined with clubs and resorts of all kinds. The water thins gently and the colors are very beautiful although not like those of Koh Nang Yuan. In the evening this beach comes alive and becomes the hub of Koh Tao's nightlife. Some clubs, in fact, have tables directly on the beach and often offer shows for their customers. Do not miss the fire games of the artist-jugglers who entertain tourists every evening. It is a “sunset” beach because the horizon is completely clear of other islands. My advice is to enjoy the relaxation that allows this beach which, although the most traveled on the island, did not seem chaotic at all.

  • Koh nang yuan: definitely the most spectacular beach on Koh Tao. I consider it a beach on Koh Tao because it is located a stone's throw from Sairee and is certainly an unmissable stop for those visiting the island.
  • Hin Wong Bay: is located at the opposite end of Sairee. To reach it it is convenient to rent a taxi boat, the roads are bumpy and are not ideal for getting around, all the better to move by sea by negotiating the price.
  • Tanote Bay: this beach is also located on the east coast of Koh Tao and this would also be better to reach by taxi boat. If it's a nice day you can also try to reach it by land with a final walk.

The other beaches of Koh Tao are:

  • Ao Leuk Beach on the east coast
  • Mango bay on the north coast
  • Chalok Ban Kaok on the south coast

Snorkeling excursions on Koh Tao

In many other articles I have talked to you about how I like snorkeling, how it is an activity that relaxes me. Koh Tao, thanks to a very rich aquatic fauna, is one of the best places to have fun and admire the seabed.

All along Sairee Beach, especially near the various resorts, you will see numerous signs promoting group snorkeling excursions.

There are several companies that manage these tours but, bath more, bath less, they have signed up and offer the package for the same amount. I think around 30/35 euros including meal on the boat.

Tours depart in the morning and pick you up directly in front of your hotel.

You are taken to Mae Haad where they provide you with a mask and snorkel, and then off on the various boats ready to take you around the island, not forgetting to dock at the splendid Koh Nang Yuan.

The boat tour leaves, if I remember correctly, around 9/10 in the morning and ends at 17.00. In total we visit five bays and in each the boat is stopped and you have the opportunity to jump into the water and snorkel. And what a snorkel, look at the water.

For those unable to swim or feel uncomfortable in deep water, i boats are equipped with life jackets which are provided to each participant. My advice is to use it even if you are good swimmers because there is no doubt that it allows you to live the experience more serenely.

The day goes by quickly and the tour around the island is worthwhile, especially if you don't have time to see a different beach every day. In this way, however, it is possible to circumnavigate the island of Koh Tao and to realize its beauty.

Despite this, the tour is obviously a tourist experience and as such it is perhaps a little anonymous, although pleasant.

If your travel budget allows you, better to rent a taxi boat for the whole day and dictate the timing of the transfers based on whether you will be comfortable or not in a particular beach.

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