Koh Tao offers wonderful landscapes, beautiful pristine beaches, hidden bays and some of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life. Not to mention the snorkeling and colorful coral formations. All this for a dirt cheap price.
The ultimate to do list:
- Get dive certified! Ko Tao is one of the cheapest and most beautiful places to get certified in the world, and with dive schools on every corner, it definitely knows it. Plus, the Gulf doesn’t produce much waves, making it a safe place to learn. Don’t get certified by anyone other than New Heaven Divers – they’re an amazing team of conversationalists that could make anyone fall in love with diving. The dive school is located in pristine Chalok Ban Kao bay, and also offers accommodation, yoga classes, and aryuvedic health classes. I stayed here during my time in Ko Tao and wouldn’t have changed a thing.
- Go to the beach!
- Tenote Bay -Tenote Bay has a beautiful white sand beach with good snorkeling and diving possibilities. The road down to this beach is crazy steep. There is this enormous rock in the water where you can jump off into the ocean.
- Mao Bay and Laem Tien Bay -A very small, rocky, beach were you should come to snorkel. There is a popular spot for rock jumping for 3 to 12 meters. This is also an interesting place for scuba divers since you can swim through underwater tunnels.You can only reach Laem Thian by foot, the trail to Aow Mao is known as one of the best hikes on Koh Tao. From Tanote, you can kayak to Laem Thian within 30 minutes.
- Sairee Beach – The classic Koh Tao beach. Lots of bars, restaurants, and things to to on the beach, but also possible to get away from the crowds. Great place to grab dinner and watch the sun go down.
- Sai Daeng Beach -This is the beach on Koh Tao that is the closest to Shark Island. To visit the beach you must pass through one of the two resorts but luckily it’s free of charge. With a kayak (and calm weather) you can reach Shark Island within 10 minutes. Underwater you’ll be able to see Blacktip Reef Sharks or Sea Turtles. It’s best to do this around sunset.
- Sai Nuang Beach -This beach is only reachable by foot or water taxi. It has a swing (dream) and plenty of shade under beautiful coconut palms. There are a couple of bars to grab a drink or snack.
- Shark Bay/ Haad Thien – In the southeastern part of Koh Tao, there’s a beach called Haad Thien, where the coconut palms are lined perfectly. This is a lovely beach to relax. It’s not that quite due to the resort that is located on the beach but that didn’t bother us at the time. The name of the bay is not just a name since you can snorkel with Blacktip Reef sharks and a few huge turtles in there. To see them you need to swim out about 250 meters out of the beach to where it drops down deeper to 3 meters. You also should be able see them near Sai Daeng Beach.
- Freedom Beach -One of the Koh Tao beaches that was a little hard to reach. Located at the southern tip of the island. You have to pass Chalok and Taa Toh Resort until the end of the road. Then walk your way down. There are a lot of trees near the beach which gives it a unique beach view and it provides shade when you need it. There’s also a concrete path you can follow that goes around back to Chalok Baan Beach.
- Aow Leuk Beach -Aow Leuk is a lot easier to reach. You can take the taxi to here if you’d like to. This beach is private and does not allow you to bring your own food and drinks onto it, although we did bring our food and be sure to take our garbage. The beach closes at 5pm.
- Mango Bay -This is one of the more busy Koh Tao beaches. Mango bay (Aow Muang) is a large bay with a small beach and a reef. Which is the reason for the neighbors of Koh Samui and Kop Phangan to take a day-trip to this bay. Pay as little as a 100 bath to enjoy the amazing scenery at Mango Bay.
- Hin Wong Bay – You can spend an entire day exploring Hin Wong Bay. Rent a kayak to get around because it’s difficult to walk on the rocks around the bay. The entrance fee for the beach is 50 baht or just buy a drink. This vibe in this area was really laid back.
- Go to Koh Nangyuan, because it is incredible, and one of the best snorkel spots in Ko Tao. The Japanese Gardens have amazing soft and hard coral formations living among huge granite boulders. You will also see a variety of anemones and colorful aquatic life. With its sloping sand bar and shallow bottom makes the Japanese Garden suitable for beginners and a great place to build up confidence. Some say that Nangyuan is a “tourist trap”, because you basically have to pay for everything. It is 100 baht to rent two beach chairs for the day, 50 baht to use the showers, 50 baht for goggles and snorkel and the restaurant is also quite pricey, being the only restaurant on the island it can afford to be. However, if you realize that 100 baht is equivalent to 3 USD, I would say its very much worth it.
- Go to a viewpoint to see the island
- Mango Viewpoint – At this beautiful viewpoint, you’ll have a view of Sairee Beach and Mae Haad Bay that stretches all the way to the south. The way up is not the easiest, so make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes unless you’re that flip flop kind of person. The entrance fee of Mango Viewpoint is 100THB.
- Koh Nang Yuan Viewpoint – The viewpoint at Nang Yuan is definitely the most popular. Take the boat from Sairee Beach, which will bring you to Nang Yuan island. Pay the 100THB entrance fee and you’ll be allowed to visit every corner of the island.
- John Suwan Viewpoint – In my opinion, the most impressive viewpoint on Koh Tao due to the picturesque hike. I visited it a few times and just sat there amazed. The entrance fee at John Suwan Viewpoint is 50THB.