Koh Tao along with Koh Nang Yuan make up the Chumphon Archipelago on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand with an area of about 21 square km. Most of the Koh Tao coastline features steep, rocky shorelines and there are 11 bays and 10 capes throughout. Koh Tao is famous for its soft and hard coral reefs, rich marine life, clear warm waters, and an overall relaxed atmosphere and lifestyle, making it a must-go destination for thousands of visitors a year. Koh Tao is one of the best islands in Thailand for scuba diving with many sites around the island and other areas beyond that can be reached through a day trip. Not to mention the selection of beaches and bays with shallow coral reefs that are perfect for snorkelling. There are also sightings all-year-round, of whale sharks. You could be among the lucky ones to be diving among these unique marine beings. There is so much to do and see, and outdoor enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the range of adventures they can pursue by land or by sea.
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There are many fun water activities that kids will enjoy. Snorkelling is excellent throughout the whole island as the waters are generally calm and shallow with good visibility. Boat trips around the island and further to neighbouring islands is a great family activity. Older kids will be able to explore the bays on a sea kayak or by standup paddleboards.
One of the best things guests love about Koh Tao is its incredible natural beauty on land and sea. Visitors travelling from different parts of the world agree it is an exceptional island to visit. At any Koh Tao beach, cape or point, you will find ongoing water flow, calm waters and fertile coral reef just below the surface, making this island an ideal snorkelling destination for adults and children. Most people like to arrange an “around island” tour, where a boat can drop you from snorkelling spot to spot, just a few metres offshore and all throughout the island’s coastline. Many beaches are only accessible by boat so it is definitely one of the best things to do in Koh Tao.
Tens of thousands of tourists visit Koh Tao each year. Despite that, there have been some unexplained and suspicious deaths on the island since 2014 rumoured as accidents or suicides. Any destination has its risks so as long as you exercise caution and use common sense like not walking alone after dark or carrying valuables that are obvious to others; then you should be safe.
After the sun sets, Koh Tao comes alive with great food and bars, night markets, sports bars, live music, and beach fire-dancing entertainment.
The dry season from December to February is the best time to visit Koh Tao with warm sunny days. From March through until the monsoon season hits around June, the weather is super hot. The best visibility for diving is July through to September.
Sairee Beach is the busiest and most developed beach on the island offering all types of accommodation, dive centres, restaurants, entertainment and nightlife. It attracts the most visitors so it’s a good spot to stay if you want to be in the heart of everything. Chalok Bay is for those looking for utter relaxation due to its very laid-back atmosphere and minimal nightlife. But if you want to stay closer to the pier as you have an early morning boat to catch, then Mae Haad is your best bet and only a 10-minute walk down to Sairee beach. Accommodation prices in Koh Tao may be a bit higher than in neighbouring islands but still affordable and reasonable.
Koh Tao Thailand is only accessible by boat. There is no airport, bus or train service. You can reach the island from nearby Koh Samui or Koh Phangan with boats operating daily. If coming from Bangkok, an easy option is to take a flight to Koh Samui then transfer by boat from there. Alternatively, from the Thai mainland, the closest departure points are Chumphon or Surat Thani. There are two transfer options: a sleeper overnight boat or daily ferry. The journey takes approximately 6 hours from Chumphon and 9 hours from Surat Thani.
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