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Visitors come to Koh Tao for its beaches and bays. There are too many beaches to write about but here are some of the most popular highlights.
Sairee Beach is the longest beach on Koh Tao extending almost 2 kilometres along the west coast. It’s the busiest and most developed beach on the island offering all types of accommodation, dive centres, restaurants, entertainment and nightlife.
Hin Wong Bay
Hin Wong Bay is famous for its large boulders and crystal clear water, located on the east coast of the island. Due to the rock formations, walking around is not so easy so most people like to explore the bay by sea kayak.
Mango Bayis a popular destination for day-trippers from other areas of Koh Tao and the nearby islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan who arrive by boat. It’s a large bay with calm waters and a small beach which is often used for beginner level scuba diver training.
Chalok Baan Kao Bay
Chalok Baan Kao Bay looks faces Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and the Ang Thong Marine National Park across the sea. The shallow water makes it a popular choice for families with children. The bay doesn’t offer much to see for snorkelers and the nearby town has all the facilities visitors need.
Mae Haad Bay
Mae Haad Bay is the port town where the piers are located and boats dock. It’s the local commercial district of the island. One of its main attractions for snorkellers is a shipwreck towards the south of the bay.
Laem Thian is a quiet cape located in the east coast of Koh Tao. It attracts rock jumpers offering three different heights up to 12 metres high. The underwater rock formations create excellent swim tunnels for scuba diving.
Tanote Bayis made u of a large sandy beach popular with families, beach games and those wanting to laze about in the sun. The bay is surrounded by mountains and accessible by boat. Just a few steps offshore and you will see abundant sea life, making it a fantastic snorkelling area.
Lang Khai Bay
Lang Khai Bay is a small beach lined by large hills. When snorkelling you will see lots of soft and hard corals, and a steep seafloor. There is not much here, just a couple of resorts for those wanting secluded relaxation.
Aow Leuk or Deep Bay
Aow Leuk or Deep Bay is one of the most popular snorkelling sites and considered by many as one of the best beaches on Koh Tao. You don’t have to go very far in the shallow water to see an abundance of marine life. The large sandy seafloor makes it ideal for swimming and is used frequently for diver training.
Jansom Bay is a private beach only accessible through a villa resort and you must therefore pay an entry fee. Its sandy seafloor makes it an excellent snorkelling spot filled with all sorts of fish.
Thian Og is a charming quiet beach to completely relax. Also known as Shark Bay, these waters welcome blacktip reef sharks which act as a shark nursery. Green turtles can also be seen daily in the bay. There is an entrance fee to this beach.
What to do in Koh Tao? There is a myriad of outdoor activities so visitors can explore the natural wonders of this glorious island paradise. Land Adventures include hiking and running trails to various key viewpoints, cycling and rock climbing.
Koh Tao offers a number of panoramic viewpoints from the hillside peaks of the island. Most charge an entry fee. John-Suwan viewpoint gives visitors a birds-eye view of Shark Bay and Chalok Baan Kao Bay, Mango Bay viewpoint gives stunning views of the west coast, and the West Coast viewpoint showcases the exquisite beauty of the whole west coast including Sairee Beach through to Jansom Bay. This viewing platforms can be reached with a guide or self-hiked.
Sea adventures consist of scuba diving and free diving, snorkelling, fishing, sea kayaking, sailing, rock jumping and water sports such as standup paddleboarding, wakeboarding, windsurfing.
Koh Tao offers sensational dive sites around the island and diving courses for all levels from kids and beginners to technical. The main dive sites are situated around Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan, but there are other hotspots like Sail Rock, Samran Pinnacles and Ang Thong National Marine Park which will require a day trip.
Koh Tao along with Koh Nang Yuan create a small archipelago. 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, overall with a relaxed atmosphere and lifestyle, making it a must-do 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 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.
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 about Koh Tao is its incredible natural beauty on land and sea. 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 its 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 laidback 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 10 minutes walk down to Sairee beach.
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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