By Paula Parker
Koh Tao is an ideal destination to explore if you want somewhere to kick back and relax, or to go scuba diving.
This small, picturesque Island is located close to Koh Samui and the party island of Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand.
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Ko Tao also known as Turtle Island is blessed with beautiful beaches and hidden bays,
below are some of the areas we explored during our stay.
Mae Haad Bay is located on the western side of the Island; if you plan on visiting Koh Tao you will arrive and depart from Mae Haad Bay, as this is the location of the main port.
Even though this is the main port area, we found the stretch of beach to the south of the piers to be okay but I wouldn’t say it is the best swimming beach.
There is ample accommodation in and around Mae Haad, with lots of little eateries and a range of shops to look through.
The Whitening restaurant at Mae Haad Bay is definitely one of our favourites.
Click on the images below to enlarge
Sairee Beach is located to the north of Mae Haad Bay and is by far the most popular and busiest beach on the Island.
There is excellent beachfront restaurants and accommodation around Sairee Beach.
If you’re looking to party Sairee Beach is where you will find the majority of nightlife.
Jansom Bay is only a short walk from Mae Haad Bay, if you want to access the beach you have to enter through the Charm Churee Villa and pay a 200 Baht Fee.
The beach is only small and is an excellent spot for snorkeling.
If you’re a guest of the resort access to the beach is free.
Sai Nuan Beach is a 30 minute walk from Mae Haad, this hidden gem is one of our favourite spots on the Island.
The beach is small but not overcrowded; a great spot to kick back and unwind. If you don’t want to walk you could catch a taxi boat.
Mango Bay is a great spot to go snorkeling and is a popular spot for day trips, many of the dive schools use this area for scuba diving courses.
Tanote Bay is located on the East coast of Ko Tao, and is another top spot for snorkeling.
The East coast of the Island is much quieter than the beaches and bays on the West coast; however there is a good range of accommodation, restaurants and bars if you prefer a more laid back holiday.
Thian Og Bay also known as Shark Bay, is located on the south east coast of Ko Tao, a beautiful spot to spend a day relaxing on the beach, you may even see black-tip reef sharks or green turtles.
The best time to visit shark bay is on high tide.
If you’re looking for accommodation around Shark Bay you will be impressed with the choice of luxury four and five star resorts.
If you’re not planning to stay in one of the resorts around Shark Bay the easiest way to get there is via long-tail taxi boat.
The Island has a good selection of accommodation including backpacker hostels, budget hotels and luxury resorts.
Just remember before booking your accommodation that most of the nightlife is centred around Mae Haad Bay and Sairee Beach.
If your looking for something more laid back check out the resorts around Tanote Bay or Jansom Bay.
You can see the full list of resorts and hotels in Ko Tao here.
The quickest and easiest way to get to Koh Tao is to fly into Koh Samui, then catch a ferry onto Ko Tao. This is the most expensive way as flights in and out of Samui are not cheap, but it is the quickest.
If you’re not flying into Koh Samui you can also catch a ferry from Sura Thani, Chumphon and Koh Phangan.
It is wise to pre-book your ferry to Ko Tao in advance especially during the high season.
To book your ferry, you can contact our friends at Easy Day Thailand to assist you with your travel plans.
Day Trips to Koh Tao from Koh Samui are available; while many people opt for day trips, just keep in mind that you will spend a fair amount of time on the boat with limited time to explore the island.
Ko Tao is well known as a top spot in Thailand for scuba diving and there are loads of diving companies to choose from, however if you’re not into diving the Island offers an assortment of other activities to enjoy.
Not to be missed is a day trip to Koh Nang Yuan. You can read more about this must see Island here
Other activities at Koh Tao include:
If your planning to combine a holiday at Koh Tao, Koh Phangan or Koh Samui with your holiday in Phuket, like we did. Easy Day Thailand can organise all types of transfers to Koh Tao for you; including flights, ferries and bus services.
They also have a range of scuba diving packages, scuba diving courses and day trips to choose from. Contact Easy Day Thailand to find out more.
The weather in Koh Tao is the opposite to that of the weather in Phuket, we visited in April, and whilst it was hot we didn’t have any rain.
If you are planning a trip to Koh Tao I would definitely look at travelling from March to August.
If you don’t like crowds the best time to visit Koh Tao is during a full moon party, when the majority of backpackers are partying on the neighboring island of Koh Phangan.
Just be aware that Koh Tao gets extremely busy just before and after a full moon party with revelers arriving from Koh Phangan.
You can check dates for Full Moon Parties here
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