Koh Tao is just one tiny island amidst the hundreds that dot the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea. But it has something special that sets it apart from the rest: with more than fifty dive centers, Koh Tao is one of the world’s premier destinations for learning how to scuba dive.
However, while many travelers initially come for the diving, they end up staying for the natural beauty and relaxed island life.
Renting a kayak, or maybe some snorkeling gear, will only set you back a few dollars.
While Koh Tao has plenty of sandy beaches (like the one above) perfect for swimming and sunbathing, its coastline is dominated by huge boulders artfully arranged into cool natural formations.
Koh Tao is actually where I discovered my love of snorkeling! Those of you who are familiar with my (strong) dislike of being submerged in water will realize that this is a Very Big Deal indeed. We even saw a shark in the aptly-named Shark Bay!
Just chillin’. On a boat. Like you do.
Koh Tao’s most popular area, Sairee Beach, is dotted with tons of restaurants and bars. It isn’t nearly as wild as some islands in Thailand (*cough* Koh Phangan), but there are nightly fire shows, plenty of dazzling lights, and cheap buckets of Chang Beer.
This isn’t just a pile of rocks – there’s a face in there. Do you see it? Okay, I’ll give you a hint.
BOOM! There it is.
I’m cheating a little – this is actually Koh Samui rather than Koh Tao. It’s the nearest island with an airport, though, so most travelers pass through here before taking the ferry on to Koa Tao.
While some of the island is gorgeous, there’s obviously a bit of a trash problem on Koh Samui. Koh Tao was much cleaner, despite the fact that without on-island waste management facilities all trash has to be gathered up and shipped back to the mainland via ferry.
When you step off the ferry upon arriving in Koh Tao, you’re immediately bombarded by locals trying to entice you to their dive shop or offer their taxi services. It was a bit like running a mini version of the gauntlet, but with friendly faces and hand-written signs.
There’s this restaurant in the middle of the island that will pick you up and drop you off for free. Be forewarned, though — the ride takes you up a steep mountain in the back of a pick-up truck. But the view was great, the food was delicious (we ordered an ENTIRE fish! With the head attached and everything!), and we had the place all to ourselves.
Ah, Thai sunsets… I just can’t quit thee.