- Shark Bay
- Koh Nang Yuan
- Freedom Beach
- Laem Thian, Mango Bay
- Hin Wong Bay and Tanote Bay
Koh Tao was once a detention place for political prisoners. Today it’s a great place for divers or persons who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Koh Samui or the chaos of the Full Moon Party on Koh Pha Ngan. The island is geared more towards relatively affluent divers than backpackers on a budget. Thus, you won’t find cheap food stalls here. There are hardly any ocean currents and there is a wide selection of dive sites and dive shops, dive schools, and resorts. Activities other than diving are on the increase and the food and nightlife options are some of the best in the Gulf of Thailand.
In addition, nearby, there is Koh Nang Yuan, a small island in the northwest. With sand dunes connecting to Koh Tao in the same way as the Waek Talay Sea Is a source of snorkeling
How to Get Around
The nearest airports are in Chumphon, Koh Samui and Surat Thani. Koh Tao can then be reached by numerous ferry and high-speed catamaran services. Combined flight & ferry ticket
The closest port to Bangkok for the island ferry service is Chumphon. Numerous agents sell tickets for a variety of boats of varying size and speed travelling in from the north. The fastest takes about 90 min, the slowest more than 5 hr.
From Ko Samui
Bangrak Pier (aka “Big Buddha Pier) is your best bet if you are arriving at Koh Samui Airport (10 minutes via taxi). Or are staying in Chaweng Beach area. Seatran Ferry has several trips to and from Koh Tao’s main pier (Mae Head). Seatran has large modern ferries, 2 hours
From Surat Thani
If you’re coming from the south, you can take a ferry from Surat Thani on the mainland with a travel time of around 3 hr.
Where to Stay
The majority of the accommodation on Koh Tao are centred around three main areas: Sairee Beach, Mae Haad, and Chalok Ban Khao. Go Places Recommended™ Properties in Koh Tao.
This is the largest beach on Koh Tao. On the west side of the island from the ferry terminal on the southwest corner of the island and running almost the length of the island. All along this beach you will find dive schools, resorts, restaurants and bars. The southern and central sections of the beach are well known for their nightlife, and the northern end has a large number of shops and restaurants which lends it to be a bit quieter at night (but with the bars only a short walk down the “Yellow Brick Road”.
All ferries arrive here making access to and from the island easy. Sairee Beach is to the north and Chalok Ban Kao is to the south. Banks and government offices as well as many dive centres, restaurants, and many guesthouses are here.
Chalok Baan Kao
Chalok Baan Kao is a much more chilled, relaxed environment than Sairee Beach, while still giving access to a great range of restaurants, beach bars and BBQs plus a wide range of accommodation from luxury resorts to budget rustic, beach side bungalows.
More populated than other east coast beaches however this doesn’t mean it’s busy. There is no town or village here and only 4 resorts, each with an attached restaurant and one really tiny shop which is up the hill behind the resorts. There are no ATM machines. There are no really cheap places to eat as there are in Mae Haad.
Restaurants & Bars
A huge selection of Thai food is available, including lots of seafood. Barbecued fish is one of the local favourites. As a large portion of the population are expats, you will find plenty of other cuisines too. around the gas station on the main road, about a kilometre south-east from the piers. A nice hunk of fresh barbecued fish at a decent restaurant. Get a fresh banana pancake, and a bowl of porridge with honey at a restaurant. A bowl of freshly made Italian pasta. Fresh fruit juices are available at many stalls . Go Places Recommended Restaurants™ & Bars™.
See Sunset view from Mae Haad
Take a bike around the island. Shark Bay is a good place to go snorkelling for the day (don’t worry too much about sharks, they are only small black-tip reef sharks). Koh Nang Yuan, Freedom Beach, Laem Thian, Mango Bay, Hin Wong Bay and Tanote Bay are good day excursions, accessible by road or boat. If you rent a scooter, be prepared to turn around or continue by foot since some roads (e.g., to Mango Bay) may be in such condition that you need a dirt bike or a car to travel them. While there are legally no private beaches in Thailand, some are relatively inaccessible by land making a paid longtail boat a necessity, and some are “owned” or only accessible via “private roads” that charge 100-200 baht entrance fees..
However, to see the best places, go by foot or longtail as some places are inaccessible to motorists. There are a number of good viewpoints around the island such as John Suwan mountain viewpoint in the south of the island, Two View in the centre and Fraggle Rock in the north.
Freedive training and education worldwide is generally done through AIDA, SSI and Apnea Academy,though PADI had recently began to offer freediving courses.
- Scuba diving is the biggest attraction on Koh Tao. Diving in Koh Tao is easy, fun, and you can see turtles, stingrays, barracudas, lots of small fish, and reef sharks. There is a small chance you’ll see a whale shark. Nov is good diving weather in Ko Tao
- Various dive locations around Koh Tao
- Black Tip Diving & Water Sports
- Bowling and mini golf
- Dive Career Internships
- Good Time Adventures, Diving, Beach Cafe and Bar
- Hike On the 2 hr walk through the jungle to Mango Bay
- Island Cruises
- Koh Tao PROvideo. A videography company. Run by experienced underwater videographers
- Gym and Muay Thai Camp
- Mountain Biking
- Oceans Below-underwater Video Training 3 and 5 day courses in underwater videography.
- Ocean Hiker Sailing Courses
- Ocean Sound Yoga
Best times to visit
Peak seasons in Ko Tao are from Dec-Mar and Jul-Aug. It is a quite popular destination among Thais also, so it can be nearly fully booked on Thai holidays.
Fire: dial 199
GOVERNMENT OFFICE: dial 077 601 981-2
GENERAL HOSPITAL: dial 077 456 490
Police: dial 191 (077 456 098)
Tourist Police: dial 1155 (077 430 018 )
Koh Tao Rescue Centre: dial 077 456 031/ 087 979 0191