Koh Tao is an island in the southeast part of the bay of Thailand. It is close to the other two bigger islands, Koh Phangan (famous for full moon parties) and Koh Samui. You can reach Koh Tao by bus or train from Bangkok to either Chumpon or Surat Thani and take a ferry from there. In Thai ‘Koh’ means island and ‘Tao’ means turtle, so supposedly it is the island of turtles, but since a couple of decades ago the island has been overdeveloped and flooded by tourists, the turtles almost disappeared. A freediving instructor who has been living in Koh Tao for the past five years said he had seen turtles twice and a shark once.
Even without turtles, Koh Tao remains a beautiful paradise with turquoise waters and many activities to offer. Relaxed and chill, Koh Tao can be perfect for an active vacation and lazy beach time. Choose what suits you best!
Scuba diving. Koh Tao is one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified as a diver, and once you are here, it’s definitely worth to give it a try.
Where: there are many schools in Sairee beach, De Puta madre and so on, just go up to one of them and go for it. It is literally impossible to miss a diving school once you reach Koh Tao. Prices started from 7000 baht for PADI open water and 7000 for Advanced ) which, I heard, is the cheapest you can find in the world!
Free diving. A water sport in which you hold your breath and follow the line down as far as you can go. A two day free diver course teaches you to go down to 20 meters, and no oxygen tank needed.
Where: Apnea total, one of the first free diving schools on the island. Free diver certificate 5500 baht, Advanced 7000 baht.
Not that much into diving? Buy a one day snorkeling trip around the island, look at the beautiful corals and fish underwater, and visit four bays and Nangyuan island (a small crowded tropical paradise off the east coast of Koh Tao, plastic free). Even if you have never tried, snorkeling is easy and fun, and you can meet a lot of new friends on the boat and get a free lunch. Remember to bring sunscreen not to burn your bum.
Where: Diamond tours 750 baht (can normally find discounted for 600) an Englishman as the manager on board and they pack lunch in reusable boxes!
This new fashion is just so much fun, try it and you will paddle around every sunset. Needs a little bit of balancing skills, but most of people can manage after giving it a try. On my second paddle boarding experience, I even did a headstand with no much effort. Fun, peaceful, and gives a new perspective of the island.
Where: A couple of restaurants rent them out on Sairee beach, 250 baht per hour, 750 half day, 1500 full day. One hour is more than enough for an experience. Chalok Baan Khao also had them, but the water was low in April (dry season), so they didn’t let me use them.
Kayaking. Go kayaking alone or with a friend, in the morning or at sunset, enjoy the view and explore the shoreline.
Where: You can find them on Sairee beach and Chalok Baan Kao, 100 baht per hour single, 200 double. We stayed at Taa toh resort in Chalok Baan Kao and paid 100 for a double kayak.
Fishing. You can organize a fishing trip from any travel agency, and you will most probably end up with an English speaking guide.
Where: ask any place that sells snorkeling tours, 1650 baht per trip.
There are a couple of places on the island to practice yoga, but not as many as you can find on Koh Phangan.
Where: Try New Heaven Dive school in Chalok Baan Kao and Shambhala yoga center on Sairee beach. Class prices start at 250 baht per class, but you can get good deals if you sign up for 10-20 classes or get a card for a month.