Traveling is much more than tourism, it is a constant learning exercise that takes us away from our routine leaving the complexes at home, venturing into a world that we do not know, and this allows us to know better about ourselves with the excuse of discovering new places.
Here, we are going to tell you all about one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand “The Turtle Island”.
Turtle Island or Koh Tao got this name because the first settlers saw that the shape of the island resembles a turtle emerging from the sea.
Koh Tao is an island of 21 square kilometers, rests on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand, and recognized as one of the most popular places in the world for divers, and that’s how it ended up becoming one of the largest Immersion places of Thailand and the second in the world.
The economy of the island is mainly based on the touristic industry, especially diving. Koh Tao enjoys a quite benevolent climate, the monsoon scarcely lashes during the months of November to January.
The nearest airports to Koh Tao are Chumphon, Surat Thani, and Koh Samui. Reaching the turtle island is only possible by sea, and you can board from one of the mentioned nearby cities or from the neighboring islands Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.
Mae Haad is the main administrative center of the island and hosts the pier where the ferries arrive. In this town, you will find most of the important services such as banks, large supermarkets, car rental offices, post offices, etc. There are also a lot of travel agencies, bars, restaurants, and lodging. It is a comfortable area to stay if you only care about diving. When you arrive there; you do not have to travel anywhere, as there are already plenty of diving centers there, and you will lack neither restaurants nor bars.
Koh Tao’s Tours and Excursions
Practice or learn climbing in bloke (Boulder) this discipline began as a part of the climbing training, and little by little it has become more popular by itself. Boulder is a form of climbing blocks of rock or small walls that can be of maximum 8 meters, without the need for conventional protective materials, all that is needed is cat feet, magnesium, and a crash pad (hard mat) to cushion the fall.
Koh Tao has enough sectors to do bloke; perhaps the most interesting is “The Secret Garden” which is close to Sairee Beach, this garden contains blokes of many levels, palm trees, grass, and shade in the afternoon to the rest of the day, there are also instructors who offer plastic maps of the island with the different sectors to practice this bloke and sketch on each of them.
Kayaking in Koh Tao it is possible to move in a kayak (long-tailed-boats) between the islands, and if you have good dexterity and physical fitness, you will be able to easily reach the nearby islets or you can even move between the beaches. South Koh Tao is one of the most interesting places in the world, so you do not have to go far; Shipwreck, Jansom Bay, Sai Nuan Beach, Cape Je Ta Kang, June Juega Beach, Cape Point Viewpoint, and Freedom Beach gather the best of nature and the most suitable sea conditions.
However, kayaking in the southeast of Koh Tao is more challenging, if you are up for it; try visiting Shark Island, Sai Daeng Beach, Hin Ngaam Bay and Aow Leuk, but watch out for the waves, especially around Cape Buddha Rock.
Snorkeling with turtles and sharks in Shark Bay Snorkeling is a fun and relaxing way to see the fascinating multicolored world that lies beneath the surface of Koh Tao’s waters. In Shark Bay, shortly before sundown; it is easy to coincide swimming with green turtles or black tip sharks. The sharks are small and elusive and difficult to photograph, however, they are totally harmless.
Muay Thai Gym Koh Tao Muay Thai is a martial art and contact sport that has been turned into a national symbol of the history and an identity to the Thai Kingdom. Muay Thai is traditionally known as the art of the eight limbs, which develops standing by means of blows with combined techniques of legs, arms, feet, knees, and elbows. In the area of Chalok Baan Kao, there’s the Muay Thai Gym, or The Gymnasium of The Yoli, a training and learning center of the art of Muay Thai, Muay Boran, and fitness.
The classes are held in Spanish or English, and it is a really interesting and fun experience to take advantage of.
When it comes to Monuments and Temples; Koh Tao is not well endowed, but you can find a relic worth admiring.
The only Buddhist temple in Koh Tao is located between Mae Haad and Sairee Beach, and there is another one, but it is not so Buddhist, nor is so Thai, rather it is a small Burmese Pagoda that stands on top of a hill in the interior, established by a group of Burmese immigrants; In Koh Tao there is a large number of Burmese immigrants, the majority of the people who work in the service sector of the island. It is easy to locate them on any map of the island, and if you have not gone to these types of temples you should not waste an opportunity for such cultural enrichment.
John Suwan Viewpoint In the south of the island lies John Suwan's view that offers one of the most impressive scenes on the island. This is a viewpoint that you definitely do not want to miss! As it offers a perfect panoramic view of both Chalok Baan Kao and Thian Og bays.
Right after the road that leads to the viewpoint; there is Freedom Beach which is a secluded beach retreat and one of the most popular beaches in Koh Tao. The beach itself has a fine white sand with mangroves that provide natural shade to escape from the sun. This hidden treasure is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a bit of swimming and diving after a walk to the viewpoint.
Flying Trapeze For many adventurers, the most extreme experience of the trip to Koh Tao is not swimming with sharks, or Muay Thai classes, however, it is flying in the trapeze of Emma and Gemma; an incredible duo, who really take care of their clients, very passionate, and keen to teach them how to conquer their fear of heights.
Beaches of The South Coast
Freedom Beach without a doubt, this is an amazingly stunning cove on the island and very much recommended. It can be reached through a 10-minute walk from Chalok Baan Kao, or by a motorcycle, plus the sunsets here are spectacular.
Thiang Og Bay (Shark Beach) thanks to its sparkling clear water and the fact that it is one of the best spots for snorkeling; Thiang Og Bay is a very popular place among travelers and locals, and some consider it the most beautiful beach in Koh Tao. Shark Beach can be reached by taxi, motorcycle, or on foot, however, the ideal way to get there is by a motorcycle to OK II Bungalows. If you decided to go outside the high season; the probability of being alone is quite high.
Sai Daeng this small bay is very close to Shark Island. It can only be reached by a taxi boat or walking. Here the snorkeling is spectacular.
Beaches of The East Coast
Aow Leuk a beautiful bay with turquoise waters, situated on the south. You can reach it by car, by taxi or by foot. Perfect for trekking and snorkeling.
Tanote Bay the largest bay on the west side of the island, with perfect points for snorkeling, and one of the obligatory excursions on the island.
Laem Thiang Cape one of those pirate coves on the island. It can be accessed by foot or by water taxi, where you will come across large rock formations with exquisite jumps to the sea.
With the globalization that we experienced in the recent years; there is no place in the world where we don’t come across a Thai restaurant, however, there is still nothing better than tasting the food in the country of origin. So, be ready to order much more from the Thai menu than the traditional fried rice!
In Koh Tao, you will be surrounded by a large selection of Thai and international dishes that are very good value for money. Especially around Sairee Beach and the village, these places have become the obligatory meeting point in Koh Tao, and the best area to stay around. Among the tourists; there are very good reviews of the following establishments.
Farango Italian Restaurant it is a large and comfortable Italian restaurant that serves some of the best pizzas and pasta on the island, just like the Italian ones. This restaurant is not expensive and they have some very tempting promotions.
Greasy Spoon Café the best breakfast on the island at a great price, sandwiches, full English breakfast, delicious Macedonia, mango smoothie, rich coffee, and the crispy fish and chips are some of the best here. The food portions are quite large and the owner is very friendly, it's basically all you need, decorated with a smile.
Whitening Bar and Restaurant located on Mae Haad Bay; overlooking the harbor, and offering international fusion food and Thai dishes. It’s one of the most romantic restaurants in the area.
Noori Indian Restaurant offers authentic Indian cuisine, seafood, meat and Tandoori dishes, and Naan bread.
Tukta Thai Food an ancient restaurant that serves classic Thai food cooked with a lot of love as if they have cooked it for their family, it’s cheap and cheerful, the portions are very abundant, and it shows that it is all homemade.
Choppers Bar & Grill neither romantic nor elegant! It is a well-built rustic bar with barrels, pool table, wooden benches, and many screens where you can see all the matches of the League, Premier, F1, Rugby, live music, and enjoy a cold beer (the perfect complement). It's a great place to start the night at a winning level! The waiters treat you like a king by providing you with an excellent variety of sandwiches. Do not stress if they take a while though, the Thai dishes are huge and that makes up for it, just like the incredible 2x1 offers in glasses. Dishes drop to half price on certain days.
Lotus Beach Bar located at the end of the main street; this beach bar is perfect to watch the sunset, and at night there are performances of fire shows to the rhythm of the music of Koh Tao, they even invite you to participate in some tricks!
Maya Bar placed in the best area of Sairee Beach near Rama Rock right on the beach, the bar plays house music with DJs every day, 3 XL beds in the sand, and simulating lounge chairs (but much more comfortable). This place is so much fun and upbeat.
The Castle it’s a party place open until very late-night, located outside Sairee, and offers a great option in terms of food and drinks.
Coco Bar the cocktails there are really fantastic that they can compete with the high-quality bars anywhere in the world, their colors are very striking and their service makes you feel really welcomed to the island.
Due to its natural characteristics, traveling to Koh Tao has a single purpose: to get away from urban life and get lost among the green Thai vegetation and its turquoise waters, for that matter; the most popular areas to stay in Koh Tao are on the west coasts and south of the island, and more specifically in Sairee Beach (in the west) and Chalok Bay (in the south) Where almost all the accommodation and services on the island are concentrated.
Different from Samui and Phangan, where all types of accommodation abound; in Koh Tao, the most predominant is the budget accommodation and the mid-low range, yes, there are some luxury resorts but in general they are much modest than what’s offered on its neighbor islands.
On the other hand, diving centers with resorts usually offer good promotions, or even free accommodation, if you hire a diving course to get certified; some of these centers reserve the right of admission to their resorts for clients who dive with them in the high season.
The price of hotels and resorts in Koh Tao varies between 300 and 650 baht, which is the cost for the most basic room or bungalow, and between 2000 and 3000 baht, for comfortable and high-quality accommodation. The few super luxury hotels on the island sell rooms starting at 7,000 baht per night. You can also consider the option of renting a cabin or your own house to help you get into the Thai culture and feel like an inhabitant of the island for a few days.
If you are more of a nightlife person; Sairee Beach would be ideal. Sairee Beach is where you will find the most popular places on the island, with the best atmosphere and the craziest nights. Apart from that, in Sairee Beach you can also find good gastronomic offers, as many of the best restaurants on the island are located here.
Simple Life Resort just 100 meters from the beach of Sairee (4 minutes) and offers diving school, full spa, snorkeling facilities on the beach and free Wi-Fi. Simple Life Resort is a 10-minute drive from Mae Haad Pier and a 2-hour boat ride from Ko Samui Island. The property offers an outdoor swimming pool, massages, a spa pool and island excursions.
Koh Tao Hillside Resort is located on a hill overlooking the beach, with an outdoor pool and restaurant, and free Wi-Fi in the lobby area. Koh Tao Hillside Resort is a 5-minute drive from Sairee Beach and a 10-minute drive from Mae Haad Pier. They also offer bungalows overlooking the sea or the beautiful gardens and access to the private beach.
Koh Tao Beach Club is a 2-minute walk from the beach. The Thai-style accommodation offers a 50-meter private beach ideal for swimming and snorkeling just 540 meters from Mae Haad Pier and 2.9 km from Sharks Bay. It also has a beachfront bar, an outdoor pool, and a tour desk.
The Seashell Resort Koh Tao is a tropical paradise located on the beach of Sairee. This special resort has a diving center and 3 outdoor swimming pools.
Dusit Buncha Resort located just 9-minute walk from the beach. Dusit Buncha offers views of the Gulf of Thailand and the islands of Koh Nangyuan. The villas have a modern Thai style. They have a large balcony and seating area. Some rooms have a private outdoor bathroom.