Koh Tao is the smallest and least frequented of the 3 tourist islands in the Gulf of Thailand. We just spent 2 weeks there – that’s actually far longer than most. This was partly to recover from horrific sunburn, but once we were able to go outside again, we realised there are many great things to do in Koh Tao.
First on most peoples lists’ of things to do in Koh Tao are scuba diving and snorkelling. Whilst we didn’t scuba dive ourselves, Koh Tao is undoubtedly a great place to do this. There are providers all over the island, with Big Blue Diving and Master Divers seemingly the most popular schools to to go with.
Snorkelling is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Koh Tao. You can go on a full day trip for around $15 and it’s worth every cent. We went with Diamond Tours, who I’d recommend. Honestly though, all providers are the same price and you’ll do the same things. You’ll snorkel at four locations – Shark bay, Aow leuk bay, Hin Wong bay and Mango bay.
On the snorkelling tour, if the waves are choppy, you will get seasick. The boats are small and the drivers are a little careless. We went on a particularly choppy day – everyone was silent on the boat as we tried to avoid throwing up. If you really want to maximise your day, please take a motion sickness tablet beforehand. I really reallyyy REALLYYYYY regretted not taking one.
Shark bay is solely to see sharks. The visibility is poor and the waves are usually very choppy. The anticipation beforehand is fun – everyone is excited to actually swim with sharks! We didn’t see any though, and we heard from other tourists that they didn’t either. Be prepared for a bit of a let down here.
Aow leuk bay is teeming with life. Visibility is ok and we saw all kinds of fish. It was really choppy here again, I’d recommend using a life jacket even if you’re a strong swimmer – it’s just more fun.
The next two bays, Hin Wong bay and Mango bay are really special. The sea was like a sheet of glass – there’s no wind at all. Visibility is very good. We swam around for over an hour here and could have stayed longer. There are fish everywhere, some tiny, some actually scarily big.
Koh Nang Yuan
The last thing you’ll do on this tour is visit Koh Yang Nuan. This place is easily the most beautiful island we’ve ever seen. Paradise island we’ve been remembering it as – it’s breathtaking. It’s so well kept, you can’t actually bring any plastic onto the island. This place is definitely worth the $3 entry fee. It’s one you’ll really remember.
Koh Nang Yuan
Aside from scuba diving and snorkelling, there are other things to do if you want to stay more than a couple of days. See the John Suwan view point. It’s a bit of a trek to get there with some very questionable health and safety, but the view is really special from the top.
John Suwan View Point
Koh Tao Leisure Park is also a cool afternoon filler. There’s a really well constructed mini golf course, with pool tables and a curious, if a little tedious, football pool game. The restaurant is excellent. Go on a Sunday and get a carvery! It’s pretty expensive though, at around $10 for a meal.
There are some great places to eat in Koh Tao. For local food, the best places we ate were Seafood by Pawn and Yin Yang. Pawn’s has excellent fish, often caught metres away that very day. Yin Yang does excellent thai curries – get the yin yang special curry. Both are reasonably priced at around $3-6 a meal.
For more western food, the best pizza places are Cafe del Sol and Pizza Famoso. We got takeout pizza from Famoso A LOT. Bring back your empty pizza boxes for 25 cents off! The best burger we had was at Reef Sports Bar. They also show all the live football.
If you’re a little tired of the partying or heavy party scenes of Bangkok, Koh Phangan or Koh Samui, definitely visit this place. It’s quiet, it’s beautiful and there really are some great things to do in Koh Tao.
Even if you don’t want to scuba dive or snorkel, it’s honestly worth it just to see Koh Nang Yuan.