The serenest of the three island sisters in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao welcomes travelers from around the world who come for environmentally friendly island fun in the form of scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and fishing.
Though Koh Tao is known as the “quiet” island, there’s still a lively enough party scene at night to maintain a fun vacation vibe. The main street, just steps off Sairee Beach, is lined with kitschy boutiques, bars, restaurants and convenience stores, all in the midst of a network of resorts and their partnering dive shops, which offer deals on lodging/scuba packages. Down on the southern coast at Chalok Baan Kao you’ll find a few more oceanside cafes, bars and resorts – the shoreline is rockier, so the beaches less populated and the scene much more sedate, and those who prefer privacy over a party will want to head here.
Most resorts on Koh Tao are of the “beach bungalow” variety, ranging from wooden un-airconditioned huts to luxe versions with all the amenities including beautiful tiled interiors, native artworks, Jacuzzis and more. The bungalows sprinkled around the beaches create a friendly visitor community; the ones nestled into the cliffs provide spectacular ocean views. Get to know the friendly locals, some of whom have never ventured past the waters off Koh Tao in their lives, and they may let you in on some of the island’s hidden natural gems.
- Chalok Baan Ko
- Dive (or learn how). Scuba is the island’s biggest draw, and for good reason – these crystal-clear blue waters are so rich in coral and tropical marine life that they draw experienced divers from all points of the globe. If you don’t dive, you can get your internationally recognized PADI Open Water certification in a few days, learning how to scuba dive in some of the best conditions in the world.
- Rent a motorbike. Tour the island’s hot beach spots and zip through the jungle in the center of the island.
- Go bouldering. Gorgeous granite boulders scattered around the beach and in the jungle are perfect for new and experienced climbers alike.
- Boat tour with a local. Plenty of Koh Tao residents will gladly take tourists all around the island on their fishing boats, where they’ve stored snorkeling gear and fishing lines for just such an occasion. You can take your fresh catch back to local restaurants and have them cook it how you want it.
- Kayak to Ko Nangyuan. This tiny, pretty island is a short paddle off Sairee Beach – bring your beach gear and crash on the sand, or stay in your kayak and check out the fabulous coves and inlets around the island.
Originally published in ExplorerPod.com: http://www.explorerpod.com/kicking-back-in-koh-tao-thailand-310/