Want some info on Thailand’s world famous backpacking island of Koh Tao? Then you’ve come to the right place as Crystal Dive is here to give you some awesome knowledge. So whether you are heading there to ‘get your PADI‘ or just take a chill on its idyllic beaches take some time to check out our top 7 facts.
1. Koh Tao Translates to “Turtle Island”
The English to Thai translation of Koh Tao is “Turtle Island”. It was originally named by local fisherman and settlers who described a turtle shape when looking at the island from their boats. The island does have a healthy population of sea turtles with both Hawksbill and Green turtles living in the waters off the island. They are a common sight for divers when they are out fun diving or taking a diving course.
2. Koh Tao’s Highest Point – 379m
Koh Tao is a relatively short island with the highest point being just under 400m and at this point is also one of Koh Tao’s main attraction the ‘two view’ viewpoint. Taking a hike up here will reward you with simply stunning views over 2 different bays.
On one side you can look down on Tanote Bay (a bay which also has some awesome cliff jumping) and the other side of Sairee Beach, the main nightlife area for you to party the night away.
3. Distance to Bangkok – 413km (as the crow flies)
The island sits just over 400km away from the capital city Bangkok in a straight line but for your average traveler it is 541km by land and sea. Most people will travel from Bangkok by the Lomprayah bus on Khao San Road this usually takes around 7 hours with a couple of breaks on the way. The bus will take them to Chumphon where they will catch the ferry for a 90 minute trip to Koh Tao pier.
4. Formerly An Island For Prisoners
From 1933 the island was used as a political prison, before this the island was uninhabited apart from the occasional wayward fisherman looking for shelter. In early 1947, the then Prime minister pleaded for a royal pardon for the prisoners which they received at the end of that year. Their reward for being freed was to be put on a boat to Surat Thani and abandoned at the beach.
5. More Diving Certifications Awarded on Koh Tao Than Anywhere In The World!
Koh Tao first become known as a place for scuba diving in the early 1990’s and since then has grown to become the world’s No.1 diving ‘mecca’. Around 80,000 people a year get certified with most of people choosing PADI as their certifying agency as it is the worlds most recognized and leading scuba diving training organization.
Koh Tao is known worldwide for its great diving conditions and abundant marine life giving divers the chance to swim with turtles and Whalesharks. Because of the location of the dive sites being is local to the island the prices are among the lowest in the world and enables people to get an open water certification in just 4 days.
6. Koh Nangyuan
OK, so this is cheating a little, but Koh Nangyuan is just a stone’s throw or short long tail ride away from Koh Tao. Koh Nangyuan’s claim to fame (besides its picture postcard views and beaches) is that it is the only place in the world where 3 different islands are connected by 1 beach.
This is an excellent place for a day trip to relax and take a day snorkeling, you can see Blacktip Reef sharksand striking corals amongst other marine life. It also has the dive sites of Twin peaks and Japanese Gardenjust off its shore, both of which are excellent spots for seeing turtles.
7. Number 1 Island in SE Asia
This isn’t just what we think but Koh Tao officially came top of the list on Tripadvisor as the number 1 Island in South East Asia and number 5 overall in the world. Of course we here at Crystal Dive have been saying this for a long time, but as tourism has grown more and more people have come to realise that ‘Turtle Island’ really is an amazing place and one you will be sure to never forget once you have visited these shores and water.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)