Koh Tao is known for its underwater beauty and marine life. There are many ways to discover what hides beneath the surface of Koh Tao’s pristine waters, snorkeling being one of them. Basically a simple mask will do to provide you with a window to the underwater world.
Around the island you find many small beaches and shallow bays perfect for snorkeling.
One of my favourite snorkeling sites is Aow Leuk, on the east side of the island. There’s a road that leads down to the bay so you can access by taxi, motorbike or even on foot, if you don’t mind a bit of uphill walking. Aow Leuk consists of a beautiful sandy beach with a few restaurants and bars dotted around.
On both sides of the bay you will find plenty of coral and marine life. On the north side of the bay baby barracudas can be spotted as well as blacktip reef sharks. When hovering over the sand you may even see some stingrays.
Snorkeling With Sharks
Another good bay where you have a good chance to spot blacktip reef sharks is Thian Ok Bay, also known as Shark Bay. You can probably guess why! The beach also overlooks Shark Island, not known for its sharks, but a popular dive spot amongst the many scuba divers on Koh Tao.
Many locals say it’s the most beautiful beach of Koh Tao and the shallow waters in the bay make it the perfect location for snorkeling as well. The beach is accessible by paved road although it’s a steep one, so go down slowly when using own transportation.
Tanote Bay is located between north of Aow Leuk and is accessible by a partly paved road that goes over the hills of Koh Tao. Tanote Bay has a beautiful white sand beach with good snorkeling and diving opportunities. At the end of the beach is a small outcrop and on the other side is a smaller beach. On a clear sky day, you can see Koh Phangan from here.
There are a number of colourful corals near the shore as well as rocks to snorkel. Here you can see fusiliers, rabbit fish and triple tail wrasse. In the middle of the bay there is a big rock that towers about 7m out of the sea. You can climb the rock and then jump off the other side if you dare.
It’s a bit of a challenge but it will make for a perfect GoPro action video.
Koh Tao’s Ao Muang (Mango Bay) is a very isolated bay at the northern tip of Koh Tao. The landscape consists of high rocky cliffs and lush green hillsides rising up from the water’s edge and offering lovely views of the gulf to the north of Koh Tao. To get here you will have to take a taxi boat as the road to Mango Bay is very steep and not in the best condition.
If you’re up for an adventure you can make the trek to Mango Viewpoint. The viewpoint itself requires a 50 baht entrance fee, but the set-up is worth the fee, featuring comfy cushions overlooking the edge of the mountain and a friendly one-man bar and restaurant. In the bay itself you find a large designated area for snorkeling.
Lots of coral and an abundance of marine life can be found here. Butterfly fish and damsel fish are guaranteed on almost every trip.
Snorkel Koh Nang Yuan
Another ood spot for snorkeling is near Koh Nangyuan island. The island consists of two hills that are connected by a beautiful beach. There is also a viewpoint that overlooks Koh Tao and Koh Nangyuan. Dotted around the island are several gorgeous dive sites such as Green Rock, Twins and Japanese Gardens.
The last one is also popular for snorkeling because of the shallow reef close to the beach. A line separates the areas for snorkelers and scuba divers. Obviously the island can only be reached by longtail taxi or on organized tour boats.
Although a simple mask and snorkel will do to provide you with a window to the underwater world, a better way to explore what lies beneath the ocean’s surface is with scuba diving equipment. Nothing beats diving down and surrounding yourself by beautiful coral and fish species.
If this is something you might be interested in, you may want to consider PADI’s Discover Scuba Diving program. It’s a one day program that allows you to experience what it feels like to float around like a fish in their natural habitat.
Author: Youri Koyen (PADI MSDT #350619)