Koh Tao, which translates in Thai as Turtle Island, is for everyone an unforgettable place to visit. Found in the Gulf of Thailand, this majestic little island has some of the best diving in the world. With a mixture of piercing blue waters, stunning viewpoints, dreamy white sandy beaches and an overall laid back vibe. This makes it one of the Thailand’s most desirable Islands to go and visit.
Here are our 7 best reasons to visit Koh Tao.
1. Koh Tao Viewpoints
Koh Tao a tiny little nirvana situated in the Gulf of Thailand most popularly known as the ‘go to’ place for diving is becoming increasingly popular by backpackers and holidaymakers for the idyllic and awe-inspiring viewpoints that it alternatively has to offer.
Arriving on the Island by boat Koh Tao’s verdant high hills immediately reveal themselves. Scattered in typical palm trees and curiously balanced boulders it is no wonder people come here to capture memories from the heights of Koh Tao.
Love Koh Tao Viewpoint
Whether cruising along the winding roads or hiking from one side of the island to the other, either way, will reward you with a breath taking view of the entire East Coast horizon. This viewpoint has become a haven for early morning sunrises and a perfect way to start any day.
Mango Bay Viewpoint
Being the highest viewpoint on Koh Tao, Mango Bay viewpoint really gives you the bigger picture, showing you all the way down the West coastline that forms Sairee Beach and Mae Haad beach. One of the quieter viewpoints on the island, it allows you to embrace just how beautiful this Island really is. Sitting with your legs over the edge drinking a fresh cold coconut watching the boats motoring from dive site to dive site and listening to that iconic sound of the Thai long tail boat in the distance is a perfect way to spend any afternoon.
John Suwan Viewpoint
Offering prefect scenery for panoramic shots, this viewpoint is growing very popular. Located on the southern end of the island lies a perfect rock to climb that shows Chalok Baan Kao bay and Thian Og Bay on opposite sides. With a mix of each bay and the crystal clear waves lapping up on the beach and the Northern hills making up the middle, this has to be one of the most favourited viewpoints for any budding now photographer and travel blogger.
2. Koh Tao Beaches and Bays
With over 21 kilometres of coastline and most of the Island still claimed by Palm trees Koh Tao offers a variety of beaches and bays ready to explore.
One of the busier beaches on Koh Tao it stretches 1.85 KM making it also the longest on the island. Sprayed with bars, cafes and small shops it is ideal for backpackers, couples and families. Whether your wanting to top up your tan watching the world go by, have a chilled out ice cold beer listening to some beach vibes or get active by throwing around a Frisbee or a game of beach volley ball Sairee beach caters for everyone.
Located on the north side of Koh Tao, the easiest way to get there is by taxi boat. Over the years, it has become a very popular destination for day trip visitors from Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Due to its geographical location it is for the most part of the year flat and calm, making it a perfect place for snorkelling with its indulging turquoise hue waters.
Set back from the beach you will find a short climb of wooden steps, which leads you the café to cool off with a refreshing drink and see the bay from a different perspective.
Offering an alternative view from the Island, Tanote bay is on the eastern side of Koh Tao. It is a brilliant choice of beach to stroll down the sloping sands with your mask and snorkel and straight into the clear waters, with marine life very close to the shoreline. The landscape, made up of precariously balanced rocks and the infamous ‘Tanote Rock’, which stands some metres high offering any budding adrenaline junkie the chance to jump off into the ocean! If you prefer your feet firmly on the ground then there is also 3 viewpoints a small hike away which are; the water reservoir, West Coast Viewpoint and Tanote Peak.
One of the most popularly visited bays on Koh Tao due to its pristine white sandy beaches and idyllic blue waters. The sandy see floor offers a great place to cool off in the shallows and listen to waves lapping up. Having a coral reef on either side of the beach and a nice sandy topography it is teaming with marine life using it as a nursey area, this makes Aow Leuk another great option for snorkelling and diving alike.
Quiet hidden gems
If you are one to go off the beaten track and find quiet little bays and coves then here are a few that will wet your appetite.
Sai Daeng Beach is a very quiet little beach and only accessible by foot. Facing Shark Island it is often a good place to see resident turtles and baby black tip reef sharks.
June Juea Bay is another very small beautiful bay and is one of the best places to catch a perfect Koh Tao sunset!
Sitting next door to neighbouring Tanote Bay this little bay was once a small resort. That was over a decade ago and even though the resort remains intact, the fauna and flora of the dense jungle that surrounds it now claim it. It offers a great option to explore and take photo opportunities or Kayaking along the rocks from Tanote bay is a beautiful option to see it.
3. Koh Tao Weather
Like most Islands in Thailand, Koh Tao has a tropical savannah climate with a wet and dry season. However, a trick this majestic Island has up its sleeve is that visitors can dive all year round. With the Islands high hills and a plethora of dive sites to choose from, this enables you to choose flat and calm dive sites protected from wind any time of year.
The small scale of the Island also means we do not have to deal with as much rain as the likes of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, which is great when booking diving, as weather is one of the most important things to think about when booking a trip to go diving.
Here is a general year broken down to help you choose when is best for you;
January – February
With the monsoon season winding down to a close, it reveals a calm and peaceful setting. Koh Tao’s spectacular sunsets return and with it comes the best dive conditions. February is a solid month for amazing dive conditions and breeding season for a lot of the marine life.
March – May
Koh Tao bursts into life with amazing summer conditions. These months are classed as the dryer months in general and a perfect time to come and cool off in the ocean at one of the Island’s iconic beaches and bays or heading out to take a PADI diving course.
It is also the start of the busiest time of year for visiting Whale sharks although they can be spotted all year round. These months include many Thai Holidays including Thai New Year with the Songkran water festival on April 13th.
With air temperatures rising it is often a perfect time after sunset to watch the lightshows out on the horizon. The tropical thunderstorms are usually in the evenings and can be observed out in the distance that are happening over the mainland. Flashes of lightening and rumbles of thunder can be seen and heard with spectacular cloud formations created.
June – August
With a change of wind brings a change of dive sites. The Island still shining in all its glory begins to cool by the familiar winds coming in from the South West. This is a perfect opportunity to explore the East side of the island and to go scuba diving. Whalesharks still visit with a different food source being brought in from the new direction of wind and visibility is still clear.
November – December
Monsoon season begins and luckily for Koh Tao it is nowhere near as intense as our neighbouring Islands and other parts of Thailand.
Sporadic rain mostly falls in the month of November but fluctuates each year. It can be delayed and fall into December. With this brings a change in diving conditions as visibility decrease and the ocean cools down to an icy-cold 26 degrees Celsius!!
4. Koh Nang Yuan… A unique paradise around Koh Tao
Located just of Koh Tao this iconic Island offers enticing waters, white sand bars and a viewpoint everyone needs to witness.
If you google the term Koh Tao you are more often than not shown a picture taken from the viewpoint of Koh Nang Yuan Island.
The best way to get there when on Koh Tao is to get a taxi boat that you can arrange a time to pick you up and take you back. Having this as an option gives you a more laid back chance to explore all that Koh Nang Yuan has to offer. There is an entrance fee of 100 baht and plastic bottles are banned on this little slice of wonderment.
Hitting the viewpoint is most people’s first agenda when arriving here. Just a 10-15 minute walk through the mini jungle and up some quirky small man made steps, will then bring you to a breath-taking view of Koh Nang Yuan in all its glory. Said to be the only place in the world where three landmasses are connecting by a single sand bar, when conditions are right it really is like the scenery you see on post cards across the country.
Due to the sandbar, it creates perfect opportunities to go snorkelling and well known as one of the best places to see the marine life. Just be careful, as the corals start quite shallow if the tide is out.
5. Snorkelling around Koh Tao
Koh Tao is well known as a SCUBA divers paradise, but non-divers can find beauty just steps into our calm, clear waters. There are colourful corals, reef fish and if you are lucky maybe you’ll see one of Koh Tao’s resident sea turtles. Mango Bay, Shark Bay and Lighthouse are all beautiful places to spot marine life of all shapes and sizes. There is also a sunken catamaran just a short walk down the beach from Crystal Dive, which is fun to explore. There are variety of ways you can plan a day snorkelling on Koh Tao; you can arrange to go with a tour, explore on your own or arrange a long tail boat.
There are a few snorkel tour companies on Koh Tao and they all cost the same and go to the same sites. The only decision you are required to make is if you want to do a half day or a full day, everything else is taken care of for you. These tours are a nice way to see more of the island landscape, meet new people and ask the English speaking guides questions about the marine environment and Koh Tao.
You can also go exploring by yourself, as there are plenty of places that rent snorkel gear. Plan a morning hike to the beach, rent a motorbike or long tail boat and do your snorkel trip your way. Any way you plan it you are sure to be amazed by the stunning underwater world. Just make sure you remember the golden rule; always snorkel with a friend and don’t touch marine life and be aware of how to interact with marine life underwater.
6. Sunrises and Sunsets
There is something very magical about the world when it’s glowing with the pinks, yellows and oranges of sunsets and sunrises. West facing Crystal Dive Koh Tao is situated on one of the best sunset spots in all of Koh Tao. After a fantastic day diving at one of Koh Tao’s premiere dive sites there is nothing better than chilling with your dive buddies, reminiscing about your dives and watching the sky streak with every colour of orange and red. If your sunset karma is good, you may even catch one of Koh Tao’s resident beach pigs, Mongkol and Pumba, out for their sunset walk.
If you are looking for a little more sunset adventure, the Mango Bay viewpoint is easy to access with stunning sunset views of our little island. Watch the sky catch fire while sipping on a cold beer at this popular sunset spot. Bring a little money for the entrance fee and a light to navigate the path once it’s dark.
Sunset view, as the name implies has one of the best views for sunset watching on Koh Tao. You can relax and watch the world stand still as the island transitions from day to night.
If you love sunrises or are really jet-lagged, head up to Love Koh Tao viewpoint to catch the sunrise. You can start the day watching the sun rise with Koh Phangan in the back drop. Sip your fruit shake or coffee while time stands still and the day gets started.
7. Scuba Diving… Do not just settle for 30%
It is a common fact 70% of the world is covered by our Oceans. What is not common is everyone knowing what is out there!
Koh Tao offers some of the finest diving in the world and the number one spot to get your PADI certification. Koh Tao offers diving all year round and more than 26 dive sites to plunge into, it has everything to offer from beginner level courses all the way up to pro level diving courses, including our Divemaster Internships and courses, technical level diving and PADI Freediving courses. From water clarity and surface conditions to depth and water temperature, it really is perfect for everyone’s bubble blowing needs.
With beachside accommodation and purpose built swimming pools taking a few days to enrol in a PADI scuba diving course at Crystal Dive Koh Tao is the perfect balance of education and island life fun. You will meet buddies for life whilst you kick yourself around one of Koh Tao’s dive sites and witness the awe inspiring marine life that is just metres away from the Island under the surface.
Giving you life long memories and skills, Scuba Diving is there for everyone. Whether you want to become certified as a PADI Open Water Diver or further your skills with the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, Crystal Dive has everything you need to make it an unforgettable experience. If you do not have the time then do not worry… A day out on one of the dive boats is your next option with the PADI Discover Scuba Diving course. This typically involves a morning in the pool getting familiar with the equipment and realising how amazing it is to breathe underwater. The afternoon then involves diving with one of Crystal Dives PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainers showing you around the coral reefs.
With their own pier and 3 diving boats Crystal Dive make the most out of a day by departing twice a day. If you really get the SCUBA bug, as you most likely will (spoiler alert) having the option of 5 dives in one day is no problem at all with night dives regularly going out.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to breathe underwater, come to Koh Tao it will blow your expectations out of the water. Just be aware you may end up here for longer than you expected.
Koh Tao has many more reasons to visit this stunning tropical island paradise. There are an abundance of International and Thai restaurants with a wide range of culinary choices, beach bars, fireshows and land based activities such as hiking, bouldering, fitness and yoga courses. If you just want to relax and while away your days in seclusion, there are many idyllic resorts and private bungalows that will meet your needs.
Koh Tao has something for everyone and is easily accessible from Bangkok with direct connections to Koh Samui or the regional airports of Chumphon or Surat Thani. Transfers are regular and daily to the piers and departure points to travel across the Gulf of Thailand to Koh Tao. Journey times by high speed ferry are normally around 90-120 minutes depending on the ferry operator you choose.