Koh Tao, Thailand, also known as “turtle island” and for its party lifestyle and diving, was a stop along our backpacking journey that I will never forget.
The party lifestyle isn’t really what we focused on while backpacking Thailand, but Koh Tao made it hard for us to refuse. It seemed this laid-back island was good for the beach and beers, diving and roaming the island… and we were totally okay with that. Turtle Island is a great place to start your island-hopping journey, as people often hop over to the other islands directly south of Koh Tao: Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan, for the full moon, half moon parties and to explore the pristine beaches.
So what exactly did we do on this small island?
Scuba Diving in Koh Tao with New Way Diving
The diving here was magnificent! Although they do have a small problem with trigger fish sometimes (I got chased by this one who was nesting twice!), overall the experience can be once in a lifetime. What you’ll see when diving in Koh Tao? I can’t even begin to cover it all, but the corals are colorful and so so beautiful and there’s a wide range of fish like rays, sharks, eels, nemos, and many many more. The New Way Dive Center has very professional staff, some who have been there for years, who try and make sure you see as much aquatic life as possible!
John Suwan View Point
For 100 baht you’ll get one of the best views that Koh Tao has to offer. It’s easiest to reach by scooter and you may have to climb a little… but it’s totally worth it.
We did one pub crawl, Koh Tao Pub Crawl and had an absolute blast! For 450 baht the pub crawl company took us to a bar with a pool where everyone got weird… super weird and I, of course, had to join the weirdness. And along the slumber of drinking we stopped at Queen’s Cabaret where they put on a fun little show for us as well as called a few of the guys up to do a little dance. The bar hopping scene in Koh Tao is pretty big as the island is a pretty big party island, so joining to get a super-touristy experience isn’t a bad idea if that’s what you’re looking for.
Experience the Famous Koh Nang Yuan
You’ve probably seen it before; Koh Tao’s famous island crossing “beach” picture perfect for Instagram. It’s cool, it’s beautiful, it’s somewhere to go on the island and isn’t swarmed with tourists (or at least when we went there it wasn’t). You can snorkel there or just relax and take in the views.
Exploring the island on four-wheelers/scooters
One of the funnest things to do, in my opinion, is to explore islands on scooters or four wheelers. You get to see SO MUCH MORE than walking or tuk-tuking and you get the freedom to go wherever and do whatever you please. Just be sure to be careful with the bikes because they will charge you if you do something to them. Tip: Most places you stay with have an option to rent.
Beaches in Koh Tao
The beaches in Thailand comes with no surprise. Yes, there are sunbathers. Yes, the waters are crystal clear and absolutely perfect. Yes, there’s snorkeling.
My personal favorite beach was Ao Tanot Bay where you’re able to relax. snorkel or jump off the scary boulder. Also, there’s Sairee Beach which is the most popular and easily accessible beach where you can find restaurants, bars, coconuts and beautiful views.
Personally, I wish we would’ve done more in Koh Tao than what we did. It’s a fun little island with plenty more to explore I’m sure.
How to get to Koh Tao, Thailand?
The cheapest and most popular way is to take a bus from Bangkok to the piers in Chumphon, then a ferry to Koh Tao. Here are a couple companies who offer this service with air conditioned buses; Lomprayah Catamaran and Songserm Express. The time to get from the pier to Koh Tao is between 2 and 3 hours so bring something to keep you cozy and entertained.