The pearl of the Gulf of Thailand and the capital of Scuba diving in Asia. Koh Tao is a small, rustic, picturesque, hilly and amazingly beautiful Island. Depending on which cost you stay (Sairi beach being the main one), you have an immediate access to tons of astonishing things to do in Koh Tao, and everything is at a walking distance and you have amazing beaches to discover every time you follow a path. Koh Tao is at 1h by boat from its big sister Koh Samui that is much more developed. If you love cozy islands atmosphere and blue lagoons, Koh Tao is for you!
There are plenty of great things to do in Koh Tao, here is my 5 top:
1- Koh Tao Viewpoints
Koh Tao is very hilly with several high viewpoints up to 380 meters. At this height, you have an astonishing view of the ocean and the island beaches. I’ve climbed to those viewpoints at sunrise, sunset and even noon to have different perspectives and different lightings. The walk is smooth and very enjoyable as you go through the island forest full of palm trees and you often enjoy intermediate viewpoints. It’s just breathtaking at every moment of the day (still, I prefer the end of the afternoon until sunset). Here is a selection of the Koh Tao best viewpoints with their location map.
Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint
John Suwan viewpoint
Mango Bay viewpoint
West Coast Mountain viewpoint
2- Koh Nang Yuan
A beautiful island in the island! The simplest way to get to the island is by longtail boat from Sairi beach (5$to 10$ per person depending on the group size). Worth to spend at least half a day to enjoy all the following top activities:
Have a walk around on a wooden path
Climb to the best viewpoint
The best viewpoint of Koh Tao, a must see.
Rest on Nang Yuan island beach
The white sandbank linking both parts of the islands.
Snorkel on the Japanese Garden spot
3- PADI Open Water Diver
A must do if you like diving and traveling. The PADI Open Water Diver certification will give you access to peer autonomous diving until 18 meters. That way you can explore the underwater wonders in every country you visit. It includes a short theoretical part (around 4 hours) and 4 diving sessions (where you actually practice and have fun). And the big bonus is that Koh Tao has the cheapest PADI diving certifications in the world (around 220$) and plenty of amazing diving spots.
Get your Open Water
As for any certification, it requires a dedicated 3 days minimum and 4 hours of classroom/online study (I know you only wanna chill during your holidays but this activity is the only exception and will be useful for the rest of your life. If you don’t have time, you can go for a PADI Discovery certification that takes only 1.5 days and you can still complete it later. Having tested diving in several other locations in Asia, Koh Tao has clearly well-skilled instructors, modern and clean gears and very safe spots. If you’re a first-time diver, Koh Tao is THE spot to start!
4- Shark Bay and Shark Island
What?? Yes, I sharks, but not the big white, don’t worry. It’s the very cute coral reef sharks, white tip and black tip. Shark Bay is a very beautiful, quiet and not crowded beach. The island in front of it is Shark Island. It’s named like this because it has the shape of a shark fin and you can easily meat coral reef sharks at early morning and late afternoon. It also has very beautiful corals and a very diverse marine life. If you want to start taming sharks, it’s your Island.
5- Sairi beach by night
Sairi beach is the most active and developed beach at Koh Tao. It’s full of very well designed hotels, coffees, restaurant, and clubs on the beach front. And it’s the best place to watch the Koh Tao sunset on a cozy table on the sand. Restaurants are serving very tasty Thai cuisine, fresh fish&seafood and…burgers for those interested. At nightfall, the beach gets full of fire dancers, many restaurants turn on their special colorful lights and the clubs turn the sound on. A great mix for an animated and inspiring night.