Koh Tao, meaning Turtle island, is one of our favourite islands in Thailand. You can get to this island from only two provinces Chumphon and Surat Thani. Chumphon, being the first province in the South of Thailand, is where we recommend you start your journey. You can book a bus ticket from the railway station to the Pier. You can buy a ticket for the ferry at the pier. It cost around 1000 baht per person, and this includes your bus ticket and your ferry ticket.
Our Time on Koh Tao
It’s late July, the year 2561 in Thailand. The rainy season is at its peak, and the waves weren’t shy to sway with the wind. As the ferry is fighting through the waves, trying to make its way from Lomprayah Pier to Mae Haad pier we’re all trying to fight the motion sickness by taking a quick 30-minute nap.
Accompanied by Jon’s family and an hour later without any rain, we made it to the mountainous island, Koh Tao.
Tired and ready to head to our hotel, we search for the hand-held board with our names on it. To our surprise, almost 15 minutes after our arrival, no one was there to pick us up. Great, now what do we do? Luckily for us, a local taxi driver offered to take us to our hotel for only 100 baht per person.
We were greeted with a warm welcome as we arrived at Tarna Align hotel. From the very first moment, we felt at home at this beautiful hotel. Jonathan and I live in Thailand, so we normally travel on a small budget. We stay in nice places, but not like this. Jon’s parents spoiled us while being in town. After an early dinner and a walk on Sairee beach, we called it a night.
For our first day, we decided to rent a private longtail boat to go to Mango bay and Nang Yuan island. They are located on the outskirts of Koh Tao. Koh Tao has a few beautiful bays such as Taa Toh, Freedom, Chalok Baan Kao, Sairee, Sai Nuan, Tanote, Mango and many more. Out of all of them, Mango has to be my favourite.
As we arrived at this bay, all we can see is clear blue waters and a beach surrounded by cliffs. Most bays on the islands are filled with rocks and coral but not this bay. This bay offers a wide-open area in the middle which gives you a lot of room to swim without worrying about hurting yourself on the coral or the rocks.
Most of the beach is made up of small pebbles and shells which make walking hard. This wasn’t a problem for us since we didn’t spend much time on the beach anyway. This was my first time snorkelling so I don’t know if that’s the reason why, but I love this bay. I don’t think it’s just me who fell in love, we all did. Due to the lack of people we were able to snorkel and see beautiful fish and coral.
If you have more courage in the water you can see so much sea life because the sea gets really deep, really fast without even being far away from the shore. If you want to snorkel close to the shore, the cliffs on the side give you a beautiful view of what the sea has to offer. After about an hour and a half of swimming, we were getting hungry and tired so we were ready to head to Nang Yuan Island.
This island is unique because it’s three separate small islands that are connected by a beautiful beach turning three islands into one island. The entrance to this island opens at 10 am and closes at 5 pm.
Coming on to the island, we had to pay a 100 baht entrance fee and give in all of our plastic water bottles. After we paid our entrance fee, we walked a few meters, and the first thing we saw was a restaurant. Just after the restaurant, we stepped onto a beautiful white sand beach. Mountain on each side of the beach. It isn’t that easy to walk in the sea because of all the dead coral on the bottom of the sea.
This wasn’t going to stop us, but we had to wear our shoes while going into the sea. We would recommend that you take some shoes that you won’t mind getting wet. Once we were in the water and away from the beach, we didn’t need our shoes anymore. We were able to enjoy a swim or even snorkel in the clear blue warm water.
After our swim and our lunch, we decided to go on a short hike up one of the mountains. Mosquito repellent is a must but if you can fight off the mosquitoes and the heat, you will be rewarded with this beautiful view.
This island is very popular among tourists and can get very crowded. There’s one resort on the island, Dive Resort, meaning after 5 pm when the island is closed to tourists, only the guest of the resort will be allowed to stay and enjoy the beauty of the island. After a whole day out we returned to Koh Tao where we enjoyed a night of exploring the small island.
Everything on the island is centred around Sairee Beach. The restaurants, the bars, the shops, and the nightlife. This island has a very active nightlife. There are a lot of bars and pool parties in the area. If you are looking for a good night out, this is the island for you. If you aren’t really into the whole party scene don’t let this scare you away.
There are so many restaurants on the beach which take you away from the crazy nightlife and bring you back to paradise. Hearing the waves break on the beach, enjoying your meal and a drink under the stars by candlelight. The island provides not only a vibe for party lovers but also for peace seekers.
This island is nice because it isn’t like Phi Phi island or other islands that are popular for day visitors. The island can never be overpopulated because the amount of people on the island is limited.
On our last day, we spend time at some of the other beaches on the island. We rented a scooter to find this nice bay we heard about, the famous Shark bay that’s good for snorkelling. We realised that we might have gotten ourselves into trouble after a few minutes of driving up the mountains.
Braving it up the steep, unkempt dirt road was maybe not the best idea. Reaching the end of our nerve-wracking drive we came to a disappointing conclusion that we won’t be able to get to this bay by scooter or even by foot.
We could have just missed our turn or something which I highly doubt. The only way to get to that part of the island is by boat. It was an adventure and perfect for thrill-seekers, but next time we will rather take a boat than try to be the super-scooter squid.
Making it down the mountain, it became clear that driving up the mountain was the easiest part of this adventure. Imagine you’re trying to walk down a mountain where the only thing you can feel under your feet is soft loose sand that can dislodge at any second. You’re trying to place your feet just perfectly so there’s just enough weight on the surface so you don’t slip.
Now imagine trying to drive down this type of road with a 106 kg scooter and two relatively small people adding more weight, patience was key. We made it down safely and decided to rather stick to something a little bit saver. That was more than enough adventure for one day. Freedom beach here we come.
Freedom beach was quite hard to get to, even though it provides a path. The only way you can get to this beach is by taking some stairs down the hill. When the tide is out, it becomes almost impossible to swim at this beach. Even during high tide the amount of coral makes it hard. It’s a beautiful beach for swimming and snorkelling. We enjoyed this beach a lot. It gives you the perfect opportunity to swim with the fish.
Freedom beach is so remote that most of the time, we were the only people here. You can spend a whole day here. There aren’t restaurants around so when you start getting hungry you can relocate to the Taa Toh bay that’s close by. This is a family-friendly beach which provides a big open area for swimming and playing on the beach.
Our conclusion about Koh Tao is that we absolutely love this island and will definitely go back there. If you are looking for a tropical paradise this is the island for you. It’s small and remote and the mountains, beaches, and people will definitely transport you to a holiday paradise.
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