Koh Tao will always be a special place to us from our travels as it’s where we learnt to scuba dive. Not only is it great for diving and snorkelling but the laid back vibe and relaxed atmosphere make it a perfect retreat even if you’re not into diving. Many people think this tiny island is just for diving but I hope our list of things to do in Koh Tao proves those people wrong!
Things to do in Koh Tao
1) Visit Ngan Yuan Island
Wow! This place is gorgeous. It has to be one of the best beach sites in the whole of Thailand, if not the world. It’s really unique in that the beach is just a thin strip of sand that runs between 3 small mountainous masses of land. Each side of the beach has calm shallow crystal clear waters that are perfect for swimming or snorkelling. You’ll pay 100 Bhat to get on the island, but it’s certainly worth it.
2) Ngan Yuan Island viewpoint
Ok, so once you accomplished no.1 and you’ve set foot on Ngan Yuan Island, don’t just pull up a sun lounger and relax. Instead I’d highly recommend heading for the viewpoint as you’ll get an amazing view from up there that you just cannot appreciate from sea level. The walk is quite steep but only takes about 15 minutes. If you’re adventurous you can even climb on top of the large rock boulders at the top to get the highest views. Once back down, you have permission to get that sun lounger ☺
3) Hire a quad bike
Whilst a moped is your best bet for most parts of Thailand, I’d recommend going for a quad bike whilst on Koh Tao. It’s a very small island and you can get around and see most of the sights in just a day or two. However, many of the beautiful viewpoints and bays are only accessible via dirt roads, some of which can get quite steep! With a resilient quad and dry weather you can get pretty much anywhere and it’s an enjoyable way to take in this gorgeous island.
4) Ride to Mango Bay
Whilst you’ve got your new wheels, don’t miss going to Mango Bay. It’s a little bay to the North of the island that’s home to two resorts and a small beach. We had so much fun riding up the steep hills and bendy roads on the quad to get there. Once at the top you can enjoy a drink at the beautiful viewpoint or enter Mango Bay Resort for a 100 Baht and spend the day soaking up the views.
5) Learn to dive
This is what draws most people to Koh Tao. For the beginner you can complete a 4 day open water course for under 10,000 Baht, which is equivalent to about £200. From what I hear this is about a 1/3 of the price you’ll pay compared to learning in Australia for example. And it’s not just the price that’s great, there’s a huge variety of diving sites local to the island and seeing the likes of turtles, whale sharks and barracuda is common. Our personal favourite was White Rock but we’re itching to go back and explore some of the sites we missed. Check out our koh tao diving blog if you’d like an in depth review of what to expect on an open water course.
6) Chill out at Sairee Beach
If you want a day by the beach, personally I would recommend Sairee. Whilst we had our quad bikes we tried our best to explore every nook and cranny of Koh Tao. After struggling up and down hills to get to some of the more secluded bays like Freedom beach, we were often left disappointed. Whilst the smaller beaches are very secluded, many of them were covered in litter and failed to meet the beauty associated with the pictures you’ll find online.
Sairee on the other hand was clean, the sand is softer and you won’t find bottles floating around the shore. There’s also a cool palm tree hanging almost horizontally along the shore that you should check out, it makes a lovely spot to watch the sunset.
7) Go to The Gallery
I have to mention this restaurant as the meal I had here blew me away. The main dish I’ve been ordering in the few months that I’ve been in Asia is chicken and cashew nuts. So when I saw it on the menu at The Gallery it was an easy decision for me. I’ve probably ordered this about 30 times by now (I know, I really should try other stuff) and what The Gallery served me was hands down the best Chicken and cashew nuts I have had throughout China, Vietnam and Thailand. I am seriously considering going back just to eat there again (and do some more diving!).
8) Take a long boat tour
Koh Tao is very underdeveloped compared to it’s sistering islands of Koh Samui and Phangan so road access to most places on the coast is either non existent or quite a challenge. An easier, and more laid back way to explore what Koh Tao has to offer would be to take a long boat tour around the whole island. This can be done in a day and there are ample longboat taxi drivers willing to escort you. Make sure you haggle though as they’ll quite often drop their price by 30%. You can usually request what parts of the island you’d like to see and even stop for some snorkelling if you please.
We hope you get to do some of our top things to do in Koh Tao, if you have any of you’re own favourites please share them in the comments as I’m sure we’ll be back for more Koh Tao time soon! 🙂