The islands: sun, sea, sand and fresh air – it’s everything we could have wanted after a crazy, muggy few days in Bangkok so it was really an easy decision as to where we would head to next. Another 15 hours of travel? Why the f** not?
Koh Tao is one of the many islands in the south east of Thailand located just above the infamous Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.
While Koh Phangan is famous for it’s Full Moon parties, Koh Tao is equally as famous for it’s diving and, in particular, the opportunity to get legitimate dive qualifications from PADI and SSI for around the price of a niceish flat screen tv.
There are over 100 dive schools on this pretty small island and honestly, I bet you 1000 Thai Baht* that 99% of the people you meet are doing diving qualifications or giving it a fair (though probably still nervous) go for the first time.
“Then, what the hell were you doing there if not a dive qualification?” I hear you ask.
Well, I’ll tell you the truth: we did go with the intention of booking one and then got completely distracted exploring the island and having a jolly good time. Before we knew it we’d spent almost a week on the island and we needed to move on. It’s also took me around two days just to recover fully from the boat journey over, but that’s a story for another time.
While it was sort of a shame we didn’t take the opportunity, we had an amazing time and there really is more to this island than the diving sites. So even if the thought of plunging into an abyss with your whole life strapped to your back in a can doesn’t appeal to you, you won’t be completely at a loose end.
First of all, get yourself a moped and explore!
If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, then why the hell not! Come and say hello here!) you’ll know that I’ve loved doing this and also that I’m really bad at filming it.
Seriously though, it is by far the easiest and, more importantly, cheapest way to find hidden spots and really explore on your own watch.
Thai taxi prices sometimes seem a little made up on the spot and can vary substantially – especially if they sense that you’re fresh off the boat or a little unsure. But even if you are a pro taxi haggler, you still can’t just pull over half way when you see something pretty or interesting and where’s the fun in that?!
We found so many lovely and quieter spots to enjoy this way and had the freedom to pitch up as long as we liked.
We also enjoyed renting a kayak for the same reason – the freedom! Again, we found so many secret spots that you simply can’t access by foot or moped.
What really made it though was bringing snorkels. Snorkelling is great if you want to get all up and close with the ocean without committing to a scuba or free diving course.
There are a never ending stream of organised boat trips that go out everyday all over the island to snorkel in groups for very little money. You can even rent them from shops and hotels and take them out yourselves as we did if the crowds are not your style.
Finally, you should definitely take some time to treat yo‘ self in Koh Tao.
No, I don’t mean splashing the cash.
The best thing to do in Koh Tao is definitely just sitting back and enjoying the beaches and the views. There are the most amazing sunsets to be seen and loads of beachside bars to watch them from with a cocktail in each hand.
If you love buckets and boogieing there are plenty of bars and clubs dotted across the beach as well as the infamous Chopper’s bar crawl.
There’s even the amazing Queen’s Cabaret who perform at their club on Sairee Beach every night which even Aidan sang along with and we would really recommend to anyone, whatever your preconceptions might be.
Or maybe catch some Muay Thai if you’re looking for something a bit more rough?
Have you visited Koh Tao before? Did you enjoy it as much as we did?
We’re still here, can you recommend anywhere in Thailand? Where are your favourite places?
* This is not a legit bet. You can’t claim on it, I had my fingers crossed. Sorry.