Endless beaches made of powdery white sand, palm trees swaying in the balmy afternoon breeze and ocean water so clear, it seems to be glistening like precious gems under the blazing sun – a view found in abundance in Koh Tao, a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand. All of that being said, it would be heavily undermining Koh Tao’s beauty if we claimed that’s all there is to this island.
Popularly known for water sports and adventures like scuba diving and snorkeling in the richly endowed ocean water surrounding the island, Koh Tao’s attractions go well beyond its beaches. Boasting an interesting landscape and a desirable location not too far from mainland Thailand, the island offers several opportunities for active travelers to hike, get busy with sports or even go for a mini day trip to neighboring islands. Before you dismiss Koh Tao as just another pretty Thai island, here are a few fun activities to convince you to plan that trip.
Align your chakras with invigorating yoga classes
Lazing on Koh Tao’s beaches may be therapeutic by itself, but a relaxing yoga session is sure to take the experience a notch higher! Instead of being a beach bum all day, especially if you are staying on the island for more than 2-3 days, why not take some time out and nourish your mind, body, and spirit at a local yoga studio?
This not only is good for your physical and mental health, but also is a great way to meet new people and to connect with the local community. Check out some of these popular places to find yourself a suitable yoga class for a unique experience on the island: Shambhala Yoga or Ocean Sound Yoga.
Zoom around the island on a motorbike
If you’re even a little bit adventurous like us, hop on a bike when in Koh Tao. Rent one from a reliable vendor on the island and enjoy the freedom of exploring the attractions of Koh Tao at your own pace. Ask the staff in your hotel to find the nearest, reliable rental bike vendor before you try to swim through the ocean of bike rentals available on every corner of the island.
The biggest advantage of renting a motorcycle on an island like this is how much more you can access than if you were to rely on public transport or even walking. Get to remote corners of the island, discover hidden spots away from crowded tourist places like the untouched Sai Nuan Beach and just whiz around in general for a fun time!
Take a day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park
When Alex Garland wrote about the Ang Thong Marine Park in his novel, ‘The Beach’, he sure made us all daydream of a part of Thailand few had seen! So if you’ve had enough beach time but are itching to explore the gorgeous and unique ecological landscape of the region, take a day trip to the Ang Thong Marine Park from Koh Tao.
An archipelago dotted with remote islands and steep limestone cliffs jutting out from the emerald green water, a trip to this protected marine park opens up a world of exciting opportunities. Other than being one of the best places for devouring all the good views surrounding you, the marine park is an ideal place to try your hand at scuba diving, snorkeling or kayaking. Blessed with rich flora and fauna, don’t be surprised when you come across rare species of birds, animals, and fish, like sea turtles, langurs, otters, etc. in the wild, just how they are meant to be.
However, do keep in mind that it is not possible to visit the marine park independently. The only way to do this day trip is with a local speed boat tour company that can make all the arrangements for your land and sea transfers and your hotel staff should be able to help you connect with a reliable tour operator.
Learn how to cook up a storm
Want to learn a new skill during your island getaway to Koh Tao? Why not pick up some Thai cooking skills and find a way to your loved one’s heart with a fancy new dish? Cooking classes are very popular all over Thailand, and Koh Tao is no exception.
Immerse yourself in Thailand’s culinary world by learning the ropes of their exotic cuisine and spend a day feeding all your five senses in the most fun way possible! If you have a spare day on the island, check out these cooking schools for the best experience – Thai cooking with Joy and Idjangs Kitchen & Thai Cookery.
Hike up for the best viewpoints
It’s time for all you beach bums to get up and moving. Koh Tao is blessed with great terrain that is perfect for hiking and offers several opportunities for active travelers to find hidden jungle and hilly trails. There are hikes available for every level of trekker so you can always opt for an easy one if you’re not sure of the landscape.
Irrespective of the level of difficulty, what all of these hikes promise is a great view at the end. Two of the most popular hiking trails in Koh Tao are the hike up to Mango Bay Viewpoint (overlooking Sairee Beach) and the climb up to Two View (Koh Tao’s highest peak). Needless to say, you’ll be generously rewarded with beautiful views from up here and if you are just in time, you may be able to catch a glorious sunset too!
How to get to Koh Tao
Getting to Koh Tao is a breeze, thanks to Thailand’s extensive network of ferries and road transportation. How you reach Koh Tao and how long it takes you to get there entirely depends on where in Thailand you start your journey from.
In most cases, your journey to Koh Tao will be either a combination of bus and ferry rides or a direct ferry ride. Here are a few different routes to reach Koh Tao which you can choose from:
- Koh Samui to Koh Tao ferry
- Koh Phangan to Koh Tao ferry
- Surat Thani to Koh Tao ferry
- Hua Hin to Koh Tao bus + ferry
- Bangkok to Koh Tao bus + ferry
- Koh Phi Phi to Koh Tao bus + ferry
Koh Tao’s popularity as a backpacker’s party haven has only risen over the past few years. Unfortunately, this has also given the island a notorious reputation of sorts. However, if you look beyond the wild beach parties and raves, Koh Tao still has a lot to offer, making it worthy of a visit during your trip to Thailand. Get on the off-the-beaten-track in Koh Tao and who knows, you may even fall in love with what you see!