Koh Tao: the Thai paradise of diving
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Koh Tao is a small Thai island, located on the east coast of Surat Thani, along with the other two major islands, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Its name means "turtle island", both because it was once inhabited by turtles and because it has a similar shape if seen from Koh Phangan.
This island is famous for its natural beauty, both outside and inside the water thanks to its abundant marine life. It has indeed become one of the world's major destinations for snorkelling and diving lovers. In particular, most tourists come here to obtain the scuba diving license, since it has rather low costs compared to other destinations in the world. There are several certificates, each with a different duration; the basic course for beginners, for example, lasts from 3 to 4 days and the price starts from 7,500 baht - about 200 euro.
Then there are different types of tours, available at the dozens of diving agencies and schools, to cater to all tastes and budgets. We opt for a mid-day snorkelling tour, from 12 pm to 6 pm, at a cost of 500 baht (+100 bath for entry into a private beach) - about 15 euros. The tour takes place in a boat shared with other tourists and includes stops for snorkelling at Thian Og Bay (Shark Bay), Aow Leuk, Him Wong Bay, Aow Muang (Mango Bay) and Koh Nang Yuan.
At each stop, the boat stops to let us get off into the water, equipped with a mask they have provided us, and admire the seabed of the island. Unfortunately, we have not seen any sharks, but we have heard of many people who instead have been lucky (they are apparently harmless sharks).
The most beautiful part is certainly the small island of Koh Nang Yuan, considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Unfortunately, we could not fully admire the colours of Koh Tao due to a strong storm. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about the extreme beauty of this little island. What most distinguishes Koh Tao from the islands visited so far, is its rocky structure that gives rise to many small inlets, creating a lot of amazing shades of the sea.
Moreover, If you want to try a bit the nightlife of the island, you have to go to the Sairee beach, the longest beach on the island. It is the most populated area, both during the day and night. It is also excellent for a beautiful sunset view, perhaps sipping something in one of the many bars on the beach.
Speaking of the food, we point out the fantastic restaurant Yang Thai Food that offers local dishes but also Western, at very low prices and really big portions!
Lastly, we stayed at the Move Inn Garden hostel for 250 baht per person (about 6.50 euros) in a mixed dorm. Nice atmosphere, excellent common areas and good services in general. It is located near the port, so you can walk to it once on the island.
We consider this island as a little piece of Thai jewel. Koh Tao surprised us with its still rather unspoiled beauty and the huge influx of young people who come here for diving. Definitely, a stop to consider if you visit the east coast of Thailand. It is also easily accessible from both Chumpon and Surat Thani. For example, we bought a bus ticket + ferry at our hostel in Krabi, at a cost of 800 baht (21 euros), about 5 hours of travel.