Koh Tao Life
Most divers pursuing professional ratings on Koh Tao tend to fully immerse themselves in diving and dive culture, but there is much more to this island! Some visiting backpackers are searching for pristine, untouched places, but most, after spending a few weeks on our island, do enjoy having access to clean food, great accommodation, and an all-around fantastic lifestyle. Here are some details of what you can do on (and around) the island when not busy diving with turtles and whalesharks:
Kayaking – Several kayak rental places are located on the main beaches, and our divemasters love to spice up their week with either a trip to Koh Nangyuan island, or a more ambitious round-the-island paddle. Just don’t forget to bring a beverage or 12.
Booze Cruises – Sometimes paddling is not an attractive option, so why not get onto a “fun boat” which will take you from one snorkel site to another, all the while serving beers and laughs. Bring your GoPro, don’t bring your laptop…
Rock Climbing – On the terrestrial side of adventure, Koh Tao, being a rather rocky island, is home to some great rock climbing and bouldering. You are never more than 15 minutes from something your inner spider monkey wouldn’t want to climb. Some of these rocks are right next to the sea, and so cliff-jumping is an option for the particularly adrenaline-starved spider monkeys.
Hiking – Although 21 square kilometres SEEMS like not much, the island is criss-crossed by many kilometres of hiking paths and trails. Some are easy, some are more gnarly, but all of them put in in close proximity to interesting animals and beautiful vistas. There is a certain magic to a sunrise rainforest hike with hornbills in the trees and monitor lizards scurrying in the grass.
Massage – All this exercise is bound to result in some tired muscles – simply head to one of the omnipresent massage spas and get refreshed. All’s well that ends well. And happy. It ends happy. Very happy.
Yoga – For those well along their way to becoming zenmasters of inner tranquility, Koh Tao has several yoga schools. You can unwind in a studio, or outdoor, one way or another enjoying a total break from the everyday.
Restaurants – At the end of a busy day, you need some fuel – luckily there are dozens of fantastic eateries scattered throughout the island. You can enjoy simple Thai dishes, or, if you have had enough of the exotic, you can go for Italian, French, Japanese, or just about anything. There are fancy steakhouses, and cheap hole-in-the-wall types that will provide a great fill of whatever you are craving.
Entertainment- It is most important to keep well hydrated in the tropics, but that should not be a problem, as there are many purveyors of fine drink all over the place. After dinner, you can head to one of the plentiful bars and clubs where live music is not difficult to come by, and if that is too classy for you, simply get sweaty on the famous Koh Tao Pub Crawl and see what surprise you wake up to in the morning.
Koh Tao is about 7 kilometres long and 3 kilometres wide, which makes it reasonably easy to hike, but if you aren’t too enthused about this, you can always rent a scooter for approximately 200 baht/day. Keep in mind, bike crashes cost significantly more.
There is a number of supermarkets scattered throughout the island, so if you are craving anything from home (or elsewhere), it will not be too far away. Additionally, there are plentiful specialty shops peddling anything from T-shirts and sunglasses right up to dive gear, GoPro cameras and laptops.
There is one main road going north-south through the island, and it takes a maximum of 20 minutes to get from one remote part of the island to the other. Alternately, if you want to visit the wonderful sandbar island of Koh Nanguyan, you can take a speedy longtail taxi boat (approximately 400 baht per person if your haggling skills aren’t good) and spend a lazy afternoon sunbathing, snorkeling, and otherwise chillaxing.
If getting lost is not on your list of things to-do, here is a bunch of maps.