Koh Tao is a great place to spend your holiday. There’s plenty to do under water, on the water as well as on land. The small island in the Gulf of Thailand features some beautiful jungly, mountainous hikes. One of them is the famous lighthouse hike which leads you to a hidden lighthouse at the north east tip of the island. The path for the hike is very hard to find. In fact, it’s neither on MAPS.ME nor on Google maps. But with this guide chances are very high for you to find it!
Koh Tao lighthouse can only be seen when passing by boat or you can get there by doing the lighthouse hike. It is located at the north east tip of the island. I’m not sure if it is still being used but it feels like an abandoned place what makes it quite adventurous to go there. As the northern part of Koh Tao is mostly jungle you will probably not meet many people on the way. I love this hike as it features stunning forest, ocean and the lighthouse itself. It’s quite challenging, therefore perfect for an active day.
Difficulty and what to bring
The lighthouse hike is an intermediate hike with steep climbs. To get to the lighthouse you need to climb over some rocks as well so make sure you bring proper footwear (sneakers) as well as plenty of water. Mosquito spray can also be helpful especially if you make stops on the way. I would recommend to only stop when you get to the ocean though as the mosquitos are very hungry.
If you like snorkeling there’s also the chance to do that at lighthouse bay so maybe bring your snorkeling gear with you. Morning hours and around noon are probably the best times to do the hike. Just for security reasons I wouldn’t go there for sunset.
How to get there
Coming to the most challenging part: Finding the trail to Koh Tao lighthouse. There are no signs and there is no path on Google maps or MAPS.ME. On our first attempt we couldn’t find the trail either (although I found it over a year ago). Thanks to talking to other travelers we found the solution: Guru Maps. This app shows the whole trail and works offline.There’s no reception in the northern part of the island so you can’t do research while you’re trying to find the right way.
If you want to be more adventurous and not use Guru Maps give it a try with the map below:
To get to the starting point of the hike it’s best to go by scooter. The road is not paved, therefore I recommend to go on one scooter each and have some experience riding one. The map shows three yellow points: (1) the crossroads in Sairee, (2)the point where the path parts into two ways – take the right one here – and (3) the starting point of the trail. On the way to the starting point will be a rock which says “best hike trail”, follow that road. The beginning of the hike looks like the following picture.
If you got to this point you won’t really need a map anymore! The hike itself is well signed. If you find my map confusing download Guru Maps. The lighthouse trail is marked there and it works offline as well!
Hiking to Koh Tao lighthouse
Hiking to Koh Tao lighthouse takes around 1 – 1.5 hours each way. Add some time to take breaks, to snorkel in the ocean and to enjoy the views. The elevation of the hike is around 250-300 metres.
Along the way you won’t get lost. There are many trees with ropes to keep you on the right path. The steeper bits also have some rope along the side to hold on to. From the deep forest you will pass huge rocks and soon hear the ocean! The hike goes all the way from the mountain down to the beach.
When reaching the beach it seems like the path ends here. But it doesn’t! Now the fun part begins: climbing over the rocks. Basically you want to get to the little bay on your left. The rocks are huge so it’s absolutely doable to get there. There’s a wooden swing, an empty hut and some coral decoration on a tree. If you reached this bit, continue a bit further over the rocks until you see a big white arrow pointing to the left. I included all these points in the map above with pictures and a short description.
The path now leads uphill again, but only for maybe 5-10 minutes. Then, suddenly and totally unexpected, a white lighthouse appears in front of your eyes. You made it! Just a few more steps up the ladders and you will be rewarded with fantastic views and ocean breeze.
All in all the hike to Koh Tao lighthouse is very rewarding. Both the hike itself and the destination are absolutely stunning. It’s one of my favorite hikes on the island. Even only finding the entrance feels like a little adventure itself.
If you feel like you want to reward yourself after this hike check out the cafe Coconut Monkey which is right on the beach in Mae Haad. One of my favorite places on the island.