Koh Tao is one of Thailands most beautiful and special islands. It’s famous for snorkeling and scuba diving as there is coral reef around the island. Although Koh Tao is only 8 km long and 3 km wide, there are plenty of things to do. I’ve lived on the island for over six months and want to share the top 5 things to do on Koh Tao.
Find out more about my top 5 favorite things to do on Koh Tao. At the end of the blogpost I have also included a map so you can save it on your phone and add it to your list!
Let’s start with the most common activity which you’d struggle to ignore when coming to Koh Tao: Diving. The great thing about Koh Tao is that there are a lot of different dive sites. From shallow coral reefs, to spectacular pinnacles boasting huge schools of fish and whale sharks, to a sunken wreck on the bottom of the ocean. There is such a great variety in dive sites and marine life that you’ll never get bored.
You could start with the Open Water certification to learn the basic diving skills and be able to dive in the whole world. If you have more time, I would definitely recommend also having a look at the Advanced Adventurer certification which improves your skills and allows you to dive up to a depth of 30 metres. If you’ve never dived, I personally recommend starting with the open water instead of just doing a discovery dive. The certification gives you much more knowledge and practice so that you feel safe and comfortable.
For those who want to stay on Koh Tao for at least a couple of months, it’s also worth doing the Dive Master training to learn more about guiding dives, learning more about the science and safety of diving, and to navigate around the dive sites. It’s an awesome experience and also allows you to work for dive centers around the world. The next step would be the instructor training which can also be done on Koh Tao. If you’re not interested in learning more skills just book some fun dives and enjoy the underwater world! That’s what I did after my advanced cert.
The best dive school on Koh Tao
I started my open water with Big Blue Diving in May 2020 and am now (March 2022) doing my dive master training. As I’ve known the school for almost two years, I would recommend everyone to do their courses with them. Not only can you do the basic certifications but also get more involved with deep skills, nitrox, tech diving and understanding the eco side of diving. They are very professional, well known around the island and have great instructors aboard! If you stop by Big Blue say Hi from me.
Do you have any questions regarding diving on Koh Tao?
Contact me on Instagram or leave a comment!
#2 Flying Trapeze Adventures
The Flying Trapeze Adventures Koh Tao is for those who love adrenaline and are not scared of heights. You jump from a platform, grab the bar and fly through the air. In the first class you will learn to do the basic flight and in the last few rounds you’re even being caught from another person while letting go from the bar. Hard to imagine, so have a look on their website!
Dylan and Clara, the owners, are doing an amazing job teaching the class. You can either come only for one session (which is around 1.5 hours long) or come more often and improve your skills. This activity is for kids and adults. It’s also an awesome birthday activity and perfect for groups. Apart from the flying trapeze they also offer aerial classes which look super nice.
The Flying Trapeze Koh Tao is located in Sairee, surrounded by palm trees and green. When you’re standing on the platform you can see the jungly mountains. I took some friends with me and they all loved it. It’s definitely a challenge, especially because of the heights, but so much fun!
#3 Hikes & viewpoints
Another great on land activity are hikes and going to viewpoints. Koh Tao offers plenty of those with different levels, leading through the jungle or past some beaches. It’s also a popular place to do rock climbing.
My favorite viewpoint is John Suwan Viewpoint close to Chalok Bay. It gives a breath-taking view over parts of the island as well as Shark and Chalok Bay. The hike there itself is not too hard, it maybe takes around 15-20 minutes. When arriving at the parking lot you’ll be asked to pay an entrance fee of 50 THB. That also includes access to Freedom and Ta Tooh Beach. There’s not really a “best time” to go there as both sunrise and sunset are beautiful and can be seen from this viewpoint.
Another really nice one is Fraggle Rock. From there you can see whole Sairee Beach area and the small island Koh Nang Yuan. It’s a really huge rock high up in the mountains. You can drive up there by scooter and walk the rest. The path is well signed and the way there can be found on Google maps.
The most exciting and adventurous hike is to Koh Tao Lighthouse. It’s a hidden place at the north east tip of the island and can either be reached by longtail boat or walking. Here I described how you can get there.
#4 Kayaking and SUP
If you love the ocean but don’t want to snorkel or dive I can recommend to rent a kayak or a stand up paddle board and get active! Along Sairee beach there are a few rentals (e.g. at Ban’s Diving) and you can explore this side of the island. The best time to rent a SUP board is for sunset. If you’re lucky you can see the sun set over the ocean. Sairee beach is best for stand up paddle boarding as the water there is usually really calm.
For a more adventurous trip you could rent a kayak from Sai Daeng Beach and paddle all the way to Shark island (aka Ko Kong Sai Daeng). When you get there just attach the kayak to a buouy line and swim to the island. You’ll feel like Chuck from Cast Away – the only difference is that Shark island doesn’t have a beach or much green, it’s a rock island. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and plenty of water for this trip.
#5 Koh Nang Yuan
Another activity I always love to do is going to the small neighbour island Koh Nang Yuan. It is around 15 minutes away from Koh Tao and actually consists of two islands connected by a 800m long white sand beach. There is a resort on Nang Yuan which is perfect for honey moons or those who seek absolute tranquility.
The best way to go to Koh Nang Yuan is by taking a longtail taxi boat. There are drivers available along whole Sairee Beach. Just keep an eye out for signs saying “Taxi Boat”. If you’re staying further up there is also a taxi boat exactly where Coconut Monkey is. In Sairee there are usually lots of drivers around Cafe Culture. The boat takes you to the island and picks you up whenever you want to go back. It’s around 200-300 THB per person. On top of that comes a 100 THB national park fee (update 2022: 250 THB) for entering Koh Nang Yuan. You will pay that once you arrive on the island.
The island is open until 5pm so it’s best to plan your trip and have at least 2-3 hours to explore. There’s a nice viewpoint on the left island from where you can see the sandy connection. On both sides of the beach you can snorkel really well. There are also two dive sites close by which means that the underwater life is worth seeing.
All in one map
These are my five favorite activities on Koh Tao. The island is mostly famous for diving but it’s worth going there even if you’re not interested in that specific activity. Apart from these suggestions there are more things to do. You could check out on of the beautiful cafes on the island, go for a Thai massage or volunteer at Koh Koh Pups, the local rescue shelter.
Koh Tao is paradise. I hope you’ll have a great time on the island. If you have any questions or need advice please let me know!