Koh Tao (“Turtle Island”) is an island in Thailand. It’s located in the western shore of Gulf of Thailand. I visited Koh Tao first time four years ago and immediately fell in love with it. Koh Tao is very popular among divers as there is a wide selection of dive sites and dive shops. But what if you’re not interested in diving? Should you visit Koh Tao?
“What are you doing here then?” a dive master asked me when I told him that I’m not very interested in diving. I felt annoyed. What do you mean? I’m not allowed to come, if I don’t dive? In my opinion, Koh Tao offers a lot more than only diving!
1. Relaxing on the quiet beaches when everyone else is diving
As most of the tourists on the island are into diving, us non-divers get all the beaches to ourselves when everyone else are diving. You don’t need to fight for the perfect spot where to grill your skin on the beach. Koh Tao has about eight beaches where to choose from. Sairee is the biggest and most commercial with a lot of dive shops, restaurants, bars and resorts – but during daytime it can be surprisingly sleepy!
2. Hiking around the island
As you won’t be spending all of your time under the water, you can explore the surface. Koh Tao is rather hilly island so there’s several view points to visit. It’s good exercise – just remember to take a camera and a water bottle with you!
Many visitors rent a motorbike – even though Koh Tao is quite small island and many of the places are within walking distance. I can’t ride a motorbike so I’m used to walking everywhere. I recommend this to everyone as motorbike accidents in Thailand among tourists are sadly very common.
3. Try different activities
Diving is not the only activitity you can do on island – Koh Tao has two muay thai (thaiboxing) gyms, rock climbing, jungle trekking, yoga, trapeze adventure.. Just to name few. Couple of years ago I spent about 2 months on the island and I chose thaiboxing, as I had been training it already in Finland before going to Koh Tao and wanted to try keep in shape during my stay. I also did a lot of snorkeling. It’s a great way to explore the underwater world since many of the corals are located near the beaches.
Koh Nang Yuan is located next to Koh Tao and just 5 to 10 minute long tail boat ride away. It’s a great destination for a day trip. You could also rent a long tail boat and visit some of the beaches in Koh Tao that are not always easy to reach by walking, motorbike or taxi.
Save Koh Tao Marine conservation branch arranges projects. Everybody is welcome to join free of charge, even though the projects are mostly meant for locals and people working and diving with dive schools. You can read about their projects from here. The site is a little out of date, so I don’t know about the current situation of the projects, but by contacting them you’ll get more information.
For animal lovers – like me – there’s also another option. Koh Tao Animal Clinic is doing great work taking care, neutering and vaccinating the wandering animals on island. Check more information about volunteering at the clinic in here.
5. Have a few Chang beers and enjoy the sunset
After a long day of different activities, volunteering and sunbathing your diver friends have finally returned to island and it’s time for a dinner and maybe a party. Enjoying ice cold beer in beach restaurant during sunset feels always so magical! Sairee beach has most of the nightlife in Koh Tao. If you are not into partying, choose to stay in a smaller beach, where you don’t need to get interrupted by party people returning to their bungalows five in the morning.
Koh Tao has a special place in my heart and I love it there, even though I have different reasons to go there than my diving friends. As said, the island offers a lot more than only diving. Beautiful beaches, clear water and great atmosphere make me return there time after time.