Travel Destinations: Koh Tao
Few places in the world compare to the original Land of Smiles. The kingdom of Thailand has enthralled, amazed and enchanted millions of visitors for generations. Its culture and traditions have blended with cosmopolitan modernity to become a fascinating meld of excitement and stimulation. From an adrenaline rush to the secret of your inner karma, then Thailand provides satiation.
Thailand’s beauty and appeal is enhanced by 1430 islands that pepper the blue waters of its coastline. Each of the islands has its own unique charm and every one of them offers the inquisitive visitor something of itself to help shape, feel and understand the culture and traditions of the kingdom.
In the Chumphon archipelago, off the East coast of Thailand’s Southern isthmus, lies Koh Tao. This 21 square kilometer island is all that an un-spoilt island should be. Koh Tao, which means Turtle Island is aptly named and is in fact 3 small islands connected by sandy beaches.
The island has largely shunned any moves towards the glitz and neon of the music thumping club scene and the draw to profiteering by concreting over its inherent beauty. Instead, the island relies purely on its natural attributes to attract what is a growing number of visitors.
Diving off Koh Tao
Koh Tao has built a worldwide reputation as a top diving location with many prime dive sites around its coastline. As part of Koh Tao’s drive for safe diving, the dive sites are graded as to whether they are suitable for either beginners or experienced divers. Be you a novice or a veteran, there are fascinating sites to explore.
The Green Rock dive is an ever popular site for divers of all grades. Beneath the surface there are caves and cavernous rock archways to swim through. This is home to the brightly coloured triggerfish, an amazing creature which can grow up to a meter long. Triggerfish are territorial and during the spawning season they become very defensive which can lead to exciting encounters.
Nang Yuan Pinnacle, also known as Red Rock, is an 18-meter formation extending from the seabed to just below the surface, and for years has been a favorite od diving enthusiasts. Within the crevices of this marvelous phenomenon you will find sheltering stingrays, turtles and scorpion fish, all of which give a fascinating insight into the intricate marine ecology of the area.
Aow Leuk is a sheltered bay of the East coast, devoid of the prevailing strong winds, this is a shallow dive to a sandy bed ideal for beginners. There are a plethora of bottom dwellers here as well as scorpion fish and garden eels, also to be seen around the coral formations are sergeant majors, butterfly fish and the yellow tailed barracudas can be seen schooling through the shallow waters.
As if the marine life was not enough there is also the wreck of the HTMS Sattakut. A former world war II American warship which was sold to the Royal Thai Navy, the vessel has been strategically sunk to provide a haven for new colonies of coral to grow which in turn attracts all manner of marine life. The wreck is now a popular dive site for beginners and experienced diver alike.
A divers biggest problem maybe deciding what they want to see. Perhaps sea gardens carpeted with anemones, porcupine pufferfish, whale and bull sharks or the black and white banded sea snake. There is so much, a lifetime could be spent diving off Koh Tao. If you are, or wish to be, a marine photographer then there can be no more ideal a destination than Koh Tao.
Away from the Dives
Koh Tao does laid back beach life as well as anywhere can. Sairee Beach is the island’s largest, and at almost 2 kilometers long occupies much of the West coast. Beach games, sunbathing and swimming are only interrupted by sustenance and refreshment from the beach side bars and restaurants that pepper the sandy fringes of this ever popular destination.
In the South of the island is Chalok Baan Kao Bay. This small town has all the essential retail outlets, a variety of accommodations options, dive shops and a modern infrastructure as well as many bars and restaurants. This location is a popular base for divers with a bay edged with a quiet sandy beach popular with snorkelers and those of a lethargic nature.
Although maintaining its un-spoilt feel, the island has embraced enough of modernity to satisfy the needs of everyone experiencing the tranquility of Koh Tao. With supermarkets, local shops and markets selling fresh produce, there’s not much a visitor is likely to miss out on.
Although very traditional and laid back, a visit to Koh Tao should be booked through reputable agents, this is best done through the likes of Samui Ferry. With safety and guaranteed services, it is the only way to enjoy the best of Koh Tao.