Tropical Island Koh Tao
Learn to Scuba Dive on Koh Tao
Koh Tao is the smallest of the three islands that make up the Samui Archipelago. It is also the least developed and the last of the three islands to become so popular with tourists.
The island itself is situated 70 kilometres from the mainland and is small compared to its larger neighbours at only 7 kilometres in length from its northern tip at Mango Bay to Chalok Baan Kao in the south.
White Sandy Beaches
The rugged coastline is made up of white sandy beaches and bays and in places is strewn with granite rocks and large boulders.
A tropical green jungle covers the elevated land with dozens of natural panoramic viewpoints looking out across the sea in all directions.
A Brief History of Koh Tao
The island was used as a political prison from 1933 until a royal pardon freed all the prisoners in 1947. Before this time the island was uninhabited.
King Chulalongkorn – Rama V visited Koh Tao in 1899 and inscribed his initials on a large rock at Laem Jor Por Ror on the southern end of Sairee Beach, which is still in place today and is a place of worship for local people and visitors.
The first settlers on Koh Tao were a mixture of fisherman and farmers, arriving from Koh Samui in 1947, with others following over the next 6 – 7 years, mostly from Koh Phangan to claim land.
They enjoyed a simple life of fishing in addition to farming the land for rice and harvesting of coconut plantations.
First Foreign Visitors to Arrive on Koh Tao
The first foreign visitors from Europe started to arrive on Koh Tao by fishing boats in the late 1970’s and discovered a pristine untouched paradise both above and below the surrounding tropical sea.
By the mid to late 1980’s dive centres from Koh Samui started visiting Koh Tao on their small boats to scuba dive often staying overnight, sleeping on their boats or camping onshore.
They were amazed at what they discovered, with many of the dive sites offering a kaleidoscope of colour, abundance of marine life and it was a scuba divers paradise.
Scuba Diving on Koh Tao
The first Koh Tao diving centers opened in the early 1990’s and Koh Tao evolved from being a local economy of fisherman and farmers to a popular transit stop on the south east Asian backpacker trail.
As word got around, it wasn’t long before backpacks where replaced by flashbacks, suitcases and the old wooden ferries became modern, high speed catamarans.
Amazing Marine Life
Today Koh Tao is known as one of the most beautiful islands in the world with a sub tropical climate, a warm sea and is surrounded by 8 kilometres of coral reef with a year round scuba diving calendar.
Annually Koh Tao attracts over 400,000 tourists from every corner of the globe, who visit the island to enjoy lazy beach days, learn to scuba dive, swim and snorkel or indulge in the many social activities available.
Although known as a scuba diving mecca with some of the most experienced PADI Course Directors and Instructor trainers in the world based on Koh Tao, there is so much more available to visitors than scuba diving.
Modern Amenities on Koh Tao
Whilst retaining an idyllic charm, Koh Tao has adapted to the needs of foreign travellers with modern 5 star resorts, new concrete road infrastructure and modern tele-communication systems.
Thailand telecoms providers operate fast networks, even on the high speed boats that cross the sea to reach here, in addition to fast WIFI available in almost every venue on the island.
Lots of Things to do
With many from the expat community having lived on the island for over 25 years, many local businesses reflect western tastes, including restaurants, bars, adventure and sports activities.
Local shopping is more than adequate with mini supermarkets, grocery shops, food stalls, along with essentials such as, pharmacies, banks, ATM’s, medical services, a local hospital and some popular branded clothing.
For more mainstream international brands, deliveries to Koh Tao from all over the world take a matter of days with courier deliveries taking place daily across the island.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Koh Tao in Thailand?
Koh Tao is located approximately 70 kilometers from the mainland and is a small tropical island with lush green jungle, white sandy beaches and surrounded by a warm sea.
The island is unique in Thailand as it is surrounded by over 8 kilometres of vibrant and diverse coral reef and the island is the most popular destination in the world to learn to scuba dive.
Is Koh Tao easy to get to?
Koh Tao has daily high-speed ferry services and a night boat service from three main locations: Chumphon, Surat Thani and Koh Samui.
The island can be reached by ferry in approximately 90 minutes and you can relax and enjoy refreshments and air conditioning on your journey.
What is there to do on Koh Tao?
Koh Tao is world famous for its scuba diving and is visited by tourists from around the world who want to learn how to scuba dive and develop their advanced scuba skills.
The island is also extremely popular for snorkeling and day visitors from the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, who visit to take advantage of the unique and abundant marine diversity.
Koh Tao offers visitors modern infrastructure and amenities with high speed wifi, access to many viewpoints, beaches, hiking trails, water-sports, restaurants, café’s, social scene and the nightlife.
Is Koh Tao a safe place to visit?
Yes, Koh Tao is a very safe destination for international and local visitors including families, couples and single travellers.
Like every other destination in the world, visitors need to use common sense when planning a trip and be respectful of local laws and regulations.
Our immediate advice is to message us direct and we can answer any of your questions regarding travel, where to stay and what to do when you get here.
Is there a temple on Koh Tao?
The beautifully designed Koh Tao temple is located on the main road and just a few minutes walk from the main village of Mae Haad.
When visiting Koh Tao temple, please wear appropriate clothing and show consideration to local and cultural traditions when taking photographs or visiting.
It is inappropriate to be wearing little clothing when visiting any temple in Thailand and when visiting local shopping areas – keep it exclusively for the beach.
Can I exchange foreign currency on Koh Tao?
Yes, banks on Koh Tao can facilitate money exchange and there are many independent shops who can exchange money for a small fee.
You can also withdraw cash from ATM machines but will be charged a local bank fee and your international bank fee for the transaction.
Like anywhere else in the world, do not carry lots of cash with you that can be misplaced and use common sense and respect if bargaining for a product or service.
Is it easy to find accommodation on Koh Tao?
Yes, there are many hotels, hostels, private bungalows and resorts for you to choose from and you should message and book in advance if it is high season.
You need to decide what your budget is for the period of time you want to stay and then find suitable accommodation within that price range.
We can assist with your accommodation needs and can answer any questions you have by sending us a message with your planned itinerary.
What else is there to do on Koh Tao besides Scuba Diving?
Although Koh Tao breathes scuba diving, the island is also very popular for a wide range of outdoor activities.
You can choose from Yoga, Snorkeling, Thai Cooking, Hiking, Paddleboarding, Kayaking, Mini Golf, Flying Trapeze, Rock Climbing, Muay Thai, Gyms and there is a very active restaurant, food and social nightlife scene.
There are idyllic resorts and private villas for peace and tranquility, amazing beaches and you can enjoy day trips around the island or to Koh Nang Yuan island.
When is the High Season on Koh Tao?
Koh Tao traditionally has two high seasons from January to April and from July into September, which can vary either way by a couple of weeks.
However, Koh Tao enjoys great weather for most of the year and scuba diving and snorkeling is available 365 days a year.
The months in between the official high season can also see large numbers of visitors due to the consistently good weather.
What is the weather like on Koh Tao?
The weather on Koh Tao is generally split into two main monsoon seasons; the south west monsoon and the north east monsoon.
It is best to describe Koh Tao weather as ‘type of weather’, rather than seasons, which can be; cool and dry, hot and dry, hot and wet and monsoon.
Cool means 25 degrees centigrade+ and hot can be anything up to and around 40 degrees with a daily average of around 32 degrees centigrade and variable humidity.
Koh Tao is in close proximity to the tropical equator and enjoys equal amounts of daylight each day with almost set times for sunrise and sunsets all year round.