What to do on Koh Tao

Why visit Koh Tao?

Koh Tao is the smallest of the trio of popular islands in the Gulf of Thailand but don’t let its small size fool you. The island may only be 21km² – tiny in comparison to its neighbors Koh Phangan & Koh Samui but the island is packed with things to do and places to stay for travelers from any background. Backpackers, families & luxury travelers alike will all fall in love with Koh Tao’s charm.

Cliff jumping, snorkeling, partying, getting your Scuba Diving License, relaxing on beaches, amazing sunsets & more, Koh Tao really has it all.

Tanote Bay – Cliff jumping and snorkelling on Koh Tao’s east side

Tanote Bay is located on the East side of Koh Tao around an 8-minute drive from Mae Haad and 10 minute drive from Koh Tao’s main beach, Sairee – taxis are easy to find on Koh Tao or see our guide here for renting a scooter on Koh Tao.

All buildings are set back from the beach creating lots of space and privacy for sunbathers and Tanote bay offers some of the best snorkelling on Koh Tao. A variety of beautiful coral and large fish can be seen just a few steps into the water – kayaks can also be rented and a few other smaller, less accessible beaches including Laem Thien can be accessed by kayaking a little further around Tanote Bays coastline.

Tanote Bay cliff jumping

This beautiful beach is surrounded by lush, green mountains and large boulders including one large boulder about a 50meter swim away from shore that can be climbed and jumped off. This cliff jumping spot is not for the feint hearted and is only accessible by first swimming and then climbing a long rope onto the top of the rock. If you’re feeling brave enough to jump don’t forget your GoPro to capture the moment!

Exploring Koh Tao by Scooter or Motorbike

Taxi’s aren’t cheap here on Koh Tao and the short 2-3km ride from the Mae Haad pier to Sairee Beach will already cost you 200thb for the short trip. Taxis are even more expensive for longer journeys to any of Koh Taos viewpoints, beaches or bays – sometimes costing up to 500thb each way.

Renting a scooter or motorbike on Koh Tao

Expensive taxis make renting a scooter or motorbike the much more cost effective way of getting around and also provides you with a lot more flexibility. Scooters or motorbikes can be rented for as little as 200thb per day – see our full guide of where to rent and how to drive safely on Koh Tao here.

Where to go once you have your motorbike or scooter

Once you have your motorbike make sure you grab a free Koh Tao map from your hostel, hotel, dive centre or travel agent to help you get around.

All of Koh Tao’s beaches and bays have something different to offer and the island has lots of amazing viewpoints to explore.

Our favourite beaches and bays for snorkelling and relaxing are Tanote Bay, Ao Leuk bay (which also has an awesome restaurant – the perfect spot for lunch with a view), Shark Bay (Thian Og Bay) which frequently has large turtle and black tip reef sharks, Sai Deng Beach & freedom beach which is lined with hammocks right where the ocean meets the sand. The most popular viewpoints can also be seen on the map and our favourites are Mango View Point, Two View & John-Suwan Rock. You might not have time for all of them, but try and check out as many as you can!

Snorkelling & Scuba Diving on Koh Tao

Koh Tao has something that neither Koh Phangan or Koh Samui can offer in abundance – amazing snorkelling and scuba diving. Koh Tao’s crystal clear waters are often calm and its easily accessible dive sites and beaches make snorkelling and scuba diving a breeze for divers and snorkelers of any experience level.

Koh Tao is home to over 20 dive sites and 50 dive schools and is one of the cheapest places in the world to get your Open Water Diving License. Because of the cheap price & beautiful dive sites 1000’s of experienced scuba dive instructors call Koh Tao home.

Open Water Scuba Divers on Koh Tao

koh tao diving courseGetting your Open Water Divers License on Koh Tao with Phoenix Divers

Cheap price, beautiful diving & experienced instructors really does make Koh Tao the best place to get your divers license. Here at Phoenix Divers we offer this diving license for only 8,500thb including your accommodation for 4 nights. Find out more here.

Snorkelling on Koh Tao

Don’t think Scuba Diving is for you? No worries, check out Tanote Bay, Ao Leuk bay, Shark Bay (Thian Og) & Sai Deng beach for awesome snorkelling. Or do one of the many snorkelling tours that can be booked at most hostels, hotels or travel agents that goes all the way around the island and stops off at the most popular snorkelling spots.

Getting your Open Water Divers License on Koh Tao with Phoenix Divers

Cheap price, beautiful diving & experienced instructors really does make Koh Tao the best place to get your divers license. Here at Phoenix Divers we offer this diving license for only 8,500thb including your accommodation for 4 nights. Find out more here.

Snorkelling on Koh Tao

Don’t think Scuba Diving is for you? No worries, check out Tanote Bay, Ao Leuk bay, Shark Bay (Thian Og) & Sai Deng beach for awesome snorkelling. Or do one of the many snorkelling tours that can be booked at most hostels, hotels or travel agents that goes all the way around the island and stops off at the most popular snorkelling spots.

koh tao diving course

Visiting beautiful Koh Nangyuan, a paradise island just off the coast of Koh Tao

When you research any trip to Thailand any travel blog, website or travel guide will without a doubt have a picture of Koh Nangyuan. It’s white sand bar connects three small islands to form beautiful Nangyuan island. This picture perfect island is a must see on your trip to Koh Tao and the island view point is the ideal place to snap your new profile picture.

How to get to Nangyuan Island

Want to swim? Forget about it. Koh Nangyuan looks like it’s close to Koh Tao but unless you’re Michael Phelps the swim is extremely challenging and the small channel between Koh Tao and Koh Nangyuan often gets very busy with Dive Boats and ferries.

Taxi boats are the best way to get to Nangyuan and the price often depends on your negotiating skills. Often the cheapest way is to get a group together and share the cost of the boat – the picturesque journey from Koh Tao to Nangyuan takes around 20 minutes.

What to do on Koh Nangyuan Island

Snorkeling on Nangyuan – Koh Nangyuan is home to Japanese Gardens and Twins Pinnacles, two of the most famous scuba diving and snorkeling spots in the world. A large chunk of these two dive sites can also be seen from the surface and snorkelers are spoilt with a diverse amount of marine life and corals including the odd reef shark and turtle.

Nangyuan Viewpoint – The islands viewpoint is absolutely breathtaking, the short hike to the top will leave you with a view to die for and is one of the most famous and widely used photos of Thailand so don’t forget your camera!

Hiking to the abandoned Resort in Laem Thian, one of Koh Tao’s lesser known bays

One of Koh Tao’s best kept secrets is Leam Thian, a beautiful small bay way off the beaten track. You will almost be guaranteed privacy at this little beach and the untouched reef is home to a whole bunch of diverse coral and marine life including turtles and reef sharks.

How to get to Koh Tao’s best kept secret

Laem Thian used to be home to a hotel which has since closed down, the road to the bay has now become overgrown and is now only accessible by walking or taking a taxi boat. You can drive only as far as the ‘Tarna Align Resort’ and will then have to leave your motorbike, scooter or taxi there. The walk is then approx. 1 hour on a steep and uneven dirt track but Laem Thian is definitely worth the effort. Make sure you bring plenty of water, some snacks, your own snorkelling equipment & of course your camera for some top quality, Instagram worthy photos.

Paddle boarding on Sairee Beach for the famous Koh Tao sunset

The sunsets on Koh Tao are nothing short of breath-taking. The sun sets in the middle of west facing Sairee Beach and there really is nothing quite like it. Being out on a paddle board makes this experience even better and boards can be rented from ‘Maya bar’ per hour or per day for a varying cost (between 250 & 800thb). Maya bar is conveniently located just next door to our Dive School on Sairee Beach.

Watching a Fire Show and enjoying Sairee Beaches vibrant nightlife

Sairee Beach is Koh Tao’s most popular beach and is home to the islands best bars. Luckily for us at Phoenix Divers we’re located just a 100 meters away to three of the best beach bars on the island. Fishbowl beach bar, Leo bar & Bar Next Door Beach Club all have fire dancers performing every night and great deals and happy hours for your favourite cocktails or local beers.