Aahhhhh, Koh Tao. What a magical little island, a gem in the Gulf of Thailand. Full of just enough restaurants to have competition (read: good food), not built up enough to have lost all culture and nature. Scuba diving mecca. Awesome beaches. Wonderful hiking. What’s not to love about Koh Tao?
We stayed in the Chalok Baan Kao area on Koh Tao, at Taraporn Resort. It was your quintessential shit hole of a beach bungalow. But the view, oh the view… perfection.
To get to our bungalow, you have to walk behind the 7/11, through the Sunshine Dive Resort, across the bay, over some very sketchy wooden walkways, through an over-water restaurant and past Alvaro Diving. All part of the ambiance.
We spent most of our time on the island of Koh Tao diving (we got our open water scuba diving certification), but took 2 full days off to explore the island via motorbike and on foot.
Our first stop was the overlook of Koh Nang Yuan near Dusit Buncha Resort on the northwest side of the island.
Next stop: beach hopping. Aow Leuk Beach boasts great snorkeling and swimming. We stayed in the blazing sun for as long as we could take it, then packed up in search for some shade and some lunch.
Freedom beach, our favorite beach by far on Koh Tao, offered a quiet, smaller and shadier spotdotted with gorgeous sprawling trees. I adored the washed up corals people had strung and tied to the tree limbs.
Just before the access point to Freedom Beach is a wonderful hiking spot to a spectacular viewpoint. While most of the trail is pretty easy, getting up the colossal rocks at the end can be a little treacherous (in flop-flops). You’ve been warned. If you take a wrong turn, you get super close to “wildlife” in what we dubbed “Mosquito Forest”.
After we got back on the right path, we climbed up a thousand giant boulders (I’m pretty sure we took the wrong/long way around)….
The view at the top was breathtaking. We were fortunate to have it all to ourselves for at least 20 minutes, in awe of the beauty nature can create.
If you’re looking for more hiking around the island, check out this hike to Mango Point or Fraggle Rock. After a nice little hike, you deserve good food, and Koh Tao does not disappoint. The famous banana pancakes were a fantastic (and almost nightly) treat.
Where we stayed: Taraporn Resort. It was 600Baht (roughly $18), had hot water, no aircon, and manual flush toilets. We found most of the quirks of this place charming, but luxury it was not.
Would we go again? Absolutely! It was an adorable little island, with loads of restaurants and so many different atmospheres. Great hiking, beaches and diving… something for everyone! Many people come for a visit and end up staying, and I can see why.
Getting there: This was by far the most difficult part of Koh Tao. We flew to Koh Samui, then took a ferry to Koh Tao. On the way out, we took a ferry to Chumphon and flew into Bangkok. There are bus/train and ferry options, but they take far longer and we were limited on time. Even the ferry/plane combo still took 6-7 hours. Just a note about Thailand in general: I swear people here don’t wear watches. Nothing is EVER on time… just relax and go with the flow.
Accommodations on Koh Tao
There aren’t many options on Koh Tao, which is part of this little island’s charm. If any of the below options don’t suit you, there’s always Airbnb, and with this link you’ll get a free $25 credit towards your next stay at any Airbnb property!
Taraporn Resort – This is where we chose to stay. It was 600Baht (roughly $18), had hot water, no aircon, and manual flush toilets. We found most of the quirks of this place charming, but luxury it was not. Book online through Alvaro Diving, or just walk up to the restaraunt when you get there.
Jamahkiri Spa & Resort – A great choice on the south side of the island, with really great views. Definitely a higher pricetag than Taraporn, but quite possibly worth it. Range: $115-$200 US for a double.
View Point Resort – With rooms starting at $60USD and great views from the resort, this hotel is a good option for those wanting to be near Chalok Baan Kao,
Koh Tao Bamboo Huts – A pricey (~$200+USD) but very unique option on the southwest side of the island. Each hut is positioned right on the water, and the resort is just gorgeous and boasts it’s own private beach.
Samantha Bed and Breakfast – a small B&B with no frills but clean and close to the height of the action at Sairree Beach. It’s affordable too at around $45 USD, including breakfast.
Looking for everything else we did in Thailand? Check out our Thailand Roundup!