The name “Koh Tao” in Thai actually means “Turtle Island”,and it’s only about a century ago that the island’s only populace were sea turtles!.
The island was then used as a prison due to it’s remoteness & distance from the mainland. Sometime in the 1930s the political prisoners were pardoned and released. The prisoners took their stakes in the island and brought over their families. This brought about the first settlers on Koh Tao.
For many decades Koh Tao was a very quiet small island whose inhabitants were the descendants of those first settlers. Their main source of income were fishing, coconut and vegetable planting which they traded to nearby Koh Phangan.
Life remained simple & uncluttered on Koh Tao right up until just 20 years ago when the first backpackers hit Koh Tao’s trail, this was the natural progression that followed the backpacker “invasion” of Koh Samui.
Today, Koh Tao’s crystal clear blue-green seas are a “mecca” for diver’s the world over. It’s just a 2-hour boat ride from Koh Samui, & without doubt offers some of, if not the best Dive Sites in the whole of the Gulf of Thailand.
Don’t know how to scuba dive? No fret as there are diving schools to meet your every need. If you feel that diving is not just for you, you can opt to take up snorkeling for a day at the beautiful waters of Koh Nang Yuan.
Koh Tao’s perimeter is dotted with beaches. Whatever your needs are, there is a perfect Beach Resort for you. Most beaches are highly developed but nevertheless still managed to keep and maintain some degree of quaintness.
Some of the more popular beaches are: Mae Haad, Sairee Beach, June Juea Beach, and Cape Jeda Jang. Cape Jeda Jang is a highly private beach compared to the others in Koh Tao. Tanote Bay is like Cape Jeda Jang as both could only be reached by water taxis. Hin Wong Bay and Ao Leuk are also worthy for their diving sites.
Getting to Koh Tao is a breeze. From Bangkok take a flight to either Suratthani, Koh Samui or Chumphon province then a boat ride to Koh Tao. There are also bus and train transport to either Surathani or Chumphon then continue to Koh Tao by boat.The two-stage travel is not much of a problem thought as you will be engaged in the beautiful sceneries.
The weather in Koh Tao is similar to Koh Samui, in that it is tropical, with high humidity, with almost daily showers albeit “short & sharp”, 30 minutes later the sun has dried everywhere again. The Rainy Season runs from June to end of October, with the worst weather usually August-October.
You are best to get around the island by renting motorbikes, just be careful though on the mostly unpaved roads. There is also no electricity on the island except for the generators used in the hotelsand resorts.
Telephone communications are as you would normally find on any island, cell phones are also catered for, if you haven’t already brought aT-Mobile prepaid phone with you.
All things considered, if water sports is a keen interest of yours Koh Tao is an absolute must visit destination.
If you have been to Koh Tao before, and have really great memories of places to stay, visit, beaches or just fun things that happened, please share your Koh Tao Memories here.