Exploring on Koh Tao -
Our staff at Island Travel Agency are often asked where they recommend to go exploring on Koh Tao, and what are the ‘must-do’ places, attractions, and activities. Normally, once we know what kind of thing you are looking for and how much time you have, we can help with info on the best snorkel spots, best beaches, and an overall list of things to do on Koh Tao during your stay. But…if you are staying a little longer or want to get off the beaten track and take exploring Koh Tao to a different level, we do have some well-kept secrets we are happy to let you in on…
- Snorkel the Mae Haad Wreck
Tucked into the south end of Mae Haad Bay, you’ll find the small wreck of an old night boat that sank during Typhoon Gaye back in 1989. Normally wrecks are too deep to be enjoyed while snorkeling, but this one is definitely too shallow to warrant a scuba dive. Depending on the tide, the wreck sits anywhere between the surface and 2-3metres deep, so it is the perfect depth to swim and snorkel around and it offers a completely different experience to all of the island’s other snorkeling spots. As with most wrecks, this one provides shelter and habitats to a variety of marine life, so there is normally plenty of fish to see.
One of the best things about this wreck is that it is so easy to access, as it’s less than a 10 minute walk from the main pier and a couple of minutes swim from the shore. Despite this, most tourists don’t even know it’s there, let alone visit it. So this should definitely be on your list for exploring Koh Tao.
- Visit the Deserted Resort and Go Cliff Jumping at Laem Thien
Truly one of the most remote, unique, and interesting spots to explore on Koh Tao, Laem Thien is located on the east side of the island and is only accessible by foot or by boat. What makes it so special is the deserted resort that is located there. Abandoned since 2011, it has now been taken over by nature, but many parts are still accessible to look around. The rooftop of the old hotel building provides a fabulous lookout down the east coast past Tanote Bay and Aow Leuk, and across to Shark Island. Aside from the main hotel building, there are many wooden cabins scattered around the hillside, but do be careful when you are exploring as most of them are very overgrown. The wooden floors and stilts are covered in vines and are unlikely to be stable enough to support much weight.
Laem Thien is also a fantastic spot for snorkeling, so don’t forget to take your mask and fins. Plus, on the rocky outcroppings around the headland, it’s possible to cliff jump from a few of the boulders. There are 3 metre, 9 metre and 12 metre jumping rocks, but we do recommend caution if you don’t know the area or visit with someone who does. Laem Thien is very remote, and there is rarely any phone signal there in the event you get into any difficulty.
You can read more about Laem Thien Bay on our beaches and bays pages and on our advanced dive sites page.
- Get Your Hiking Shoes On!
Exploring Koh Tao by foot is one of the best ways to get off the beaten track, see some of the island’s fantastic nature, and visit some of the more remote and least visited landmarks. There are hiking trails stretching the length and breadth of the island in all directions, so all you need is a pair of trainers and you’re good to go! You can get recommendations from any of the island locals, ask us at Island Travel Agency, or alternatively join an organised hiking tour. Our own personal favourites are:
- Koh Tao Lighthouse
- Grape View – which looks out over Koh NangYuan Island
- The coastline hike from Chalok Baan Khao to Mae Haad Bay
- Tanote Peak Viewpoint, passing by West Coast Viewpoint on the way
- Visit the Koh Tao Animal Clinic
Founded in 2002, the Koh Tao Animal Clinic is located in Mae Haad and is well known by most residents, but not so much by short term visitors. In addition to acting as a regular veterinary clinic for pets owned by Koh Tao locals, the Koh Tao Animal Clinic also works with strays and community animals. More often than not, you’ll find lots of adorable kittens and puppies who are in temporary shelter at the clinic while they wait to be fostered or adopted. So if you are missing your animal fix, pop in for some cuddle and petting time! The clinic is always looking for people who would be happy to spend time with the animals, or even take a dog or two down to the beach for a little while. They actively encourage drop-in visits and welcomes volunteers, so for the ultimate feel-good factor and to see a different side to life on Koh Tao, we recommend you stop by during your stay.
- Swim with Juvenile Blacktip Reef Sharks
For a few weeks per year, juvenile blacktip reef sharks can be seen in the shallows at a number of bays on the east coast of the island. It really is an incredible feeling to be in the water with sharks, and as these juveniles are just a few inches long, it is an incredibly safe experience. The baby sharks (do do do do do do! Gotcha, it’s in your head now!) cruise around in the water as shallow as 50cm, providing a once in a lifetime opportunity to swim and snorkel with them. Each one is such an incredible perfect mini version of the apex predator they will ultimately become. Nature really is amazing!
Editors Choice: Bans Conservation Centre
If you are interested in the environment, reducing your carbon footprint, and generally living a more sustainable lifestyle, then a tour of the Bans Conservation Centre is a must. As a large resort with an attached dive centre and several satellite businesses in the form of cafes and restaurants etc, its an incredible achievement that the Bans Group have become self-sustainable for everyday fruit and vegetables, water, and organic products like soaps, shampoo, detergents, and cleaning fluids etc.
Eco tours run three times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 077456466 for more details.