The Story of Koh Tao or Turtle Island is one of relatively recent times. Once Fishermen used to come here to shelter from storms or take a break from their weary travels.
Just before the turn of the century the King of Thailand paid a visit to Koh Tao & laid his mark upon Jor Por Rock on the southern end of Sairee Beach.
From the early 1930’s Koh Tao became a prisoner colony used to house political prisoners, until 1947 when the then Thai Prime Minister pardoned all the prisoners on the island.
So the island became abandoned again but only for a short time as later that same year a couple of Fishermen set sail on their boat for Koh Tao from Koh Phangan. They claimed for themselves a healthy chunk of land, Sairee Beach, and after bringing their families over began to cultivate the soil. Koh Tao’s first family had arrived!
They harvested coconuts, grew veggies & fished & gradually began to trade with their nearest neighbour Koh Phangan, and by so doing brought over more workers & steadily the Koh Tao population grew.
By the 80’s backpackers were beginning to come to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan & as the boats became bigger faster & safer they started coming to Koh Tao.
One of the first pioneers at this time was an Italian man who would bring divers from Koh Samui for an overnight diving safari to Koh Tao. He founded Red Rock, White Rock & Green Rock named them after the colors of the Italian flag, & became the first dive shop on Koh Tao.
Then one day in 1990 a tall Swede started his Open Water Dive Course. He liked it & did some more courses, and within the year had opened for himself the second dive shop on Koh Tao- Big Blue Diving. Koh Tao was now truly open for business.
In recent years the islands reputation as one of a quiet tropical paradise has spread. Word of its diverse marine life, & coral reefs made Koh Tao quickly become one of Thailands major diving destinations attracting beginners & professionals alike. And the local businesses have done well to cater to the ever-changing needs of the new arrivals in Koh Tao, catering for all budgets.
In years past, it would be fair to say that there wasn't much to do on Koh Tao other than diving! Well years have past and now there are many of things to do &and get involved with on Koh Tao.
Rock Climbing. Koh Tao has always has some amazing rock formations just right for climbing. But not until 2008 has someone mapped out the best sites on the island and cleared some paths to make the sites accessible. Our staff can point you to this company who can take you to the best climbing spots on the island, as well as rent you all the gear you need. Climbing courses available for beginners to advanced.Mountain Biking. More than half the roads on the far side of Koh Tao are unpaved. Just miles and miles of unpaved, untrafficked, and rugged terrain, just waiting to be raced over with a tough mountain bike. There are several places on the island where you can rent a mountain bike starting at just 150b per day.
Motor-cross. For a bit more juice, try the same trails on a 250cc dirt bike. Reach some of the most inaccessible places on the island and give yourself a thrill while doing it.
Freediving. Scuba diving is still very much the largest activity on the island, but now you can also take a breath hold diving course where they guarantee you can learn to dive 30 meters deep without a tank - just on a single breath of air!! There are 2 & 3 day courses starting every other day.
Wakeboarding. Being a tropical island you would expect a lot of activities to revolve round water sports. Koh Tao can offer you aqua-based adrenalin in the form of wind surfing, water skiing, wake boarding, kayaking & everybody's favourite tubular activity- snorkeling. You can hire a private longtail boat to take you to any number of secluded bays and beaches scattered all around the island, or sign up for chartered trips which leave daily and hit all the popular spots! We can help you with booking any watersports activity you're after.
Thai Cooking Classes. There are many great restaurants here in Koh Tao, a number of which are owned by western entrepreneurs which gives authenticity to our western food! Thai restaurants are also very popular, extremely tasty and very affordable. Which has led to a demand in Koh Tao for authentic Thai cooking classes. There are several places on the island you can take a cooking class where you will do everything from going to the local market to buy the ingredients to cleaning, splicing & dicing, cooking & the real secret spicing!
Yoga Classes. Koh Tao has some of the most amazingly tranquil spots for Yoga. There are several Yoga centers on the island in a variety of settings from mountain retreats to deserted sandy beaches. Some of our staff have been to these and we can tell you about them so you can decide which one might be right for you.
Kick a Friend Today. Thai Kick Boxing (known as Muay Thai) is a sport that is quickly gaining popularity around the world. The Island Muay Thai training center trains fighters from first-timers to pros. Some of the staff have competed and won nationally. They can show you some basic moves in a one-day training session, or get you fight ready in a month. They have matches about every 3 weeks which usually draws a huge crowd of locals on fight night.
Minigolf and Bowling The most unique bowling alley in Thailand. Games are played on hand-built lanes with regulation pins. Your score is relayed by the friendly guy at the end of the lane who signals your score with one hand as he sets the pins back up with the other. Maybe the only manual bowling alley in the country. Too classic to miss. Next to the bowling alley is an 18-hole miniature golf course, perfect for the kids and kids-at-heart.Nightlife
Koh Tao offers a wide range of nocturnal activities perfect to celebrate finishing your Open Water course. Sairee beach is the heart of Koh Tao's nightlife. There are about 5 beach bars along Sairee beach, including Big Blue's Beach Bar. These 5 bars are all located right on the waters edge and are the perfect place to grab a cocktail or post-dive beer and watch the sun go down. Sairee beach faces west and has magnificent sunsets year-round. About 10pm most of these bars close up, and anyone looking to stay out later can head down the beach a bit further. Theres a variety of late night clubs which stay open late, some even until the sun comes up. Fortunately, they're far enough down the beach that you can come back and get a quiet night's sleep once you've had your fill.
Once a month, a place a resort on Koh Tao hosts the hilltop party. If you're in to a really long, steep hike, and then partying with a few hundred people in a clearing on the top of a mountain, then this is for you.
Theres also several pool halls on the island with quality regulation pool and snooker tables.
Koh Tao gets very quiet around the full moon, as every party person in Thailand heads to the world famous Full Moon Party in Koh Pha-Ngan, the island right next to Koh Tao. A popular option to avoid being room-less in Koh Pha-Ngan is to actually stay on Koh Tao and just take the FullMoon "party boat" over. The boat leaves here at 6pm, gets you right to the party beach by 7:30, and lets you go all night and then brings you back at 6am. No worrying about trying to find accommodation at one of the worlds biggest parties.
So if you're in to chilled nights on the beach with friends, or all night parties, Koh Tao does offer it all.
A few years ago Koh Tao had no ATMs. Now, you cant walk 5 minutes without seeing several. With most machines, you can use any major type of card, Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Plus, etc. There are Thai banks on Koh Tao where you could cash travelers cheques, as well as licenced money changers.
There are a number of clinics on the island staffed by medical professionals. We have one doctor on the island for serious emergencies. More importantly there are 2 diving medical facilities on the island with an international staff of highly trained professionals able to treat any diving injury. There are dozens of pharmacies on the island able to fill out any prescription and offer you all of your western style hygiene products.
There are about six 7-11 stores. No Starbucks, McDonalds or Burger King, and we like it that way.
We have one big department store with a fix-it section to get all the bits and bobs to make any backpacking repairs you might need. Most of the local artisans still operate in the same tiny stalls they've had for years: they carve, braid, string, and twist up jewelry during the day and sell it at night. There are clothing stores selling everything from cheap t-shirts to the latest fashions. CDs and DVDs can be found in most trafficked areas. Sunglasses can be bought on every street corner. All sorts of diving equipment can be found at competitive prices. You can buy any size backpack or bag you might need for your trip in one of the many bag shops. There is a custom wetsuit shop who can make you a diving wetsuit designed like your favorite superhero.
2 real estate agents on the island can help you find your own personal piece of paradise. If you think this doesn't apply to you, wait until you get here. 90% of the full time residents came here for a 4-day stop, and just never left.
What is the weather like?
Whats the weather like right now!
The great thing about Koh Tao is that because it is just a small island, we can travel around the whole place by boat in less than an hour. Which means then that whenever the weather is bad & blustery & there are big seas then we can always find a suitable, calm area, where the visibility hasn’t been too disturbed, to dive at throughout the year.
In addition, because Koh Tao is just a small landmass the growing rain clouds that form often don’t unleash their aquatic unpleasantness till they are over the larger landmasses of our neighbours Koh Samui & Koh Phangan. So when our friends there are getting soaked our friends here are soaking in sunshine.
January & February-
Are perfect beautiful months of sunshine, flat seas & swimming off the beach. The water on the west coast of the island is completely flat calm but visibility can be a little temperamental with the knock on effects of monsoon seas especially in early Jan. February tends to be gorgeous! & heaps of sharks!
March, April & May- Summer time!
Gets hot! April gets really hot! But the water is fine, & everyday is guaranteed sunshine. And gorgeous sunsets! Can get some good tropical style thunderstorms at this time of year especially at dusk but they’re usually on the mainland, which can make for quite a spectacle sitting on the beach in Koh Tao while looking at the thunderbolts of lightening on the mainland. Water clarity is best at this time of year & your chances of seeing Whalesharks are much higher than at any other time of year.
June, July & August-
The wind turns at this time of year & the west coast of the island experiences a fresh cooling breeze & occasional days of relatively big waves. Afternoon storms can be very typical especially in August but they don’t last long & weather is still generally pretty sunny throughout the day. Diving is best on the East side of the island where it is flat calm, crystal clear & teeming with marine life. A good season for turtles too.
September & October-
Very beautiful long sunny days, calm flat seas & superb diving. Water & Air temperature drops a little as we enter the ‘winter’ months but still tropical. Average daytime air & water temperature 30 degrees. Heaps of fish, high potential of seeing whalesharks, & not so many divers- Quiet season!
November & December -Monsoon Season!
Koh Tao doesn’t suffer from your usual movie monsoon madness, as it isn’t relentless rain for days on end. A typical monsoon usually consists of a couple of weeks on & off of impressively hard rain & quite a lot of wind. The visibility gets stirred up & the swell can be rather unpleasant. The journey to Koh Tao at this time of the year is definitely going to be bouncy. Do please take seasickness pills!
From Bangkok, you can get bus & ferry combination tickets to Koh Tao (via Chumphon) with Lomprayah (www.lomprayah.com ) for around 850 Baht. Alternatively, if your schedule is tight and your budget is right, you can can fly to Koh Samui with Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com ) and get the Lomprayah fast ferry across to Koh Tao.
From Koh Samui & Koh Phangan
We recommend the Lomprayah ferry or Seatran service from Koh Samui (450-550 Baht) via Koh Phangan (150-250 Baht). The movie and air-conditioning help you cool and entertained and maybe even keep your mind off your post Full Moon party hangover!
There are several ferry companies that operate daily services direct to Koh Tao from Chumphon. We recommend the Lomprayah Catamaran (www.lomprayah.com ) or the Seatran Ferry (www.seatrandiscovery.com )or the Songserm Ferry and Koh Tao Cruiser for around 550 Baht.
From Surat Thani
The night boat leaves Surat Thani at 11pm, takes 9 hours and costs around 400 baht. A pretty basic means of travel! Be warned.
You can fly to Koh Samui from many airports, including Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Phuket, with Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) and get the Lomprayah fast ferry (www.lomprayah.com ) or the Seatran Ferry (www.seatrandiscovery.com ) across to Koh Tao.
Big Blue Diving Resort - Koh Tao.
Situated half-way up Sairee Beach on the west facing side of the island is Big Blue Diving Resort. We are right on the beach & just behind Sairee Village, only a minutes walk away.
17/18 Moo 1, Koh Tao, Surat Thani 84280, Thailand
Tel: +66 77 456 415 Fax: +66 77 456 772 Mob: +66 0819205698
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