Koh Tao, a small island off Surat Thani near Koh Samui, covers an area of just 20 square kilometers, but it's widely accepted as being one of the best diving sites in the Gulf of Thailand.
The inviting clear waters around the island are almost turquoise in color, while coconut plantations still cover much of the landmass.
The easiest ways of getting around the island are by songthaew (a kind of pick-up truck with bench seats), or you can hire a mountain bike or a motorcycle if you're feeling a little more adventurous.
Kong Hin Khao and Kong Hin Khiao are popular places to visit on the island among divers since these overlaying rocks feature submarine alcoves, where lots of various species of fish and marine life can be seen. Examples of the extremely rare Black-Eared Shark have been spotted by the mouth of Ao Thian Nok ('Thian Nok Bay')
Adjacent to Koh Tao is Koh Nangyuan, a coral island featuring long, white sandy beaches, and another popular destination for snorkeling.
It's said that the best time to visit the island is during December through April. You could also visit during the rainy season (May to October), but obviously you would have to be prepared to face showers or rainstorms.
You can reach the island by boat from Koh Samui (350 baht [US$10]). Boats depart at 11 am and the trip to Koh Tao takes about two-and-a-half hours (via Koh Pha-ngan).
Speedboats leave Maenam Pier on Koh Samui bound for Koh Tao at 8 am – the fare is 550 baht. Contact Lomprayah (Tel: +66
- 7 742 7765) or Songserm Travel (Tel: +66
- 7 742 0157) for details.
Those who enjoy traveling at night might wish to consider a boat departing Surat Thani at 8 pm. It arrives on Koh Tao at 8 am, and the fare is 250 baht.