Koh Tao (Turtle Island) is a small paradise island located to the east in the Gulf of Thailand. Known for being one of the most popular destinations for its cheap diving, Koh Tao has a lot more to offer than just that. Over the years this island has grown in popularity even for those not interested in diving, and rightly so as there are a lot of other things to do on Koh Tao besides diving.
Whether it’s exploring the beautiful beaches, hiking through its tropical jungle, or visiting the panoramic viewpoints. You will surely find something to make you fall in love with this gem of an island.
We have spent a lot of time living and working here and have explored every inch of this island. Knowing Koh Tao like the back of our hands, we have put together the only guide you will need for things to do on Koh Tao.
Find out the best location for you on where to stay on Koh Tao.
Things To Do On Koh Tao
Koh Tao is a really popular destination when it comes to getting your dive certificates and it’s easy to see why. The dive sites are abundant, the island is beautiful, and more importantly, it’s one of the cheapest places in the world to dive.
When it comes to picking a dive school, you will be spoiled for choice. For such a small island, there are over 80 different dive schools operating here. You can easily see why diving is on top of most people’s list of things to do on Koh Tao.
We have done a lot of diving on Koh Tao and highly recommend Mojo Divers in Sairee. These guys are brilliant, have great instructors and will accommodate you as best as they can.
Snorkelling Around Koh Tao
Spending your day out snorkelling is one of the best things to do on Koh Tao. If you don’t have any interest in diving but still want to explore its beautiful waters, then don’t worry. Koh Tao has some great snorkelling spots where you can swim with sharks and if you’re lucky, a turtle or two.
Our three favourite snorkelling spots are Japanese Gardens, Aow Leuk and Shark Bay. Before we left Koh Tao in April, we took a trip to Shark Bay were we spotted up to twelve sharks.
You can spend a day visiting each snorkelling spot or you can organise a day tour around the island. Included in the tour is transport to and from the pier, five snorkelling spots, lunch, water, snacks and a trip to the neighbouring island Koh Nang Yuan.
All this will set you back only 550 Baht (16$). If you do decide to take a tour, we recommend going with Oxygen Tour.
Hiking & Viewpoints
A great activity to have on your list of things to do on Koh Tao is hiking. For such a small island known for diving, Koh Tao has some amazing hikes to viewpoints with panoramic views.
One thing you don’t see a lot of people doing around the island is exploring it by foot. Leaving some trails and viewpoints empty all to yourself.
If visiting amazing viewpoints, abandoned resorts, cliff jumping sites, and less known beaches are your thing, then check out our three-part series on hiking on Koh Tao.
Explore The Different Beaches
Koh Tao has some fantastic beaches surrounded by crystal clear water, ideal for snorkelling and swimming.
Sairee Beach to the north is the longest and the most popular beach on the island stretching 1.85 km up the west coast. Along the beach, you will find many bars, restaurants, and accommodation. But it is by no means the best beach on Koh Tao.
If you’re looking for the more beautiful beaches make your way further down south of the island. We recommend checking out Freedom Beach, Thian Og Bay (Shark Bay) and Sai Nuan Beach 2.
Visit Koh Nang Yuan Island
Koh Nang Yuan is not exactly a part of Koh Tao but is a small neighbouring island. The Island itself is actually made up of three smaller islands connected by a natural sandbar.
Koh Nang Yuan is famous for its turquoise water, soft white sandy beaches and for snorkelling over lively corals. When you are on the island, climb up to the viewpoint for the postcard-perfect picture. Definitely, one of the coolest things to do on Koh Tao.
Chill Out At Love @ Koh Tao
Love @ Koh Tao is a small terrace cafe overlooking Tanote Bay on the east side of the island. This is the perfect spot to take an hour or two out of your day to sit back, relax with a good ice coffee/fruit shake and enjoy the view. Situated on the east side, it is the perfect location to watch the sunrise.
Rock Climbing & Bouldering
If you are looking for more adventurous things to do on Koh Tao then we suggest trying your hand at some rock climbing. This little island is a granite heaven with large boulders shaping its beautiful coastline and littered throughout the jungle, making this a perfect location for climbers.
One of the popular companies offering rock climbing is Goodtime Adventures with courses to suit beginners to advanced. They have over 70 climbing routes in 3 areas along with some cool bouldering spots too.
Kayaking Around The Island
Spend your day exploring the coast of Koh Tao, its isolated snorkelling spots and hard to reach beaches. You can find many companies along Sairee Beach renting out kayaks for half a day or a full day. To kayak around the whole island you are going need about eight hours.
We normally rent a kayak for half a day to visit and explore around Koh Nang Yuan. Making for a great day out, it’s one of the most enjoyable things to do on Koh Tao.
Yes, a flying trapeze. Not something you quite expect to find on a small Thai tropical island, right? But if you are looking to pull yourself away from the beach for an hour, then flying through the air sure sounds like a great reason to do so.
This 10-meter high trapeze is another activity run by Goodtime Adventures and is suitable for all ages.
Unfortunately, this is one of the only things on Koh Tao we haven’t tried for ourselves, but it does seem like a lot of fun. If you happen to give it a whirl, do let us know how it was for you.
Watch The Sunset From Sairee Beach
Head down to Sairee Beach, grab yourself a beer, and watch the sunset as the sky turns an alluring orange glow. A great place to watch is at Lotus Bar, where a vertical palm tree grows and the traditional long tail boats line the ocean. This truly makes for a spectacular photo. So be sure to check this off your list of things to do on Koh Tao.
Watch The Fire Shows Along The Beach
After the sun has set Sairee Beach illuminates with fire performers as they take over the beach. Almost every bar has performers lighting up the beach with their impressive fire shows. As the night goes on they involve the crowd with games of fire limbo and fire rope skipping.
Enjoy The Nightlife
Sairee Beach is where all the action happens at night, where one drink easily turns into two to three buckets. You will find the beach coming alive with backpackers from all over the world, as the bars pump music out to the dancing crowds.
It’s not all beach bars and buckets though. Koh Tao has its very own cabaret show performed by a group of ladyboys, which makes for a great start to a night out. These ladies really know how to put on a show.
As you can see there are a ton of things to do on Koh Tao besides diving. Have you ever been to this island before or are you planning a trip here soon? Share with us in the comments below.