I didn't take any pictures in Koh Tao. We planned a lot of our Thailand trip around scuba diving with whale sharks, and when we researched it, Koh Tao seemed to be the place to see them. It said so on several websites. Several. Well, turns out that it's extremely rare to see them here. I feel really misled even though it wasn't Koh Tao's fault that I didn't see any. I'd feel better if the scuba diving had been amazing anyway, but it wasn't. And the island was just like any other party island. If that's your thing, then go; but if it isn't, I'd suggest spending your time somewhere else.
Now, to be fair... Colin was very sick (we think with salmonella) while we were in Koh Tao, so we weren't partying it up with everyone else who was getting trashed every night.
We stayed in Koh Tao for 2.5 days. We got there from Krabi by taking a bus from Krabi Town to Surat Thani and then a ferry from there to Koh Tao. We booked through 12go.asia. They are easy to use – just enter where you are and where you want to go, and it does the connections for you if you’ll need both a bus and a ferry or something.
We were in Koh Tao to scuba dive, so that’s mainly all we did when Colin felt up to it. We did 1 night dive and 2 day dives with Master Divers. It was about $200 per person for the 3 dives we did. Master Divers is a little more expensive than some of the others on the island, but they looked like they were very legit (and even used booties and fins and not just fins that don’t fit). The dive master assigned to us did a great job at sizing us for wetsuits and gear.
That being said, I thought that every dive we did was very mediocre. First off, let’s start with the night dive at Twin Peaks dive site. We were under the impression that we were going to be doing night dives with these cool UV lights that transform the reef into a spectacular show of color. I guess we just assumed that because we specifically asked for a night dive with the UV lights in previous communication. Turns out, everyone else on the boat was diving with UV light, but we weren’t for some reason??
In addition to this, Colin’s regulator malfunctioned while we were under water. These things happen, and Colin reacted well (I freaked out more than he did), but we had to end the dive early. The problem was the way the dive master reacted. She very obviously didn’t really believe that it had actually malfunctioned, but Colin has done several dives before and knows how it’s supposed to work.
Secondly, let me just reiterate that you almost surely will not see a whale shark. They were even making fun of people saying they’d seen them because in reality you never do. Do not go just because of that.
And next… the day dives. We went to Shark Island and Junkyard. There wasn’t much going on at Shark Island and Junkyard was literally just that... Junk under water. You can create these artificial areas that coral will grow on and then fish will live in. It’s pretty cool when you think about it – instead of this junk just becoming trash that will end up floating in the ocean anyway, you can sink it and little (and big) fishies use it as a house. But it isn’t very pretty, and the fish living there weren’t that interesting yet. There is literally a rusted out car and a toilet with a lid that flaps under water. But hey… you might find that stuff interesting! So maybe that’s your thing.
The happening part of town is north of the ferry pier towards Sairee Beach. We stayed near the ferry pier (Mae Haad Pier), and it was pretty lame. Master Divers is down that way, so we figured we’d stay close to them. But it’s a 30 minute walk north from there to get to the closest part of the cool area. You could just get a motorbike taxi, but I’m scared of them and refuse to. In our short couple of weeks, I’ve already met 2 people who had crashes recently and are all scraped up. Plus, we saw another bike that had crashed into a car and the police were there but no people. Anyway, stay north.
After Koh Tao, we went back to Bangkok for a flight. We took a ferry to Chumphon (10:15 AM – 12:00 PM) and then a bus to Bangkok (12:45 PM – 9:45 PM). We used Lomprayah, and even though we were over an hour late because of traffic, I’d still suggest them. They felt safe and there was a stop partially through the bus ride at a nice restaurant / grocery area with snacks, food, and nice bathrooms. Again, we booked through 12go.asia.
See my overview of Thailand here and our photos from Thailand here.
Hi, I'm Sara Monica Patton. I love animals, traveling, and eating. Read more about me in my first blog post here.