10 Best Things To Do on Koh Tao in Thailand

Koh Tao is a heavenly island located in the Gulf of Thailand, where crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and breathtaking sunsets come together. If you dive into the sea, you will encounter the incredible underwater world. Koh Tao is known as one of the best places in the world to get your diving certificate due to the low prices and beautiful dive spots. But even if you don’t want to dive, there is plenty of things to do on Koh Tao. Rent a scooter and explore the island in search of hidden beaches and beautiful viewpoints. Read below for all my tips for visiting Koh Tao!

How to get to Koh Tao?

Most people travel to Koh Tao from Bangkok, Koh Phangan, or Surat Thani. Below you can find how to travel from these destinations to Koh Tao.

From Bangkok to Koh Tao

By bus and ferry: The cheapest way to travel from Bangkok to Koh Tao is by bus and ferry. This journey takes about 9 hours in total and it’s wise to reserve your ticket in advance.

By plane: Koh Tao doesn’t have an airport, so if you want to travel by plane, you need to fly to Koh Samui or Surat Thani. Generally, it’s cheaper to fly to Surat Thani. Read under the heading ‘From Surat Thani to Koh Tao’ to see how the journey continues.

From Koh Phangan to Koh Tao

By ferry: This is a one-hour boat trip and the boat departs several times a day. Check the current departure times and reserve your tickets in advance.

From Surat Thani to Koh Tao

By bus: In Surat Thani, you’ll take the first part of the journey by bus and then transfer to the boat to Koh Tao. The entire journey takes approximately 4.5 hours. Check the current departure times and reserve your tickets in advance.

Note: If you’re traveling from the Surat Thani airport, make sure to reserve tickets with the Surat Thani airport as the pickup location.

What to do in Koh Tao?

Koh Tao is not a big island as it’s only 7.5 kilometers long and 3.5 kilometers wide, but that’s what makes it such a great place because all the highlights are close to each other. Below you can read about the most fun things to do on Koh Tao.

Rent a scooter and explore Koh Tao

The perfect way to explore Koh Tao is on a scooter. The distances are short, the roads are in good condition, and it saves you a lot of taxi costs. Make sure to keep a safe distance from other road users, drive slowly, and wear a helmet to minimize the chances of an accident.

In the center of Koh Tao, you’ll find various scooter rental companies where you can rent a scooter for a small fee. Oli’s Motorbike Rentals is a well-regarded rental company where a copy of your passport and a deposit is sufficient. However, at many rental companies, you’ll need to leave your passport when renting a scooter.

Tip: Always make a video of the scooter before you drive away. Make sure to film slowly and in detail to capture any existing damage clearly. This prevents confusion when returning the scooter and being accused of damage that wasn’t caused by you.

Enjoy to the fullest with the all-in snorkel tour Koh Tao

The waters around Koh Tao are rich in marine life, making it the perfect place to go snorkeling in Thailand. Koh Tao is surrounded by over 8 kilometers of coral reef, the water is wonderfully warm, and it’s often perfectly still. These are ideal conditions for admiring the underwater world. While in the water, you may encounter many colorful fish, including parrotfish, clownfish, pufferfish, sea turtles, rays, barracudas, and much more.

You can walk into the sea from the beach to go snorkeling, but for the best experience, we recommend this all-in snorkel tour that takes you to the most beautiful snorkeling spots in Koh Tao. You’ll spend the whole day on a beautiful wooden boat with a hammock net for ultimate relaxation between snorkeling sessions. The tour also includes paddle boards and kayaks that you can use during the stops. The cook provides a delicious Thai lunch, and at the end of the day, the BBQ is fired up. You can also enjoy drinks and they’ll provide fruits. All of this is included in the price. You’ll end the day by watching a beautiful sunset from the boat. We highly recommend this tour when visiting Koh Tao!

Diving or getting your diving certificate on Koh Tao

Whether you’re an experienced diver or want to get your diving certificate, there are unique diving locations around Koh Tao for everyone. Getting a diving certificate is an experience in itself, but it’s also a certificate that allows you to see and experience many beautiful things in future destinations. If you’re interested in this, keep in mind that the course lasts at least four days and you’ll also need to pass your theory, which requires studying in between dives. The underwater world of Koh Tao is truly amazing! If you want to know more, read all about getting your PADI on Koh Tao.

Take a walk on Sai Nuan Beach

Sai Nuan Beach is a beautiful beach that is not yet known to most people. So, chances are that you’ll only have to share it with a handful of others. The road to Sai Nuan Beach is already beautiful in itself. The green hilly landscape is impressive and will make you stop a few times along the way to enjoy the view.

Note: Sai Nuan Beach consists of two beaches. You’ll find the second beach if you walk past the beach house on the right, but to relax here, you’ll need to pay a small entrance fee. This beach belongs to one of the resorts.

Take a boat to Koh Nang Yuan

If there is one island in Thailand that has been frequently photographed, it’s Koh Nang Yuan. This island consists of three tiny islets that are connected by pure white sandbars. You can enjoy beautiful snorkeling here or simply relax on the beach. Make sure to take a walk to the Koh Nang Yuan Viewpoint as well. On the left side of the beach, you will see a hiking trail and in about 15 minutes, you will be able to enjoy one of the most famous viewpoints in Thailand. Taxi boats depart from Sairee Beach to Koh Nang Yuan. The price you pay is the same everywhere, and it is not customary to negotiate. The taxi boat will pick you up at an agreed-upon time. If you book the snorkeling tour we mentoined earlier, you will already visit Koh Nang Yuan with the tour.

Tip: It can get very crowded at Koh Nang Yuan, so go early in the morning to beat the crowds.

Climb to the John Suwan Viewpoint

In the southernmost part of Koh Tao, you’ll find the John Suwan Viewpoint. Koh Tao has many viewpoints, but many consider the John Suwan Viewpoint to be the most beautiful. It’s a 15-minute hike to the top, where you’ll overlook two beautiful bays. Although the hike is short, it’s quite challenging because it’s quite steep. You’ll have to do some climbing and scrambling. It’s a fun challenge! You’ll have to pay a small entrance fee to get to this viewpoint.

Tip: Freedom Beach is a beautiful small beach located next to the John Suwan Viewpoint, so they’re perfect to combine. Here you can take a dip in crystal-clear shallow water that’s completely calm. Perfect for relaxing and cooling off after climbing the John Suwan Viewpoint.

Snorkeling at Shark Bay

Shark Bay is also located in the southern part of Koh Tao and is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. Here you may be lucky enough to spot blacktip reef sharks! Bring your own snorkel set or rent one at the restaurant if you didn’t bring one.

Tip: Early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you have the best chance of spotting blacktip reef sharks here.

Watch the sunset at Sairee Beach

Sairee Beach is the most popular beach on Koh Tao. The beach is a beautiful place to watch the sunset, the sea is crystal-clear and often calm. Relax on a bean bag and order a cocktail or rent a SUP board and paddle towards the sunset. At SUP Tao, you can rent SUP boards. Rent a board about an hour before sunset and enjoy a front-row seat to the magical sunset on Koh Tao.

Cliff jumping at Tanote Bay

Attention adrenaline hunters! At Tanote Bay, you can not only relax but also go cliff jumping. From the beach, you swim towards the big rock and climb up using ropes. Once you’ve reached the top, there’s only one way to get back down. If you don’t feel comfortable going cliff jumping, you can always watch others take the plunge from the safety of the beach.

Relax in the hammocks at Love Koh Tao Viewpoint

On the way to or from Tanote Bay, it’s nice to have a refreshing drink at Love Koh Tao Viewpoint. From the large hammocks and bean bags, you can enjoy the view of the palm trees and the ocean. There’s a paved road to Love Koh Tao Viewpoint, so you can easily scooter there.

Tips for good restaurants on Koh Tao

Living Juices – Here you can score the best smoothie bowls on Koh Tao!
The Factory Café – Located near Sairee Beach, you’ll find The Factory Café. This popular restaurant serves brunch from 7:30am to 5:00pm. Think of the most delicious bowls, wraps, and fresh juices.
VegetaBowl – This is the place for a healthy lunch, as this vegetarian restaurant knows how to make every dish a feast.
Milk&Honey – If you’re not in the mood for Thai food, then you should visit Milk&Honey. Here you can eat delicious Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel, hummus, and shakshuka.
Breeze Koh Tao – A nice restaurant on the beach with delicious food and tasty cocktails.
La Carotte Qui Rit – Tasty vegetarian local food at a very friendly price.
Tukta Thai Food – This is one of the best Thai restaurants on Koh Tao.
Big Bite Cafe – In the south of Koh Tao, you’ll find Big Bite Cafe where you can have a nice breakfast and lunch. They serve exclusively vegetarian dishes, and every dish is packed with vitamins.

Our favorite places to stay on Koh Tao

The Dearly Koh Tao looks like a luxury hotel but has the coziness of a hostel. There’s a super large pool with sunbeds and every morning you can join a yoga class on the rooftop. It’s also a place where you can easily meet other travelers. If you prefer to stay in a quiet hotel, then Big Tree Boutique Hotel is a very nice option on Koh Tao. Both the outside and inside of this hotel look amazing! If you have a slightly bigger budget, then Ecotao Lodge is fantastic to stay at. It’s located higher up on the mountain, so you have a great view from the lodge. From the infinity pool, you can overlook the ocean, and you’ll stay in a beautiful bamboo house.