Koh Tao is a small island situated in the Koh Pha-ngan District in Thailand’s South Islands. The island has become famous for scuba-diving, with many resorts on the island offering cheap internationally accredited diving courses (PADI).
I ended up on Koh Tao with my travel buddy who really wanted to get her certification. At the time, my travel budget was seriously dire so I opted to enjoy the island from the shore and chill out for a few days while she did the course. In hindsight, I should have found a way to pay for the course too. It was desolate and lonely around the resort during the day (when all the students were out on the boats) and, while I would probably love the me-time and tranquility nowadays, it was not a good way to meet people as a young backpacker. The “clicks” that formed out on the seas were not that easy to get in on at night in the bars!
Where to Stay
We stayed at Crystal Dive which was a lovely beachside dive centre and resort on the picturesque island. Crystal Dive offers a range of diving courses from beginner level to pro, with instructors from all of the world to cater to your language-requirements. The accommodation is little simple bungalows, and the resort has a little in-house beach cafe that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The accommodation is usually free when booked with a PADI diving course. If you are looking for more upmarket accommodation but still want to take full advantage of Crystal Dive’s diving centre, you can opt to stay at their partner resort, Koh Tao Regal Resort & Spa, which offers fully air conditioned rooms and a far less budget vibe.
What to Do
As you will have guessed from everything I’ve said so far, Koh Tao is the place to come to learn how to dive, to dive for fun, or to improve your diving skills. The island is still a beautiful place to visit, yes, however I would recommend visiting one of the many other islands in the district if you are looking for something other than diving culture! Crystal Dive has got a great reputation on the island for their diving courses, and most walk-in tourist agencies throughout Thailand can book you in for your course here if you decide to do your PADI course on a whim!
There’s an array of massage parlours on the island too which are great to soothe your aching muscles after a full day’s diving (or just to relax if, like me, you are there to hang out in paradise and not for physical exertion of any kind!). Be warned though, my masseuse tried to give me a happy ending during a foot massage which, while it’s a funny story to tell know, did not leave me very amused at the time!!
Where to Party
Sairee Village and South Sairee Beach make up the local hot spot on Koh Tao for nightlife and entertainment. With a variety of bars, beach clubs and dining options, the village also has their own (very popular) cabaret show! Head to Maya Beach Club or Fishbowl Beach Bar to get your fix of live fire shows, beach drinks at sunset and to dance the night away. For something a little bit different, check out the best of drag queen cabaret at The Queen’s Caberet.