This little island offers the accessible low key Thailand option. Koh Tao or turtle island is an international destination for divers as the crystal clear waters give fantastic visibility in the high season. Koh Tao has few roads and is very laid back and out of the way. There is accommodation available to suit all budgets. For the divers many dive centres offer accommodation with the course making it very cost effective. New first class resorts are springing up all the time making the island an ideal destination. Not all tourists are divers as there is much for all in terms of peace and relaxation. Some of the beaches are simply stunning and run for miles.
The ferries and speedboats drop off at the main pier and extension of the town's primary paved road. The little town offers all of the backpacker treats, including internet cafes, several food stops/bars, dirt bike rentals, a clinic with an English speaking nurse, an excellent pastry shop and place to read the paper, several general stores and more than a few beachside restaurants. The joy of this island is that it also offers a chance to get away from all of that. Several of the bungalow operations are only guaranteed accessible by boat or by foot. The sand and gravel roads leading to the out of the way spots tend to wash out early in the rainy season and stay washed out until well into the dry season. Even the courageous on large dirtbikes will find some of the roads unrideable. Hence, the challenge.
Some of Thailand’s best snorkelling can be had in Koh Tao. Some snorkel tour operators bait the fish for a good show. Sometimes the fish show their appreciation by taking a little nip of the farangs -foreigners. These bites tend to be more startling than actually dangerous. Still, keep an eye out for triggerfish.
Getting to Koh Tao is quite simple from either Koh Samui through the Catamaran service from Maenam beach. The flight to Koh Samui from Bangkok takes just 60 minutes. If travelling via Surat Thani the ferry terminal is located at Don Sak just 45 minutes outside of Surat Thani. These are slower than the Catamaran service and take about 5 hours. From Surat Thani town there is a night boat operating from the river in the town centre. Koh Tao is just 75 minutes by catamaran from Koh Phangan the next island.