From exploring the island‘s beautiful beaches and viewpoints to diving and snorkeling to discovering its rich marine life, here are the best things to do on Koh Tao Island:
Top Things to Do on Koh Tao
1. Hop on a longtail to Koh Nang Yuan
Undoubtedly the main attraction here, Koh Nang Yuan is a conglomerate of three tiny islets connected by a sandbar, located just a short boat ride away from Koh Tao.
It recently got a lot of attention on social media due to some popular photos of its viewpoint and it’s no wonder – we can confirm it is one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in Thailand!
Note: The trail up to the viewpoint is about 1 km long and takes about 30 minutes to complete. The top area for photos is not very big so there’s usually a line of people waiting for their turn.
Aside from the viewpoint, the island‘s crystal-clear waters are perfect for snorkeling and are usually filled with baby blacktip reef sharks (so cute!).
The small island is also home to the private Nangyuan Island Dive Resort, where you can spend the night at one of their beachfront bungalows. There’s also a restaurant and toilets available to the public.
Note: the resort facilities are a bit worn out for the price tag (70-100 euros a night) but spending a night on the island is worth it. The island gets super busy during the day when tourists are visiting but it completely empties after 4 PM, which is when you’ll get to see the most fishes on the water.
⛵ How to get to Koh Nang Yuan:
The most common way to reach Koh Nang Yuan is by getting a longtail boat from Mae Haad or Sairee Beach on Koh Tao. You can also arrange this directly with your hotel.
The journey usually takes around 15 minutes and the cost varies, but a fair rate should be between 200-300 baht per person both ways.
You can also hop on a boat tour like this one which includes several snorkeling stops as well as a buffet lunch and BBQ set dinner onboard. Alternatively, you can also charter a private boat to visit the island.
As soon as you get there, you will need to pay an entrance fee of 250 baht per person. Keep in mind that there is a strict no-plastic policy on the island, so make sure to bring reusable bottles and bags.
2. Hike to some Hidden Gems
Another hidden gem that’s only accessible via a hiking trail is the Koh Tao Lighthouse. This is a moderate to difficult 2.3-km out-and-back trail that takes an average of 1:30h to complete. It’s quite remote so chances are you’ll be the only one around there!
3. Snorkel in Paradise
Koh Tao is known for its world-class snorkeling and diving opportunities! The best snorkeling spots on the island include Koh Nang Yuan Island, Shark Bay & Island, Mango Bay, Freedom Beach, and Tanote Bay. You can visit them on your own or hop on a boat tour around the island.
Hot tip: some of our friends got to swim with turtles during early mornings at Tanote Bay!
4. Take a Diving Course
If you want to take an underwater adventure to the next level Koh Tao offers some of the best diving in Thailand. With over 70 dive sites around the island, there are options for divers of all levels, from beginner to advanced.
The island is also home to a large number of dive schools that offer PADI Open Water certification courses for those who want to become certified divers.
If you’re already certified, the price for a fun dive can cost between 1,000 and 1,500 baht (around 30 to 50 euros) depending on the dive shop.
Some of the popular dive sites in Koh Tao include Sail Rock, Southwest Pinnacle, and Chumphon Pinnacle, where you can encounter a variety of marine life, including whale sharks, bull sharks, turtles, and colorful tropical fish.
5. Go Beach Hopping
Koh Tao is home to quite a few stunning beaches! Some of the best beaches here are:
Popular for a reason, this stunning private beach is beautifully shaded with local trees and the sea water is often crystal clear and great for snorkeling! A small fee of 50 baht is required to stay at the beach and there is a bar/restaurant and toilets available.
Hot tip: when visiting Freedom Beach, make sure to also hike up to the John-Suwan Viewpoint nearby!
Where all the fun is at! This is the longest and most popular beach on the island, featuring a long stretch of white sand and a wide range of activities. It is also home to a vibrant nightlife scene with numerous beach bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.
A great beach to spend the day! Here you’ll find numerous beachside cafes and restaurants from where you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas as well as a few dive shops. It is way less crowded than Sairee and Freedom Beach and it offers some of the best snorkeling opportunities on the island.
Famous for the higher possibility of blacktip reef shark encounters (harmless to humans), the beach is surrounded by large boulders, creating a beautiful and scenic environment. The shallow waters make Shark Bay perfect for snorkeling!
Hot tip: Shark Island, which is close enough to the bay but not swimmable close enough, can be visited on a boat tour, and is surrounded by some really colorful corals!
This is definitely the most remote beach on the island but also one of the most popular diving and snorkeling spots on Koh Tao. We recommend visiting it on a boat tour from Sairee Beach but there’s also a way inland, which is mainly a dirt road. You can follow Google Maps as well as the signs on the road and you can ride a motorbike for most of the way there.
6. Party on the Beach
The Secret Jungle Party is also popular but it takes place at Karma Bar, on the other side of the island (we heard most hostels organize a van transfer for this party).
The biggest and loudest party around here is the famous Full Moon Party, which takes place on the sister island of Koh Phangan. To make the journey to the party stress-free, it is recommended to book an all-in-one package in advance. This typically includes a ferry to Koh Phangan, a taxi to the party, and transportation back to Koh Tao.
If you decide to go on your own, you should note that there are no ferries running at night, so you would need to wait until the first ferry in the morning. Alternatively, you can stay in Koh Phangan for the night to avoid the hassle of transportation back to Koh Tao. However, accommodation during the festival can be quite expensive and scarce, so it is best to book in advance to secure a place to stay.
For a more relaxed vibe in Koh Tao, we love the Fizz Beachlounge and Victor Bar at Sairee Beach as well as the Good Vibe Bar, located more to the center of the island.
Hot tip: wherever you are in Thailand, on April 13th Songkran is celebrated on the streets – the biggest water fight in the world and one big party you really can’t miss!
7. Watch the Sunset on a Viewpoint
What better way to end the day on a tropical island than to watch the sunset from a viewpoint over the sea?! Great news is Koh Tao’s got you covered: the island is dotted with several hilltops, all with amazing views of the Gulf of Thailand. Some are easily accessible and some require a bit of hiking, but you can’t miss at least one sunset from up here!
Mango Bay Viewpoint
The way to Mango Bay is filled with viewpoints, including the Mango Bay Viewpoint. The trail up there is quite the slope, and by foot, it can take up to 1:30 hours. If you’re an experienced driver, you can tackle the uneven terrain with a motorbike.
Next to the Mango Bay Viewpoint are the High Rock Viewpoint, Sunset Viewpoint, and the Summit Viewpoint. They’re all located on the highest point of the island and therefore offer some of the best panoramic views!
Note: most of the viewpoints around here will charge an entrance fee of around 100-200 baht per person. Mango Bay and Summit Viewpoint are our favorites.
A must-do when visiting Freedom Beach! The climb is only 15 minutes long and once you reach the top, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the island, the nearby islands, and the sea. The view is especially beautiful during sunrise and sunset.
Two View Bar & Restaurant
This scenic restaurant near Tanote Bay offers some pretty impressive views! There’s an entrance fee of 100 baht per person including a soft drink, but food and drinks are reasonably priced. From here you can also hike up to another scenic point wedged between two giant boulders.
Love @ Koh Tao Viewpoint
A few meters before the Two View Bar you’ll find the “original” or first viewpoint of the island. The place is currently a bit run down and in need of maintenance so we would recommend skipping this one and heading to Two View instead.
Deishaview Jungle Hostel
Still under the radar of tourists, this viewpoint overlooks the beautiful Chalok Bay on the southern tip of the island. It has a beautiful wooden platform and a rock where you can take pictures.
The trail up there is relatively easy to navigate, but it involves some uphill sections. There’s no official entrance fee but it is mandatory to pay for either a drink or some food to stay there.