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19 Best Things to Do in Koh Tao, Thailand

19 Best Things to Do in Koh Tao, Thailand

This tiny little island in the Gulf of Thailand might be small but there is no lack of adventure here to keep you entertained. These are my top choices and the best things to do in Koh Tao!

Being one of my favourite places in the whole world, yes big statement I know, but I truly love it, I have spent about 6 weeks on the island and have made sure to see as much of it as I can.

Throughout this guide, I will share with you some of my very favourite adventures as well as some real hidden gems.

Make sure to keep reading and save this guide for your next trip to Koh Tao!

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you click a link and purchase something I have recommended I will earn a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay but helps me to keep Travels by Izzy going.

19 Best Things to Do in Koh Tao

Spend the Day at Freedom Beach Resort

The Freedom Beach Resort consists of Freedom Beach, Taa Toh Beach and John Suwan Viewpoint. It is very popular here and although you may want to avoid the crowds I do still recommend visiting as it is popular for a reason!

Note that it does cost 50 THB (£1.10) to get into Freedom Beach Resort however if you plan your day correctly you can do everything in one go and will only have to visit once!

Freedom Beach

First up head down to Freedom Beach, for the best experience make sure to get here early to secure yourself a deck chair for the day, I recommend anything between 10/11.30 am.

Freedom Beach is one of my favourite spots on the island, I just can’t get over the colour of the water, the beauty of this little beach and the amazing corals just offshore. 

Relax here for the day soaking in the chilled island vibe.

If you get hungry and fancy a fresh coconut or fruit shake make sure to check out the beach restaurant, here they serve up some really tasty food! My favourite is always a fresh coconut and the Pad Thai.

Once you have had enough of chilling on the beach it’s time to head up the viewpoint.

John Suwan Viewpoint

John Suwan Viewpoint is a must-visit when in Koh Tao, offering you incredible views back over the island.

Make sure you wear some good shoes, grab your camera and get ready for the hike, or climb may be a better explanation.

Coming back up to the main area from the beaches you will see signs pointing towards John Suwan Viewpoint, follow this path up and when it gets to a fork keep left. 

Following the path up and round be careful when climbing up the rocks and make sure to always use the ropes provided to help you.

Once you reach the top, take a moment to catch your breath and admire the view! 

On the left, you can see towards Chalok Bay and up to Sairee Beach then on the right Shark Bay, and you will also be able to spot Shark Island.

‼️ Be mindful of your footing when at the top of the viewpoint as there are no ropes or barriers.

Taa Toh Beach

Once you head back down John Suwan Viewpoint you can’t leave without looking at Taa Toh Beach and walking along the coastal walkway.

Head straight down the big slope just to the left of Freedom Beach Resort reception and follow it down and round to the beachfront.

A little shallower than Freedom Beach and often less busy this is a great option for families. There is also another beachfront restaurant here serving up fresh food and drinks all day.

To walk back around the walkway keep left and follow the path along, here you will come out back on Freedom Beach where you can either relax for the rest of the day or head back up the hill towards reception.

🙋🏻‍♀️ I highly recommend hanging around here until sunset, Freedom Beach is one of the best places on the island to catch the sunset and it reflects beautifully through the treelined shore.

Chalok Bay Koh Tao

Snorkel at Hin Wong Bay (Secret Bay)

Hin Wong Bay has to be my favourite spot to snorkel on the island!

Located on Koh Tao’s east coast it is often the most exposed to high winds coming in from the ocean, because of this I would only recommend snorkelling here when there is low winds and the sea is very calm.

This will make it a lot easier to swim around and to get in and out of the water.

For directions on how to get to the bay, you will find step-by-step instructions in my full guide to Hin Wong Bay, in this post I also share the best spot to sit for the day and how to get to the best snorkelling areas.

Join the Oxygen Snorkelling Morning Trip

A great way to see all of the good snorkelling spots around the island if you don’t have much time or a scooter to get around to see them yourself is to join a snorkelling tour.

I absolutely love the Oxygen Snorkelling Morning Trip, I have been on this tour twice and both times the staff made it so much fun and I saw tons of amazing coral, so many beautiful fish and a turtle. 

Pick up/drop off, lunch on the boat, snorkel equipment and lifejackets are all included in the price. 

During the day you will also stop at Koh Nangyuan Islands, Lighthouse Bay or Mango Bay, Hin Wong Bay, Aow Leuk Bay and Shark Bay. 

You can book the Oxygen Snorkelling Tour here

Snorkel at Shark Bay

Shark Bay is one of the most popular spots on the island to spot both Blacktip reef sharks and Turtles.

To get to the best spot head to ‘Free Beach to Shark Bay’ on Google Maps, here when you arrive you will see a small sign and pathway leading down to a cafe and beach. 

You are welcome to sit here for the day as long as you purchase something from the cafe, alternatively, head to Haadtien Beach Resort or Rocky Resort – you will have to pay to get to the beach through these resorts.

The ‘Free Beach to Shark Bay’ is the easiest to access and as it is located further around the mouth of the bay it gives you the best head start to reaching deeper water and higher chances of spotting a shark or turtle.

💡 If you are really serious about spotting a Shark or Turtle during your visit then first thing in the morning is always best, during this time the coral reefs are waking up and there is less tourist activity so it will feel calm and peaceful.

Spend the Day on Ao Tanot Beach

Tanote Bay as it is also known is a great beach spot, here you can find a large stretch of sand meaning the beach itself rarely feels busy.

It is quite deep here and offers some really good snorkelling. Because of this, it is also perfect for those adrenaline junky rock jumpers, the largest rock in the bay even has a metal chain attached to help you reach the top. 

Just make sure you definitely do want to jump when you start climbing as it’s the only way down!

To get to Ao Tanot Beach just follow the directions on your map, once you arrive you will find parking areas along the road and then you just need to walk down to the beach.

Tatoh Beach Koh Tao

Eat at 995 Duck

Located in central Sairee 995 Duck is a well-known spot on Koh Tao, serving up some of the tastiest smoked duck!

This one-of-a-kind spot on Koh Tao is amongst the highest recommended places to eat on the island and is not one to miss. 

Despite having plenty of seating you can often see a queue outside every day from 6.30/7 pm, so if you have duck on your mind then don’t visit too late to ensure you get a seat.

The top spot on their menu has to go to the ‘smoked duck with rice and soy bean paste’, this is one of the best dishes I’ve eaten and will now order it every time I visit. The Pad See Yew, Duck noodles and ramen are also very tasty.

Snorkel the Shipwreck near Jansom Bay

Located on the west coast of the island just south of Mae Head Beach and the pier you can find Jansom Bay.

To get there head towards Coconut Monkey Restaurant but keep going past it until you reach the end and can see the beach on your right, once here just find a good spot to relax for the day.

The ocean here is beautifully clear and sparkles in the sunshine as you can see the ripples of sand below the surface.

Looking out to the ocean and to the left you can see a white post in the water, grab your snorkel gear and head this way, before you get to the post you should hit the small shipwreck under the surface

Here you can find plenty of fish and colourful corals that have attached themselves to the old and decaying boat.

Mae Head Beach Koh Tao

Watch the Sunset on Sairee Beach

Sairee Beach is perfectly located on Koh Tao’s west coast so you get to enjoy the sunset here every night. 

Because of this, the beachfront is lined with beach bars and restaurants offering unspoilt views from bean bags and seating areas. 

Some great spots are Fizz, Lotus Bar and Sairee Cottage Restaurant.

Alternatively, if you fancy doing it a bit more naturally you can just find a nice place to relax on the sand and sit back and enjoy the view for free.

Enjoy some Local Thai Food

Koh Tao has a large mixture of food, there are a lot of Western choices but amongst the options, there are some great small local Thai restaurants.

Some of my favourites are:

  • Mama Tam
  • Long Thai food
  • Naa Krua Thai
  • Sairee Cottage Restaurant
  • Infinity Thai food
  • Ananas Restaurant

Have Brunch at a Cute Cafe

If you have eaten far too much Thai food or fancy something western for brunch then you are not short of choice on Koh Tao. 

These cute cafes serve up all of your favourites from coffee, fresh smoothies, smoothie bowls and of course avo on toast.

Some of my favourite spots are:

  • The Factory Cafe
  • Nui’s Bakery
  • Shaka
  • Living Juices
  • Culture Cafe
  • Prana Cafe
  • Koppee

Learn to Free Dive

One of the most famous things to do in Koh Tao is learn to Scuba Dive however if you are like me and unsure about Scuba Diving then why not try freediving?

I have always been a water baby and just love being in the ocean exploring the underwater world so when I came across freediving I knew I had to give it a go. 

Freediving is all about diving on one breath hold, it is all about your mind-body connection, slowing down your heart rate and calming the body. 

It is about retraining our mind and body to understand that we do not actually need to take our next breath as soon as we think.

There are 3 certification agencies located on Koh Tao, Apnea Total, Aida and PADI. Each Free Diving school is then linked to a certification agency and you will learn to dive based off their curriculum.

Make sure to do your research as each curriculum is slightly different so ensure you choose one that you feel comfortable with and then find a school to learn through.

I chose to get my certification with Apnea Total and learnt with Blue Chitta Hostel, a freediving and yoga studio located on the island. 

Learn to Scuba Dive

Most people I know have always opted to Scuba Dive rather than Free Dive so I can’t miss this off my to-do list. 

Koh Tao holds the top spot as the most popular destination in the world for people to obtain the PADI open water certification. This is by far the most popular course and gives people an international scuba diving license. 

It is also one of the cheapest places in the world to learn with courses costing anything from 8000 THB (£175) to 12,000 THB (£265).

Again, I always recommend doing your research and finding a dive school that makes you feel comfortable and safe.

Wetsuits Koh Tao

Buy Freshly Baked Pastries from The French Market

If you are craving a taste of home or want something quick and relatively cheap for breakfast then head to The French Market in the morning to grab one of their freshly baked pastries.

You can find a massive selection to choose from as well as freshly made coffee, teas and baguettes. 

Take a Yoga Class

This small island is a yoga oasis, there are so many different studios to choose from and each one offers multiple class types, times and locations. 

Whether you want to do Vinyasa yoga, Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Acro Yoga or Meditation, there really is a class on Koh Tao for everyone. 

Make sure to check out one of my favourite classes at Shambhala Yoga starting at 10 am located just north of Sairee Beach.

If you want to try some sound healing, Yoga Nidra and other amazing workshops then check Blue Chitta’s weekly schedule

Go to The Queen’s Cabaret

If you are looking for a good night out in Koh Tao then make sure to head to The Queens Cabaret, located in Central Sairee down the walking street you can find the show every night from 9.30 pm for 200 THB (£4.50) – this price also includes a free drink of your choice.

Each night is a different playlist and performance so you can visit as many times as you like. It is a wonderful night out filled with some incredible dancing, outfits, headpieces and so much sass! Make sure you make the time as it is not one to miss.

This show is not one to miss, doors open at 9.15 pm so make sure to get there early to secure yourself a good seat as it gets very busy.

Girls at the queens cabaret Koh Tao

Visit Mango Bay Viewpoint

There are about half a dozen Mango Bay viewpoints, but to get to the furthest with the best view the journey is not for the faint-hearted. 

‼️ Before you head off on this adventure I just want to say that I do not recommend it if you are new on a scooter and not very confident!

Heading out of Sairee Central away from the beach follow the road up and towards Mango Bay Beach. 

On this road, you will pass a few easier-to-access viewpoints and cafes which you can stop at. 

If you want to reach the furthest one keep going until you come to a crossroads and a small cafe/bar, once here head left and keep going.

This road is very narrow and not very stable with loose rocks so ensure you feel confident before taking it on.

Once you reach the end you are rewarded with a breathtaking view back over Sairee Beach and the west coast of the island. You can see the ocean softly sparkling and the green jungle hills rolling out into the distance.

There is a small family-run bar here called Last Bar, make sure to stop for a drink to thank them for giving up access this beautiful spot hidden in the jungle.

Cold Plunge in an Ice Bath

Cold plunges have so many health benefits and where better place to do them than in the island heat!

You can either join in on a Breathwork and Ice Bath workshop at Blue Chitta or check out Blacktip Cafe as they have an ice bath and sauna that you can pay to use either as a one-off or as a weekly pass.

Best Time to Visit

Koh Tao has 4 main seasons, they are cool and dry, hot and dry, hot and wet and monsoon season.

The best time to visit and the most popular on the island is generally the hot and dry season which tends to run from January to May. The island can get very busy during this time and due to its small size accommodation can easily all get booked up so make sure to book in advance if you can.

However, if you are mainly visiting the island to dive visibility under the ocean surface can reach up to 30 meters in July, August and September – although this is the wet season.

Where to Stay on Koh Tao

Luxury: Sensi Paradise Beach Resort

Overlooking Mae Haad Beach, Sensi Paradise Beach Resort is close enough to everything you need while still feeling as if you are in a secret oasis. Sensi Paradise offers bungalows that all feature private balconies with garden, pool or sea views. All the bungalows are equipped with fridges, tea and coffee-making facilities, mosquito nets, shower facilities, bathrobes, slippers and ensuite bathrooms. The hotel can book private fishing and snorkelling tours for you as well as assist with booking diving and transportation. The beachfront restaurant offers a complimentary buffet breakfast as well as Western and Thai-style lunch and dinner. Check out my full guide to discover more about Sensi Paradise Beach Resort.

Mid-range: The Ozo

This 3* hotel offers everything you need to feel like you are getting a little bit of luxury while not breaking the bank. There are 5 different room options to suit each budget, each one has a balcony with views over the pool and jungle-covered mountain behind. Room service is available and air conditioning, TV, safety deposit box, private bathroom, fridge and toiletries.

Budget: Blue Chitta

Located above the Blue Chitta Yoga Studio and the newly opened Prana Cafe, Blue Chitta Hostel has 18 beds made up of 2 rooms, a 10-bedroom dorm and an 8-bedroom dorm. These dorms are finished beautifully to ensure you have a relaxing and enjoyable stay, there are no bunks, privacy curtains, shelves to keep your belongings, lockers and air conditioning. It is also perfectly located to catch the sunset and you have access to Mae Head beach through a neighbouring resort. Due to its location and its encouragement for you to join the meditation and yoga classes and workshops, this is a very relaxed and chilled-out hostel. They do not tolerate drinking, smoking and loud behaviour so please ensure you only book if you want to relax!

Looking for more things to do in Koh Tao? Make sure to check out these posts:

Liz

Tuesday 20th of February 2024

Wow, extensive guide. Thanks so much for putting together all these great tips! I'm going to use your blog a ton for our travels to Thailand.

IzabelleMartucci

Thursday 22nd of February 2024

You are so welcome! I am glad you found it all useful and let me know if you have any questions about your upcoming trip to Thailand - Thank you Liz 🥰