Awesome Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Awesome Things To Do On Koh Tao Besides Diving

If you ask anyone what is the best island in Thailand to do scuba diving, they will say Koh Tao. This is what this stunning little island is most famous for. But there are just so many awesome things you could do in Koh Tao besides diving!

I will tell you the secret.

I was on Koh Tao and didn’t dive.

Not because I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t afford it at the time. I was travelling on a very tight budget and could only visit one island on my way to Malaysia.

With so many incredible islands in Thailand, it was just so hard to choose! So I asked the people I met in the hostels which island was their favourite.

And most of them told me it was Koh Tao.

Awesome Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

So even though it wasn’t the cheapest island in Thailand and the most famous for diving, I decided to visit Koh Tao anyway.

I don’t have a comparison for you here. I’m not going to tell you which island is better or worse.

But I can definitely tell you the best things to do on Koh Tao besides diving. Because I was determined to prove that you can visit Koh Tao on a budget and enjoy the island even if you are not planning on doing any diving.

How to Get to Koh Tao

Koh Tao is very straightforward to reach and that was another reason why I decided to stop on this island. I didn’t have much time for rerouting and wanted to visit an island that was easy to get to and easy to get out of.

Getting to Koh Tao from Bangkok:

I travelled to Koh Tao from Bangkok and it was very easy to arrange.

The best way of getting to Koh Tao from Bangkok is the overnight bus and ferry transfer. 

I booked my trip through 12GoAsia and both bus and ferry were reserved on the same ticket. Although it seemed very chaotic at times, it was actually quite well organised.

On the day of travel, you need to check in at the office indicated on the ticket, preferably 2 hours before departure. After checking in, you’ll get a paper ticket and a sticker with a coloured number which will be an indicator of which bus and ferry you’re taking and to which direction. Most people go to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi so in order to get to the right bus and ferry follow other people with the same colour sticker.

The bus journey took about 8 hours and was very comfortable. I slept very well.

We arrived at Chumphon Harbour at around 5 am. Unfortunately, we had to wait until about 6 am for the ferry. But it was awesome because we boarded right at sunrise!

How to get to Koh Tao from other places:

Getting to Koh Tao from Krabi

The best way to get from Krabi to Koh Tao is to take the bus to Surat Thani and then take an overnight ferry. You can easily get to Surat Thani from anywhere in Krabi like Ao Nang or Krabi Town. If you are staying on an island like Koh Phi Phi or Ko Lanta, you will have to take the ferry, then the bus and then the ferry again.

This is why I recommend you book the whole journey online. If you buy it on a site like 123Go or Easybook the ticket will cover the whole journey.

I did the journey in the opposite direction and it was slightly adventurous so I wrote a separate article about getting from Koh Tao to Krabi.

Getting to Koh Tao from Phuket

Phuket is on the other side of mainland Thailand, so you will have to split the journey. There are no direct flights as Koh Tao has no airport.

The most popular way to travel from Phuket to Koh Tao is by a combination of bus and ferry. You will have to travel by bus to Surat Thani and then take a ferry to Koh Tao. Again, I recommend booking the whole trip.

You can either do it from any travel agency on the island or online on 12GoAsia or Easybook

Getting to Koh Tao from Koh Samui

It is very easy to get from Koh Samui to Koh Tao as both islands belong to the same archipelago. It takes between 90 minutes and 4 hours, depending on which ferry you book. There are several ferry connections throughout the day, which you can book at any travel agency on the island or online.

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Is Koh Tao Worth Visiting Even if You Won’t Want to Do Any Diving?

Definitely! Koh Tao is one of the smallest islands in the Chumphon Archipelago but it packs a lot of charm, plenty of incredible beaches and tons of things to do.

The beaches on Koh Tao are dreamy, there are some incredible snorkelling and diving opportunities and there is much more to this island than meets the eye.

Also, Koh Tao has a pretty chilled vibe. Not much is happening when it comes to crazy parties or pub crawls. There are bars and stuff, but it’s more of a chilled vibe which can be a great thing if you don’t want to take part in any sort of moon parties hehe.

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Things to Do in Koh Tao Besides Diving

Here is my specially curated list of everything you can do on Koh Tao apart from diving.

Chill On The Beach

Koh Tao has incredible beaches and even though it is a pretty small island, you will find a different beach for each day of your stay. Or just one if that’s what you fancy.

Be aware that some of the beaches have a paid entrance but few are absolutely free. 

What really surprised me about Koh Tao, was how almost empty some of the beaches were. And the busy ones were the ones that you have to pay for, strangely enough.

Here are some of my favourites!

Sairee Beach – the most popular beach in Koh Tao and for all the good reasons. It’s a long stretch of white sand beach lined up with a few nice bars and restaurants. It is one of the best beaches on Koh Tao for a sunset walk and evening entertainment.

After the sunset,  the beach comes alive with fire shows, music and many bars and restaurants. If you want to do just one beach on Koh Tao, it must be Sairee Beach.

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Chalok Baan Kao Bay – My second favourite beach on Koh Tao which is absolutely free too!

Located to the south of Koh Tao, this beach is easily accessible via a paved road. I actually walked there all the way from the Mae Haad area. While the strip of sand is quite narrow, it offers a beautiful setting without sunbeds and awesome views.

I could not believe how peaceful this beach was. There are some hotels, hostels and bars along the beach, but it felt pretty tranquil and at the time I was the only one swimming! Mind you, it was midday so maybe i was the only one crazy hahaha

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Freedom Beach – Is one of the most beautiful beaches on Koh Tao but ironically Freedom Beach is not free to enter!

The setting is incredible and the water the most turquoise. The beach also feels quite secluded and it is a perfect hideaway!

Not a large beach but If you don’t mind paying 50Baht I highly recommend spending a day there! In the price, you will have a chair and access to the John-Suwan Viewpoint included. Be aware that in the peak season, this beach gets pretty busy.

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Shark Bay – Just on the other side of Freedom Beach you will find larger Shark Bay. This beach is accessible via Rocky Resort and the entrance costs 100Baht which will give you free access to the sunbeds. 

I didn’t fancy paying 100Baht to stay on the beach for a couple of hours but I must admit, from atop it looked awesome. Right at the front it also looked super busy so I assume this is not exactly the most peaceful beach on the island. Unfortunately, the coral around Shark Bay is dead. I kind of don’t regret not visiting this particular beach, but if you did, let me know!

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Haad Sai Daeng – this small and lesser-known beach located not far from Shark Bay is definitely worth visiting! It is one of the best snorkelling spots on Koh Tao! The beach is small but packs in a lot of beauty, a picturesque beach surrounded by rocks.

There is a beach bar and the access to the beach is free!

Tanote Bay – Located on the eastern side of the island, this beach is a bit of an adventure to reach, down a steep road. However, the effort pays off with its dramatic setting surrounded by steep green slopes and large rocks.

It is another great beach on Koh Tao for snorkeling and given its location, it’s hardly ever overly busy. It’s definitely the kind of beach you could spend a whole day at with kayaking, snorkelling, cliff-jumping opportunities and a few restaurants where you will be well entertained. Tanote Bay is one of the best beaches on Koh Tao without a doubt!

Tanote Bay is free to enter.

Ao Hin Wong Bay – if you love discovering hidden lesser-known beaches, you cannot miss Ao Hin Wong. Peaceful, beautiful, and excellent for snorkelling, this beach is a hidden gem. Ao Hin Wong is a large bay surrounded by large rocks so it is not the easiest to walk around but there is a small beach area and few restaurants and bars. 

Mango Bay – getting to Mango Bay is an adventure in itself. Situated at the northern tip of Koh Tao, it is most often reached by boat. It can be also reached by land, yet it is not easy and requires a lot of caution. There is a 100-baht entry fee and many slippery stairs and rocks that need to be traversed. Some boulders are really hard to navigate around and might require jumping, keep that in mind!

The best way to get to Mango Bay is by taxi boat or as a part of an organised boat tour. 

Check Out All The Koh Tao Viewpoints

There are quite a few spectacular viewpoints worth checking out on Kao Tao. Some are very easy to get to and some are slightly more challenging. Here are some of the best ones:

John Suwan Viewpoint – The most famous out of all viewpoints on Koh Tao, which can be accessed from Freedom Beach. It is a relatively easy yet sweaty hike up to the viewpoint taking around 15 minutes. The views are incredible! 360 panoramic views of different beaches like Shark Bay or Chalok Baan Bay.

The entrance fee is 50 Baht which includes access to the Freedom Bay.

Sun Suwan 360 – just across the John Suwan Viewpoint, Sun Suwan will give you very similar views but for less of a hike. So if you just want an easy win – this is the best viewpoint for you! The entrance is 50Baht which will get you a free soft drink at the top. Very much needed in the hot weather! There is plenty of space to rest or chill while taking on the views.

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Love Koh Tao Viewpoint – a cafe picturesquely located right in the middle of the island halfway between xx and Tanote Bay. The view over Tanote Bay is spectacular. If you have a drink at the cafe the entrance is free, otherwise, it’s 20 Baht. It’s accessible by road. 

Mango View Point – as the name suggest, it is located near Mango Bay and it is one of the most challenging viewpoints on Koh Tao to reach, definitely not for the faint-hearted.  The 100 baht fee includes a drink.

Small View Point – located not far from the Sairee beach is an awesome spot to catch the sunset! The entrance is 100 Baht but truly, this is one of the best yet underrated viewpoints on Koh Tao!

Go Snorkelling!

One of the best things to do while on Koh Tao that is not diving but close enough is snorkelling! The marine life around Koh Tao is just incredible so even if you have never done it before, Koh Tao is the perfect place to start!

There are a few awesome beaches perfect for snorkelling like Haad Sai Daeng, Ao Hin Wong Bay or Tanote Bay. But I recommend taking an organised snorkeling boat trip which is very good value for money.

For around 550 to 850 Baht (depending on the lunch option) you will be taken to some of the best snorkelling spots with pick up and lunch included. 

You can book one at any travel agency on the island.

Be aware that the entrance fee of 100 baht to Koh Nang Yuan is most of the time not included.

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Take a Boat Trip To Koh Nang Yuan

Speaking of Koh Nang Yuan!

The first time I saw Koh Nang Yuan Island I was on a morning ferry on the day arrived on Koh Tao. And it looked dreamy and incredible!

You can visit it by taking a longtail boat from Sairee Beach or as a part of a tour. 

Koh Nang Yuan is actually a group of three small islands connected by a sandbar but often considered to be just one island. Known for its stunning natural beauty, white sand and crystal-clear waters, Koh Nang Yuan is one of the best snorkelling and diving spots.

It lies less than one kilometre off the shore, and makes for a perfect half-day trip from Koh Tao! Apart from snorkeling or diving you can also hike to the incredible viewpoint or just spend the day chilling on the beach.

If you don’t want to spend too much time on this small island, then I recommend visiting as a part of the organised boat tour stopping at many other awesome spots!

The entrance to the island costs 100 baht.

Best Koh Tao Tours:

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Enjoy Other Watersport Like Kayaking Or Stand Up Paddle

Almost all larger beaches on Koh Tao offer a range of activities and water sports like kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Some of the best things to do on Koh Tao is sunset SUP on Sairee Beach!

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Challenge Yourself To a Trapez Adventure

Very much gaining popularity in recent years is Koh Tao’s famous fun adventure – Flying Trapeze!

Not something I felt fit to do (or maybe I was just a bit scared) but if you feel like trying something new, a flying trapeze class could be it!

It might even start a new circus career for you, who knows!

Get Some Yoga In

If you are a yoga enthusiast you are in for a treat. As I walked around the Koh Tao I passed many awesome Yoga, meditation and breathwork studios!

There are so many to choose from but you will find most of them in the main Koh Tao area near the Mae Haad Pier and towards the Sairee Beach and on the beach itself.

Visit Wat Koh Tao

Wat Koh Charoen Santi Dhamma also known as Wat Koh Tao is a beautiful Buddhist temple located not far from the Sairee beach. 

You can explore the grounds and admire the temple from the outside and also enter inside while adhering to the temple etiquette.

Definitely worth a visit!

Go Hiking

If you are an adventurous traveller and looking for some awesome hiking trails, Koh Tao might surprise you too! For a small island, it packs some pretty great hiking trails!

The best known is the hike up to the Mango Viewpoint which is challenging and so rewarding!

Behind the Sairee beach, you will also find a few easier hikes to some great viewpoints like Sunset Viewpoint or  Fraggle Rock and you can take it all the way to Mango Bay. 

You can also take a hike from Mae Haad to Chalok Bay which will take you to some great hidden bays and beaches. 

Learn About Local Culture!

It is all great to spend the days on the beach, snorkelling, hiking and eating great Thai food!
But I truly believe that it’s worthwhile for every traveller to learn more about the local culture. And in Thailand and Koh Tao, there are many opportunities to do that.
Of course, it’s hard to really immerse yourself in the culture if you only spend a few days in one place, but it’s always worth giving it a go!

There are a few things you can do on Koh Tao to get an insight into the local culture while also having the opportunity to meet or observe the local community:

Cooking Class – although often aimed at tourists, they can be a fun way to meet locals and learn some important cooking skills from them! The most famous of all is Parawan’s cooking classes. Parawan is a local lady passionate about food and lovingly sharing it with visitors!

Muay Thai – increasingly popular with foreign visitors Muay Thai is a full-contact martial art and a great way to both get in shape and learn about the local culture. A couple of the best gyms on Koh Tao where you can take lessons are Monsoon Gym & Fight Camp and Island Muay Thai.

Things to Do on Koh Tao Besides Diving

Volunteer at the animal clinic – if you’re an animal lover and have some extra time to spend on Koh Tao, you could volunteer some of your time at the Koh Tao Animal Clinic.

Learn about marine conservation – finally, if you’re a diver and want to take your skills to the next level, it might be worth taking a marine conservation course! Institutions such as Eco Koh Tao or the New Heaven Reef Conservation Programme specialize in teaching divers all aspects of marine conservation and coral reef preservation.

Where to Stay in Koh Tao

For affordable private accommodation, you should definitely check out Bubble Bungalows or Tommy Resort. Koh Tao Little House is a little more expensive but really cool!

If you are looking for a great hostel I highly recommend Nirvana Hostel and Hydronauts for the best prices and reviews. Deishaview Jungle Hostel is also amazing and offers a proper jungle retreat. If you don’t mind paying a little more for an absolutely awesome hostel then you should consider Wonderland Jungle Hostel, Dearly Koh Tao, or Savage Hostel.

For midrange accommodation, I recommend Aow Leuk Grand Hill offering an amazing location and views in a more secluded location, In Touch Resort right on the Sairee Beach, or the incredible View Point Resort located on Chalok Baan Kao Beach.

If you are looking for a very comfortable stay then look no further than AVA Resort or Lücke Boutique Hotel

Finally, Monkey Flower Villas is the best if you are looking to rent a villa for a family or just the two of you.

That’s all my friends! I hope this list will help you have a wonderful time on Koh Tao even if you are not planning to do any diving! 

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section, I always reply!

Until then,

Enjoy Thailand and happy travels!

Pati x

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Heading to Bangkok next?

Read my comprehensive guide to visiting Bangkok for the first time! And if you are not sure where to stay, this is my complete guide to the best areas to stay in Bangkok, especially if you are a solo traveller visiting for the first time.

And if you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of using public transport in Bangkok, I got you covered too!

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