The beaches on Koh Tao are some of the most beautiful tropical paradise destinations in Thailand. The entire island has several large and small shores for holiday makers to enjoy and explore. White sandy beaches, clear waters with swirls of aquamarine, and coral aquatic life that will awe any snorkelor or diver. Unique rock and boulder formations line several beach fronts and a range from secluded spots to lively active shores ensures a place for everyone.
Access to some beaches may be more difficult than others, but day trips on a famous Thai long-tail boat may be the perfect solution to exploring all this magnificent island has to offer. With Koh Tao being a famous diving destination, the waters of this island will inspire and amaze all who come into contact.
To the right of the pier as you arrive on Koh Tao, this beach is not so popular with bathers except at the far end away from all the boat traffic. Located right at the centre of town many diving boats and long tail boats are parked along the waters edges getting ready for daily activities. This is a great spot to get a boat taxi, or to charter a longtail boat for the day. The sand is soft and pale, the water clear, however the corals mostly damaged and not restored. Many dive operators leave from the Mae Haad beach making for a busy location perfect for observing and snapping photos. Kayak rentals are available and this is a great starting spot for any kayak adventure.
Sairee Beach located in the west of the island is the largest and most popular beach stretch in Koh Tao. Access is very easy and restaurants, resorts, bars, and dive shops line the entire waterfront. Many holiday makers are sunbathing, playing beach volleyball, kayaking, dining and enjoying the social and lively atmosphere. The sand is soft and the water clear, but one must swim out quite a distance to experience some good snorkeling activity. Sairee beach also is largely affected by the tide. At times it seems like the sand stretches out forever, whereas other times it doesn't leave much space on the beach for lounging. The water is mostly still and shallow and is great for families with young children.
In the evening Sairee beach becomes a magical place with the breathtaking sunsets. Many visitors and locals alike enjoy a happy hour evening drink while staring out at the magnificent colours of the sky. Restaurants and bars come to life with fun music and the later it gets, the wilder the beach party can become. Even if one is not staying in Sairee during their holiday, it would be hard to miss this 1.5 km beach stretch with sunsets that need to be seen to be believed.
Freedom beach has one of the most popular secluded shores on Koh Tao. The beach is quite small creating a private and intimate feel perfect for a holiday getaway. There is a wooden restaurant selling cold beverages and snacks to the left, and a pathway to the right leading to Taa Toh Lagoon in front of Freedom Beach resort. All beaches on Koh Tao are open to the public, however given the location of some resorts bringing outside beverages and food is discouraged.
This place is an excellent spot to sling a hammock, take some inspiring photos, swim in the crystal clear water, and snorkel through beautiful corals and marine life. It is always good practice to make sure to collect your garbage once you leave making this beach beautiful for current and future visitors alike.
Jansom bay is a private beach that can be accessed through Charm Churee Villa Resort. There is a small fee to use the beach, but many argue that it is well worth it. Deckchairs and beds are available and a restaurant on the beach can satisfy any appetite. This beautifully maintained beach has white sands, water deep enough to swim and exciting snorkeling opportunities along the rocks of the bay. Due to its lack of traffic the marine life is better preserved and porcupine pufferfish, yellow boxfish and even sting rays can be spotted. Dive boats may be nearby during the afternoon, so for a more private experience get there early.
Koh Nang Yuan Island is recognized as one of the most beautiful and spectacular islands in the world. Located only 400 meters off the north end of Koh Tao, this island is in fact three small islands connected by a sparkling white sandbar with water on both sides. The surrounding waters are full of colourful corals and plentiful marine life making it an ideal snorkeling and shallow water dive location. There is a daily ferry from Koh Tao making the trip, but a boat taxi can also be hired for a reasonable rate to transport visitors. There is a small fee when entering onto Koh Nang Yuan and plastic or cans are not permitted. There is one resort with restaurant on the island which also has an attached dive shop. These bookings can be made directly on Koh Tao. If visiting this area for the first time, Koh Nang Yuan is a must see for a day of natural wonder and dazzle.
Thian Og Bay also known as Shark Bay is a stunning white powder beach with no direct access. Visitors are welcomed to pass through Laem Thian resort to explore the beach which is free and worth a visit. The water is many shades of turquoise and allows snorkelers to swim with Black Tip Reef sharks during the early morning and late afternoon. The sharks are not dangerous and are quite small, however respect for marine life is always encouraged in order to avoid any accidents. The corals at Shark Bay are mostly dead which allows for spotting some of the larger fish when swimming into the middle of the bay. Laem Thian resort has a restaurant and bar on the shore allowing visitors to enjoy beverages and meals if their appetite desires. Driving to Laem Thian resort is quite easy with the roads mostly paved except for a small dirt track in the beginning. A day on this beach and a snorkel with the sharks is a highly recommended holiday must.
Tanote Bay located on the east coast of Koh Tao boasts a large sandy beach area, beautiful boulder rock formations, and aqua water perfect for swimming and snorkeling. There isn't much natural shade on this beach so visitors are encouraged to protect themselves with sunscreen or long clothing. There are a few resorts, restaurants and dive shops operating from the beach ensuring that all beach goers have their needs met from food to equipment and rest. The waters are home to corals in hues of greens, blues, and purples along with rocks covered in Christmas tree worms in a riot of colour. Exploration of this beach is a holiday must, however caution should be taken when driving to Tanote Bay. The road is a combination of paved concrete and dirt track that can be steep and dangerous for inexperienced riders. Boats and taxis can be hired for the journey to this wonderful beach.
Sai Daeng Beach is another secluded island paradise. Road access has been blocked by an existing resort, but access through is allowed and free. The sand in Sai Daeng is white and soft and the water turquoise and lively. The coral reef in the surrounding area is well preserved making this an enjoyable snorkeling spot for visitors. From Sai Daeng Beach one can also access Hin Ngam just to the east where more snorkeling, and water exploration can continue.
Mango Bay is one of the most beautiful and popular snorkeling spots on the island. The sand is soft and white and the waters turquoise and calm. Schools of fish can be spotted around the rocky walls of the bay and many divers come to this location for beginner training. The bottom of the water is sandy allowing for a most pleasurable swimming experience and the seclusion lets one feel they are on a tropical paradise that can only be imagined. Access to Mango bay can be challenging and it is recommended that either a boat taxi, or 4x4 land taxi is hired for the journey. There is a concrete road leading to the beach but it is extremely steep and should only be attempted by an experienced rider on a reliable bike.
Laem Thian beach is one of the most private and deserted beach spots on the island. There are currently no resorts nor restaurants in this area so if complete seclusion is what you are after this may be the place. The area is mostly rock formations with a small sandy beach patch. It is a beautiful spot for snorkelling as the waters surrounding are quite deep allowing for some of the bigger fish to make themselves seen. The beaches seclusion has also allowed for turtles to return to this natural habitat and lay thier eggs during season. In addition to snorkeling, Laem Thian has a foot track that when followed leads to an exciting rock jumping spot on the other side of the cape. If you use caution and good judgement when cliff jumping and always have a buddy with you, a day at this beach can be an exciting adventure.
Hin Wong bay is a relatively large area most popular for diving and snorkeling. There is very little sand to relax on so if water activity is your desire, there is a lot to see and explore. It is recommended that visitors rent a kayak because the rocky terrain makes land exploration too difficult to maneuver. The bay usually has crystal clear waters making snorkeling here a must while the depths of the bay can exceed 30 meters allowing some bigger fish to make themselves seen. There are a couple of resorts with restaurants at the bay where one can quench a thirst and satisfy an appetite.
Aow Leuk bay is a wonderfully calm and private beach located in the south of Koh Tao. The beach is pristine with white sand, turquoise waters and coral reefs lining both sides of the bay. There is a sandy bottom in the water making swimming very comfortable, and the coral lined bay makes it a fantastic snorkeling and dive training destination.
Access to Aow Leuk bay can be challenging due to steep roads which are now mostly paved. For the novice motorbike rider it is recommended to park the bike where the road gets tricky and hike down to the beach by foot. Long tail taxi boat can also be chartered from Sairee beach or Mae Haad shores for a quick drop off.
The bay has a couple of shaded restaurants, and a small range of bungalows for rental. Fins, masks, snorkels, and kayaks are available for hire here. The coral is beautiful both in appearance and colour due to the shallower depths of the inner bay. The sun at Aow Leuk bay tends to dip behind the rocks quite early, so if you want a day of tanning arrive early.