Of all other possible islands we could have gone to from Bangkok, we chose Koh Tao because of thee reasons:
- It’s not Koh Samui
- There’s not that much party as on Koh Pha Ngan
- It’s known to be an island for divers (50+ dive shops on 21 sq.km!)
Wikipedia says: “Ko Tao is less developed than Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan, but has become increasingly popular especially with the mid-20s backpacker crowd in search of relatively inexpensive scuba diving certification. For the past two years the demographics of the island has seen an age increase, with many of the visitors who first visited the island over ten years ago are now returning with their families.”
Which I later found out looked like: “It’s a cool little place with lots of backpackers, it’s embracing the hipster needs of today’s 20-somethings by accommodating their morning urge to buy bad overpriced coffee that has to be consumed in a lofty building with pillars, concrete in the design and horrible wifi”. And also: “Yes, many people visited it a few years ago, loved it and now are continuously making a mistake of coming back with spouses and babies onto memory-lane trips. Those are often seen frowning at backpackers who would be carefully driving their overpriced nasty take-away coffee on their neon-coloured rented bikes, dangling their anklets into the dim of dawn”.
And it’s also really easy to get to. Night bus and ferry from Bangkok would be around $68 return (bus + boat – all the hustle). Convenient. Here’s the link, I found it surprisingly safe to book and to figure out.
Koh Tao is indeed small, we found it best to stay near the jetty ($15 per room per night) and walk to either Sairee Beach with the best breakfast in town.
As per diving – it was ok. We were probably on a trial of “now let’s see how much you really like diving, make it rain!!”. You see, after 25 or so beautiful dives in the warm clear water and visibility never lower 8m, with great encounters even on house reef dives, we were about to experience the other side of the diving spectrum: rain, cold wind, discovering the power of double-wetsuits and how a windbreaker can save your surface interval on the deck, how you can see absolutely nothing on a wreck dive (“… I don’t think I see that wheel he’s showing, whoa! I just almost hit a wheel!”) and I definitely never thought I’d be that excited to get out of the cold wet suit at the end of the second dive. We did 10 dives (Wiki’s right, the price was good), but can’t say they were all amazing. On the brighter side, our logbooks are 17 dives away from qualifying for the dive master training!
We’re definitely going to be more appreciative of good dives from now on and we’re totally going to Tioman soon, like omg, we’re so coming back for more dives!
Oh, and Koh Tao is also pretty at night.
(Pictures are all taken and edited by the one and only Anton Veselov aka “Oooooh, the cliff! Take the emo picture of me on the cliff! Can it be me, the sea, the cliff and minus the crocs? Hey, don’t laugh!” aka the Husband)