Koh Tao is one of the best places to go snorkelling and scuba diving in Thailand, and maybe even in whole Asia! It has around 20 kilometres of beautiful coastline that gently slopes underwater towards stunning marine life and ecosystems. The many beautiful beaches on Koh Tao have a shallow coral reef just off the shoreline which makes it easy to explore the beautiful underwater world by yourself. Although, you can also book a snorkel tour at one of the many tour operators! But which beaches are the best for snorkeling in Koh Tao? In this blog post you will find a collection of the best Koh Tao snorkeling spots including all the information you need to know!
Tanote Bay is located on the east coast of Koh Tao which makes it the ideal place to watch the sunrise. But there are many more things to do at Tanote Bay. Because it is a nice protected bay it is a perfect place for snorkelers. The coral reef slopes from around 2 meters below sea level to around 18 meters. You can find a wide variety of fish. The most common are Angelfish, Butterfly fish, Groupers, Anemone fish, Blue Spotted Ribbontail Stingrays, and sometimes a Hawksbill Turtle. After snorkeling, you have the opportunity to go cliff jumping from the massive boulder in the bay!
Shark Bay, also known as Haad Tien Beach, is located on the south end of Koh Tao island. It is a hotspot to go snorkeling. The reason for this is in the name, “Shark”. Yes, you got it right, this is one of the few places on Koh Tao where you have the chance to catch a glimpse of a shark. Don’t be afraid though, they are mostly little Black Tip Reef Sharks. They are incredible to see! Other animals to spot are large Green Turtles and of course many tropical fishes. The reef is quite shallow, so this place is a common spot for divers. Shark Bay can be accessed via long tail (taxi boat) or via the entrance of Haad Tien Resort. If you visit Koh Tao between January and July there is even a chance to spot whale sharks!
Freedom Beach is located on the southern tip of Koh Tao and has a shallow coral reef just off the shoreline. You can see Buddha Rock (Hin Taa Toh) standing out on the cape, and if you swim around the cape, schools of fish can often be found due to the constant water movement there. This makes Freedom Beach one of the best Koh Tao snorkeling spots!
Hin Wong Bay
Hin Wong Bay is located on the east coast of Koh Tao Island, above Tanote Bay. It is a beautiful beach surrounded by large boulders and crystal clear waters, offering one of the best Koh Tao snorkeling spots. There are several underwater pinnacles covered in fertile coral, anemones and many kinds of fish can be seen while snorkeling at Hin Wong Bay. Due to the rock formations it is difficult to walk around Hin Wong Bay, but you can rent a kayak to get around. For one of the best Koh Tao snorkeling spots, go across to the area in front of the beach on the south side of the bay. The water there is incredibly clear and you might be lucky enough to see a big school of sardines in water less than a meter deep. Another good place for snorkelling is in the north of Hin Wong Bay. Also there is lots of well preserved coral and abundant marine life.
Aow Leuk Bay
Aow Leuk is a beautiful big bay, located on the southeast coast of Koh Tao. You can experience a quieter side of the island and escape the hustle and bustle of Mae Haad and Sairee Village. Aow Leuk Bay is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. There are wonderful fringing reefs on both sides of the bay with amazing tropical fishes, such as Butterfly fish, Monacle Breams, Nudibranchs, Jenkins Rays, Saddleback Clown fish, and sometimes you can even spot the Lion fish. You can access How Leuk Bay via road or long tail (taxi boat).
Koh Nang Yuan island
These three tiny islands, located on the northwest coast of Koh Tao are all connected via a sandbank. The shallow reefs surrounding the island have soft and hard corals just a few meters away from the beach with crystal clear water. You will see schools of all sorts of tropical fish like the colourful parrotfish and shy angelfish. Twin Peak and the Japanese Gardens are the most popular spots which are shallow enough for snorkelers. Koh Nang Yuan is without a doubt one of the best Koh Tao snorkelling spots! The water is very calm because it has shelter from the islands. Perfect for beginner snorkeling!
Mango Bay is located on the north coast of Koh Tao and is one of the most popular Koh Tao snorkeling destinations. It is now accessible via road; however, be careful, the road down to Mango Bay is very steep. If you don’t want to take the risk to go down with your motorbike you can take a taxi boat to this beach. Mango Bay is a very easy to snorkel around. The reef is scattered all around the bay, so you don’t have to snorkel far to find amazing marine life. Most time of the year, you are likely to come across a big school of Yellow Scad. But also large schools of Yellow Tail Barracuda can be often found at Mango Bay. If you look carefully enough, you may even have the chance to find a seahorse!
Sai Daeng Beach
Sai Daeng beach is a very quiet beach with a well preserved coral reef. It is also a good start point to get to Shark Island, the best Koh Tao snorkeling spot on the island. There are kayaks and snorkeling sets available to rent from the restaurant located down on Sai Daeng Beach. Paddling out to Shark Island Koh Tao in a kayak takes approximately 10-minutes and you can tie your kayak to a floating buoy before jumping in the water for a snorkel.
Koh Tao weather
The climate on Koh Tao is hot and humid for most of the year. The rainiest months are October, November and December, so avoid these months. The best moment to come to the Koh Tao is from January to April but the island is also enjoyable during the months of March until August. At this time of the year Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao have the best weather of all Thai islands.
Where to stay on Koh Tao
The Place Luxury Boutique Villas
The Place Luxury Boutique Villas offers amazing one-bedroom villas in Koh Tao with an incredible view on the ocean located on the west coast of the island. We stayed at The Place for 2 nights and had the best time! You have complete privacy with your own dining area at the spacious terrace. A fully-equipped kitchen with a wide-range of cooking equipment. The air-conditioned bedroom offers a direct access to the outdoor infinity pool with an amazing view on the mountain and sea wit sunset view. The bathroom is beautiful with details of plants and the living room includes a flat screen TV and a DVD player for entertainment. Breakfast is not included but you can order at local restaurants and get it delivered to your door! This villa has so much privacy, we havent experienced before!
Prices start around €245 per night
Simple Life Cliff View Resort Koh Tao
Simple Life Cliff View Resort is located at the southern tip of Koh Tao’s Sairee Beach and offers luxury studios, 1 and 2 bedroom suites. The rooms with view on the swimming pool start around €65 per night wile the more luxury rooms with breathtaking view of Sairee Beach and the ocean start around €198 per night. This 3 star resort offers a private beach area, free Wifi and room service The cascading swimming pool runs through the centre of the resort and their restaurant serves fantastic Thai and international cuisine. A continental breakfast is daily available at the resort.
Prices start around €65 for the pool view rooms up to €198 per night for the sea view rooms
The Ozo Koh Tao
Here you will enjoy a peaceful hillside location located in the south of the island. The cozy, comfortably furnished rooms offer a living space of 32 – 40 square meters and are equipped with all the necessities for a relaxing stay. The amenities available in the rooms include air conditioning, refrigerator, TV, safe, hot shower, tea and coffee making facilities, free WiFi Internet and a private balcony or terrace from where you can enjoy views of the pool and mountains. Some of the rooms also have a kitchenette with a microwave. The outdoor pool with sun loungers makes it perfect for a lazy afternoon. We stayed for a few days at the Ozo and it was a great budget deal!
Prices start around €33
Of course there are also even cheaper accommodations on Koh Tao, such as hostels and guesthouses where you can stay for around €10 per night. Have a look at booking.com to find your perfect spot!
More Koh Tao travel inspiration
Read more about Koh Tao in these blog posts:
For all best tips about Koh Phangan, head over to these blog posts:
Is your plan to travel to Koh Samui? Then read this blog for all the best things to do in Koh Samui