11/8/13 – I concentrated intensely on the horizon. I was determined NOT to get seasick on this Ferry ride. The third Ferry of the day. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Japanese man “loosing his cookies” and I quickly turned my focus to the horizon. The Gulf of Thailand looked like a sea of rolling carpet. It started out as light green and then a distinct drop off to deep blue. A thin thai boy sat next me for a while and chat with a cute younger thai couple in front of me. We sat on the outside deck. It was interesting to hear their conversation and try to understand what they were talking about even though I didn’t know the language. The thai language sounds like many different sounds & pitches to me and I tried to listen with a fresh ear to my English conversation with Jeff to hear the sounds to changes in pitch.
About the time the swells started hitting approximately 4 – 5 feet was when everyone started to turn green. When the island coast with small homes came into clear view we all saw a light at the end of the tunnel. From the Ferry, Koh Tao look like big little island. There were lots of little coves that backed up to steep small jungle-covered mountains. The water looked blue green with white beaches. A paradise like no other I have ever seen.
We successfully made it to the Koh Tao Pier (without barfing) and disembarked as fast as possible. We were a little worried where our hotel was located and how we were going to get there, but was happy to discover that it was a few meters down from the Pier. It was an easy 10 min. walk.
As we stepped on the open-air porch of The Koh Tao Royal Resort, Bowaylen, the owner’s wife, greeted Jeff with a “Jeff Westcott?” That was an awesome feeling! The lodge was beautiful and located right on the water. It had its own little beach and deck & beach swing shaded by a big palm tree of sorts.
Steve, a Australian & the owner, grabbed three of our 4 bags and headed to our Bungalows. The bungalows are simple. Some have AC available. The Lodge has a nice little restaurant. The Wifi is only good in the Lodge. Not available in the Bungalows. We book through agoda.com, so got a discount rate. (Approx. $40-46 each).
Our bed was very hard and you could feel the springs. So after the first sleepless night we asked the owner for a new mattress and they happily accommodated our request. The 2nd mattress was also very hard, but better then the first. The thai hotel owners like firm beds. The owners both worked at the resort and were very helpful and friendly. Happy to help. They gave us suggestions for our daily outing to different coves and answered all of our questions.
I can’t say enough about the snorkeling on this island. I was going to dive, but then I would have had to go by myself because everyone else with me is not certified and really had no desire to learn to dive. So we snorkeled and I can honestly say it was some of the best snorkeling I have seen in my life. Even better then some dives I have done in the past. No joke! The water was warm and only slightly cloudy in places. The fish were SO colorful. Rainbow fish that truly resembled the children’s book “The Rainbow Fish.” Florescent greens, blues, pinks and deep purple fish and coral made me so happy. ☺ For 5 days, we rode motorbikes to different coves around the island. All were a little different, a little funky and interesting in their own way.
It was busy and relaxing. We made a point to try to eat “street food” or at cheaper Thai restaurants because we had spend much more then we budgeted for food in Bangkok & Railay Beach. We found 3 street vendors we liked for lunch and desert. One girl made Pad Thai & large baguette sandwiches for 50baht. Perfect for lunch. We also found a very rich and taste banana & Nuttell (chocolate) fried egg roll style (50baht). Crazy calories, but it was good a couple times.
We found a little, very basic Thai place call Nana that was cheap food and beers. We found some fun restaurant options on Sairee Beach. Even had Sushi twice while we were there … Big Treat. ($30 for 4 people including drinks) Expensive for our Thai standard/budget, but cheap when compared to Breckenridge.
Keep in mind, it was hot and we were cruising around the island in our bath suits and shorts more of the time. I think I got the most tan here even though I put “30 sun screen” on a few times a day.
We stayed at Mae Haad Bay, but spent a lot of time at Sairee Beach.
My favorite coves on the Island:
Tanote Bay – For the big rock and snorkeling right off the beach.
Freedom Beach – The cove is all rock. Large rock and tough to access. The beach area is a little sketchy at first because a guy asks you to buy a drink in order the access the beach, but then you learn that is helps pay for the trash clean up. For some reason a bunch of trash floats to the beach in this cove every night and he must clean it up. The guy has used the trash to make an amusing little attraction . Great photo opportunities. The snorkeling here is also amazing
Keep in mind that this little island is VERY hilly. More often then not, to get to a cove there was very tricky scooter driving required. Steep, Steep up & down hills made started our trip to Mango Bay much to late in the day. The road was very rough and washed out in some places which caused some major stress for the Scooter drivers (Kenady & Jeff). When we finally reached the bay it was almost dark and we had missed the snorkeling and had to immediately turn around to get back before dark. Recommendation: Take a boat to Mango Bay.
I highly recommend a visit to this Island if you ever make a trip to Thailand. A true paradise the locals are fighting to keep clean and beautiful. Who knows, maybe I will be back for a visit sooner then later 😉 Enjoying the climb …