A short ferry journey from the island of Koh Samui brought us to our next location, the beautiful island of Koh Tao. In light of the tragic events that occurred there just weeks before my trip (two backpackers were brutally killed on the island), I didn’t really know what to expect of this place – but once I was there I forgot all about that…I absolutely ADORED Koh Tao.
I can’t even put my finger on what it was that made me love this place so much, writing this post two months on I’m struggling to remember what I even did in Koh Tao; but I remember loving the vibe and feeling really happy there.
Koh Tao is a very touristy island; shops selling souvenirs, t-shirts and fake Ray-Bans were every where you turned, the streets dotted with hotels and western restaurants – but I actually found these things quite comforting. I despise the idea of being an ignorant traveler who only wants what they’re used to, but by that point in my trip (two and a half weeks in), home comforts and familiarity were much appreciated! The relaxed island vibe and the fact Koh Tao is quite a small island struck similarities with the Caribbean island of Barbados in my mind; a place I feel very at home in, having been there 3 times, spending my 21st birthday there, having family there, and actually being of Bajan descent myself. In addition to this, Koh Tao was also the first place on this trip where I’ve seen the type of people I would see at home, your typical tourists, which could be considered as a bad thing – but together with all the things I previously mentioned: the mix of familiarity and a beautiful new environment was a blissful combination.
Our 5 nights in this divers’ paradise island were spent incidentally at a hotel named Asia Divers Resort. Despite the lack of hot water and temperamental WIFI, I would go as far as saying this was my favourite accommodation of the entire trip. The rooms were comfortable – clean, and provided with new towels and bedding every day, the pool was lush, surrounded by palm trees and lovely greenery; the whole place was just really cosy. If I were to go back to this hotel I’m sure a tonne of happy memories would immediately come flooding back to me.
Koh Tao is famous for its heavenly beaches, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Chilling out in the sea whilst having a break from the burning sun, looking around at the trees and the hills, the longtail boats, sun shining…I felt like I’d literally found heaven on earth. I was enjoying the moment so much that I didn’t actually take any decent pictures of Sairee beach! Of course, that is how the world is meant to be enjoyed in all honesty, taking it all in with your eyes, and ears, and nose, and hands, not through a lense. But hey, here is one picture I managed to take whilst scoffing a club sandwich at a beach side bar. (Have I mentioned how much I love club sandwiches)
Between lounging on the beach or by the pool reading my book, and dodging the blistery rain showers which saw the drout end and the monsoon season begin, here are some of my Koh Tao highlights:
Koh Tao pub crawl
The fact I put this in my highlighted memories of Koh Tao is somewhat ironic, seeing as I barely remember that night and it took some hungover discussions with the rest of the group the next morning to piece the events of the night together. The first bar started off with some buckets, banter, and my friends wetting themselves laughing when I said you can’t take selfies with me in a dark room because “YOU CAN’T SEE ME”, and everything after that was a bit of a blur. From what I do remember it was a fabulous night, which fell on Halloween; people with painted faces and scary costumes, lots of buckets, a Ladyboy show – in which one of the lads in the group joined in and got on stage, slut-dropping, dancing on tables, laughing gas, one of the girls disappearing for an hour then coming back with her face painted, some lads getting lairy, a power cut at the final bar, and a drunken walk home…what more could you ask for of a night out eh?
As I mentioned before, Koh Tao is crawling with western restaurants; Italian, Mexican, American, European…you name it. When you’re hungry on this island you’re sure to find something that will tickle your fancy. The morning after the night before (pub crawl) I ventured out by myself to find some grub that would attempt to cure my raging hangover; and I wasn’t disappointed when I found a little place called Blue Chair and stuffed a beautiful chicken salad sandwich down my gob. Of course, as well as all these Western restaurants and bars, there were plenty of Thai options too; such as the beach front restaurant we went to that same night. The Wind Beach resort was a typical Asian set-up, cushions on the floor around low set tables to eat around – it was really quite beautiful; as was the Green Thai Curry I ordered. Unfortunately, the service there was not up to much, but what can ya do. We didn’t stick around there for dessert but instead enjoyed some delicious ice cream from one of the many ice cream stands in the little alleys by the beach.
Dinner the next evening was at a BBQ themed restaurant named Sairee cottage, and similar to the night before, the service wasn’t spectacular but thankfully the food was. I personally went for Thai cuisine rather than BBQ, in the form of Spring Rolls for starters and Yellow Curry for main which was quite delish, but the BBQ food did look amazing.
My two favourite food establishments in Koh Tao were Sairee Sairee restaurant and Farango; both located near Sairee beach, next door to each other in fact. Sairee Sairee’s menu was mostly American and European cuisine, over the course of our time in Koh Tao I visitied this place for breakfast, lunch and dinner! They must have got sick of my face in the end. Full English breakfast, paninis and burgers were absolutely divine. Farango was an Italian restaurant, which we visited for dinner twice as a group; I’m such a sucker for Italian food, and I’m quite obsessed with Lasagne. Of course, I ordered Lasagne on both occasions and it was truly scrumptions.
Koh Tao, I rate you A+ for food.
Beauty and relaxation
A bit of a girlie note here, but Koh Tao was the place where my nail life changed forever; I discovered shellac! Gel nails, in which the nail varnish lasts weeks and weeks on end without chipping. Some of us visited a beauty salon for massages and nail treatments; I decided to go for a mani-pedi, shellac on the hands and normal nail varnish on the tootsies – with everything in Thailand being so much cheaper than the UK it was a perfect bargain. I chose a bright yellow shade, and it looked so perfect that my lifelong habit of biting my nails disappeared – in fear of ruining my shellac! Two months on, my nails are healthy and super long! It sounds ridiculous but I’m so excited by this, as I’d never ever had nice nails before. I’m a changed woman!
My absolute favourite memory of Koh Tao – and one of my many favourite activities I did on this trip – was a snorkelling day trip on what can only be described as a boat of death (not quite the Titanic, but I feared it would have a similar end).
As I mentioned before, monsoon season was on the horizon, and the day of this trip the weather was quite horrendous. The wind and rain made the boat extremely rocky; I’ve never experienced sea-sickness in my life until that point. It genuinely felt like the boat was going to topple right over, I absolutely hated it at first.
But as the weather started to let up, and we stopped off at the first island for some snorkelling, the day soon improved. I’d never snorkelled properly before, so me being me I was a bit frightened, but it was absolutely wonderful. I got to see some stunning and colourful fish very close up, and sort of got chased by them when some of the lads threw food into the sea near us! It was an incredible experience, and another one of those moments where I thought “wow, I’m here, in Thailand, doing some incredible things that I’d never dreamt of doing before.” What made it even better was seeing one of my friends who couldn’t swim get into the deep sea and go underwater; couldn’t have been more proud of her.
Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any more exciting, we stopped off at the final destination of the trip; Nangyuan Island. I can honestly say I’ve never seen or been to such an idyllic and tranquil destination. Thailand seems to be a “there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs” sort of place, evident by what felt like a climb of 13726836 steps to get to the viewing area where you can take in the outstanding views of the island. It was SO worth it, just look at it…
Being in Nangyuan Island felt like stepping into a screensaver. The beauty was just indescribable. The water in the sea was so ridiculously clear, you could see your feet in it and can barely tell where the air ends and the water begins.
This island was a beautiful way to end a magnificent day.
Our final night in Koh Tao was spent in one of the best ways we knew how; by getting notoriously drunk of course. Sadly, the monsoon-ness of our time in Koh Tao meant we couldn’t go out-out on this night, as it was pissing it down with rain and the best bars in the island are open air. So we raided a 7/11 for alcohol and played drinking games in the hotel. Most of us were sensibly drunk, whereas one member of the group drank an entire bottle of Jameson to himself in a very short period of time and spoke to my family on facetime! It was so funny though, and a lovely way to spend our last night all together; as the next day we would lose two of our girlies in the group as they were only on the 3 week leg of the Thai Adventure – meaning they were heading onwards *sad face*
Saying goodbye to these girls and Koh Tao made me realise what I loved about Koh Tao most, which was hanging out with my amazing new group of friends in a leisurely fashion. I love them all so much (which I shall talk about more in a future post).
So next stop, the full moon party island of Koh Phangan; but before that I’ve gotta say thank you Koh Tao, for a wet and wonderful time; I will definitely see you again in the future! So until next time…