The charming little village of Khao Tao is located to the south of Khao Takiab. The main attractions are the Khao Tao temple and the beach and bay of Hat Sai Noi. This is one of the smaller sheltered bays offering several lovely restaurants with excellent food. You do not want to miss the temple complex. There are numerous Buddha statues, a nice selection of caves, lookouts, freshwater lakes and a fishing village. The translation of Khao Tao is Turtle Hill. This is because the area was once exclusively inhabited by turtles. The area is well known among the Thai tourists due to the beaches, little fishing village, inland lake, delicious local restaurants and spectacular views of the coast. The island is one of the most sensational destinations across the globe for photographers, divers and anyone interested in spending some time in paradise.
A Trip to Khao Tao
Khao Tao is located about ten miles south of the town centre of Hua Hin. You can take a bus to Khao Tao by traveling Phetkasem Road which is the main highway in the area. You will get off at Baan Khai Tao village. This is the Hua Hin 101 road. You can then arrive at your destination by chartering a motorbike or a songthaew/tuk-tuk. You can go to the beach to relax or spend some enjoyable time at the temple complex. You can make independent arrangements, but you will risk spending a lot of time waiting for the public transport to arrive. This is especially true when you are heading back to the town centre of Hua Hin. Your best option is to go to Hua Hin and hire a taxi. The driver will be happy to provide you with a quote for a half or a full day, wait for you and bring you back at the timing of your choice.
The tiny island known as Turtle Island or Ko Tao is also in the same area as Khao Tao and Hua Hin. There are hillside viewpoints where you can see Ko Tao and the much smaller island of Ko Singto. This island is commonly referred to as Lion Island. This island has become famous among the diving community and the backpackers. The island is much closer to Ko Samui and Chumphon because it is located much further to the south.
Sensational Diving and Snorkelling
Koh Tao is considered a paradise by divers from all over the world. The island is rated second in the world for providing divers with certifications and qualifications for everything from free diving to snorkelling in addition to actually certifying the divers. You will discover the accommodations are extremely affordable and the diving is heavenly. The island has approximately a dozen different sights where you can learn how to dive. This includes Sattakut Wreck, White Rock and Shark Island. It does not matter if you are just starting out or a professional, you will find the ideal dive spot and diving course. If this is something you have been thinking about doing for some time, there is no better place than Koh Tao.
You can choose between free diving and snorkelling or learn both. Water sports have become extremely popular because they are a lot of fun. One of the best possible ways to spend your day is free diving or snorkelling in the local bays and beaches. You do not have to be a professional to enjoy this sport. This being said, it is always a good idea to take a little training prior to jumping right into the bay from the boat. One of the best locations for both activities is Aow Muang. The island offers numerous dive schools for both snorkelling and free diving. If you are new to water sports, you should begin with snorkelling because it is a lot safer. You can explore free diving once you have gained some experience. There are one-day introductions available for both sports. The chances are good once you have experienced the wonders of snorkelling you are going to want to take more lessons.
Scuba Diving Experience
One of the best dive schools in Khao Tao is the New Heaven Dive School. The business has been owned by family since 1995. This was also one of the very first schools to be established on the island. The school is currently offering PADI and SSI dive courses in addition to qualifications for every level of skill. The school has become extremely well known for their lessons in scuba diving. You will discover there are introductory one-day courses for beginner divers. Each group consists of four divers or less. If diving is not one of your interests, the school houses an interesting project for turtle conservation. You can receive a good education on both marine and turtle conservation. The best part is this activity is not only captivating but free.
Even if you generally have no interest in temples, this one is extraordinary and worth a visit. The temple complex is located on the hillside of Wat Tham Khao Tao. The views of the Gulf of Thailand are beyond beautiful and you can see Hua Hin as it fades away to the north. The various shrines and the temple have an intriguing mix of Thai and Chinese influences. There are small hollows and caves featuring images of Buddha along with carvings of numerous important historical figures such as Mother Earth or Phra Mae Thoranee. If you are not in the mood to climb the step leading to the top of the hill, you can simply relax and enjoy the breezes of the sea at the sala you will find right next to the turtle shrine. Think about climbing the steps because you do not want to miss the views once you reach the top of the hills. This is where a giant image of a Buddha sits looking out towards the sea. The lower level features a standing Buddha. If you make the effort to reach the very top, you will be rewarded with the views.
Beaches and Lakes of Khao Tao
There are two beaches located on both sides of the hillside. They are sometimes called Khao Tao Beach. You will see the beaches pinned more clearly on many of the maps as small sand beach (Hat Sai Noi) and big sand beach (Hat Sai Yai). The headland and the hillside of Khao Tao forms a natural line to divide the two. During the week, both of the beaches tend to be quiet. They are extremely popular with the local Thai tourists during the weekends. They come to taste the delectable seafood the Baan Khao Tao fishermen catch and simply enjoy the spectacular views. The first Thailand reservoir is located near the village although it is slightly inland. The development of the freshwater lake was a Royal Project.
The long stretch of Mae Haad Beach is located on the island’s northwestern side. The views of Koh Ma at sunset are spectacular. You can easily reach this island because it is connected to Khao Tao by a sand bar. The walk to the island is lovely. The government has designated the coral reef living in the waters and the beach as a marine park. This means you will be able to enjoy watching the sea life. Do not forget to bring along your camera because visitors have seen everything from the smaller reef sharks to turtles within these waters. Mae Haad is located right behind the biggest town on the island. You will meet travellers from every corner of the world here. The area offers a very large selection of boutique resorts. You can spend your afternoons relaxing on the beach before strolling over to the shops, bars and restaurants only a couple of hundred meters away.
On the islands western side, you will find Sairee Beach. This is Koh Taos’s most popular beach in addition to being the longest. The clear waters and beautiful sandy beaches are just waiting for you to enjoy everything there is to offer during your vacation. This beach is also the busiest Koh Tao has to offer. You will enjoy the restaurants, bars, resorts, nightclubs, bars and dive centers you will discover all over the beach. You can easily spend days here without running out of things to do including new restaurants to try, quaint shops to visit and the excitement of the nightclubs. Everything is easily in reach, so when you get hungry delicious food awaits you just a short ways inland.
Swimming with the Sharks
The name Shark Bay Koh Tao came from the Black Tip Reef Sharks frequently swimming through the waters of Thian Og Bay. This is an extremely popular destination on the island. You will find the area on the island’s southern side, very close to the John-Suwan Viewpoint. This is another area where you want to have your camera ready because the views of the bay are amazing. The beach found in this bay is owned by the Haad Tien Beach Resort. If you are interested in swimming with the sharks but are staying at a different resort, a long-tail boat is available at the bay. Your adventure will begin right in the waters of the bay. Another good option is to take a walk at the OK2 Bungalow Resort. From there you can get to the water from Ao Leuk Beach. You will have quite the adventure during your visit to Shark Bay.
Do not be surprised if one massage makes you want to have more. The island offers you massages right on the beach, in the village centre or at your resort. This is the epitome of relaxation. You need to set aside about an hour for your massage and the price is worth every single penny. If you are interested in helping to support the local population, have your massage on the beach. The locals who provide these Thai massages need your business and charge less than you will pay at any of the resorts. You can relax, enjoy your view of the ocean, really enjoy your massage and support the locals at the same time.
Chalok Baan Kao Bay
Chalok Baan Kao Bay is the third largest beach in Koh Tao. The beach is ideally situated on the south side of the island overlooking Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. You can easily see the Ang Thong Marine National Park. If you are travelling with your family, this is an excellent place on the island to spend the day. All of the water is shallow and the area is quiet and peaceful. If you decide you want to explore the area around Chalok Baan Kao Bay, Cape June Junea, Buddha Rock Cape and Freedom Beach can all be reached with less than a fifteen minute walk. Since both areas are connected by the resorts, you even have the option of walking to Shark Bay.
Island Views from Two View Rock
Two View Rock is on Koh Tao’s west coast in the centre of the island. The area faces the west coast. Your view of the island is incredible and well worth the trek you have to take to get there. You will never forget the glorious splendour of this island. The name Two View Rock came from two boulders that are leaning on one another. The name may be simple but it is accurate. These rock have not moved for numerous centuries. Between these rocks there is a space showcasing Koh Nang Yuan, Sairee Beach and as far out as Jansom Bay. You will never see a more extraordinary view. The Two View Rock hiking trail begins on Sairee Soi 1 road. This is not far from Sairee Beach’s entrance. You can easily make this trip from Tanote Bay by using the reservoir area for access.
Photographic Opportunities of the John-Suwan Viewpoint
The John-Suwan Viewpoint offers one of Khao Tao’s best mountain views. You can find this area on the island’s southernmost tip. This is the best place to see both the Thian Og and Chalok Baan Kao bays at the same time. You will most likely not need more than twenty minutes to make this hike, Make certain you come prepared with comfortable shoes, water and your camera. You can take gorgeous photographs of your friends and family set against the coral reefs and clear waters. This is an excellent opportunity to take home the best possible keepsakes from your trip. The chances are good once you return home, you will already be planning your next trip to Khao Tao.