Spending late afternoons on Sairee beach is a very peaceful thing to do as you watch the sunset over the fishing boats and pleasure craft just offshore.
Fondest memory: The BBQ meals on the beach of a night were my fondest memory as was the sunsets from the beach and resort pool.
With this being the location of the main pier and all boats arriving on Koh Tao stopping here it's not surprising that the area is so highly developed, but it has also kept some of it's old fishing village charm.
There is a Bank, ATM and Money Exchange service here, along with many Dive Offices, Travel agents, bike rentals, supermarkets, restaurants and Night Clubs.
Ko Tao is a scuba diving and snorkeling island. It is a lot less of a party compare to Ko Samui and Ko Phangan. You really do get a chance to unwind and relax. Even the parties are chill. There is no constant hasstle to buy this or bargain.
Fondest memory: Stepping on to the beach for the first time. It truly felt like paradise.
When we decided back in December that we wanted to do our Open Water Diving course we met with Marcel who has been an instructor living on Koh Tao for years. He seemed very calm and that was exactly what I was looking for in an instructor as I didnt feel completely relaxed at the idea of going underwater with fish that may be dangerous surrounding us! Anyway, he sold his sales pitch to us almost immediately, and out of all the instructors at Big Blue I would say he is the best. I have seen how the others interact with their divers and although there is nothing wrong with their attitude, I liked the calmness better that Marcel projected.
Then when we went back again in March we asked him if it would be possible to do our Advanced Diving course with him too and so he cleared some space and signed up to be our instructor. We were really happy about that and I feel even now that I wont be able to dive unless Marcel is there looking out for us! I told him this and he said that wherever we choose to dive in the future, if we get nervous at all, just look up and we will feel his presence there saying "don't forget to breathe!" and that should calm us down! he he..I feel that would actually work! I realise that one of these days we will dive and he wont be there with us, so it's nice to know he will be there in mind if not in person!
Fondest memory: Marcel takes his diving seriously. By that I mean he won't do anything underwater that may jeopadize his life or those of others. He is adventurous enough to go look under a rock to see if there is anything lurking there, but not stupid enough to go disrupt a family of sleeping eels! He never drinks the day before a dive, but will certainly let his hair down on his day off! If there is anyone out there who wants to go diving but is a little nervous at the thought of it, I would highly recommend asking for Marcel to be your instructor. And if you do, tell him Vicky from Beijing sent you!
Of course Koh Tao is much more than just diving.. in fact on this trip it was a miracle we managed to do ANY diving at all as it was New Year's and everyone was partying and stoning and after a mad-cap rush round Cambodia in 5 days lying in a hammock and lookin' out to the boats in the sea was just abt all we could manage most of the time ;)))
Koh Tao is also the smallest of that trinity of islands which is Koh Samui (big, commercial, blah..), Koh Pha Ngan (full moon parties and a young, way-out-there crowd...!!!), and Koh Tao (ahhh.. the most laid-back and least commercial)...
However, during high season, most resorts on Koh Tao won't take u in unless u sign up for some diving as most of them make their money from their dive centers.
Thai school kids are always turned out well in their uniforms, even in the poorest areas of the country. They give the impression of being obedient and diligent students too. Whether this is correct, I'm not sure, but that's the impression I have! This lot were on their morning asembly as I walked past.
It had been raining heavily hence the large puddles.
If you are planning on coming to Koh Tao and you are planning on getting your scuba certification, check out Bans diving resort. This might have changed but when i was there in May 2001, if you took the 4 day diving course, you could stay at the resort for those 4 days for free! Although there are many cool accomodations on the island and many diving schools, this at the time, seemed to be the best deal. But I'm pretty sure a lot of the other resorts offer similar deals. It also depends what you're looking for, maybe you'd rather be set back from the beach and the crowd nestled in the jungle on a hillside, (still only 5 min walk to the beach) or maybe you'd prefer a small more iscolated beach on the other side of the island like Tanote Bay. It's up to you, but I can tell you that there are no shortage of cool places to stay and visti on Koh Tao. See my accomodations tip for a breakdown on Ban's and enjoy!
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of Koh Tao would be a tie between exploring all the little nooks and crannys of the isand (including beaches that were completely empty!!!) with the scooters we rented and just chilling out on the beach with a bucket and watching the sun go down.
Fondest memory: Women work hard in Asia. At construction sites it is not unusual to see several women toiling away beside the men doing labouring jobs.