Ko Tao translates as â€˜turtle islandâ€™, So name because of its shape .Itâ€™s only about 21 sq km, and if the local folk areâ€™t involved in tourism, they mostly fish and grow coconuts. The beaches are pleasant and scenic enough,but most are too shallow for swimming .Diving has become a major industry on this island because of the surrounding waterâ€™s particularly good visibility and abundance ofÂ fishy wildlife and coral.
Ko Tao is a popular island and getting more popular all the time. Large numbers of resorts have gone up in the last Â few years, and during the hight season many of them are full. Electricity is still sporadic, with few resorts providing 24 hour service,but this situation will no doubtÂ improve. Unfortunately, growth always brings about its own problems , and Ko Taoâ€™s not an exception. A lack of seasonal rain brought Â water shortages in 2002, while rubbish collection has also become a serious issue.
Ban Mae Hat, on the western side of the island, is where boats dock. The only other villages on the island are Ban Hat Sai Ri, Ban Chalok Ban KaoÂ to the south. Just 1Km off the northwestern shore of the island is Ko Nang Yuan, which is really three islands joined by a sand bar.
The granite promontory of Laem Tato at the southern tip of Ko Tao makes a nice hike from Ban Chalok Ban Kao. About the only thing of historic interest on the island is a large boulder where King Rama V had his initials carved to commemorate a royal visit in 1900 The boulder, located at the southern end of Hat Sai Ri, has become something of al local shrine and is the focus of a small ceremony every October.
The coast of Chumphon but falling under the jurisdiction of Surat Thani, Ko Tao lies 45 kilometres north of Ko Pha-ngan and is only 20 square kilometres in area but it is known as the best diving site in the Gulf of Thailand.Â The turquoise water of Ko Tao is crystalline, coconut plantations still cover much of the landscape, and concrete roads are built along only a few beaches.Â Getting around the island is either by pick-up taxi or by boat.Â Motorbikes and mountain bikes are also available for rent to explore the island.
Attractions in and around Ko Tao include
Hat Cho Po Ro or Hat Sai Ri â€“ This small powdery beach provides accommodation. The Giant Clam Park nearby breeds the near-extinct giant clam and exhibits many aquatic animals. It is open daily.
Ko Nang Yuan – A coral island with a high viewpoint and long white sandy beaches.
Kong Hin Khao and Kong Hin Khiao â€“ These overlaying rocks have submarine alcoves, whereby many fish frequent.
Kong Hin Chumphon â€“ Many fish frequent this area on the northwestern part of the island. During breeding season in March â€“ April, this area is closed from any fishing activities.
Ban Mae Hat â€“ Pier, transportation terminal, diving schools and shops renting diving gear, concentrate in this economic centre of the island.
Kong Sai Daeng â€“ Rarely seen black-eared shark frequent the red sandstone by the mouth of Thian Nok Bay.
And The best period is from December to April.Â It is possible to travel to Ko Tao during the rainy season (May to October), though obviously, you should be prepared to run into showers and rainstorms.
Travel to Ko Tao by Boat
Ko Pha-ngan – Ko Tao From Ko Pha ngan to Ka Tao Songserm Express Boat leaves Ko Pha-nganâ€™s Thong Sala pier at 12 noon daily. Travelling time is 2 hours.Â The fare is 250 baht.Â Â Â Speedboats leave Thong Sala pier on Ko Tao at 8.30 a.m. and Â Â Â Â Â 1 p.m.Â Travelling time is 1 hour. The fare is 350 baht Â only.
Ko Samui – Ko Tao Boat departs from Ko Samui at 11 a.m. to Ko Tao via Ko Pha-ngan. The boat arrives Ko Tao at 1.30 p.m.Â The fare is 350 baht.Â Â Speedboats leave Maenam Pier on Ko Samui at 8 a.m.Â Travelling time is 1 Â½ hours.Â The fare is 550 baht.Â And Call Lomphrayah 0 7745 617 ot Songserm Travel 0 7742 0157 for more details.
Surat Thani â€“ Ko Tao Night boat departs from Surat Thani at 8 p.m.and arrives Ko Tao at 8 a.m. The fare is 250 baht only.