What's so special about Koh Tao, Thailand?
This question is more complicated than you might expect. Although it is widely known that Koh Tao’s diving is among the best in Asia for the health of the reefs and the very high likelihood of spotting the biggest and most elusive fish in the sea- the majestic whale shark, there are a number of other factors and many intangibles that have resulted in an extraordinary number of seasoned divers and travelers either settling on, or returning to, its welcoming shores time and time again.
For one, the climate is impeccable. While its tropical location ensures frequent welcoming rains to replenish the island’s reservoirs, water table and jungle, the true monsoon season here lasts from just 4-6 weeks allowing for up to 11 months of truly spectacular weather.
Because of the unique geography of the Gulf of Thailand, tidal movements are very mild and the gulf is one of the few places in the world which produces a single movement throughout the day. This results in less complex dive planning and longer windows to hit the dive sites at their peak hours- this is especially useful for technical divers in the area. Also, due to its strategic location along ancient sea routes, the waters are filled with significant historical shipwrecks with more being uncovered all the time. In fact, a number of important finds dating to WWII have been reported in just the last few years alone. The average depth in the Gulf of Thailand is a mere 50 meters which means that the wrecks that are there are well inside technical dive limits and are easily accessible for extensive exploration, and when permitted, salvage operations.
On-Island Attractions of Koh Tao, Thailand
But even the most avid diver spends the vast majority of his time out of the water. It is the topside attractions that have long mesmerized the Koh Tao traveler. With long, stunning white-sand beaches, fantastic sunsets and a very relaxed island vibe, Koh Tao is easily one of the best places on the planet to truly charge the batteries and revitalize the spirit! Lazy beach bars with hammocks and bean bags strewn across them and gentle island rhythms in the background are a great place to pass the time in between dives or to chill out after a demanding training session in the gym.
Treks along the islands jungle paths with stops along the way for a refreshing homemade Thai meal with herbal tea can be a great way to spend a day off. Or you can hit one of the many spas or massage shops for a stress-relieving Thai massage, facial or body wrap to rejuvenate the senses.
When the evening rolls around there are a number of great Thai and Western restaurants where you can find anything you like from the best Tom Yum soup, to a perfectly cooked New Zealand fillet to any type of seafood you may fancy.
Finally, as the evening turns into the night, a few of those lazy beach bars transform themselves into funky clubs with any number of traveling DJ’s coming through from all over the world to rock the island with the latest in hip-hop, trance and house tunes.
All of this, combined with the renowned hospitality of the island’s gentle, Buddhist inhabitants make Koh Tao a unique island treasure offering something for everyone!
Overall, Koh Tao is an ideal choice for a Thailand gap year.