Koh Tao

Historically reserved for political prisoners, the island of Koh Tao lies off Thailand’s Southern Gulf Coast region. Nowadays, it’s a hub for diving, with much of the island given over to diving schools, dive shops and resorts specialising in diving activities.

The sea surrounding the island has almost no currents, making it a great place for beginners as well as more experienced divers. The island is known for its delicious food and buzzing nightlife, and is small but perfectly formed, measuring just over 20 square kilometers.

One main road runs from north to south, with smaller, often dirt, roads radiating out to the mountains and coastal areas. The beaches and dive sites are the main attractions and, for stunning views of the island and its coastline, hiking or walking to the high points is best, as most are inaccessible by road.

All the beaches here are public and the mountain ridges are good for rock climbing, cliff jumping, abseiling and bouldering. Boat trips to even smaller islands nearby make for a great day out.

Almost all accommodations on Koh Tao are linked to diving, with the majority of the hotels and resorts located off Sairee Beach, which runs along almost the entire length of the western side of the island. Beach huts, cabanas, bungalows and cottage-style properties are mostly offered, although a few luxurious boutique spa resorts boast modern villas and large swimming pools. One eco-conscious resort on JansonBay is built almost entirely from environmentally-sustainable bamboo.

Koh Samui’s small airport hosts flights from Bangkok, as does mainland ChumponAirport, with both offering ferries to the island. There is an overnight train from Bangkok to Chumpon and car ferries are available if you are travelling with a rented vehicle. Once on the island, taxis are expensive and hired motorbikes are the most practical mode of getting around if you are without a car.

The hottest months are April and May, with the cooler high season from November to March. Summer monsoons during the rainy season bring high humidity.