Wow! Time sure does fly. We just got back from our trip to Ko Tao and are trying to find the words to describe time we spent there. We had read alot about Ko Tao before coming here. At eight square miles Ko Tao is the smallest inhabited island in the Bay of Thailand and it has only been inhabited since the late 1940s. The first settlers were fishermen and coconut farmers. Scuba divers arrived in the 70s and the first resort was built in 1984. There are about 2,500 native Thai residents but a large ex-pat population of about 5,000 raises the population to about 8,000. And the reason everyone is here is to scuba and snorkel. The coral reef is amazing and everyone is serious about preserving the reef and all of it’s inhabitants.
Our Ko Tao adventure began by hopping a two hour long ferry ride whose first stop was the island Ko Pha Ngan-most famous for the Full Moon Parties. Almost everyone on our ferry got off there because the party was starting that night. An hour later we landed at Ko Tao. Our hotel transportation was an open bed truck with a bench on each side. Being the old ladies we got to sit in the back seat of the cab and little did we know how lucky we were. Ko Tao is an old volcanic island and the roads twist and turn and rise and plummet enough to scare the living daylights out of you. On the ride back into town to catch the ferry back to our island Carol sat in the truck bed and Kathy had to keep telling our driver not to worry, “it’s just my sister screaming.”
We checked into our hotel changed into swimsuits and headed to the beach. When we booked this place last June we chose it because it boasted of great snorkeling in our bay.
R It was better than great snorkeling- it was some of the best snorkeling either of us had ever done. Long story short we basically spent all our time in the water- The coral varieties were phenomenal, the anemones off the chart and the fish were beyond belief. There were brillant Blue Coral Boring clams, Tangs, Wrasse, Parrotfish, Cowfish, Bannerfish, Filefish, Butterfly fish, Gourami, Damsel fish, Goat fish, thousands of Sea Cucumbers of all different shapes sizes and colors and lots more we have not yet identified. Unfortunately we did not have an underwater camera but, rest assured, we will bring one next time we come here. In the meantime spend a moment looking up the ones we mentioned-gorgeous.
Needless to say we spent all day in the water but did not participate in the other popular activity here in Ao Tanote beach-rock climbing and jumping. Definitely an activity for the younger set-although we don’t think we were ever young or crazy enough to attempt this.
EVERYONE snorkels on Ko Tao. Every morning starting at 9 a.m. there are lessons for youngsters as young as 4 up to adults. It’s neat to see groups of kids with their wetsuits, mask and fins take off in the ocean practicing their dolphin dives and diving off low rocks. Most people staying at our resort were Russian and so were their instructors.
Long boats are another way to get around Ko Tao (a lot less scary than the roads) and during the day they would drop off people from other parts of the island to snorkel at our bay.
Spending all day in the water made for early dinners on the beach straight to bed and repeat the next day.
Before we knew it our stay was over but don’t worry- with water this gorgeous we’ll be back!