A quick guide to finding the best beast on Koh Tao. From secluded, white sand beaches to sprawling party hubs, Koh Tao has you covered!
You might be surprised to know that some of Thailand’s best beaches
Whether you’re looking for
How to Get to Koh Tao
There are several options available for travelers wanting to get to Koh Tao. The fastest way is to get a flight to neighboring Koh Samui and then take a quick ferry to Koh Tao.
However, unless you score a cheap flight ticket to Koh Samui, this option is most likely going to be the most expensive.
FIND ALL BUDGET TRANSPORT TO KOH TAO
The Cheaper Options: Bus and Ferry
Usually, flights to and from Bangkok and Phuket are going to be the cheapest in Thailand. Luckily, there are also several buses that run from Phuket and Bangkok and connect to Koh Tao via a bus.
Stitching together a bus and ferry combo is completely possible by yourself. However, if you want to save time and pay the same money, then I’d recommend just buying a combined bus and ferry ticket from either Phuket or Bangkok for $30.
These combined tickets are the faster speed catamarans and air-conditioned coaches that will take you the whole way. You also won’t get ripped off for an expensive transfer at the ferry terminal as this is also included.
The Best Beaches on Koh Tao
I spent just over two months on Koh Tao completing my Dive Master program, so I had plenty of time to check out these beaches and to make a good call on which ones would make the list. Keep in mind this list isn’t in any specific order and will depend on what you are looking for.
Check out the map to find the locations of all of the beaches on Koh Tao in the list below.
MORE THAN JUST EPIC BEACHES: 14 BEST THINGS TO DO ON KOH TAO ISLAND
1. Shark Bay (Haad Thien Beach)
Shark Bay is located on the Southern facing side of Koh Tao. This beach is famous for its snorkeling and the Black Tip Reef Sharks that frequent the shallows in the early mornings. If you’re looking to swim with the sharks, check out this post detailing how and when you will need to visit this beach.
The actual beach (Haad Thien Beach) is privately owned by the resort. You can either drive to the resort and pay for entry or simply enter the bay from the cliff side stairs. The best route to access the beach is to head to OK2 Bungalows and walk down the cliff-side ramp until you reach the water.
Once you are at the water, there is a bamboo walkway over the jagged rocks around the side of the bay. You can either chill out once you reach the smooth rocks and snorkel in the bay, or keep walking around for some small little cliff jump spots of 2 -3
Check out the full guide on where to swim with reef sharks on Koh Tao.
2. Freedom Beach
Freedom beach is one of my favorite beaches on Koh Tao. This small, sheltered white-sand beach has epic turquoise water and a quiet surf ambiance without the waves. There are some hammocks hanging from the trees just behind the water’s edge.
Freedom Beach is on the opposite side of Shark Bay, and can be reached by riding about 3 minutes passed the turnoff to OK2 Bungalows. There will be a short stretch of dirt road before reaching the car park for a resort. Keep walking down and you will see a sign for Freedom Beach.
The owners of the small restaurant do a pretty great job of keeping the beach clean, so if you want to thank them, buy a drink or snack. Just remember to take your trash with you.
3. Koh Nang Yuan
Koh Nang Yuan isn’t really one of the beaches on Koh Tao, but a very small double-headed island about half a
You can get here by paying one of the many taxi-boat drivers on Sairee Beach. General price to get a long-boat from Sairee will cost you about 250 baht per boat for the round trip.
Alternatively, if you’re in a group and want to snorkel, consider this private speed boat tour.
4. Tanote Bay
Although Tanote Bay is on the other side of the Island from the hustle of Sairee, it is one of the most popular beaches on Koh Tao. This is largely due to the awesome snorkeling and cliff jumping.
To get to Tanote Bay from Sairee, head towards Cha Lok until you see a large sign on your left. You will pass the small and only animal clinic on the island and continue up and over the hill. Continue straight on this road until you reach the end, where you will see a small dirt road that continues all the way to the beach.
This main road is one of the most scenic in Koh Tao, offering epic panoramic views. We found ourselves stopping most times along the road to check out the epic views of the island coast.
There is a large rock surfacing about 4m out of the water at Tanote Bay. This rock has some of the best snorkeling out of the other beaches on Koh Tao. You can also climb to the top of the rock to jump off into the deep water below.
5. Hin Wong Bay
Hin Wong Bay is another epic bay with a small rocky beach on Koh Tao. This spot is a little quieter than other beaches on Koh Tao, mainly due to the monster hill that you have to ride up to reach it.
To get to Hin Wong Bay, ride towards Smile Mart from the Sairee Beach main area. Keep riding along this main road, past Smile Mart, and up the hill. It is quite steep and you will most likely need at least a 110cc scooter to get up this one. Once you’ve reached the top of the hill, you can check out the spectacular views of Sairee, before riding down the other side of the hill towards Hin Wong Bay.
Many people like to visit Hin Wong Bay for snorkeling or simply just relaxing on the rocky beach. There are also many dive boats that moor here when the weather is rough on the Sairee, Western Side of Koh Tao.
6. Cha Lok Bay
Cha Lok Bay is a large beach stretched by a long strip of white sand. There are a few boats moored up on this bay, but the water is clear and much better for swimming than the poplar Sairee Beach.
This beach is fairly easy to find as many dive shops are scattered along the stretch of the beach. To get to Cha Lok Bay, head towards Cha Lok town and keep riding past the turnoff to Tanote Bay. Once you reach Koh Tao Resort, you can walk through the gaps in the many resorts and dive shops and onto the beach.
7. Sairee Beach
Everyone heading to Koh Tao will end up at Sairee Beach at one point or another. Whether if it’s for the famous Koh Tao pub crawl, or looking for dive shops to organize a Padi certificate with, Sairee Beach is the main tourist area of Koh Tao.
It’s not hard to miss this beach, but I found the best spots were on the northern tip of the beach, away from the longtails and dive boats that are coming in and out of the bay.
There are also some great bars along the stretch of the beach. Sairee is great for sunset, as you can watch the sun disappear behind the horizon.
Tip: Make sure to check out the fire throwers who perform nightly along the stretch of Sairee beach.
8. Abandoned Resort Beach (Laem Thian Beach)
The Abandoned Resort is one of my
After checking out the abandoned resort, you have the option of snorkeling in Laem Thain Bay, or cliff jumping on the other side of the bay where some tall rocks stick out of deep water.
Check out the full post on how to get to the Abandoned Resort here.
Book Your Trip To Koh Tao
Book Cheap Flights
Still in the planning stage of your trip? Currently, the best and easiest way to find cheap flights are to use Momondo and Skyscanner. Between the two, you’ll be guaranteed to always find the cheapest flight, anywhere in the world.
Book Your Accommodation
Whether you’re looking for hostels, hotels, guest houses, or resorts between Booking.com and Agoda, you’ll always get the best deals. I always search using the map feature to find accommodation in the best locations. Sometimes, if I want to stay in a place a little longer, I’ll use Airbnb.
Book Tours and Transport
You already know that I prefer independent travel. In saying that, sometimes the best and cheapest way to get things done is to just book a tour or package. For Thailand, I always use Klook and Viator. To find cheaper transport in Thailand like buses, trains, and ferries, you can also check 12GoAsia.
Don’t Forget Adventure Travel Insurance
If you’re reading this blog then you’re more likely to be seeking adventures over poolside sips. After having my entire bag stolen in Barcelona (including camera gear) I’ve sworn to always have travel insurance. By far, my favorite company for the most comprehensive adventure travel insurance is World Nomads. If you’re on the fence, you can read my article to see if it’s right for you.
Where to Stay on Koh Tao – Accommodation Guide
There are several options for travelers looking to stay on Koh Tao island. To save you time, I’ve listed some of the best options below.
HOSTEL RIGHT NEXT TO MAE HEAD PIER FOR $6 / NIGHT – BLACK WOOD HOSTEL
The Black Wood Hostel is one of the highest-rated hostels on Koh Tao and is located just a 5-minute walk to from Mae Head Pier. This is the perfect place to stay if you’re coming in on a later boat or looking for a central hostel close to the pier.
BEST BACKPACKER HOSTEL IN SAIREE FOR UNDER $10 / NIGHT – BP HOSTEL
BP Hostel has shared accommodation options which all include Air Con for the hotter Koh Tao nights. It’s also located in the heart of Sairee and close to the beach, smile mart and the Koh Tao pub-crawl.
TOP GUEST HOUSE ON KOH TAO – NIRVANA GUEST HOUSE
This guest house has the best ratings on Koh Tao. It’s also very close to Mae Head pier and several quality dive schools. It’s also another budget-friendly option for couples or solo backpackers.
More Thailand Travel Guides
I hope that this guide to Koh Tao’s best beaches has inspired you to explore this island gem! For more travel guides from Thailand, make sure to take a pick from the list below.
Or, if you want more Koh Tao travel tips, check out this list of the absolute best things to do on Koh Tao!