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Snorkel With Black Tip Reef Sharks at Shark Bay, Koh Tao

Snorkel With Black Tip Reef Sharks at Shark Bay, Koh Tao

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

If you’re in Koh Tao then you are already aware of the epic underwater world that surrounds the island. One specific sea creature that seems a little harder to catch a glimpse of is the black-tip reef shark!

Although these guys sometimes visit the popular dive sites around the island, they can be regularly spotted if you know when and where to look.

Below, I’ll reveal how to reliably find these beautiful creatures at Shark Bay on the southeast coast of Koh Tao Island. Remember to respect wildlife!

Where are the Black Tip Reef Sharks on Koh Tao?

Black Tip Reef Sharks usually frequent shallow sandy flats, anywhere from under 1m to 10m in Shark Bay, also known as Haad Tien Beach. Shark Bay is located in the South end of Koh Tao island, just past Chalok.

The easiest way to get there is to leave your bike at Taatoh Seaview Resort and walk down the windy cliff walkways until you get to the water. 

Once you have reached the bottom, simply swim out to the shallows and keep an eye out for that black fin! Some of the juvenile sharks in Koh Tao are very small, only around 60cm long! However, keep watch because we frequently saw some up to 1.5 m long, sometimes up to four at a time circling us. 

Although these sharks can be found everywhere in the bay, we found that we were more likely to spot them in the area pictured below.

Map of where to swim with black tip reef sharks on koh tao

Go Early

Many people that I spoke to were positive that there were no sharks in Koh Tao, this is definitely not true. You can see sharks in Koh Tao daily, but it is important to go early in the morning between 6.30 am and 9.30 am.

It seems that the sharks only ever visit the bay around this time of the morning, which means an early wake up if you really want to catch them!

Keep an Eye Out for Turtles

Turtle Island isn't the sanctuary for turtles like it used to be. Many have migrated to other smaller nearby islands to escape the scuba crowds. However, it is still very common to find large sleeping or cruising turtles in the quite sanctuary of Shark Bay.

Once the sharks have headed off for the day, swim out a little deeper and keep an eye out for the chilled dudes. Remember to give them some space and let them enjoy the relative quietness of this hidden gem.

Turtle in thailand

Plan Your Stay on Koh Tao

If you're wondering where to stay on Koh Tao Island and you want to be close to the main activities and beaches, pick a stay near Sairee Beach.

However, other great options include Mae Haad, or for a more secluded vibe, check out the southern beaches or even the east coast around Tanote Bay. Below are my top picks.

Jamahkiri resort & spa koh tao

1. Jamahkiri Resort & Spa Luxury

A great bang-for-buck luxury dive resort at the beachfront of Shark Bay in a quiet and secluded location away from the hustle and bustle.

Phandara luxury pool villas koh tao

2. Phandara Pool Villas Mid-Range

A luxury villa option for those who want their own kitchen & pool. Located on the hill up to Wooden Rock Viewpoint.

Summer guesthouse and hostel koh tao

3. Summer Guesthouse Budget

Located within walking distance of the dive shops and pub crawls on Sairee Beach, this is the top-budget hostel option with a great vibe.

Remember, always respect wildlife and only enter the water with sharks if you are comfortable and have experience. If not, I'd recommend avoiding them altogether.

For more options for the best things to do on Koh Tao, check out the guides below!

Sharks in koh tao
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.