Koh Tao is pretty much the archetype of a remote tropical island, with just enough places to eat, shop and stay to make it comfortable. There are few attractions other than the beautiful beaches. The island is home to some of Thailand’s best coastlines, with pristine white sand, nodding palm trees and glittering blue seas. There are many to choose from, most of which are accessible along the small and rather rough road network.

    Other than beaches, there are a few very nice viewpoints that are worth seeing, some of which are so iconic that they might even be the first thing you think of when you picture Thailand. Koh Tao is also famous for its scuba diving, which is said to be among the best in the world.

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    Koh Nangyuan

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    Koh Nangyuan is actually a group of 3 tiny islets off Koh Tao’s northwest coast. You can get to them by boat for a pretty low fee. The beach that links the islands together is iconic and probably the most photographed part of the area. Naturally, the small beach is usually quite busy, but is still worth a visit. Try to visit early in the morning if you want fewer other people in your pictures.

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    Diving in Koh Tao

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    Koh Tao is famous as a diving destination and many a visitor has come away from their visit with an Open Water Diver qualification. The dramatic coral landscapes are home to turtles, stingrays, reef sharks, barracudas and, if you are very lucky, whale sharks.

    Popular dive sites include the underwater sculptures of Ocean Utopia, the wreck of HTMS Sattakut, Lighthouse Bay, Japanese Gardens, Chumphon Pinnacles and many more. There are dozens of diving shops selling daily trips and training courses, particularly in Mae Haad.

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    Sairee Beach

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    Sairee Beach is probably Koh Tao’s best-known beach, where you’ll find the majority of the nightlife, including beach bars and restaurants. Despite being the longest beach on the island, it’s also one of the busiest, being immediately to the north of Mae Haad and home to a lot of budget accommodation.

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    Haad Tien

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    Haad Tien is commonly known as “Rocky Bay” and is one of the furthest beaches from Mae Haad, but one of the best. It has the clearest water and the cleanest beach, with only a small selection of quite exclusive resorts there. It is sometimes also called “Shark Bay” for the number of black-tip reef sharks you can snorkel among.

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    Mango Viewpoint

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    Mango Viewpoint is located in the hills in the north of the island, offering a spectacular view of Mae Haad and Sairee Beach. It’s reached either by taking a long, challenging walk up the hill from the 7-Eleven in Sariee or by riding a motorbike up a steep and risky road.

    Access to the viewing platform costs a small fee, with the money supposedly going towards building a better road.

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    Tanote Bay

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    Tanote Bay is the largest of the east coast beaches. It’s also the busiest and most populated area on this side of the island. There are a few resorts around this 260-metre-long beach, as well as some independent bars and restaurants.

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    Two Views

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    Two Views is one of the most challenging viewpoints to get to, being on Koh Tao’s highest peak. It’s part of a circular hiking route starting from Sairee. There are a couple of restaurants at the viewpoint, giving you the opportunity to refresh before you head back down the hill.

    The namesake views are over Sairee Beach to the west and Tanote Bay to the east. On a clear day, you can even see Koh Phangan, Ang Thong National Marine Park and Koh Samui.

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    John-Suwan Viewpoint

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    John-Suwan Viewpoint is right at the southern tip of Koh Tao and the view to the north is spectacular. From this little peninsula, you can see both Chalok Baan Khao Bay and Haad Tien beaches and the hilly interior of the island.

    There is a small entrance fee to the viewpoint, as well as a short and relatively easy hike to reach it. It’s named after the 2 friends who discovered the view while looking for somewhere to build a house.

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    Mae Haad Beach

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    Mae Haad is the island’s main town, where you will find the pier as well as plenty of guesthouses, shops, bars and other services. Naturally, this beach is among the busiest.

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    Jor Por Ror

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    Jor Por Ror is a large rock formation located at the southern end of Sairee Beach, bearing the initials of King Rama V. The monarch visited the island and left his mark in 1899. Don’t even think about adding your own mark to the highly-revered stone.

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    Ben Reeves | Traveler Kompulsif

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