Koh Tao – beautiful beaches and great diving

We have been on the road for over three months now; backpacking through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Northern Thailand, and Malaysia. With so much land to cover and not nearly enough time it seems like we are always on the move and constantly busy sightseeing and exploring.

We have only a few weeks left of our trip now and will spend the remaining time in southern Thailand – a sort of vacation from our vacation. First stop was the lovely and peaceful Koh Tao, an island with great diving, warm waters, and pristine palm tree lined beaches.

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Koh Tao is located around three hours by ferry off of the east coast of Thailand’s southern peninsula and provides everything a beach bum could ever want: the sand is soft, the water is shallow and warm, the sun is hot, and the beer is cold. Alistair and I are not usually the suntanning type, and in fact after three months of sun are still fairly pale, but as I mentioned now we are strictly on vacation and so indulged in a little laying around on the beach for the first time since our trip began.

It was relaxing to just lay around soaking up the sun with little more than finding food for our daily itinerary. We stayed at a quiet beach on the southern end of the island and spent a lot of our time either suntanning, sipping beers on our balcony, or wading far into the shallow beach to splash around.

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It goes without saying that we signed up for a few dives. From friends that have worked and lived in Koh Tao I had big expectations about the surrounding diving and I’m happy to say that I was not mislead or disappointed. Our first dive was a site called Southwest Pinnacle and was a beautiful underwater landscape. We navigated through tall submerged pinnacles of various heights that were covered in large colourful anemones.

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Our second dive at Tanote Bay was equally amazing as it consisted of a few sunken ‘treasures’ and a shallow coral garden. On our way to a small wreck we passed a sunken moto standing upright that looked like it had lived under the sea for quite some time. The wreck we intended to see was curiously hidden by a thermocline and all but the very tip of the wreck was covered.

The thermocline was not only physically felt, a huge drop in temperature at a certain depth, but also visually seen as a thick layer of floating sediment that engulfed the wreck. After giving up on the wreck we spent the remainder of the dive in a shallow coral garden that was filled with fish and a variety of corals. My highlight of the dive was seeing many Christmas Tree Worms – bright coloured fuzzy looking worms that quickly disappeared into their holes when nearby movement is detected.

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After a few days of great diving and relaxing on the beach with an afternoon beer buzz, I had a warm appreciation and fondness for Koh Tao. I could have spent a lot longer on this island but next we are off to Koh Phangan, an island south of Koh Tao, to essentially repeat our days of laying on the beach and diving but just on a new island.

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