Tao Island is composed of 21 kms of rocks and coconut trees, surrounded by shallow beaches. It is located 45 kms north of Samui and 40 kms east of Chumphon. On the west coast Mae Nam, the main town, is the residence of most of the local population. The busiest beach is Sairee Beach north of Mae Haad where you can have the widest choice of accommodation. The second most famous beach is Ao Chalok Ban Kao south of Mae Hadd. Other small bays and beaches are difficult to access by road.
Ko Tao, meaning turtle island, is named after the topography of its central mountain which resembles a turtle's back. The small tropical island amid the deep blue sea is encircled by miles of coral reefs and pinnacles where you can find some large, deep-water fishes such as mantas and whale sharks.
Most tourists come here for diving as its diving industry is reaching a higher and higher peak. Yet, Tao Island still has other charms of a tropical island; beautiful and quiet coves, wide stretches of sand, transparent seas, cheap accommodation, and a peaceful atmosphere. However, the beaches are not nice and the sea is too shallow for swimming.
Although there are a variety of choices of accommodation to choose from, the facilities on the island are simple and basic, but are improving. Electricity on the island comes from the generator which is shut down at 7 pm. However, most bungalows and resorts provide 24 hour electricity service and some have air-con rooms.
How to get there
From Samui: There are speedboats leaving Bophut and Maenam piers at 8.30 am for the price of 450 baht. Speedboats leave Nathon at 12.00 am and it takes a half hour to get to Ko Tao. Or else you can take Songserm Express boats from Nathon leaving at 12.00 to Mae Haad via Phangan for the cost of 450 baht. For cheaper transport, there are slow boats running from Maenam - departure at 9.30 am to Mae Haad via Thongsala for 100 baht.
From Phangan: Speedboats run from Thongsala to Mae Haad leaving 8.30 and 12.30 am for a fare of 250 baht.
From Chumphon: There are speedboats leaving Chumphon pier at 7.00 and 8.00 taking almost 2 hours to Mae Haad with a fare of 500 baht. Another alternative is Songserm Express boats leaving at 7.30 am for the cost of 400 baht.
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