The name Ko Tao (Thai for Turtle Island) naturally conjures up images of breathtaking beaches and coral reefs densely populated by colourful marine animals ranging from various shoals of tiny fish to gargantuan Whale Shark, the gentle giants of the ocean. This paradise off the Gulf of Thailand coast is a once-in-a-lifetime dream destination for aspiring travellers and ocean lovers the world over. Today, Ko Tao has become an even more beautiful and memorable travel destination due to the caring hearts of local communities and their determination to establish sustainable tourism on the island. Travellers can be a part of this new travel experience, pick up a new perspective and pack a bagful of happiness to take back home.
Since Ko Tao is an integral part of local livelihood, numerous communities and business owners on the island got together and founded “Save Ko Tao Community Group”, mainly aiming to conserve natural resources, sustain the local environment, provide knowledge and develop understanding in the community and create a proper management system which helps in the shift towards sustainable tourism on Ko Tao. When visiting the island, travelers can help by adjusting their way of travelling in accordance with the good intentions of Ko Tao residents by reducing plastic use to limit the amount of waste on the island, disposing of litter and cigarette butts in the proper places, strolling and admiring the sea view while collecting litter along the beach, using water and electricity, which are valuable resources on the island, economically, having respect for the local way of life and not taking any natural resources such as shells home with them.
In addition, Ko Tao also hosts a number of volunteer projects for the environment and community, for instance, building artificial coral reefs, releasing sea turtles back into their natural habitat, collecting waste from under the sea, sharing knowledge or creating fun activities for the youngsters at Ban Ko Tao School, the island’s lone school. Travellers may also join the animal rescue works controlling the population of stray dogs and cats by sterilizing and vaccinating them in cooperation with Ko Tao Animal Clinic and Noistar Thai Animal Rescue Foundation. Whatever the level of knowledge or expertise, anyone with a kind heart and love of animals is welcome. This new avenue of travel gives visitors to Ko Tao a glimpse of the joys of giving and sharing and contributes to sustainable tourism on Ko Tao.
- Dive beneath the sea and admire the paradise of the Gulf of Thailand’s coastal waters.
- Join activities that promote green tourism, quality of life and environmental care, including building artificial coral reefs, releasing sea turtles, collecting litter along the beach or in the ocean, being a volunteer teacher or assisting the island’s veterinarians.
- Support Refill Station businesses that produce, sell and use their own products or those that enable travelers to refill free drinking water with their personal water bottles.
- Bike around to admire the island.
Best Time to Visit
- February to April is recommended. The sky and the sea are crystal clear due to low precipitation and the calm seas make for perfect diving conditions. Diving trips usually start at 9.30 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Ko Tao’s annual event is the “Ko Tao Festival,” and it is held to represent the community’s unity in protecting natural resources and developing the island towards Eco-friendly tourism. The event is usually held over two days and two nights. Other activities include beach (and underwater) cleanups, returning turtles to the sea, marine education and performances.