by Dave Mc Naught
(Durban, South Africa)
Beach-side restaurants on Koh Tao
A group of 7 of us had heard about the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan island off the east coast of south Thailand and so our adverture started there as a birthday celebration.
What a party (or "jol" as South Africans know it) we had. Scooters around the island by day and beach party each night for 5 nights building up to Full Moon.. and inexpensive. A good Pad Thai chicken dish for R15 or US$1.80.
From there we went with the flow and caught a ferry to the neaby island of Koh Tao. What a gem we found.
We had not booked any accommodation, whereas accommodation on Koh Phangan island over the full moon period appeared to require a minimum advance booking of 5 nights.
So we just took a slow stroll along the road/walkway to Sairie Beach a couple of hundred metres from the Koh Tao ferry station and soon we found an abundance of accommodation offers, settling on a basic room about 50m from the beach for R50 (US$6) per person per night sharing and this included breakfast.
It was September, not the prime tourist season, so prices we understand were a little lower. It was also supposed to be the rainy monsoon season, but we found the weather marvelous... not the heavy heat of mid-summer and whilst we had a couple of showers, not the downpour we were expecting and the sun was shining most of the time.
I would definitely recommend September as great time to visit. There were plenty of young people and backpackers everywhere and if it were to get busier in November/December it may then be too busy. So we had an awesome time.
Koh Tao was what I imagined a tropical island paradise to look like. You could stroll out of your cabin and on to an unspoilt beach with a few long tail boats floating in the shallow water just off shore.
Wade in to the water before breakfast with your snorkel and float around looking at the coral and fish before sitting down at the beachside restaurant for a delicious breakfast.
The little village had quite a number of shops and then there was the main village nearer the ferry station as well. So shopping was good whilst we found our feet and planned some good snorkelling.
A short half day trip by long tail boat to the nearby island of Ko Nang Yuan was the optimum dive and snorkel area and is one of the world's most popular destinations if you want to take a diving course.
I was happy just wading in the sheltered bay and seeing the incredible sights below my feet and enjoying lunch on the superb restaurant on this little island.
There were actually two little islands forming Ko Nang Yuan sort of joined by a sandy ridge when the tide was down and separated when the tide was up. I named the smaller island "Fuck that Shit" Island.. sort of the place I would be happy to escape to at any time.. my retreat from the world.
Back to Koh Tao that evening and a stroll around the beachfront restaurants took us to any of several with viby music, hot sculptured Tai guys fire-dancing and keeping the crowds entertained whilst we sat on the sand or grass slugging back some excellent local beer.
We spent a few days on Koh Tao before heading off for Bangkok, but I made a mental note to return... directly to Koh Tao on an inward bound flight from Bangkok via Koh Samui and then ferry to Koh Tao.
If you then wanted to go to the Full Moon Party, one could catch a ferry to Koh Phangan just for the party and then return to Koh Tao to chill and snorkel, escape the world, or immerse oneself in the fun of the islands.