Ko Tao is an island paradise with charming beach towns, coral reefs teeming with life and epic sunsets. I spent a week at Sairee Beach earning my Advance Open Water Diving certification and exploring the island.
Getting to Ko Tao
The closest airport is on Ko Samui (USM). Arrange or hire a taxi to one of Ko Samui’s piers to catch a ferry over to Ko Tao. Ferries take about 2 hours and stop off at Ko Phangan on the way. The average cost is 600 THB each way or $19 USD. I recommend upgrading your ticket to VIP Exclusive for 200 THB or $6 USD to get priority boarding and air conditioned reclining seats on the top floor of the ferry.
You’ll arrive on Ko Tao at Mae Haad Pier/town. It’s very busy when you exit the ferry with taxi drivers looking for customers. I’d recommend arranging a ride with your hotel in advanced. Other wise you’re looking at 300 to 400 THB ($10-$13) to get to Sairee beach from the pier.
Where I Stayed – Sairee Cottage Diving
I stayed in a poolside room at Sairee Cottages which is next to the Sairee Cottage Dive Center. My lodging and diving course came to $1,100 USD for 7 nights/6 days. The hotel rate is about $70 USD per night if you want to visit and not dive. The room was spacious and came with AC, TV, WiFi and other helpful amenities.
I completed 9 dives in five days and earned my Open Water and Advanced Diver certifications. The Open Water course took three days and allows people to dive up to 18 meters/60 feet, while the Advanced course took an additional two days and trains for dives up to 30 meters/98 feet.
I especially enjoyed my last four dives as they included fish identification and wreck diving. Check out the video below for logistics and dive highlights.
Where I Ate/Drank
Sairee Cottage Diving Restaurant: Had my first meal gazing at the sea here. It’s right across from the dive center and serves Western and Thai food. I especially liked their berry collins and pizzas.
Blue Water: Had dinner and breakfast here. Both were great and the beach view is also very good. They serve their cold brew with an orange slice which was a first for me and a nice touch.
VegetaBowl: Wonderful menu. I had the cheese and veggie quesadilla, strawberry shake and could easily eat here everyday if given the opportunity.
Zest: Had breakfast and takeaway lunches a few times here. They’re also open very early so I was able to have breakfast on mornings when diving started at 8am.
Natural High Cafe: There are a few hilltop cafes/bars on the island with great views and relaxed vibes. You’ll need a taxi or scooter to visit but they are worth the extra cost.
Sairee Beach town has a few narrow streets lined with dive centers, restaurants and massage parlors. I indulged in daily massages that were between 300-500 THB or $9-$16
I’m looking forward to taking more diving courses on Ko Tao and exploring more of the island’s beaches and coves. If visiting Ko Samui I’d recommend carving out some time to check out Ko Tao even for just a day. Just be sure to get out of Mae Haad and find your way to Sairee beach.