Our trek from the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand was quite a gnarly adventure. One relaxing week around Koh Lanta helped prepare us for a bit faster pace at Koa Tao Island. We also needed to move back towards Bangkok to receive our next round of immunizations and extend our 30-day Thailand tourist visa.
We decided to take an 11:30am bus to Krabi and then onward to Suratthani and Ko Tao. Our bus was packed with about 12 travelers, but luckily we had A/C for the first two and a half hours. At Krabi, we waited in a garage-like travel agency for a few hours for a Suratthani transfer bus. With left Krabi in a new van with a slightly smaller set of travel companions. Our new driver threw us a curveball by dropping us off separately at a travel agents’ office for a transfer ride in Suratthani. We waited a few hours in the muggy, mosquitoey air for a lift to the Suratthani pier. After a bizarre pickup truck ride with the agent and a young chubby Thai boy, we were dropped at the pier around 7pm. The pier scene reminded us of a mini Bangkok with tons of street food vendors, motor bikes and young night goers. We now had four hours to kill before our long night ferry ride to Ko Tao.
After a long Thai meal and several missed attempts to download “Moneyball” with the restaurant’s Wifi connection (we stood outside after closing time) ….. we headed over to the ferry for our 11pm departure. Beforehand, a nice American gal told me that there was a big room with several mats and pillows. She said it was “okay clean” and the ferry didn’t appear full or packed. The ferry staff was packing the bottom floor with all kinds of freight and goods during our conversation.
The ferry sounded like a good idea since it was only 550 baht ($18) per person and saved us a travel day and hotel. The entire trip from Koh Lanta to Ko Tao cost about 1200 baht ($40) per person. Flying to Ko Samui was the faster and costly option. The ferry had several fans and a hacked together electrical system. We laid on gym mats and our sleeping cocoons to try and stay “clean”. The ferry staff tried to store our backpacks in the freight area, but we managed to keep them close by. Christie met a very nice gal from England who was traveling solo for 10 months. That conversation and the Kindle kept us occupied before attempting to pass out peacefully. The sleep was much better than you’d imagine, but nothing I’d do outside of this travel adventure. We awoke around 8am the next day ready to conquer Ko Tao Island!
We had booked three nights at the Coral View Resort on the southwestern end cove of the island. The accommodation made sense since we thought the taxi north would be easy. The area is super secluded and has a beautiful beach facing Shark Island for snorkeling and scuba diving. It turns out that the only way in is by four-wheel truck via a ridiculously bumpy dirt road for 300-400 baht ($12). After a day of violent rain and rough Wifi, we were itching to explore the northeastern part and changed resorts. Samatha Bed & Breakfast cost 1500 baht ($30) per night including breakfast and is situated within walking distance to the main Sairee beach strip of restaurants and frat bars. The scene is all dirt roads and scuba divers partying their butts off 24/7. We managed to walk for hours throughout the beach shopping paths, ate some decent western food and I even had a chance to mow down my mullet!
Our second and last day was phenomenal. There is this beautiful island “Nangyuan” just 10 minutes away by water taxi. The taxi cost 200 baht ($7) each way and the island entrance fee is 100 baht ($3.50) per person. Add another 100 baht for two beach chairs and umbrella…. and, bam you have paradise in a jar. Oh yeah, add 3X pricing on all food and drink. Still worth every penny!
We spent hours on Nangyuan snorkeling and sun-gazing between two gorgeous bays. We had purchased snorkeling gear earlier in the day for 250 baht ($8) each and wound up right next to crowds of scuba divers doing their certifications. We were so close to the reefs and underwater life that I managed to cut up my right foot pretty good. The pictures tell the story.
We ended our stay dining at Barracuda restaurant where we enjoyed South Africa red wine, prawns, white snapper, stuffed mussels and barracuda cakes. Great way to end our island adventure and get back to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok via Chumpon, Thailand.
See our Photo Album – Ko Tao Island, Thailand