We arrived in Ko Tao to a thunder storm. The ocean was choppy and Koh Tao seemed to emerge suddenly out of the fog. It’s a small island famed for being one of the cheapest places in the world to do a scuba diving course. I decided not to do one on the principle that I couldn’t ever see myself making the most of it but many do.
The beach we stayed on suffered from the same problems as those on Koh Phan gan, that being it’s too shallow!!! There were some good fish to be seen off it though but in many ways the snorkel mask acted as much as a guide through the reefs than anything else.
The standout of Ko Tao was the snorkeling trip we did for the day. First stop was so called shark bay. Aptly named because it’s a place where you can often see the vegetarian black tip reef sharks. I made the mistake of doing some research the previous day when I read that it has been recently discovered that some of the reef sharks have been miss labeled and are instead Bull Sharks. These are not Vegetarian rather are responsible for more deaths per year than the Great White. So it was with slight trepidation that I jumped over-board into the ocean. My heart jumped straight away as the underwater setting was so apt for what we were searching for. Three meters deep all I could see was a graveyard of dead coral. There can be no scarier place to swim. Despite searching the sharks were not around the bay which was a shame because although riddled with fear, it would have been a cool thing to have done.
From there we went to a number of other bays and snorkeled the coral reefs. Bits were dead but other parts were very much alive.The colours of a living, breathing reef is spectacular, a real highlight of my time in Thailand. Swimming through schools of fish, watching different varieties feeding in their hundreds, fighting and playing was a joy to behold.
The boat tour ended a little prematurely when we arrived at the Ko Nang Yuan islands. The weather took a sharp turn for the worse and it bucketed down. Everyone sought shelter in the restaurant and looked out on the thundering rain. A short break allowed Paul and I to make a run to the so called ‘Japanese Gardens’ reef for a quick snorkel but as soon as we were in the rain came down again. Such was its force that the only relief from the near hail was to stay under the water battling against the waves.
On return to shore Paul and I be be-lined away from the group and visited the mini golf course. Eighteen wonderfully designed holes including a three tier castle it is far and away the best mini golf course I’ve played.
The following day we went for a walk through the jungle. After an hour or so of steep uphill and quite simply a disastrous road, long destroyed by the tsunami or flash floods we found a secluded, empty beach. Well it did have a resort attached to it but that to was deserted. A bowl and mug still lay on the table and a 2009 magazine perched on the balcony. It was one of those places that begged to tell you what had caused its demise. Whilst the location and scenery was lovely, a swim in the water revealed rubbish and made for a hasty exit.
In the evening we caught a night ferry to the mainland. Initially the waves were huge and flung the ferry about like a toy but thankfully calmed down after a few hours. We arrived on the mainland in the early hours and journeyed to Koah Sok, one of Thailand’s National Parks.