Koh Tao

by B Thornton- Harwood

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This was by far and away my favourite island in Thailand. Perhaps because of the (quite literal) shitty end to Koh Phanang. But also the vibe of the island strikes you immediately as far more mellow, far more laid back. There is a much higher proportion of resorts on Koh Tao, primarily because of the prevalence of scuba diving on the island. It’s the scuba diving capital of the world and it makes sense. I’ll tell you all about it here.

But more than that we sound an amazing hostel to stay in, Spicy Tao is easily the best hostel I stayed in in Thailand. The sense of community there is something I haven’t found since I was in Israel. You’d have no worries leaving your iPad or phone out charging all day or all night in the common area. If you’ve run out of cigarettes there’s someone who can spare a few. You can watch movies on the common deck, or sit and play cards. It’s also the only place we stayed at that gave you free breakfast and coffee before midday, whilst a few times a week the owners put on a massive BBQ with corn and mashed potato and all you can eat wings and ribs. The following morning there was left over chicken so Clyde, one of the workers there, gave me some for a sandwich to take to my diving class.

The rooms are basic but the only time you spend in there is when you’re sleeping. Even when going out of my way to get an early night before a dive I’d end up finding someone really interesting to speak to and the next thing I’m kicking myself because it’s 1 in the morning again.

Anyway if you’re slightly more disciplined than I get up early, hire a moped (I got my pal Zak to hire one and chauffeur me) and get down to Shark Bay with your snorkel. If you swim out about 100/120 metres you’ll be somewhere between 6-8 metres deep. A prime spot for seeing sharks.

After around 20 minutes of swimming in the relatively shallow waters Zak shot off into the distance, his excitement could mean only one thing. I followed as fast as I could muster and sure enough, there he was, a 5 foot long black tip shark.

Seeing a shark in the wild has been an ambition of mine since I became obsessed with pirates at the age of 6, and to see such a majestic, beautiful creature, so fast and streamlined was the most amazing and surreal experience.

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