If you follow our Instagram or Twitter you would have seen that the day we went to Koh Tao was a day of firsts. First time in Koh Tao. First time sea kayaking. First time seeing flying fish. First time snorkelling and first time on a taxi scooter (sorry to our mums for that one!)
I don’t know what was more scary, feeling like I could get swept away in the open sea, or feeling like we were going to crash on the back of a scooter in the crazy Thai traffic. All worth it though, they are experiences I’ll never forget.
The journey to the beach to snorkel started in January for me (bear with me). Before then I couldn’t swim. We had lessons at school but the swimming teacher was a mean, grumpy, little man who would shout at me when I struggled to learn. So every Thursday I came down with a “cold”. Twenty years later and I knew I needed to learn before this trip. Luckily, Pete used to teach swimming, so I had him there to guide me. Four months on (still with a life jacket mind) but I am confident enough to go into the open sea and see what’s out there – thanks Pete!
‘…see plenty of fish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers!’
We got a ticket to Koh Tao from Koh Samui island using the public Lomprayah ferry. You can also get this to Koh Phangan. We booked this online which worked out cheaper than going with an organised tour. Tours can be great and there are plenty to choose from in Koh Samui. The ones we looked at stopped at a few islands and were priced at around 2000 baht per person (£45). Doing it yourself does mean doing a bit more work (and walking) but the end result is the same and you have more pennies in your pocket. Plus, there were hardly any other people around, we had the space all to ourselves. No competition.
We reached Chalok Baan Kao Bay by walking from Mae Head Pier where the boat from Koh Samui docked. Koh Tao Complete Guide mentioned that this would be the best place to kayak in Koh Tao. Pretty decent advice, we found a kayak for 200 baht (approx £4.50) for the day! The walk from the pier took a while, about 40 minutes, but as I have said on previous posts, if we can walk it then we will. The man who rented the kayak to us also gave us some advice on where to go and what to see. We headed to a little beach, surround by rocks, didn’t seem to be accessible from land. The water was really shallow throughout the whole paddle there. Then we geared up and swam out. The whole sea bed was covered in coral, unfortunately though, it was dead coral. As the man had mentioned, global warming was the cause of this. We did however, still see plenty of fish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers! Loads of them!
I was swimming in the ocean (go me)! I did feel pretty safe as it was so shallow. It wasn’t till we were waaay out that the sea got a little choppy and deep and at this point I had reached my limit. Let me remind you I only just learnt how to swim. Pete went off to do more exploring whilst I went back to the beach. A little chill time then back in the kayak. The last boat to Koh Samui is at 3pm so we had run out of time.
‘…whilst my sweating hands clawed deeper into the skin on his knees.’
Featured in David Attenborough’s ‘The Hunt’ series is a section on flying fish, so when Pete and I saw them escaping from the waves made from the ferry-boat, we were pretty amazed. First you’d see a single one, soaring across the ocean, then a shoal would jump out, spreading their fin-wings and picking up some air. Although there were a fair few people on the ferry, it felt like only Pete and I could see them, no-one else seemed to notice. That is a moment I’ll never forget. It was pretty cool.
When I thought I had reached my limit of trying new things that day, we decided to get a taxi scooter back to the pier. My lord, I never thought my thighs would grip so tightly to a stranger! Pete was loving it, giggling behind me whilst my sweating hands clawed deeper into the skin on his knees. The traffic in Thailand is unruly. Beeping, whizzing, zipping around the roads. After 5-10 minutes I realised I was in good hands with our driver, he was singing! So that calmed me down some. Bless him, bet his hips ached once I let go!
Koh Tao was so quiet, April is out of season for Thailand. The beach was really peaceful and pretty much empty. So if you are looking for a little down-time, I’d head here then. I was pretty pleased with myself for conquering my fears that day, open ocean (tick) and riding on the back of a scooter (tick)! The scooter taxi was pretty awesome, once the fear has passed.