TH - Chalok baan kao bay, Koh Tao
|Lomprayah pier, in Chumphon|
Nestled in the south of Thailand among several other islands is a place I like to call my slice of paradise. Koh Tao, or Turtle Island in Thai, is part of Surat Thani Province in southern Thailand. It was where my first international trip took place and thus is an area I'm fond of.
Say and I boarded our ferry, not knowing what lay ahead of us. (The ferry ride from hell - you can read about that in an upcoming post)
|Ban Mae Haad, the only port for ferries in Koh Tao.|
Arrival in Koh Tao occurs at a common port - Ban Mae Haad. All ferries dock here, and there is no airport on the island. As the only dock for ferries it is crowded and busy fairly regularly. Taxis here are typically overpriced and I wouldn't recommend them. Be aware that they will crowd you the moment you get off the dock. I recommend having a plan in place. Say and I had a taxi already planned with our dive center.
Chalok baan kao bay is on the south end of Koh Tao. It's a short ride away from the pier and we arrived quickly. There is a main street that runs through and has all the typical things you would expeect - A laundry place, motorbike rentals, massage parlors, restaurants, dive centers, and a 711. Further down the road was our dive center.
|The path towards many accommodations and our dive center.|
The 711 was a life saver for us, it can be found on the main street at a small fork in the road. We did not come prepared to sterilize/sanitize our water which is a mistake we will rectify in the future. We had to buy gallon jugs of water and refill them at our dive center. A good note is that the 711 will break the large baht bills that you have, which some places could not do. They also have everything you could possibly need-shampoo, soap, snacks, water, bug spray, etc. I found that they have a mosquito spray that works wonders, and trust me you will need it. The mosquitoes are in giant swarms like a black cloud of death and they always waited halfway up the stairs to our bungalow. It's like they KNEW I was too fat to walk all the way up, and they would wait to prey on me while I tried to catch my breath in the middle.
|The stairway that the mosquitoes would ambush me on the way up.|
There is a laundry place near the 711 that has motorbike rentals out front and an internet station. It's an all-in-one place with a very nice lady running it. I dropped my laundry off regularly (they charge by the pound) and found that she was cheap, efficient, and the laundry always smelled so nice when I picked it up. I recommend using her if you don't want to do your own laundry. It's a bit difficult with how humid it is on the island and I was unable to hang dry my clothes, so I gave up and went to her.
|The main street, the laundry place is on this strip.|
Now to my favorite part of travel-foods! There are a bunch of places to try all along the bay and on the side road that follows the bay. I have picked my favorites to recommend to you.
The first place we went to together was JP Resort's restaurant. It has floor seating and "mood lighting" right on the bay. You get to enjoy the view and the food is pretty great. Say had pizza and I had a burger. Not your typical exotic dishes to try, but we were tired and wanted what we wanted. They have a huge selection of food, so definitely don't stick with westernized food if you have the chance. There's plenty to choose from!
|JP Resort's restaurant overlooks the bay.|
The following day, we had breakfast at Koppee. Koppee is owned by the couple that runs New Heaven dive resort. It's attached/next door. We spent our dive class time sitting at tables at Koppee and drinking tea. They have wifi, which I felt is important to mention because finding working wifi on the island was tough for me. They have decent food, albeit a little pricier than other places. I support the business owners though so I was fine spending a bit extra to eat at Koppee regularly. New Heaven helps with wildlife conservation - that's a cause I support!
|Breakfast at Koppee. Simple but delicious.|
Asia mood is across the street from New Heaven and Koppee. They have wifi available, which is one of my favorite perks as previously mentioned. Asia mood offers a selection of Thai and Japanese foods that we liked. I grabbed sushi and was very impressed with the quality of it.
I love salad was another wonderful restaurant that I enjoyed. I had the most beautiful fruity salad there. They came highly recommended among many of the people we met on the island. Very reasonably priced and they give huge servings!
|This salad from I Love Salad did not disappoint! Yummy!|
Cappucino Bakery/Coffee House had wonderful tea and offers a full English breakfast and an assorted mix of French style breakfasts that I loved so much I went back two more times to enjoy it. They have a nice little open and cool area to sit.
Taraporn Bar & Restaurant has an amazing view, but you'll have to walk down a very narrow boardwalk to access it. They offer a great select of fresh fish and I grabbed a salad that I was very pleased with. You can also access the Pirate Bar from here, by walking all the way through the restaurant and across the back.
|Chalok Baan Kao bay view from Taraporn Bar & Restaurant|
|Lovely dinner at Taraporn with friends made at the dive school.|
You will find The Pirate Bar if you walk through the other end of Taraporn Restaurant and keep walking down the path. It is a private beach with beachside seating. The bar serves a great selection of drinks and they offer little games for you to take for your table to play. The four of us played Jenga. Pirate Bar also offers a fire poi show nightly that we managed to catch, well worth it!
|The Pirate Bar - fire poi on the beach|
There are several fruit stands to grab smoothies at, which I highly recommend doing. My only recommendation here is to ensure that you choose ethically, and don't pick places that support caging local animals in tiny wire cages, or toss plastic carelessly aside. I would even recommend bringing your own container to have the smoothie put in, that way you are not adding to the plastic contamination that the reefs are suffering from around the island.
On our final evening of diving, Blue Sea was an amazing dinner recommendation we got from our instructor. We treated her to dinner there for putting up with us for 3 days! They offer a wide selection of food at a great price, and it's so packed with flavor... I ate so much I couldn't eat anymore when they brought dessert out. Blue Sea is a bit of a walk up the road, but well worth the distance!
If you're in need of a massage after a hard day's diving or just need to loosen up, check out Mee Pron Massages, they are on the main strip near the 711. It was reasonably priced, private, very clean and they serve tea and a small snack after. It's very refreshing and after three days of diving we were ready for some relaxation.
|Mee Pron Massages - tea and cookies offered after the massage|
|Please excuse my awful chicken scratch. This is an attempt to show you where these places are in relation to each other. By no means accurate.|