Chalok Baan Kao
Koh Tao has many incredible beaches and bays, and Chalok is definitely high on that list!
As you approach from the sea you are greeted by Buddha Rock, a large rock formation in the shape of a sitting Buddha. The main beach stretches several hundred meters and is dotted with dive shops, resorts, restaurants and bars. On either end of the bay you find smaller beaches with deeper water and awesome snorkelling. There's also lot's of great viewpoints in Chalok, with some of them being restaurants and others like the famous John Suwan viewpoint offers some of the best views anywhere on the island!
Buddha Rock, perhaps Koh Tao's most famous landmark
The place to go chill
What Sairee is to the islands more party-inclined visitors, Chalok is to those that come to chill. The vibe here is different and although there's some lively nightlife, the amount of reggae and chillout bars sets the pace and gives you a totally different experience. As with most places on the island you can find both budget friendly and luxury options in both food and hotels. Make sure to visit the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program, the islands largest marine conservation center. They offer interesting programs for divers looking to learn more about the underwater world, and sometimes have very interesting visitors staying in their nursery tanks.
The snorkelling here is great and often sheltered from waves and winds. On the left side of the bay as you look out you'll see Freedom Beach, 2 small secluded beaches that offers excellent snorkelling. However please be aware, the area is frequently visited by snorkel/dive boats, speedboats and longtails. Many beaches around the island has areas marked off for snorkellers to avoid accidents with boats, but Chalok does not. Be very aware of your surroundings, especially if your swimming out from shore.
Along with the shorter hikes to the viewpoints around Chalok, there's a really great one that originates here and goes all the way to the pier at Mae Haad. It starts at Viewpoint Resort on the right side of the bay, and stops by Tao Tong, Sai Noan and Jansom Bay, all truly stunning beaches you do not want to miss!
The path is quite good and the walk takes about 45 minutes non-stop. Don't worry too much about bringing food as there are lots of good restaurants and bars along the way, great for short breaks. If you stay on Sai Noan beach until late, you have one of the best sunset views anywhere on the island!
Chalok is quite easy to visit with both taxi or motorbike, as the main road leads all the way to the beach. You can also get here by longtail boat. The true beauty of this bay is its location. For the majority of the year the beach is completely sheltered from the elements, as both the west and east seasonal winds doesn't really make a big impact here.
Some amazing snorkeling around the west end of the bay