Koh Tao - Turtle Island
Tao is the word for turtle in the Thai language and this little island is named so for 2 reasons; its resemblance to a turtle shell when seen from the south, and its previous large colonies of sea turtles. There are still lots of turtles here, but accounts from 70+ years ago describe the beaches turning black when they came ashore to nest. While this little slice of paradise sure has changed a lot in that time, it still has plenty of stunning beaches and fantastic dive sites. Did we mention the whale sharks? They can be spotted here all year, but in the 2017/18 season it got crazy with several individuals spotted daily!
The Gulf of Thailand has it's main monsoon season during December & January, and also catches some rainy clouds blowing in from the Andaman Sea monsoon during June & July. Luckily there are dive sites all around the island so regardless of wind direction there is always somewhere to dive, diving here goes on all year. The absolute best times of the year to visit however is March - April and September - October, and the best bit is neither of those periods of time are high season for tourism. In other words, you can truly enjoy some spectacular diving without being surrounded by the crowds!
As mentioned earlier, whale sharks is the big attraction here. However the island is also well known for its massive schools of fish, usually found at the deeper pinnacles but some also in shallower bays. Chevron barracuda, scads, fusiliers, batfish & jacks are all found in massive numbers and it's a true pleasure to watch. If snorkeling or freediving is your thing then
blacktip reef sharks are found in some of the bays as well. Both hawksbill and green turtles call this island home, which is especially great news for the critically endangered hawksbill.
Koh Nang Yuan
The equally famous islands of Koh Nang Yuan are situated a few hundred meters off Koh Tao's shoreline. The three islands connected by a beach have become an iconic place to visit for tourists around the world, but in particular tourists from elsewhere in Asia. The diving around these islands are spectacular, with 4 main dive sites allowing for both beginner divers and snorkelers to enjoy the shallows, with deeper pinnacles for advanced divers.