Below the surface in Koh Toa - Metro US

Below the surface in Koh Toa

You know those moments when, against your better judgement, you just fancy a Big Mac and a tall skinny mochachino?

Well, you’ll need to leave them at home — because the breathtakingly beautiful Koh Tao is a McDonalds and Starbucks-free zone. The tiny tropical island remains largely unspoiled, and its waters are astonishingly rich with marine life making it a magnet for scuba divers across the world.

Koh Toa lies off the East Coast of the Gulf of Thailand, a little north of the better known (but unpleasantly hectic if you ask me) Koh Samui and Koh Pan Jang.

It’s known locally as Turtle Island and boasts some of the most amazing beaches and bays in the world.

But Koh Toa is really about the scuba diving.

There are many brilliant dive sites around the island for both beginners and scuba pros alike, and they all have the added bonus of being cheap. You can even take recognized open water courses here.

Beginners can tackle the huge underwater rock chimney (with an amazing vertical swim-through) at Sail Rock, while experts can try the Souoth West Pinnacle an amazing array of rock shapes and giant fan corals.

But even if diving’s not your thing Koh Tao is still a paradise. The central jungle affords mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking. And there’s always just kicking back and soaking up the rays.

The nightlife rocks too. The restaurants and bars are friendly and cheap, and offer a variety of music styles, drink prices and atmosphere. And if you looking for an all night party on Koh Tao you will be able to find one with minimum effort.

My only warning would be that it is very easy to accidentally get stuck here. I spoke to lots of people who came to visit and are still here. Rachel Birchenough, who runs the AC Bar was supposed to stay for 10 days. She has been on the island for six months.

Al Barr arrived on Koh Tao to visit a friend. He is now a dive control specialist at Phoenix divers.

So just be careful. After seeing Koh Tao, you may never want to go home.

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