Turtle Island is appropriately named for its hunched green back and five limbs. I’m told that, from an aerial view, the small island looks just like the tortoise we ate in Cambodia.
After an overnight train from Bangkok, a miserable ferry ride (I get terribly sea sick and spent the three hour journey hanging over the back of the boat, soaking wet from the waves splashing up and the rain pouring down) from Chumphon, and a taxi ride over the turtle’s back on rough, washed out, dirt roads, we arrived in heaven.
Or something like it anyway.
Tanote Bay, on the eastern side of Koh Tao, was more serene than we could have imagined to find in the tourist-populated south of Thailand, with it’s secluded beach surrounded by steep mountains. There are only four resorts and restaurants in this small cove, and we chose a sweet little bungalow overlooking the water at Diamond Resort for $25/night. It felt like we had the entire place to ourselves.
In fact, the only friend we made was the resort-family dog who slept on our balcony at night.
Dayn and I hiked to the top of the hill, halfway back to town, to get pictures overlooking our new favorite spot.
We even stopped in at this house, where they allowed us to climb their private viewing rock.
The three of us did a snorkeling tour (via boat) all the way around the small island, swimming alongside barracuda and other tropical fish. While the snorkeling part was amazing, the only benefit of the boat ride was that we were able to see the rest of the island and confirm what we already knew – we had chosen the best cove to stay.
I wouldn’t recommend signing up for the tour if you find yourself on Koh Tao. Just rent the gear yourself and spend the day snorkeling and rock jumping in Tanote Bay.
The largest rock in the bay had a rope dangling down it’s side and it was so tempting Dayn and I couldn’t resist. The only way up this smooth, large rock sitting upon jagged coral was via rope, which means the safest way down is to jump. After we did it once, we couldn’t wait to go again.
This time, we tried to coach a terrified European gentleman (one of the few other people we saw) who had climbed up to the base of the rope and then frantically looked for a way back down. Once you’ve committed that far, you might as well keep going, which is what we tried to explain, but he wasn’t convinced.
Naturally, we had to show him how it’s done.
He stood by, watched us climb up, and then, looking down on him from above, we tried once again to help him out. It was clear he didn’t want any more of our advice.
So we jumped.
“I bet he feels like a wimp,” Dayn said, and we laughed our way back to shore, where we sat until the sun disappeared and the only sounds breaking the silence were chirping cicadas and barking lizards.
Tanote Bay on Koh Tao (Turtle Island)