To celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary I wanted to do something special, something memorable. Cody and I sailed to St. John on our first wedding anniversary, cruised the fjords of Norway for our second, and dove with Manta Rays off of the Big Island in Hawaii to celebrate our third beautiful year of marriage. We both love spending our anniversaries traveling around the world, so of course finding something to do while staying on Koh Tao was a top priority.
We had originally decided on a day-trip over to Koh Nang Yuan island, however after arriving on Koh Tao and talking to Westy (our new friend at the dive shop), we learned that the island is slightly over-hyped, and usually packed with people. While we wanted to visit, we didn’t feel like spending our entire anniversary with the crowds; so Westy recommended that we hire a private long-tail boat for the day. We could check out Koh Nang Yuan as originally planned, and then explore the remote eastern shores of Koh Tao as well.
Another anniversary adventure out on the high seas? I see a tradition forming. 🙂
After leaving the dive shop, we walked down to Sairee Beach where Thai women lined the beach bars advertising boat rentals starting at 2500baht. We were able to negotiate down to 2200baht, however, I’ve heard that you can rent them for as low as 2000baht, so when negotiating, start low.
As we drove away from Sairee Beach, my anxiety levels began to rise--we had jumped in a boat with a complete stranger who spoke very little English… What the hell were we thinking?? Would this stranger take us out and leave us as shark-bait? Would he leave us at one of the remote beaches, stranded with no way to get back to town? Why yes, at times I have a wild imagination…why do you ask?
Koh Nang Yuan was our first stop of the day and after paying the 100baht entry fee we were free to explore the three small islands connected by a large sandbar. I was looking forward to hiking up to the famous viewpoint, but with the temperature well over 100 degrees I wasn’t about to almost kill myself (again) with heat exhaustion. Instead, we opted to escape the heat and snorkel in the crystal-clear turquoise waters. Sadly, it wasn’t the large, colorful, reef fish that caught my attention, rather it was all of the tourists who were STANDING on the coral reef. Note to snorkelers: PLEASE do NOT stand on the reef! I know there’s that saying “Take only photos, leave only footprints” but I don’t think they meant leave your footprints on the coral…
After a couple of hours, I was ready to get away from the crowds and feeling thankful that this island was only one stop along our Koh Tao adventure–Westy’s advice was spot on.
Yet before we could continue our tour around Koh Tao, we had to first survive an obstacle course back at the dock. Our long-tail boat was tied up next to four other long-tail boats, which meant that we had to jump-wobble-hop-and-balance our way over each long-tail boat before safely tumbling into our own. The phrase, “Safety Seventh!” is heard repeatedly in Thailand. 😉
Our journey along the remote northern and eastern sides of Koh Tao was truly incredible. We passed many beautiful coves, bays, and beaches, all backed by dense, jungle-covered mountains. Every once in a while a tiny road peeked through a break in the tree canopy, and the occasional resort would rise above a dense grove of coconut trees. The clear, calm, turquoise water beckoned and we stopped often to snorkel and cool off from the heat of the day.
Some of the most popular snorkel spots on the island include Mango Bay, Tanote Bay, and Aow Luek, and due to the steep slopes, lack of well-maintained roads, and distance from Sairee, these remote locations are nearly inaccessible. As we continued our journey it became apparent that the best way to access these sites is by a long-tail boat.
As we rounded the southwest corner of Koh Tao, Sairee Beach came into view and I realized that we were not going to end up as shark-bait after-all. For our fourth anniversary we went looking for adventure, and our change of plans gave us exactly what we wanted. Not only did we survive, but we explored two beautiful tropical islands, snorkeled with giant schools of fish, enjoyed a day out on the water, and now have a crazy-I-can’t-believe-we-did-that memory that will last a lifetime.
Do you have an anniversary tradition? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Would you hire a private long-tail boat for the day?