By Alex Saint… Summer’s coming and work is winding down due to whole hours lost as I stare out the window procrastinating about picnics, BBQs, Pimms and, of course, planning holidays! I bet anyone reading this can sympathize with my occasional urge to turn to a way of life where every day’s a holiday… a way of life I like to refer to as the path of the beach bum. Seriously. And where better to study this road to enlightenment than to one of the ultimate beach bum paradise islands, the lovely Koh Tao. Follow, and you will bask in ever-lasting glory, living like Homer’s lotus-eaters with no thoughts of home, work or reality. Behold, I present to you my ten commandments of Koh Tao(ism). Enjoy!
1) Thou shalt be lazy. The smallest of the three Gulf islands, Koh Tao’s laid-back atmosphere is legendary. Spunky, little brother to the colossus that is Koh Samui and the hippy, middle-sibling that calls itself, Koh Pha Ngan – little Koh Tao knows how to throw a shape or two yet still retains its super chilled ambience with bungalows in abundance and mega cheap eats and drinks. It’s a crime not to spend at least a few days doing sweet F.A. and let all those worries just melt away.
2) Thou shalt pack light. The relaxed, backpacker, beach town vibe of this island weaves its magic and before you know it you’re running around barefoot and contemplating dreadlocks. Koh Tao is all about the beach life so free yourself from the shackles of fussy, fancy dress-up: cut-offs, sun dress, bikinis, DONE.
3) Thou shalt sample the fruits of the sea. In sight of the sea. Despite being a firm street food/market stall aficionado, I challenge you not to be seduced by the abundant restaurants that line the beaches of Koh Tao. Sairee beach is chocka with delightful breakfast and lunchtime spots like AC2 with its sweet, blue painted tables and gorgeously enticing Thai cushions while in the evening mouth-watering seafood BBQs are where it’s at. Sairee Cottages still serve up an amazing BBQ dinner for 120-150B. Fresh seafood with a sea view? I think I just had a little taste of nirvana.
4) Thou shalt find some live music to listen to by candlelight. Lazy, laid-back days can be followed by lazy, laid-back nights if you are so inclined. Seek out Lotus Bar where candle-lit tables right on the sand allow for lounging til all hours with a bit of live guitar-strumming to get you all starry eyed while you sink a few more Changs, watch the stars reflected in the sea reflected in the sky reflected in the sea and ask yourself is this all just a dream within a dream? Deep, man.
5) Thou shalt play. Embrace your inner child and buy that Hello Kitty beach ball. Drop that beach tennis set into your basket. Grab yourself a lilo and paddle your little heart out. Or if all that sounds a bit too much like hard work, just draw some pretty shapes in the sand. Or bury someone. Remember what it was like when you were little and light-hearted? No responsibilities. No worries. No problems. No woman, no cry. You get the idea.
6) Thou shalt swim with the fishes. A world hot-spot for diving, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to schools, instructors and sites. And with some of the cheapest prices when it comes to getting certified, for many this is the reason to come to Koh Tao. Colourful sea anemones, twinkling fishies and if you’re lucky maybe a turtle or whale shark. The stunning marine life can also be enjoyed sans diving with Mango Bay, Aow Leuk in the south, the Japanese Gardens at nearby Koh Nangyuan and (if you’re feeling hard enough), Shark Bay, being some of the best sites to sling a snorkel.
7) Thou shalt worship the sun. Get ready to slap on that sunscreen because Koh Tao has some pretty glorious beaches. White sand, check. Swirling, aquamarine waters, check. Hidden bays formed by interesting rocks and boulders, check. Sairee is pretty but if a little crowded for your tastes, get exploring – some of the beaches may seem tricky to access but they’re worth it.
8) Thou shalt do a little dance. Getting a bit restless now and ready to cause a little mischief? Well, get walking further south along Sairee beach, away from the chilled nightlife and into the village where the party people frolic amidst shops, markets, tattoo parlours and massage stands. Whether it’s sports bars, lounges, a bit of fire-twirling or some lady-boy show action you fancy; rest assured Sairee village caters for all.
9) Thou shalt remember happy hour. Keep it holy. Three words for you: mojitos, mojitos, mojitos. Top tip: the bars often have two hour long happy hours and often they run at different times. So, keep your peepers peeled and you could probably go much of the evening coasting on happy hour prices. Happy news indeed.
10) Thou shalt honor the sunset. With a drink in hand, sunshades on and a comfy seat to watch the sun slipping beneath the sea, you shall in this moment know the meaning of true happiness.
And so in keeping with the ten commandments, it shall come to pass that you will find yourself a true Koh Taoist and become at one with the heavens.
By Alex Saint