5 Gorgeous Islands near Koh Tao, Thailand

Shark Island at sunrise
Shark Island at sunrise | © Lee Jellyman / @jellyman_underwater
Photo of Leslie Finlay
17 May 2018

If you can tear yourself from the gorgeous beaches, towering viewpoints, and rich marine life of Koh Tao, journeys to some of its more remote sister islands will reward the intrepid spirit. Check out these day trips – or stay even longer – for incredible nature, tranquil jungle canopies and hidden beaches, and a look into the iconic Thai wilderness of the days before mass tourism to the Gulf.

Koh Nangyuan

Koh Nangyuan Viewpoint | © Joan Fruitet / Flickr

This unique natural wonder is the only place on Earth that has three islands connected by one extending beach, placing it firmly as of the most photogenic destinations in Asia. Many tours run day trips to Nangyuan, or you can just hire a taxiboat from any of Koh Tao’s beaches for a quick 10-minute journey right to the sister island’s pier. Once you’ve taken in the spectacular views, Nangyuan offers immediate access to two of Koh Tao’s best snorkeling spots – Japanese Gardens and Twins – or hike up the path to the island’s iconic viewpoint to get a panoramic view of the joined triplet islands as well as Koh Tao’s northern jungle canopy. The island closes by 5pm, after which point it is the exclusive domain of the guests of Nangyuan’s only resort – which is bit old and outdated comparatively, but with the kind of relaxed ambience that remains unmatched.

Koh Mae Koh

The Emerald Lagoon of Koh Mae Koh | © Vincent / WikiCommons

Known as ‘the Mother Island’ of the Ang Thong archipelago, the main feature of this remote spit of land is its incredible emerald lake, the lesser-famous counterpart to tourist-heavy Maya Bay filmed in The Beach. The saltwater lagoon is connected by underground tunnels and is completely protected to preserve its unique and biodiverse flora and fauna.

Shark Island

Shark Island, right off of Koh Tao's southern cape | © Nick Steemans / WikiCommons

This small landmass right off the South cape of Koh Tao is entirely uninhabited but for its colony of seabirds that swirl around the jagged, volcanic spires jutting from the ocean beneath. It’s easily accessible, however, by any number of taxi boat operators or by grabbing a kayak from one of Southern Tao’s many resorts. The waters that lap the jagged rock outcrop are teeming with immense amounts of marine life, from colourful reef fish to sea turtles, and even the occasional whale shark.

Koh Wua Talap

The view of Ang Thong Archipelago from the top of Koh Wua Talap | © Chaiyathat / WikiCommons

Another island within Ang Thong National Marine Park, Koh Wua Talap is one of the only spots with available overnight accommodation to truly channel your inner Robinson Crusoe – but check your notions of five-star luxury at the pier. To keep the island it its most pure, natural state, strict policies on development are enforced, and overnight stays are available in simple bungalows or tents only. The island’s gorgeous viewpoints, Bua Boke cave, and remote beaches beat a poolside villa any day.

Koh Taen

Koh Taen offers remote beach escapes in a truly idyllic setting | © Wouter Rooijakkers / WikiCommons

This remote island near Koh Samui is covered in thick jungle with a permanent population of just 20-30 people. Accessible by longtail taxiboat from the nearby fishing village of Thong Krut, Koh Taen is surrounded by rich coral reef and the dense canopy is carved up by mountain biking trails. There are a few, simple bungalows available for rental so visitors can take in the tranquil stillness of the island and unobstructed wildlife – monitor lizards wander through the island’s mangrove forests and huge birds of prey swoop across its fresh water springs.

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