We arrived in Ko Tao early, which meant that we had time to walk to Sairee Beach to check out a few accommodations the we had scoped out online. Asking to see a room first is not uncommon, and it’s definitely worth it to make sure that the pictures stack up to reality.
We chose Sairee Cottages which, in addition to a great location right on the beach, it also had a dive center that gave us discounts on lodging for booking dives with them. Twist my arm! Our little bungalow room was attached to just one other room and was just what we needed with air con and a good shower. A nap was also easily arranged after our all-night of traveling.
We strolled the beach after watching the sunset and ate dinner at Sairee Huts; yet another wonderful example of Tom Yum soup. I love the big hunks of ginger and lemongrass floating in the broth. Sitting under the tree strewn with Christmas lights, we watched “wish lanterns” float through the night, finally winking out over the mountains.
Ko Tao is known as one of the best places to get your open water certification and the plethora of dive shops dotting the island stand as proof: Ko Tau certifies more divers than any other place in the world, save Cairns, Australia.
I spent a day and a half underwater with Sairee Cottage Diving for a total of six dives; it was a fabulous experience. In addition to great advanced sites like Chumphon and Satta Kut 742, a recently sunk wreck, there are great reef dives with tons of marine life. While I didn’t get to see a whale shark, I did see wrasse, butterfly fish, bat fish and a blue spotted ribbon tail ray. Heather also got in a few dives, her first in more than seven years!
I really enjoyed Ko Tau–while there was plenty going on, it wasn’t too crazy and there were lots of great restaurant options and spectacular sunsets. We’ve also found, since we’ve experienced a few more islands, you get the best bang for your buck here. My six dives on Ko Tau cost half of what dives on any other island cost and lodging is extremely affordable.
According to Rachel, one of the fabulous dive masters at Sairee Cottage Diving, I could get my Master Diver certification in as little as four weeks…but I could always stretch it out to six weeks, if I wanted. Hmmm…I think I have a plan forming!