I find it difficult to choose between Ai Tanote or Haad Sai Nual on Ko Tao. Especially because we are going during June, so I don't know about the beaches and the swimming/snorkeling during the rainy season...any tips ? We know it's secluded and that is what we want, but maybe one gives more alternatives than the other in restaurants, etc. and in terms of access to more usual areas ? Plus we were hesitating, as for accomodation, between Diamond for Tanote and Tao Thong Villa (or Sai Thong...) for Haad Sai Nual.
#1 st_martel has been a member since 18/5/2011. Posts: 2
Good news. It isn't rainy season on Ko Tao in June. Rainy season is mainly in November/December there.
The places you're looking at are a bit far from the action so not many choices of restaurants whatever the season. You can't have isolated AND immediate access to a wide selection of restaurants and bars but you can still get into town and Sairee beach etc from these places... it just isn't all that quick or easy, especially at night.
Yep, June normally sees real nice weather - I was there again last June. I don't think it rained my whole visit.
Now theoretically Tanote being on the east coast is sheltered more from the prevailing westerlies which can get a bit blustery on 15-25% of days. But I have to say every time I've been into the south-west bays around Sai Nuan things have been really nice.
Both places are pretty sweet.
Although Tanote is further from town access tends to be better because there are fairly frequent runs by various bungalow pickups - for instance Black Tip Divers run an hourly shuttle and will take non-guests.
These days there is a fair selection of bungalow restaurants on the beach and a real nice viewpoint place called Tanote View about 800m up the access road. A similar place a hundred meters closer the beach.
Beach okay although pretty coarse sand - fairly good snorkelling by Thai standards around a small islet mid beach - I found visibility and water depth poor between the beach and the islet but it was low tide when I checked. Mol at Hing Wong told me that silt from storm run-off from the new dams' earthworks high above Tanote has affected the coral a fair bit. Might be particularly so in this shallow section close to the beach. Hing Wong Bay and Ao Leuk have better snorkelling.
There are probably 10 or so resorts spread across adjacent Sai Nuan 1 and 2 and Gul Jea beaches so you do get some selection within a 10 minutes walking radius. It is possible to walk over to Chalok Baan Kao in around 15 minutes and to Mae Had town in about 25 which brings up a hell of a lot more. There is super-difficult vehicle access and it is far better to come in from the ferry piers via longtail - not a long trip, but being Tao, not a cheap trip (I was quoted 300 a boat in June 2010).
I haven't snorkelled this area but have been told it's okay without matching some of the better Tao places. Sand and water appeared pretty nice to me.
One thing for sure - Sai Nuan and neighbours are far more laid back than Tanote. And Tanote itself is not over the top.
Wow ! Thank you both for those very useful replies. We'll probably head for Tanote and see from there.
#4 st_martel has been a member since 18/5/2011. Posts: 2
Not sure how the snorkelling off Tanote is these days. A landslide the year before last destroyed the coral off the beach by covering it in a lot of mud apparently. Anyone got updates on that?
Maybe also have a look at Freedom Beach Resort st_martel... I think it might be the perfect compromise for you!
Last year I won a dive course on Ko Tao (thank you again TF ) and after I'd completed the course, I went to stay at Taa Tao Lagoon Resort for a few days, one of my favorite old budget haunts on Ko Tao ... only to find it no longer exists!
It and Freedom Beach Resort have merged to become one large rather upmarket resort.
Luckily they hadn't knocked down all the old bungalows when they built the big new upmarket resort. These were excellent value (for Ko Tao) @ 500B. Basic bungalows, but you benefit from the high end resort facilities too... very efficient staff, free wifi, safe boxes at reception and free pick up and drop off for the ferry every day. Restaurant prices were average (as was the food) but the new restaurant is rather nice and has a very pleasant setting overlooking the (new) sand beach where the Taa Tao Lagoon Resort used to be.
The old cheap basic fan bungalows are well spaced out and private, have fabulous views over the bay from the somewhat rickety balconies and are well away from any party noise. At the same time you're within walking distance of Chalok Ban Kao restaurants, bars, shops, ATMs etc. They aren't any worse than the bungalows you'll find on the beaches already mentioned...in fact Poseidon Bungalows on Ao Tanote were even more basic last time I stayed there and also much noisier because the owner had a tendency to play loud music a lot.
Freedom Beach itself is quite small but pretty and has a little offshore snorkelling too. There are several other beaches within easy walking distance as well and the access road to the resort is tarmacked all the way making motorbike access easy.
Quiet but easy access to facilities... what you're looking for, no?
Last year Freedom Beach had its own website but I can't find it now for some reason...here's a hotel booking website instead to give you an idea... price for a fan room on this site is still 500B so maybe they didn't raise prices last season.
> price for a fan room on this site is still 500B so maybe
> they didn't raise prices last season.
Yes, the price still 500B/night for basic bungalow - I stayed there in the beginnig of May. Also you can get discount if you stay longer.
BTW, Freedom Beach lagoon is not the best place for snorkeling, but there is "snorkeling point" between Freedom Beach and Chalok bay. Also it is possible to reach Shark Bay via neighbouring NewHeaven resort. I have had much fun snorkeling with blacktip reef sharks there.
Here is short movie taken while scuba diving and snorkeling around Koh Tao: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6EGd4esHMw