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Most beautiful beaches in Koh Tao, Thailand

A white sandbank surrounded by turquoise sea and green vegetation at Koh Tao

The island of Koh Tao is best known as one of Thailand’s top scuba diving destinations but it is also home to wonderful beaches with white sand and crystal clear water.

Whether you’re yearning for a secluded spot away from crowds or a lively beach with bars and music, the island has something to offer to everyone. And if you’re obsessed with snorkeling like I am, you’re in luck, because many of the Koh Tao beaches have coral reefs teeming with tropical fish.

In this blog post, I’ve listed the best beaches in Koh Tao that I visited during my stay on the island. At the bottom of this post, you’ll also find a map that gives you an overview of where each of these beaches is located.

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Best beaches in Koh Tao

1. Koh Nang Yuan Beach

A narrow white sandbank at Koh Nang Yuan Island, surrounded by turquoise water and hills covered with green vegetation.

Right off the northwest coast of Koh Tao lies Koh Nang Yuan – a group of three small islets connected by a sandbank. With its irresistible neon blue water, chalk-white sand and a picturesque setting between the rocky islets, Koh Nang Yuan Beach is a true piece of paradise. If there’s one place that has to be on your Koh Tao itinerary, this is it!

Koh Nang Yuan is also one of the best places for snorkeling in Koh Tao. There’s an abundance of colorful fish and vibrant corals fairly close to the shore. I saw several titan triggerfish, groups of parrotfish and other species here while snorkeling.

The beach has a restaurant, toilets and a small kiosk where you can buy snacks and rent snorkeling gear. You can also rent sunbeds and umbrellas. Be sure to also hike to the Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint for one of the most famous views in this part of Thailand. 

To get to Koh Nang Yuan, you can take a longtail taxi boat from Sairee Beach for a half-day trip to the island. Alternatively, you can get there on an organized snorkeling tour that takes you all around Koh Tao and includes a stop at Koh Nang Yuan as well. 

Since Koh Nang Yuan is a private island, all visitors have to pay a 250 THB fee on arrival.


2. June Juea Beach

A drone photo of June Juea Beach with its turquoise water, white sand and countless palm trees, one of the more hidden beaches of Koh Tao.

June Juea Beach (also called Aow June Juea) is a small secluded beach on the south coast of Koh Tao. It is surrounded by swaying palm trees and lush vegetation and has clear turquoise water. It’s also a great spot for watching the sunset.  

Although there are a couple of small resorts near the beach, it still remains a hidden gem and doesn’t receive many visitors. Because of its beautiful natural setting and peaceful ambience, June Juea Beach became one of my favorite beaches on Koh Tao.

In terms of snorkeling, the coral here looks a bit dead but there’s still lots of fish to be spotted so remember to bring your mask or rent it from the local beach bar. I’ve read that people have also spotted hawksbill turtles here but I personally didn’t see any.

June Juea Beach can be accessed on a scooter via a steep concrete road or by a 20-minute walk from Chalok Bay. We got there on a scooter and it was manageable despite the steep hills.


3. Sairee Beach

A row of palm trees and a strip of golden sand on a windy day at Sairee Beach in Thailand.

Sairee Beach is the longest and busiest beach on Koh Tao and the center of activity on the island. It is lined with palm trees and has golden sand and clear water. Despite its popularity, the beach never feels too crowded as there’s ample space to put your towel down. 

Along the 1.7 km (1 mi) long beachfront, you can find a large variety of amenities and businesses – from beach bars and restaurants to diving schools, tour operators, massage parlors and numerous hotels. You can rent beach chairs, snorkeling gear and SUPs.

Me sitting on a beach chair with a cocktail in my hand, looking at the sunset at Sairee Beach.

As Sairee Beach faces west, it’s the perfect place for watching the sunset. I recommend grabbing a cocktail at one of the beach bars and watching the sun drop behind the horizon with your toes in the sand. In the evenings, you can watch fire shows on the beach.

Sairee Beach is an excellent place to base yourself in Koh Tao because you’ll have everything you need close by. We stayed at Ban’s Diving Resort and can highly recommend it. I’m still dreaming of these pools:

Read my detailed guide to visiting Sairee Beach, where I go into detail about the best things to do, best hotels to stay at and best place to eat at this popular beach.


4. Freedom Beach

Calm blue water and a stretch of white sand lined with small trees at Freedom Beach.

This small sandy beach lies at the southern tip of the island and is surrounded by beautiful lush nature. The shore here is bordered with small trees which give this beach a unique look and provide shade from the scorching sun. 

The water at Freedom Beach is calm, crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling. If you swim further out to the sea, towards the Buddha Rock, you might see large schools of fish and even turtles.

There are free beach chairs that you can use as well as showers, toilets and a restaurant. It’s also a good spot for watching the sunset. Despite its relatively secluded location, Freedom Beach is very popular so expect to share it with lots of people.

Freedom Beach can easily be accessed by a scooter or a taxi. The entrance fee is 50 THB, which also gives you access to the nearby John-Suwan Viewpoint and the neighboring Taa Toh Beach.


5. Shark Bay

A crescent of white sand lined with swaying palm trees and surrounded by hills covered with lush vegetation at Shark Bay Beach.

Shark Bay Beach is another scenic beach on the south coast of Koh Tao. Lined with tall coconut palms, it’s a dreamy spot with pristine white sand and crystalline water. Even on a cloudy day when we visited, the water here was a vibrant shade of turquoise. Many consider Shark Bay to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Koh Tao.

The beach gets its name after the harmless blacktip reef sharks that can often be seen here when snorkeling. Green sea turtles are also a common sight in this bay and the best time to spot them is apparently around 3-4pm. Don’t expect to find vibrant coral here though because it’s all dead.

When we were there, the sea was unfortunately too rough to snorkel so we couldn’t try our luck at spotting the sharks and turtles.

Tip: Bring water shoes because there’s some sharp coral on the seabed.

Shark Bay Beach is located on the grounds of Haad Tien Beach Resort (which looked like an amazing place to stay!). Therefore, you have to pay an entrance fee of 100 THB to access the beach. This includes wifi, shower and toilets. There’s also a nice (but a bit pricy) restaurant on the beach.


6. Sai Nuan Beach

Me squatting on a large rock on the peaceful Sai Nuan Beach on the south coast of Koh Tao.

This small sandy beach is located in a less developed area on the island’s southwest coast. It has a relaxed vibe and is surrounded by large round rocks, which create a beautiful setting. There are a couple of rustic beach bars where you can buy drinks and food.

Sai Nuan Beach is also a great snorkeling spot. Although the coral in this area is dead, you can see lots of colorful fish (for example parrotfish and rabbitfish) around the rocks, even in shallow water. There are some sharp corals on the seabed though so you might want to bring water shoes.

A school of small yellow fish eating coral in clear shallow water at Sai Nuan Beach.

As the beach is a bit off the beaten path, it doesn’t receive a lot of visitors. We only met a handful of other people here. 

Tip: If you walk north along the coast from Sai Nuan Beach, you’ll reach another secluded beach called Sai Thong, which is also worth a visit.

Sai Nuan Beach can be accessed by a scooter or a taxi. Although the road leading there is very steep, it’s in good condition. We didn’t have any problems getting there with our scooter. Alternatively, you can walk there along a coastal trail from Charm Churee Villa.


7. Tanote Bay

A large rock jutting out of the sea in front of Tanote Bay Beach with a backdrop of forest-covered mountains.
Photo credit: Doris Gone Diving

On the east coast of Koh Tao, tucked between green hills and large boulders, lies Tanote Bay Beach (Ao Tanot Bay). It has a large strip of sand with lots of space so the beach never feels too busy.

In the middle of the bay, there’s a huge rock that you can climb and jump off from into the azure sea below. You should only do it if you’re confident in your climbing skills though!

Tanote Bay is known for its fantastic snorkeling as it has lots of healthy coral and a large variety of marine life (such as rays, pufferfish, sea turtles and blacktip reef sharks). I went scuba diving here and can confirm that the underwater world in this bay is amazing.

A huge school of yellow fish at Tanote Bay dive site on Koh Tao.
A large school of fish we saw when diving at Tanote Bay

There are a few restaurants on the beach where you can also rent kayaks and snorkeling gear. The beach can be accessed with a scooter but be aware that the road leading here is curvy and steep.


8. Sai Daeng Beach

An empty stretch of sand and clear blue sea at the small Sai Daeng Beach.

Sai Daeng Beach (also known as Haad Sai Daeng) is situated on the south coast of Koh Tao. It has a small stretch of sand and clear water and it feels very private. There’s also a restaurant where you can rent beach chairs and snorkeling gear.

Unfortunately, the waves were too big for snorkeling when we were here. However, on a calm day, it’s apparently an amazing spot for snorkeling. People have reported seeing many different fish, turtles and even blacktip sharks at Sai Daeng. 

The beach overlooks Shark Island, a small rocky islet around which you’re likely to see lots of marine life. You can rent kayaks at Sai Daeng Resort and paddle to Shark Island in about 15 minutes if the weather is good. You should only consider going there when the sea is calm.

To get to Sai Daeng Beach, you have to walk through Sai Daeng Resort. Thankfully the resort doesn’t charge any fee for that.


Koh Tao beaches map

On the map below, you can find the locations of all of the Koh Tao beaches I mentioned in this blog post. Click on the icon in the top left corner of the map for more details.


Despite its small size, this little island paradise has no shortage of scenic beaches to visit. Hopefully, this blog post helped you get an idea of which beaches in Koh Tao are the right ones for you. Or if you have plenty of time, why not go beach-hopping and explore all of them?

Be sure to also read my thorough guide to Sairee Beach and my Koh Tao itinerary post to find out how to see all of the best spots on the island in 3 days.

In case you have any questions about those beaches, let me know in the comments.

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