I understand some of my biggest fans (Alex Sutty, you know who you are) have been getting restless at the lack of posts, and have described this blog as “not well maintained but entertaining.” I agree! I really meant to be a good blogger, but I’ve been busy traveling. And sweating so much I am worried that my brain might be leaking.

We spent 10 days in Thailand, splitting our time between Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao and Bangkok. After visiting BKK and Chiang Mai last year, we were eager to check out the islands. Thai beaches did not disappoint! Koh Tao was our favorite island, and incidentally where we spent the most time while we completed our Open Water certification.

See below for our island breakdown!

Koh Samui–We didn’t spend much time on Samui and primarily used it as a jumping off point, as it’s the only island in the region with an airport (albeit the most amazing open air airport I’ve ever seen). We stayed in the town’s main drag, Chaweng Beach, and were surprised to see the level of development in the area. Unfortunately, there was an extremely low tide, which made swimming rough, but on the flip side, you can walk on sandbars for hundreds of yards in ankle deep water. Plenty of food options here, but a notable lack of bikini shops! Would love to return and check out the other side of the island.

Overcast morning on Koh Samui

Overcast morning on Koh Samui

Koh Pha Ngan–Home of the Full Moon Party, which I will detail in another post. Because it’s so…unique. We chose to stay outside of Haad Rin beach (where the party takes place) and booked a place in Ban Tai beach. This island is bigger than we thought, so we rented a bike and had a blast exploring the different beaches and chasing some much-needed breeze. We checked out Thong Sala, Haad Rin, Haad Salad and Haad Yao. I liked the more laid back vibes at Haad Salad and Haad Yao, which had an awesome cafe over the water with a freshwater shower and hammocks for lounging. After two days on Pha Ngan, we were ready for a change, although if we had more time we could have explored the North side of the island, which is accessible only by water taxi.

Beach view at Haad Yao

Beach view at Haad Yao

Haad Salad - yum!

Haad Salad – yum!

Seizing the day on Haad Salad...from my hammock

Seizing the day on Haad Salad…from my hammock

More swinging on Haad Salad!

More swinging on Haad Salad!

Koh Tao–Oh, Koh Tao! My new island crush and the absolute hardest place to leave. Perfect little Koh Tao is laid back and relaxing, with clear, glassy water, clean beaches and trees and greenery everywhere. The food is also fantastic, with a surprisingly good selection for a tiny dive-centric island.

The view from the ferry on arrival

The view from the ferry on arrival

And the diving! I used to be a wuss (past tense, I am brave now), and feared fish to the point that I’ve been the lone idiot sitting on the boat in Kauai while everyone snorkels. I’ve been missing out! We “took the plunge” on Koh Tao and did our open water certification with a dive shop called Roctopus. We are now certified to dive to 18m, and we liked it so much that we’re considering doing our advanced certification to go to 30m.

Roctopus was a fantastic choice, as it’s a smaller school with limited group sizes (we had 5 total in our class) and an awesome staff. Our instructor, Kelsey, struck a perfect balance between being structured and thorough in teaching us the technical stuff while keeping the class lively and engaged. I had some trouble equalizing my ears, and she was extremely patient and made sure I was able to descend safely and comfortably. All in all, the class was 3.5 days, with classroom sessions and homework (!) plus three ocean dives, including a visit to Chumphon, one of the top dive sites on the island.

Above the water, Koh Tao is a fantastic place to hang out. The food was insanely good and cheap, and iced coffee is everywhere. In particular, we fell in love with a local Thai place called Su Chili, which served up delicious, cheap Thai food quite conveniently across from our guesthouse.

Travis is QUITE excited for his fried rice a la Su Chili

Travis is QUITE excited for his fried rice a la Su Chili

We also found the beach of our dreams on Koh Tao: Aow Leuk Bay. We reached the beach via motorbike down a bumpy dirt road, and were completely thrilled to discover a pristine bay with crystal clear water, perfect for swimming. The water temperature was perfect and got cooler as we went deeper, which is actually a good thing since the water in the shallow beaches gets HOT. And the coolest part: Travis jumped in with a snorkel and saw some baby reef sharks.

Heaven

Heaven

The worst thing about Koh Tao was the fact that leaving was so difficult. Sunburnt and sulky, we endured a two hour ferry and boiling hot van transfer to the Koh Samui airport, where we reluctantly boarded a Bangkok Airways flight back to the epicenter of crazy, lovely BKK. Of course, more adventures to come, but I definitely left a little piece of my heart on Koh Tao.

View from our guesthouse balcony

View from our guesthouse balcony