So just what is life in Koh Tao all about? If you can imagine a picture perfect paradise island with a relaxed and chilled out vibe, stay here long enough and locals get to know you , greet you in the street or as you enter there shop / bar. My regular breakfast haunt begins cooking my cheese and bacon bagel the second I open the door! Its a small island and chalok is a smaller bay with a great local feel to it, almost like being a part of the family.
Well obviously Im at the dive shop every day from about 9 AM but there is a bit more to life than just scuba diving, Koh Tao is a small island but its a major stopping off / getting on point for tourists travelling to and from Koh Pagnan. This means besides the dedicated scuba tourists we see a considerable influx of people before and after the full and half moon parties. Some of these people are ready to chill out after pagnan and others well they just want to keep on partying!.
Chalok Bay where I'm based is pretty chilled out part of the island, we have some great restaurants here and I recommend Tukta for authentic thai food at great prices. Tropicana resort also has great food at reasonable prices. Coffee and breakfast are best at Koppee although if your on a budget its hard to beat the giant carton of ice coffee you can get in a 7/11 for just 28 baht. Fishy Burger is a 24 hour place that serves up great binge food (perfect fare after a few changs). They also do a pretty good pizza and the chilli there is the best I've had on the island (bang it on your cheese dogs or your fries!). Bar wise you have some great choices, See bar is good for cheap cocktails, Bar next door has live music on occasions and does some mean shots (night diver and yadong) but probably the coolest bar is babaloo a great place with hammocks and fire dancers a short walk along a lantern lit pier near the end of the bay. For a game of pool Moon bar is located near to Fishy Burger and although I'm told its a "girlie" bar I've never really seen any girlies in there and on the one occasion I've played pool in there none of the guys had any pressure to "rent" a girl for the night. Bizzarley the once place I have seen a chick get picked up was in the movie bar I mentioned. oddly enough she was sat chatting to a guy with one breast fully out on display, shortly after they left together and she was back (breasts now safely stowed away) before the end of the movie!
A typical day for me will be a coffee from 7/11 followed by a cheese bagel for breakfast. 10 - 3 ish will be spent on the dive boat depending on the sites we choose to dive. Ill take a late lunch in either tropicana or Tukta the Massaman curry is good at both and a real recommended dish. Normally after that I'm in need of a shower since the humidity here is quite intense and ill be caked in salt from the ocean. Between 5-6 is what we refer to locally as Mosquito O clock. The mozzies here are like mosquitos from Jurrasic park. They are ravenous and they will bite you through your clothes! Unless really nesscessary avoid that hour of the day or pay the price in itching. Luckily there is no malaria here so annoyance factor of 10 but not life threatening. In the evening ill meet some of my friends from the dive shop for a beer, usually starting in See bar and moving along the coast till babaloo. Its worth mentioning one of the bars shows movies every night starting at 6 and 8. Don't count on quality and don't expect latest releases but given the lack of Cinema its a viable alternative to a quite night in! I have no clue as to the name of this bar since Ive only ever entered it from the beach but you can miss the huge projector screen.
Its also possible to buy "smoke" in some of the bars here, I won't name names of bars since I'm not about to encourage people to break the law in Thialand, be aware the thai people have very strict laws on drug use and possession. Its easy to get here if you ask around but you have been warned and the author takes no responsibility for the readers actions!
The only negative to the island are the taxi drivers and you won't stay here long without hearing about them, they have been known to chase people with machetes and at night I've personally seen them become aggressive when a customer tries to barter a fare. This kind of bad attitude, along with ludicrously over priced fares gives them an awful reputation and the majority of long timers here simply won't use them. If you have to use them, agree the price up front and make sure of your destination (although Ive heard of taxi drivers here dropping customers off part way and then demanding a full fare regardless). Also of note are the bike rental guys, some of these guys will try and rip you off over bike rental charging exterminate sums of money (20000 baht) for minor damage (scratches and such). In general use common sense, get the owner to look over the bike with you before you pay and make note of existing damage. When riding the bike don't use roads you don't think you can handle and don't drive while half cut! Everyone is going to want your passport if you loan a bike and the last resort is to skip the island with an unpaid bill (20000 baht is more than a new bike costs) before going to a local embassy for an emergency passport.