Tuesday, 25 September 2018 03:18

Sharks are Coming!

Awesome conditions here in Koh Tao right now. Beautiful hot sunny tropical days. Crystal clear, great visibility, warm water at 30 degrees, calm surface conditions & more fish than can you shake a stick at! There's an awesome 40 meter long wall of Barracuda, a twisting typhoon of Big Eyed Jacks & a massive school of Batfish on one of the descent lines at Chumphon Pinnacle, & we got turtles all over the place as well as so many rays and eels you can almost smell them! Sharks! Keep your eyes out folks. I think we're about to be inundated with Whalesharks, Bulls, Blacktips & Grey Reefs soon! The conditions are just perfect for the plethora of sharks we often get at this time of year! Watch this space!

Published in September
Monday, 24 September 2018 08:59

Divesite of the Week

Our Dive site of the Week this week is... Southwest Pinnacle! A deep divesite reaching 30 meters at its deepest & comes up to about 6 meters below the surface. This collection of awe inspiring rock patterns is home to an abundance of scorpionfish, Koh Tao's biggest & ugliest Mallabar Grouper, a mammoth school of fusilliers, blue spotted sting rays, cleaner shrimp, white eyed moray eels, trevelly, angel fish, bannerfish & is also a popular hangout with our visiting Whale sharks. & guess where we are going tomorrow? Southwest & Koh Tao's second best Dive site of the week... Shark Island!

Published in September
Monday, 24 September 2018 07:32

All quiet on Koh Tao

What with all the Fake News coverage Koh Tao has been splattered with, & the awesome weather this summer in Europe, plus the World Cup people just decided to stay home this year. Many were effected by Brexit and the effect that had on the Pound compared to the Thai Baht. So there are a few reasons which could account for why Koh Tao is so quiet right now. You can almost find your own bay or stretch of beach here it’s that quiet. Accommodation prices are at their lowest in years, Scuba Diving prices are still the cheapest in the world, and you will be more than enticed out to all the restaurants and bars because of the nightly specials practically on offer everywhere. The lack of tourism has really opened up our island visitors to some awesome experiences at real bargain prices. Make sure you get your piece of the action!

Published in September
Friday, 21 September 2018 03:41

Daily Weather Reports for Koh Tao

Anyone who’s been living in a cave the last week may have missed out on some of the big news stories that have dominated our TV sets recently – extreme weather! 

With hurricane and typhoon season running from June to November in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and also a huge swathe of Asia, this time of year is always an exciting one for us weather watchers. Hurricane Florence is currently busy wrapping up its attempted destruction of North and South Carolina, USA and the other big story is Typhoon Mangkhut which had cut a deadly path through the Philippines, Hong Kong and South-East China, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

 

Luckily here on Koh Tao we don’t really get hurricanes or anything even close to what’s being suffered by those affected by Florence and Mangkhut, and it’s only usually during our monsoon rains (mid-November – December) that we can sometimes suffer from flooding – we had some bad ones in 2016 and again one year later – or the occasional super-cool water spout (thanks for the excellent photo of this beauty last November from Andreas Fiskeseth) that appear on the horizon around that time of year.

 

So how can we find out what the weather is like now anyway?

 

The easiest way to get a daily report of the weather here on Koh Tao from a real person who is actually on the island (that’ll be me) is to click right here where I’ve been reporting not just the weather but also information on wave size in regards to snorkeling and diving here, which are easily the most popular activities on Koh Tao, along with boozing.  I may not be as glamorous as those delectable beauties that are so commonly found on the Mexican news channels (if you don’t believe me just Google ‘Yanet Garcia’) but I’m certainly thorough.

 

If you’re looking to check the weather forecast for the next few days, there’s a glut of apps and websites that are available, and to be perfectly honest with you most of them are absolutely shite – it’s very common for these apps to declare the day as being ‘rainy’ even if it only rains for a few minutes in that day, which is pretty misleading. Here at Big Blue we rely on two in particular that seem to be a lot more accurate than other: ‘Windguru’, and ‘Windy’. By taking the information given from both we can usually predict the weather for the next week very accurately indeed!

 

Oh, and today? Hot, sunny, and another bloody whaleshark at Sail Rock. What a time to be alive!

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 

Published in September

The Cheap Places

One of the great things about traveling and backpacking Thailand is the sheer amount of great places to eat which won’t break the bank, and Koh Tao is no different than the rest of the country. With new options appearing what seems like every other week (and disappearing too, unfortunately) what we’re going to look at now is what I consider to be the best places to fill your stomach without emptying your pockets.

 

Duck 995, Sairee Village Thai/Chinese, Vegetarian Options

Number 1 on this list for a damn good reason, this small and typically Thai-looking restaurant won’t win any prizes for décor, but has built up an excellent reputation for itself on Koh Tao for delicious, cheap food served quickly with minimum fuss and maximum taste. Always busy, this locals favourite serves what I consider to be the best duck noodle soup I’ve ever tasted (and I consider myself quite the connoisseur of noodle soups, I’ll have you know) and one taste of literally anything from their menu will show just why they’re rated so highly with those who know their food.

Main courses go for between 70 and 150 baht, or if you want the whole roast duck it’ll cost you just 700 baht. The menu is quite heavily duck-orientated but other options are available for those who don’t wish to eat these cute little quacking-machines.

 

Our Choice – There’s no doubt that the Spicy Duck Noodle Soup is a real joy, with an explosion of flavours on the taste buds with every bite. With a delicious broth to die for, noodles of your choice, bean-sprouts, peanuts and the perfect amount of seasoning it’s something you’ll come back for again and again.  Go for the larger 90 baht version, as you’ll no doubt want more.

 

 

 

Da’s Sandwiches, Mae Haad by the Pier and Sairee Walking Street Sandwiches, Fast Food, Vegetarian Options

 

Another Koh Tao local’s favourite, after fattening up everyone by the pier in its original location Da has now opened up a second outlet in Sairee, with exactly the same qualities as the original – massive, delicious sandwiches at a very low price of just 70 baht. Impossible to eat two, these wonder-sarnies are just packed with fresh ingredients making it a perfect pre/post dive bite, but don’t be surprised if it ruins your dinner – they’re really that big.

Not really a place where you’d sit and eat (though the staff are lovely and always happy to chat) I like to order takeaway and stroll down to the beach to munch on mine – just be aware that they usually close at 14.00 though!

 

Our Choice – The chicken breast, bacon and cheese in a fresh white bun is a sandwich that could sustain a man for weeks, and has reached ‘legendary’ status here on the island. Stay away from it if you’re on a diet…

 

 

Seasons, Sairee Village Thai, Isaan, Vietnamese, Seafood, BBQ, European, Vegetarian…you name it

A main-stay of the Koh Tao community for many years now for those in the know, Seasons (also known as ‘All Seasons’ in a previous incarnation) has probably the most comprehensive menu that I’ve ever come across, with pages and pages of Thai food from the far north to the more Indian-stylings of the south, incredible Vietnamese rolls and soups (the phở bò is wonderful), the obligatory European salads, sandwiches and burgers, BBQ mackerel, pork and chicken dishes…if you can think of it, it’s probably on there somewhere.

One of the more rustic restaurants on the island, the friendly owners have over 20 cats and dogs which may put a few people off (the dogs are rather fragrant) but once you dig in to the menu you’ll see why so many locals rate this as one of the best cheap places to get traditional fare on Koh Tao, with prices ranging from 60-350 baht for main courses. It’s also one of the few joints on the island where the food is actually cooked by Thai chefs, rather than using the Burmese cooks most establishments employ.

 

Our Choice – It’s a tough choice with so many excellent dishes on the menu but I’ll stick my neck out and declare their Panang chicken curry as the best on Koh Tao, with fresh spices and that phenomenal homemade curry paste combining beautifully with the sweetness of the coconut milk and citrus of the kaffir lime leaves. Lovely stuff!

 

 

Yang’s, Mae Haad Thai, European, Vegetarian and Vegan options by request

 With a decent selection of Thai and European foods Yang’s is a firm favourite on Koh Tao, especially with the Spanish-speaking contingent here. Famous for delivering extra-large portions at really low prices leaving you with more money to spend on the nicer things in life (like diving), the reputation here is well deserved, with the restaurant often being filled with the more bohemian looking traveler trying to fill themselves up whilst spending as little as possible – try the chicken schnitzel and if you want to eat something the size of a frisbee.

Can get busy between 19.00-21.00 when service can get a bit slow, so best to order direct from the counter when it’s packed out. Mains cost from 60-250 baht, with the most popular dishes just under 100 baht.

 

Out Choice – The fried fish (usually mackerel) with chilli and basil on rice is really quite delicious, with the perfect amount of spices and fish that comes very well-cooked - unusual for cheaper restaurants that just love to overcook fish, in my experience.

Sairee 711 Foodcourt, Main Road Thai, Isaan, European, Japanese

 

Now this one might be cheating a little bit as the foodcourt isn’t just one place to eat but a handful of different outlets, but rules are there to be broken right?

This foodcourt popped up a few years ago, starting with ‘Krua Thai’ restaurant to the left of the 711, and then quickly followed by the fried foods brigade with their deep-fried delights, papaya salads, pad Thai, mango and sticky rice, strange-looking sushi and more…it’s basically a ‘who’s who’ of classic Thai streetfood all at bargain prices from 20 baht upwards.

Personally, I prefer to eat from Krua Thai which has a huge menu with a lot of unusual and classic northern Thai/Isaan food which can be hard to find at the run-of-the-mill Thai joints on the island. Service is always friendly, and they have a beautiful and friendly young Siberian Husky to play with as you wait for your order (which always comes out very quickly much to the dog’s dismay).

 

Our Choice – The fried spicy catfish curry with sticky rice is one of the most delicious Thai dishes I’ve ever eaten, with so many different textures and flavours throughout the dish you can’t fail to be impressed. Highly recommended!

 

 

Published in September
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