Getting Involved in Citizen Science in Koh Tao

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Koh Tao is a small yet picturesque island sitting within the Gulf of Thailand.  It’s more popular neighboring islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, lie further south and are much bigger than Koh Tao. Some say that Koh Tao is a blend of its two neighbors, boasting an extremely laid back beach vibe like Koh Phangan yet remaining vibrant and lively like Koh Samui.
Known as an eco-friendly and environmentally conscious island, Koh Tao is a great base to explore the beauty of Southern Thailands postcard coastlines.  Dotted across the islands are dive schools and eco-resorts, many of which have their own conservation programs that divers and non-divers alike can get involved in.  These activities contribute to the health of the island and its surrounding marine eco-system but also contribute to a much bigger cause – scientific research.  This is a must for the bucket list!

What is Citizen Science?

Citizen science is simply the public participation in scientific research – no scientific background needed! Through engaging in brief training on data collection, you can join others in collecting and submitting important information about the health of the local ecosystems, contributing to large scientific databases.

Citizen Science on Koh Tao

The dive schools and resorts on Koh Tao understand how important the surrounding environment is for tourism.  That is why many put an emphasis on organising beach clean ups and surveys to monitor the land and underwater ecosystems.
Master Divers, a 5 star PADI Dive Centre, hold regular Project AWARE Dive Against Debris underwater clean ups, that divers of any level can get involved in.   The trash that is collected from underwater is sorted and counted, with the data then submitted to the Dive Against Debris global database.  If you are not a diver, you can still join them to help collect trash from the surface of the water through snorkeling or joining their beach clean.  Master Divers also conduct regular coral reef monitoring for Coral Watch as well as water quality testing across several popular dive sites.  If you’re interested in joining them – just drop them an email or visit their shop. I did all my professional level dive training with them and can guarantee you will be warmly welcomed into the Master Divers family!

Other Things to Do on Koh Tao 

  • Join a beach clean
  • Learn to Dive
  • Hike to the many viewpoints on the island
  • Take part in a snorkel survey

How to Get There

Koh Tao is easily accessible via ferry or boat from the mainland or nearby Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.  There is no airport on Koh Tao and the closest one is located on Koh Samui with flights from Bangkok every half hour from 6am – 10pm every day.  Many travel agents offer combined packages that offer your flights and boat tailored to times that suit you – so don’t be afraid to ask what they can offer.

Some more adventurous travelers choose to take the sleeping train from Bangkok to Chumphon railway station, and then jump on the boat to Koh Tao at 7am.  This is also much more suitable for those travelers on a budget as the overnight sleeping train is much cheaper than air travel.

Places to stay

Utopia Guesthose, Mae Haad – Located next door to Master Divers, Utopia Guesthouse only has 8 rooms and provides tourists with a central, yet quiet location.  It has a beautiful roof terrace, perfectly positioned to watch the sun set on an evening.  It is less than a minutes walk to the beach and has rooms to suit solo and group travellers.  If you’re staying here, be sure to check out Coconut Monkey, a small beachfront restaurant opposite Utopia with the best vibe on the island.

Montalay Eco Cottage, Tanote – Nestled in its own patch of jungle hidden away on a hillside, Montalay Beach Resort offer cottages of various sizes and styles located next to a stunning waterfall.  It is close to Tanote Bay, one of the quieter bays on the island and has its own water sports centre to cater for activities.

Crystal Dive, Mae Haad – A comfortable and modern beach front resort that is extremely pro-active in environmental activities led by their in-house conservation team Eco Koh Tao.  You can dive and snorkel with Crystal Dive, who offer discounts on rooms to those that are diving with them.

New Heaven Dive School, Ban Chalok – A great place to relax, take part in numerous eco-activities, partake in yoga, scuba dive and eat great food!  New Heaven Dive School are another example of a center that has a heavy focus on marine conservation and eco-friendly accommodation with a well-developed and highly respected marine conservation program.

Best time to visit

Koh Tao has a tropical climate. The average weather varies every season, but the temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius (86° Fahrenheit) every day throughout the year. December until May weather is the best time to go to Koh Tao. Click here for more climate information.

Written and pictures by our guest reporter Katie:

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This article was last updated on July 24, 2020.