Those who have travelled S.E. Asia before will know only too well how easy it is to pile on the pounds. Suddenly you go from a body you were proud of to something you want to cover up at all cost. The rich foods cooked in delicious yet calorific oils, tasty ice cream temptations on the beach, 7/11 toasties and the eternal draw towards sundowner beers. In fact despite the heat, which usually suppresses appetite we all still suffer from a very relaxed, simplistic approach to life, which can often see travellers taking even less exercise than they would at home. In this blog I will attempt to highlight ways to stay fit and healthy whilst living on Koh Tao.
Firstly we shall explore how to get a healthy benefit from the natural resources of the island. As we are surrounded by water, lets kick off with a spot of swimming.
Sairee beach – Being the easiest beach to reach from the heart of Koh Tao, it offers swimmers a large and un-crowded area in which to swim. Provided the tide is high. The 800-meter waterfront is an ideal place to don your swimwear. Try to get from Maya Beach Bar to the rocks at Koh Tao Cabana. If you make it back, the staff at Maya will be more than happy to serve you up one of their healthy nutritious fruit shakes.
Hin Wong Bay – Whilst it is possible to drive over the hill (not advised) it’s far better to walk. Expect some muscle burn during the 45 minutes walk over the top but once you have arrived simply slip into the water and enjoy one of the best bays on the island. The water here is deeper (10metres) and far more refreshing than Sairee. Being sheltered from the North Easterly winds the bay is usually dead calm at the surface and with visibility of around 20 meters. This bay is ideal for both swimming and snorkeling.
Top Tip: Get up early to catch the beautiful sunrise over the waters edge!
Shark Bay – If you are living in the Sairee area then transport to the south is essential. Go as far south as the road will take you, then park up at New Heaven Bungalows and begin walking down the steps towards the water. There is a vast area in which to swim but I suggest you line up with Shark Island and head about 50 – 100 meters out. The water is cool and roughly 5 meters deep. There is a high chance of swimming over 1 if not many of the resident black tip reef sharks, which will be patrolling along the seabed. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO WORRY. The sharks have been here forever and are used to curious/excitable snorkelers.
Watersports have been slowly gathering pace on the island and it is now possible to rent Kayaks and SUP boards (Stand Up Paddle) The first Kiteboards have also landed and there is private tuition available. To find all the action, head to the middle of Sairee Beach and look for rentals from outside Lotus Beach Bar. Expect to pay from 200 THB for 1 hours use. Ride them up and down Sairee Beach or if you’re super adventurous head across the bay to Koh Nang Yuan. Just watch out for the passing dive boats!!
Back on land, why not plan a half-day hike to the remote East Side of the island. A number of excellent trails begin close to the Roctopus Dive HQ and range in time from 45 minutes to 2-½ hrs of walking time. The trails are clearly marked with the pick of the bunch being the 1-½ hr hike to Laem Thien. The scenery during the hike is breathtaking but what lies waiting at the end even more so. Turquoise, calm waters, excellent swim and snorkel conditions and even cliffs with designated jump spots for the adrenalin junkies out there!
If these free activities are simply not enough to test your endurance and you want something to really challenge and build your fitness levels then think about one of these activities:
Koh Tao Crossfit (KTC) – The latest gym craze to hit the island. Crossfit is a re-branding of cross-training and promises dynamic body movements, a hefty cardio-workout and strength conditioning. All workouts of the day (WOD) are completed with other Crossfit members in a group-based scenario, thereby encouraging motivation through teamwork and competition. With only 3 Crossfit gyms in the whole of Thailand this is a must try when visiting Koh Tao. Expect to pay 400 THB per hour session.
Also sharing space in the KTC “box” is the resident island boxing coach, Denny Denholm. Rather than Muay Thai this is good old-fashioned boxing and everyone is welcome from beginners to seasoned fighters. The training is intense and offers a complete body workout incorporating both strength and cardiovascular fitness. After a few sessions with Denny you’ll be fitter, stronger and more dangerous than you were previously (should you ever need to defend yourself)
If an intense workout isn’t your thing and you wish to take a more relaxed approach to wellbeing, why not try a spot of Yoga. It’s a workout for both mind and body. Grounded Koh Tao, a short stroll from Roctopus Dive is a one-stop shop for meditation and yoga. Situated in beautiful quiet surroundings it’s the perfect place to concentrate the mind and stretch out the body.
After all this exercise, you’re going to need some healthy nutrition to support your body. Living Juices in the garden of KTC have designed a number of specific body detoxes to re-invigorate your body with essential nutrients. They also do a range of shakes/juices and smoothies not to mention nuts, berries and crazy sounding health kicks like Spirulina.
So as you can see there are plenty of fun ways to stay in shape when on Koh Tao. Get out there, be healthy and explore the island. You’ll meet lots of cool people, maybe discover a new hobby, feel energised and happy and look awesome at the same time.