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Secret Thailand.

If you're looking for a club scene, you've come to the wrong place. Koh Tao, a small island off the east coast of Thailand, remained untouched by the devastating tsunami of 2004 and is a quiet, uncrowded alternative to bustling Phuket and Bangkok. The brightly colored boats used to catch barracuda, tuna, and shrimp (which you can eat at local fish barbecue restaurants) double as water taxis, transporting you to hidden bungalows reachable only by boat, coconut groves perfect for evening strolls, and secret little bays where you can relax on your own private beach all day long. And no one seems to care if you're gay

Island Hop

Koh Tao translates as "turtle island," but the sea turtles that once lived in its crystal clear waters have moved on to other breeding grounds. As for the human population, the average number of residents on this eight-square-mile island hovers between 750 and 1,000. Palm trees on Koh Tao surround a secluded bay called Ao Leuk. It's a wonderful beach for sunbathing and snorkeling. All the boats you see as you walk up and down the beach are taxis that will take you anywhere around the island. This driver is clearly open for business. Perhaps he'll drop you off at Ao Leuk Beach, where the waters are full of colorful, friendly fish that are used to being fed by snorkelers. If you stand still in the water, they gather around and follow along as you swim, looking for handouts.

Taste for Yourself

Rambutans, mangosteens, and mangoes ripen at one of many beach vendors' stalls. Rambutans are my favorite. They're red and hairy on the outside, and when you break them open there's a white flesh that tastes like you're eating a flower. Getting a taste of Koh Tao is part of Thailand's secret: Bangkok Airways provides over 10 daily flights from Bangkok to the Large neighboring island of Koh Samui (a 1 1/2-hour boat ride away).Thai Airways International offers two daily flights from Bangkok to the mainland province of Surat Thani (a two-to-four-hour boat ride). Visit OutTraveler.com for more resources, including practical information about traveling to and around Koh Tao.

The Y-shaped beach at Koh Yuan is ideal if you really want to get away from everything. There's only one restaurant, and it's never crowded.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Koh Tao island
Author:Coble, Jack
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Jan 17, 2006
Words:388
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