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Ever dreamt of swimming with sharks? Shark Bay, in Koh Tao, is one of the best snorkeling locations in Thailand for living this unique experience. 6 to 12 feet deep, many blacktip reef sharks, some of them over 6 feet long, criss-cross the bay, before the eyes of amazed snorkelers.

School of barhead spinefoot in Shark Bay
A school of barhead spinefoot in Shark Bay.

How to get to Shark Bay snorkeling spot?

There are two ways to snorkel Shark Bay.

  • From the shore. The first is to get to the beach on your own (by scooter or on foot) and to get into the water from the shore. From Sai Ree or Mae Haad, head south to Chalok. Then follow the signs first to Sai Daeng Beach, then to Jamakhiri Resort & Spa, which is on the beach. You can also get there by taxi.
View of Shark Bay, Koh Tao
Shark Bay, Koh Tao.
  • By boat. The second option is to get there by boat. Most dive clubs in Koh Tao offer full and half-day boat tours of the island’s best snorkeling spots, including Tanote Bay, Mango Bay or Lighthouse Bay. A 3 spots snorkeling tour is charged around 1 200 bahts per person. If you don’t have much time and you want to explore the island’s best spots, it may be a good option.

Shark Bay snorkeling map, Koh Tao

Water entrance for snorkeling Shark Bay

Water entrance is from the beach (if you go there on your own) or from a boat (if you are on a tour).

Shark Bay snorkeling exploration tips

Shark Bay is known for its many resident blacktip reef sharks. The best time to spot them is in the morning, between 7 am and 10 am. Some sharks are almost 6 feet long, but only the small juveniles venture into the shallow waters near the beach.

Blacktip reef shark at Shark Bay, Koh Tao
A blacktip reef shark in so-called Shark Bay.

From the beach, swim to the central and northern part of the bay. You will soon encounter sharks. The tour boats moor in a deeper area (↕10-12ft/3-4m), further away from shore. This is the most recommended area if you want to see larger specimens swimming peacefully above the seabed.

Green sea turtle in Shark Bay
Green sea turtles are, together with the blacktips, Shark Bay’s main attraction.

All over the area, the coral is badly damaged and consists of a grey carpet of broken coral. In places, sea anemones inhabited by pink skunk clownfish are found.

Snorkeling the bay, you may also encounter butterflyfish, triggerfish, needlefish, parrotfish, sergeant majors and, if you are lucky, green sea turtles.

Christmas tree worms in Shark Bay
A porous coral covered with dozens of multi-colored Christmas tree worms.

This spot is very popular with tours, dropping hundreds of visitors into the bay each day. Watch out for other snorkelers.

At certain periods of the year, particularly in December/January, small jellyfish invade the bay.

Hong Kong butterflyfish in Shark Bay
A Hong Kong butterflyfish in Shark Bay.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Two hotels, the Haadtien Beach Resort and the Jamakhiri Resort and Spa directly overlook the beach.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth25ft/8m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • Potential DangersJellyfish
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsFree or snorkeling tour price
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.