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Have you ever dreamt of swimming with sharks? One of the best snorkeling locations in Thailand to swim with sharks is at Shark Bay, in Koh Tao where you are assured of a unique experience.  At a depth of 6 to 12 feet, Shark Bay has many blacktip reef sharks, some of them over 6 feet long, that continually crisscross the bay. In addition to sharks, this location is visited by green sea turtles and a wide diversity of reef fish.

Pair of sixspine butterflyfish in Shark Bay.
A pair of sixspine butterflyfish in Shark Bay.

How to get to the Shark Bay snorkeling spot

There are three main ways to snorkel Shark Bay:

  1. From the shore: Get to the bay’s shore by scooter, taxi, or on foot. From Sai Ree or Mae Haad, head south to the Taatoh Seaview Resort.  From the resort walk down to the beach using the narrow path in the forest (see location on Google Maps) which leads to a tiny beach.
  2. By boat: Most tour organizers and 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. If you don’t have much time and you want to explore the island’s best spots, a boat tour may be your best option.
  3. By staying at the Haad Tien Beach Resort. Shark Bay is the hotel’s house reef.
Shark Bay snorkeling map, Koh Tao
Shark Bay snorkeling map, Koh Tao.

Water entrance for snorkeling Shark Bay

The water entrance is from a tiny rocky beach, if you go there on your own, from a large sandy beach, if you stay at the Haad Tien Beach Resort 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 in 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. In this area, you will soon encounter sharks. Tour boats moor in a deeper area (↕10-12ft/3-4m), and 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 is just a carpet of broken coral. In places, you might be able to find pink skunk clownfish  that are inhabiting sea anemones.

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, so watch out for boats and other snorkelers. At certain periods of the year, particularly in December/January, small jellyfish invade the bay.

School of barhead spinefoot in Shark Bay
A school of barhead spinefoot 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, a beach or rocks
  • 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.