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Ever dreamt of swimming with sharks? The snorkeling spot of Shark Bay, in Koh Tao, is one of the best in Thailand for living this unique experience. 6 to 12 feet from the sea bed, many blacktip reef sharks, some of them over 6 feet long, criss-cross the bay, before the fascinated eyes of the snorkelers.
There are two ways to explore Shark Bay. The first is to go to the beach under your own steam (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 Jamakhiri Resort & Spa, which is on the beach. Many taxis will also take you there. The second option is to visit the spot on a guided boat tour. Most tour guides in Koh Tao organise full- and half-day excursions taking in a number of snorkeling spots, particularly Shark Bay, Tanote Bay, Mango Bay or Lighthouse Bay. For a tour including stops at 2 or 3 spots, the price is between 1 000 and 1 200 bahts per person. If you don’t have much time and you want to explore the island’s best spots, this option is a good idea.
You enter the water either from the beach (if you go there on your own) or from a boat (if you are on an organized excursion). In the latter case, follow your guide’s instructions.
Snorkelers visit Shark Bay to swim alongside the many blacktip reef sharks that come there each day. The best time to see the sharks is between 7am and 10am. They vary in size, with some measuring almost 6 feet, but the smaller specimens also venture into the shallow waters near the beach.
From the beach, swim out to sea in the central and northern part of the bay. You will soon come across the silhouette of a shark, from a depth of 3 to 6 feet. The tour guides’ boats head for a deeper area (↕10-12ft/3-4m) and further away. Here you can see the particularly impressive, larger specimens. There have never been any incidents with sharks here, as they come and go peacefully above the sea bed.
All over the area, the sea bed is badly damaged and consists in a grey carpet of pieces of dead coral. Here and there, a few sea anemones, inhabited by pink skunk clownfish, add a little color to the decor. You may also come across some butterflyfish, triggerfish, needlefish, parrotfish, sergeant majors and, if you are lucky, sea turtle.
This spot is very popular with guided tours, which pour their share of tourists into the bay each day. Some visitors are clumsy, and know little about the rules of correct snorkeling behavior, so watch out for collisions and stray swimfins. At certain periods (particularly in December/January), small jellyfish invade the bay. Although the jellyfish are harmless, being repeatedly stung by them may well force you out of the water sooner than you planned.
Two hotels, the Haadtien Beach Resort and the Jamakhiri Resort and Spa directly overlook the beach. Ko Tao island is small, but is easily accessible.
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.
Been in shark bay yesterday (1 aug 2019) with day tour visiting 5 snorkel sites around Koh Tao. Møre than 99% of corals in shark bay is dead. Seabed is huge cemetery of brownish dead coral debris with An occasional Living coral And fish passing by. As a biologist I felt extremely disappointed and very sad… don’t go to Koh Tao for snorkeling any more!
Like non biologist people are enthusiastic about dead corals. No it’s true there’s a large bed of dead corals in shallow waters. Probably due to water too warm and possibly pollution. Shark bay beach looks really clean however if you swim to the next cove then it’s a pile of trash. Gets a little bit more live if you go further. Last year (September) I saw huge sea turtles everyday at about 5pm, but not a single shark.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.