Tanote Bay is one of three small bays on Koh Tao's east coast that have accommodation. With some 250metres of sand this is the bay with the largest and best beach by far along the this coast. All along the east the mountain falls steeply into the sea, leaving little room for resorts. All bungalows here have had to build up the hillside, though the slope in Tanote is not as steep as in its sister bays, and it is significantly wider and more open. It also has more resorts here.
The road into Tanote is rough, stony and steep with only 4-wheel drive vehicles and motorcycles about to negotiate it. But inexperienced motorcyclists should not try it until the track is improved and more concrete sections are laid (written 2012). The resorts all collect guests from the jetties in pick-up trucks for the crossing of the mountain. As the crow flies it is only 2.3 kilometres from Mae Haad's jetties, and makes a pleasant and energetic walk for the healthy.
Tanote Bay is entirely lined with bungalow hotels, though most are low density and plenty of green remains. Beach trees are a little thin here, though, leaving most of the beach rather hot. Only - Diamond Beach Resort in the middle has an attractive grove of beach trees growing right out of the sand. This resort enjoys the privileged position in the middle of the beach and its restaurant with those shady trees have become something of the beach's social centre.
Family Tanote Bay Resort on the northern headland has the most rooms here, of which nearly all enjoy soothing sea views over bay and beach. It's pretty, but there are not many trees shading their rooms and it does get hot.
Outside the northeast monsoon months from November to February, the water is generally very calm along this side of the island, and excellent for swimming and snorkelling. The huge granite boulders in both beach and water create great topography, making it more interesting for swimming and snorkelling.
The difficulty of the access road means it is not easy to come and go to other parts of the island from here. Most guests often just stay right here through their holiday. Otherwise, to get in and out, guests have to join the resorts' four-wheel drive vehicles on their pick-up and drop-off trips to Mae Haad port.
For more info and photos see Tanote Bay info & photos.
by John Everingham