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Koh Tarutao 

Best for: Wildlife

Once upon a time, the Thai government used to send its crooks to the island of Tarutao – to look at it now, this seems like the last thing that would put anyone off a life of crime.

The island is full of dense forest that’s teeming with wildlife: on the land and in the surrounding waters you can see sea turtles, whales, monitor lizards, crab-eating macaques, mouse deer and countless species of birds.

Some of the island is signposted in English, making it easy to follow wildlife trails, either on foot or by mountain bike (it’s easy to hire these on the island).

Just be sure to ask the island’s rangers before planning a lengthy trek, as parts of the island are more difficult to navigate than others.

What else? There is plenty of budget guesthouse accommodation on Tarutao, but it’s also very popular with campers, because while there are decent facilities, it rarely gets too crowded.

It only costs 65p per night to camp if you have you own tent and other roughing it equipment.


Koh Samui

Best for: Watersports

This island isn’t for everyone, particularly not if what you’re after is an unspoilt, serenely beautiful corner of the world to relax in.

But if you don’t mind your tropical paradises filled with blaring night clubs, crowds of tourists, international fast food chains and a bit of a seedy underbelly, then there is actually plenty of fun to be had on Samui – especially in the form of watersports.

Since the island is so developed this is the place to get stuck into activities, as there are heaps of established facilities.

There’s sailing, snorkeling, kayaking and kiteboarding for starters, as well as a few more extreme options – ever fancied a go on a Jetlev-Flyer?

This uses powerful jets of water to blast you into the air, Iron Man-style.

Book yourself a session with Wateredge Sports.

What else? Always wanted to tick ‘bungee jump’ off your bucket list? Chaweng Beach is the place to do it.

The 50m jumping platform is suspended over a giant plunge pool, and you can choose whether or not you want to get dunked. 


Koh Phi Phi 

Best for: Swimming with sharks

Ko Phi Phi is probably best known for a combo of diving and partying, but the most exciting activity on the island is The Adventure Club’s Shark Watch tour (

This is an early-morning, three-hour trip on which you’re guaranteed to get to swim with black tip reef sharks.

You’re taken out on a long-tail boat to an area of shallows where the sharks like to swim, then you’re given the opportunity to do some snorkeling and swimming in the water with them.

The company is known for being environmentally conscious and promoting sustainable tourism.

Plus, they’re so confident that the sharks will be there that if you don’t see any you get a full refund.

What else? Toughen up those muscles by scaling the limestone cliffs at one of Ko Phi Phi’s top rock climbing spots, such as Hin Taak Climbing Area or Ton Sai Tower.



Pick a paradise: TNT's guide to Thailand's best island holidays, from Koh Samui to Koh Tarutao
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