The ultimate guide to staying fit on Koh Tao

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The ultimate guide to staying fit on Koh Tao

One of the main reasons to come to Koh Tao is the stunning underwater world and for many people scuba diving is a great way to exercise and to stay healthy during their holidays. In fact, PADI has done some research on the topic of “how many calories diving burns” and a relaxed fun dive in tropical waters can be credited for as much as 300 calories per hour (which is roughly the same as going for a hike).

Not only the dive itself can be beneficial for your overall health (or calorie-count), but also everything that comes included when you book a diving trip: from climbing onto the boat or the surface swim to carrying your gear around, all this can be counted as exercise and is part of the reason why you can feel quite tired after a good day out on the boat.

Unfortunately not every day can be a diving day (even though we think it should be!), but there are a lot of other things to do on Koh Tao if you want to stay in shape during your trip to Thailand and here are our favourite ideas:

1. Hiking

With only around 8 square miles in size Koh Tao is in fact not very big, yet holds an incredible amount of hiking trails. While some routes are clearly marked out, others lead through straight through the lush jungle – but most of the hikes here have one thing in common: at the end, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning viewpoint or a secluded bay where you can dip in the ocean for a refreshing swim.

The best way to start your hike is by asking the locals for their favourite routes (we have quite a few avid hikers in our team) or pick up a copy of one of the free Koh Tao guidebooks which you can find t many places around the island, including or in our dive centre reception. If you still need more ideas there are a lot of personal travel blogs online and a quick google search should provide you with plenty more ideas.

A few things to keep in mind when you go hiking: even though Koh Tao is not big enough that you could seriously get lost in the jungle, there are quite a lot of places where you won’t get a phone signal, so do make sure to let someone know where you are planning to go. Be mindful when crossing private land, take plenty of drinking water and make sure to wear sunscreen (for daytime hikes) and/or mosquito repellent (for early morning or sunset hikes). Keep an eye on the weather forecast – especially during monsoon season the weather can turn quite rapidly.

If you like hiking, you might also like:

  • Trail Running – If a hike doesn’t sound like enough of a workout for you, try one of the hiking tracks as a trail run instead. Make sure to plan for an early morning run as it gets seriously hot as soon as the sun comes up behind the peaks.
  • Sunset views – If you are not a morning person and the idea of getting up before the sun to go for a walk sounds rather appalling to you, plan for a hike to one of Koh Tao’s viewpoints overlooking the west side of the island. Koh Tao’s sunsets are Insta-worthy all year round and you can make all your friends jealous with your new profile pictures… Bear in mind that the sun sets very quickly in Thailand due to being so close to the equator. Make sure to have a flashlight with you in case you need for your return
  • Biking – Admittedly Thailand isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly country in the world so it makes sense that the most popular way to get around is still by scooter or motorbike. Why not switch things up and rent a bicycle instead and combine your island-sightseeing with a workout?


2. Yoga

Yoga has become more and more popular over the past few years, yet it can be a little bit daunting if you have never tried it before. Koh Tao has more than just one yoga school with a variety of daily drop-in classes that are suitable for any level from beginner to expert. Times for these 1-2 hour classes are normally suitable for divers too and the easiest way to keep up to date with the schedules is usually via Social Media.


If you are a more advanced yogi and are travelling with your own mat, in the early mornings you’ll find plenty of quiet spots on the beach or on the rooftop of your guesthouse. Simply roll out your mat and start your day with a few sun salutations.

If you like Yoga, you might also like:

  • Freediving – When practicing yoga there is a huge focus on the breathing. You will find that during any freediving class the focus will be on correct breathing techniques, too. If you like the idea of being underwater without any scuba tanks, Koh Tao is the perfect place to try freediving.
  • Rock climbing – As with yoga, you have to concentrate on your movements when practicing any form of climbing. Admittedly, Koh Tao is not a climber’s hotspot like for example Krabi, however it’s a great spot for beginners for both, rock climbing or bouldering.



3. Water sports

Ha! This one is quite obvious, since we are on a tiny tropical island. Koh Tao has an abundance of beaches, some hidden away and private, others stretched out and publicly accessible.

If you are planning to go swimming or snorkelling it is always a good idea to keep an eye on tides and currents (or ask the locals for advice) but almost all year round you can find a sheltered bay that is safe and accessible. Not only is this a fantastic workout, but if you’re lucky you can even swim with huge green turtles or go snorkelling with baby blacktip reef sharks – bonus points for having some great stories to tell to your friends & family when you get back home.

Again, as with most outdoor activities in the tropics, we recommend to avoid the midday sun and stick to the cooler morning or afternoon hours. Make sure to wear sun protection, like a lycra shirt (with SPF) or a reef-friendly sunscreen – both of those you can purchase at our shop in Mae Haad.

If you like watersports, you might also like:

  • Kayaking – Just as getting around Koh Tao by foot or bicycle, this is an excellent way of combining some (on-water) sightseeing with your workout of the day. Remember to keep your valuables in a dry bag and protect your head (and skin!) from too much sun
  • SUP – Another one of the new and trendy sports that you can easily try during your next trip to Koh Tao. Keep your eye out for special offers on Social Media and you might even find a SUP Yoga class – two birds one stone!



4. Crossfit

For almost 5 years now, this tiny island had its own Crossfit Box. Even if you’ve never tried circular training before, you can join any of their classes on a drop in basis as they can usually be scaled up or down for any level of fitness. It’s a good idea to bring a small towel and drinking water, but don’t worry, you can also buy water there. Got hooked? Great, get one of their multi-class passes and start your days with an intense workout.


If you like high-intensity inerval training, you might also like:

  • Regular gym classes – At the time of publication Koh Tao had two fully equipped and air-conditioned gyms with options for daily or monthly passes.
  • Boxing / Muay Thai – Whether you are a beginner or have some experience with martial arts already, Koh Tao offers different options for getting fit through boxing classes. Usually these classes are a little bit more technical – you’ll not only have the opportunity to train in paradise, but pick up some new skills.


Don’t forget that you’ll be sweating a lot more in the tropics than you would during a regular workout in the Northern hemisphere. One of the best things post-workout is to treat yourself to a rehydrating fresh coconut and a nourishing breakfast/lunch at one of our many healthy restaurant options on the island. A firm favourite is the Coconut Monkey, just across the road from our dive shop, where you’ll be able to find loads of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, too.


Do you like our ideas? What are your favourite ways of staying fit during your travels? Let us know in the comments!


Photo credits: Rob Kelly, Lauren Olorosky (Goodtime Adventures), private, Unsplash.

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