Koh Tao & Koh Nangyuan Tour: we booked this tour online through Tours Koh Samui's website only a couple days in advance but it went off without a hitch. There was a couple different options on their website. We chose the speed boat trip including the shopping street because it was less expensive than the speed boat option without shopping (operated by a contractor) and because it was faster than the catamaran option. We paid our deposit with paypal, and quickly received the confirmation email.
The shuttle was waiting for us bright and early at 6:50 AM. Our hotel was located at the southwest corner of Koh Samui and the tour left from the north coast, so with stops for other guests it took us a full hour to reach the boats. Once we were there they checked us in and then there was tea, instant coffee, and toast with jelly. They also had motion sickness pills if you needed them. It seemed like several different tours were all assembling there so we probably had to wait 30-40 minutes for everyone to arrive and them it get everything together.
We were assigned a speed boat and there were probably 25 of us on the tour. The speed boat was truly just a large speed boat. Imagine a speed boat you'd take out on the lake, just a lot longer in the back. There was enough room for us all to sit comfortably, but that was all there was room for, just sitting. The drive to Koh Nangyuan took an hour and a half but the waters weren't especially bumpy so most people slept (at least those who can sleep sitting up).
We arrived at Koh Nangyuan and it was gorgeous! White sandy beach connecting two little islands with wood plank bridges and little bungalows. The tour guide gave us instructions but she seemed a lot more focused on the 4 Germans on the tour, which left the English speakers scratching our heads and trying to figure out what she said. We had an hour and 45 minutes at Koh Nangyuan which was a perfect amount of time. We arrived early enough that we were able to rent 2 chairs and an umbrella for 150 THB (~$4.50), there was also a restaurant and a little gift shop on the island.
The park had something they called a Japanese garden and the snorkeling was INCREDIBLE! The water was so clear, like glass, and as you swam out over the coral there were fish everywhere! It was awesome :-) . We saw all kinds of fish, and even giant schools of fish would go swimming past. The snorkels they provided worked great, and the water was salty enough we had no problem staying afloat even without a life vest.
We got a late start from Koh Nangyuan because some of the English speakers (not surprisingly) had misunderstood the departure time. Our tour guide seemed a but cranky after that point. From Koh Nangyuan we sailed 5 minutes over to the beach side restaurant at Koh Tao. We had a set menu, but the food was tasty and they happily refilled the serving dishes anytime they got low and had plenty of cold water. Apparently this was also our opportunity for the shopping street, though I didn't figure it out until we returned to Koh Samui without stopping anywhere else. Our tour guide did mention that you could walk to the town of Koh Tao from the restaurant, but I didn't see anyone take her up on the offer.
From the restaurant we sailed just down the coast and then parked the boat to jump off and snorkel the coral reef. We were the only boat parked there, so we had the whole reef to ourselves. Again the snorkeling was AWESOME! Super clear water, and a deeper spot than the Japanese garden so you could dive down to really get a look at the fish swimming amongst the coral. My husband even saw a really, cool angelfish. We only spent about 40 minutes here which seemed a bit rushed (maybe because we were behind schedule from Koh Nangyuan?), but after that it was back in the boat for the hour and a half trip back to Koh Samui. The taxi vans were waiting for us, so we went straight to the car for the hour trip back to the hotel.
Overall I didn't think the tour guide was that helpful and the second half of the tour felt a bit rushed, but the snorkeling was so phenomenal that overall the tour was still fantastic. After having been previously to Ang Thong Marine Park, I would say don't waste your time snorkeling there but go straight to Koh Tao and Koh Nangyuan, you won't regret it!
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