As we'd decided to settle at Mae Haad we had two options as to which beach to head for.
Not far away there's Haad Sairee which is attractive enough but decorated with posers comparing tans (and tits, it would seem). The second choice was Chalok Baan Kao, only it's a fair distance away (on good roads though). The time had come for me to learn how to drive a moped (a Honda no less).
It's actually really easy ... once you've spent half a day nearly killing yourself and destroying the bike.
The beach at Chalok is the sort of idyllic paradise that comes to mind when you imagine Thai beaches. The sand was soft and golden, the sea calm and blue,
and there wasn't a poser or exhibitionist in sight (I don't really mind it but it deeply offends Charlotte). I would definitely recommend Chalok to people wanting the ideal Thai beach, still unspoilt by the crowds.
The best thing about Ko Tao though is the snorkeling. We booked on a full day trip and were not disappointed. The water was perfectly calm and translucent and the marine life was fascinating and varied.
We stopped at a private beach called Ko Nangyuan. Here, the snorkeling was to die for, the water was so warm and shallow, the fish practically head-butted you!
The bus/boat trip from Bangkok to Ko Tao was pretty uneventful, surprising considering dodgy transport has become a recurring theme on our trip, the VIP bus runs overnight and despite hearing all the horror-stories regarding being drugged and the like, we arrived at the harbour safe and sound. Once we arrived on Ko Tao we made a beeline for Anantra Villas just next to the harbour. For 500 baht we got hot water and a fan (not bad).