Koh Tao Is Getting Serious About Protecting Coral Reefs & The Environment
We hoped for but certainly didn’t expect the green revolution that is happening on Koh Tao. The island’s dive shops and residents are not just banding together to ban plastic bags, but are truly embracing reef safe sunscreens, shark conservation and greener retail options for scuba divers and backpackers.
Is the sunscreen & green revolution on Koh Tao sustainable, or will consumer sentiment wane with the tide, let’s dive in (pun intended)!
Koh Tao – A Scuba Divers Paradise!
You might be asking what is so special about Koh Tao, why does every scuba diver in the world know about it, and possibly even why should you visit?
Firstly, Koh Tao is a beautiful island located in the Gulf of Thailand not too far from the coast. It is very close to the national marine park of Ang Thong and if you have seen a postcard from Thailand, then you have seen a picture of the islands dotting Ang Thong’s crystal blue waters.
Secondly, Koh Tao is renowned for offering the world’s cheapest scuba diving courses. Thanks to there being over 100 dive shops on Koh Tao alone, the sometimes fierce competition for divers has kept prices down. This in turn keeps tourists flocking there year after year to get their PADI and other scuba diving certifications.
That’s why Koh Tao is famous, or infamous in the scuba diving world. Value for money scuba diving trips and courses, abundant natural beauty, nightlife to rival anywhere else in Thailand and Koh Tao doesn’t suffer from mystery runaway pricing found elsewhere in Thailand.
Backpackers who flock there regularly help to keep prices low which can and does save you money when visiting, so go visit and enjoy some underwater adventures!
Koh Tao – Tourism Problems
Sadly as Koh Tao became ever more famous in backpacker and tourist circles, environmental issues including trash collection/disposal, plastic pollution, coral reef degradation, increased fishing & Shark endangerment began to rear their ugly heads.
This isn’t unique to idyllic islands like Koh Tao, just look at Boracay in the Philippines which was shut down by order of the Government until the island sorted out its environmental footprint issues. Too many tourists will simply put pressure on island infrastructure that sometimes doesn’t even exist, and it is almost always the surrounding environment that picks up the tab.
Koh Tao has for all intents and purposes become motivated and self-aware enough to start helping with this metaphorical tab, and environmental issues are now the talking point of the island.
Real work is being done to improve and protect the natural environment on Koh Tao and the surrounding ocean, reefs and marine parks.
Koh Tao – Plastic Waste Revolution
It’s hard to tell exactly what sparked the fire under the bums of businesses and residents of Koh Tao to push for bans on plastic use on the island. Maybe it was the ever-increasing plastic waste littered across the beaches or maybe it was that trash fire at the local waste repository which blanketed the island in thick toxic smoke for a day, who knows right?
But, the whole island has since taken huge steps in the war on single-use plastic items, like bags, straws, and water bottles. Those three things alone make-up around 50% of the trash on the island and were becoming an ever-increasing problem for residents.
Even the 7-11’s on Koh tao are on board with using less plastic and have launched public campaigns to get tourists and residents to start using re-useable cloth bags and avoid the plastic alternatives. This effort was widely praised by everyone and made worldwide headlines, now we just need 7-11’s to stop wrapping every single Banana they sell in plastic wrap, then we will have won another great victory for the environment.
Add to this, plastic straws are now frowned upon almost anywhere you eat, drink or sleep on Koh Tao. Restaurants have signs warning that no plastic straws will be served with your drinks, alternatives like metal, paper or 100% bio-degradable ones are likely to be provided instead.
Water bottle waste has also been curved by efforts from companies like Trash Hero, and Save Koh Tao. Re-fill stations are available in many restaurants and almost every dive shop will have one for free use, as long as you are using a refillable drinking container.
Koh Tao – Reef Safe Sunscreen Evolution
Something else that has been a wonderful boon to tourism and the environment on Koh Tao has been the worldwide efforts to educate tourists and divers about the toxic effects that many sunscreens have on coral reefs!
Reef Repair has been very active on Koh Tao and has been visiting dive shops and businesses all over the island to help educate and offer alternatives to reef toxic sunscreens. We are very proud to announce that now over 20 shops and resorts on the island now offer Reef Repair SPF 30+ Reef Safe Sunscreen in varying sizes.
- Type: Sunscreen
- SPF: 30+
- Water Resistant: 80 Min
- UVA II:
- Reef Safe:
- Baby Safe:
- Kid Safe:
- Non Oily:
- Natural: 100%
Our push to help get reef toxic chemical sunscreen out of the hands of divers and keeping it out of the ocean and away from dive sites is hugely important to an island that relies primarily on scuba diving tourism. No more reef simply equals no more scuba diving tourism, even degraded reefs will cause this.
Healthy coral reefs make for interesting and life abundant dive sites, that’s what scuba divers and snorkelers pay to see, so it’s up to everyone including scuba diving instructors to ensure that anyone entering the marine parks surrounding Koh Tao are wearing non-toxic sunscreen.
Just remember that a single drop of Oxybenzone is deadly toxic to coral reefs, and Oxybenzone is found is over 90% of sunscreens. You can find out more about Oxybenzone and other reef toxic sunscreen ingredients by following that link.
Koh Tao – Shark & Turtle Conservation Efforts
We all know seafood is tasty, it’s a bit of a joke between evolution and us that everything in the Ocean tastes delicious and is relatively healthy for us to eat. But you need to remember that if you eat seafood, you are contributing to the bycatch of critically endangered marine animals like Sharks, Turtles, Dolphins, Whales, and Mantas.
Koh Tao and the surrounding Islands are making great efforts to protect and conserve their marine life. If you don’t know what or who Shark Guardian is, follow that link to learn about them because they are an amazing company operating all over the world to help protect Sharks. So make sure your dive center is affiliated with Shark Guardian because without Sharks the Ocean is in big trouble!
You’ll also see many Sea Shephard posters in dive shops on Koh Tao. In an effort to protect Whales and other Cetaceans (Dolphins), dive centers can affiliate with Sea Shephard for educational purposes. Sea Shephard swag is pretty cool too!
Even the Royal Thai Navy on Koh Tao is involved in marine conservation efforts. Since 2000 they have had a Sea Turtle conservation and rehabilitation center nicknamed “Head Start” that is always active on the island. In fact, they are responsible for releasing around 50 – 150 turtles in the area every year as well as rehabilitation of sick or injured Turtles as well as beach conservation for hatchlings.
So if your dive shop is not onboard with at least one of these great conservation initiatives on Koh Tao, start asking about it. Pester the owner, annoy the general manager and never shut up about marine life protections, our Oceans and coral reefs desperately need the help!
Reef Repair Sunscreen For Dive Shops
If you are a business owner or dive shop manager on Koh Tao looking to stock and sell Reef Repair sunscreens or lip balms, then you can head on down to Dive Supply Koh Tao who are currently our distributors on Koh Tao.
Koh Tao Dive Supply offers our wholesale/retail packs in sizes of 10, 20 and 50 units, and all prices are the same as ordering directly from Reef Repair.
Where Can I Buy Reef Repair Sunscreens?
If you are heading to or currently staying on Koh Tao, then we have prepared this handy Reef Repair retailer map for you. All shops listed on this map currently stock Reef Repair Reef Safe Sunscreens.
If your shop isn’t listed on the map above, and you are stocking Reef Repair sunscreens, please let us know and we will correct it.