Ko Tao is famous as a location for divers, but it’s a vantage point high above the waves that provides another perspective of the natural beauty of the island. A trail behind Freedom Beach leads to a viewpoint that was first discovered by a local landowner, Mr Suwan and his friend, Mr John. Tourists who now gaze out on the spectacular viewpoint owe a debt of gratitude to those original trailblazers.
From Freedom Beach, it’s a 500 metre walk up the hill to the John Suwan Viewpoint which will take around 10 minutes. It does involve clambering over some rocks and because it is slippery in parts, the climb is best tackled in footwear that will offer more grip than flip-flops. There are guide ropes in place at the bottom of the hill to help anybody who is less agile make the climb. Although you won’t need Olympian levels of fitness, it is hot work.
The reward for all that effort is panoramic views of Chalok Baan Kao Bay and Thian Og Bay. Verdant green hills and palm trees provide the perfect backdrop to the curved symmetry of the bays.
How to get to John Suwan viewpoint
Access to the viewpoint is via Freedom Beach. When I visited John Suwan Viewpoint I was staying at Bro & Sis Place in Mae Haad (close to the pier) and started my walk there. In total it took me around 50 minutes to walk from Mae Haad to Freedom Beach with a few stops on the way to take photos. I walked via Chalok Ban Khao which is a good place to stop for food and drink either before or after your exertions.
To access the viewpoint you need to make two separate payments. The first booth charges 50 Baht to access Freedom Beach (not as free as the name suggests!). There is another fee of 50 Baht to access the trail that leads to the viewpoint.