Koh Tao is one of the most popular scuba diving destinations in Thailand. In fact, if you want to get your PADI certification, consider the islands around Koh Samui, one of which is the beloved Koh Tao. The island is surrounded by shallow bays, rock pinnacles, and reefs that are perfect for both new and seasoned divers.
Koh Tao has a friendly feel and a laid-back atmosphere that is visually stunning. It is common to overhear stories of different critters, sharks, and turtles on the island. In this definitive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about scuba diving in Koh Tao and tips on how to get the most out of your money.
The best time of year for scuba diving in Thailand
While Koh Tao is a popular scuba diving destination in Thailand, the best diving time is July to August. During these months, the water temperature is a comfortable 29 degrees and the visibility is around 20 meters. The temperature above water is cooler than other times of year giving travelers a nice cooling breeze.
The November to December Monsoon season is not that comfortable for scuba diving in Thailand because the water is not too calm, and thus visibility is slightly poor. However, you can still enjoy diving in the many sheltered bays on the island.
The weather is much hotter in mid-February to May with water temperatures of around 31 degrees. Your scuba diving experience might also not be that enjoyable as there are more tourists, dive boats, and divers at this time of the year.
But if you do not mind the heat and the crowds, scuba diving in Mid-February to March gives you the chance to see large schools of small fish because this is the predominant breeding and mating season. The viz is also in your favor and can give you a clear view of up to 30 meters.
If you are interested in seeing whale sharks, you can visit Koh Tao at all times of the year.
Koh Tao Diving Sites
Koh Tao’s diving sites welcome divers to see a rich variety of natural spectacles, from coral and rock formations to a plethora marine life, both the big and the small. There are even man-made objects to be found resting on the sea floor, spending their retirement as artificial homes for the creatures of the blue.
There are numerous diving schools and tour companies offering diving and snorkeling trips to the sites. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver, there is a dive site that is perfect for you. Here are some of the best that Koh Tao has to offer:
HTMS Sattakut is perfect for people looking for a thrill-filled wreck diving experience. It is located close to Sairee Beach and is great for experienced divers as well as dive-training. The military vessel that was sunk in 2011 goes as deep as 30m and hosts a number of yellowtail barracuda, trevally, blennies, and moray eels.
White Rock is located offshore from Sairee Beach and ranges from 1m to 20m in depth. It is one of the best diving sites near the island that can easily be explored by divers of all levels due to its favorable depth. Apart from the numerous angelfish and butterflyfish, White Rock is also home to the endangered hawksbill and green turtles. It is a popular choice for PADI open water training.
This is one of the most popular diving sites in Thailand located offshore 12km in the north-west coast of Koh Tao. Chumphon Pinnacle features granite and coral pinnacles which are home to schools of barracuda, batfish and the giant groupers. You may be lucky to spot a whale shark or a manta ray as they occasionally make an appearance here. With a minimum depth of 14m, Chumphon Pinnacle is great for advanced divers who are more experienced.
Located off the southeast coast of Koh Tao, Shark Island derives its name from its shark-fin like appearance and not because it is infested with sharks. The mild current makes it possible for a variety of marine life to thrive amidst the large granite boulders. Shark Island is famous for its diversity in marine life and the hard and soft corals are teeming with butterfly fish, barracuda, sea snakes, and turtles. This diving site is ideal for divers of all levels.
Green Rock is situated off the North West coastline of Nang Yuan and has a depth of up to 20m. What makes it fascinating is the unique underwater features consisting of caverns and caves, making for a series of swim-throughs. Although it is home to marine life such as triggerfish, clownfish and even sea snakes, Green Rock has strong currents. It is, therefore, suitable for more experienced divers.
Why Koh Tao is Great for PADI
It’s believed that a majority of diver certifications worldwide come from Koh Tao. Hence, so many people visit the island year-after-year. In addition, scuba diving on the island is very easy. The diving on the island is likely the most convenient you’ll ever encounter as all diving is done from a boat, and there is little-to-no current. The island’s shallow bays are the best for training and straightforward dives. Koh Tao has plenty of reef fish and healthy coral reefs.
Numerous diving schools have made Koh Tao their home, offering different courses for varying skill levels from beginner to master diver. Some also offer open diving lessons and technical diving.
Training and knowledge-building are essential in becoming a bonafide diver, but all the hard work is definitely worth it for those fortunate enough to experience the wonders that the underwater world has to offer. Not to mention, the learning experience is full of fun and excitement too. Here are some of the most well-reputed diving schools in Koh Tao for you to check.
Koh Tao Divers
Courses offered: Scuba diving, open water, VIP private course, specialty courses, rescue, marine ecology, technical diving, master diver
Courses offered: Scuba diving, open water, and rescue diver, free diving, technical diving, specialty courses, and internships
Courses offered: Scuba diving, open water, rescue, master diver, marine conservation, specialty courses including underwater video
Big Blue Diving
Courses offered: Scuba diving, open water, rescue, master diver, free diving, technical diving, and specialty courses
Sairee Cottage Diving
Courses offered: Scuba diving, open water, rescue diver, master diver, and underwater photography
Courses offered: Scuba diving, open water, rescue, master diver
Activities for families and non-divers
If you’re not so keen on scuba diving in Thailand, you can still find a wide array of activities suitable for families and non-drivers. Off the shoreline, you can enjoy the water by visiting different snorkeling locations. You can strap on some walking shoes and explore the several hiking paths and hills in Koh Tao, as well.
Koh Tao is one of the best locations in Thailand where you can find family-run massages that offer professional massage services. Consider checking out the island’s gyms, especially if you’re keen on staying in shape; they offer weekly and monthly memberships. Also, you can explore cooking classes, flying trapeze, rock climbing, kayaking, and yoga among other amazing activities. Koh Tao and many other places in Koh Samui is also known for its Muay Thai / MMA.
Of course, there are also luxury villa rentals in Koh Samui perfect for families and diving enthusiasts, with amenities that will pamper you after a day of underwater exploration.
Featured image courtesy of kohtaodivers.com