Scuba Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand



Following Australia, Koh Tao, a miniscule island in the gulf of Thailand, certifies the second most amount of people for scuba diving every year. Koh Tao is home to over fifty, Five-Star PADI scuba diving schools on an island only thirteen square miles in size. The whole island is centered on diving. Like several of the islands in Thailand, there are heaps of young people running around everywhere. On Koh Tao, there are instructors and students of all ages hailing from various areas around the world, simply here for the main purpose to teach and/or learn about scuba diving. Let me paint the picture a little better…everyone who comes to Koh Tao is here for one thing, to learn how to scuba dive.



Why is Koh Tao the place?

What’s unique about Koh Tao is that since the island is all about scuba diving, many resorts offer full diving packages. Therefore the total price of a program includes scuba certification, the dives themselves, as well as accommodation. The going rate for almost all diving resorts is 10,000 baht for a four night, three day “Open Water certification course.” That’s the most standard and popular option for first time divers. However, they also offer extensions and/or advanced courses around 15,000+ baht for those certifications as well. What does all this mean? It means for roughly $300 you can get dive certified for life and stay at a resort on the beach the whole time…pretty sweet deal. And although several other islands are also known for their scuba diving off the coast of Thailand, such as Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi, no island other than Koh Tao offers the full diving/certification/lodging packages.

*Of course there are other amazing life-changing places in the world to scuba dive, like the Great Barrier Reef for example, but none will be this inexpensive, I can tell you that.

The island is fairly small which in turn means the dive groups you learn in tend to be smaller. The experience is more personal and intimate when you’re in these smaller dive courses with one or two instructors teaching two to four students. The instructors really take the extra time to make sure you’re comfortable in the swimming pool before diving head first into the open sea!


No long boat rides to dive sites. All of the dive sites are only a few minutes from the island’s main dock. On the other islands that offer scuba diving it does gets very old having to boat hours to the sites. On Koh Tao you can boat for twenty minutes and be in the presence of WHALE SHARKS.



What is it like scuba diving in Koh Tao?

*Koh Tao’s water, coral reef and marine life is some of the best in the world! The water is the clearest I’ve seen in my entire life of traveling.

*You can see amazing marine life- Having dive sites like “Shark Island” where you can swim with small sharks, or “Chumphon” where the majestic enormous Whale Shark likes to frequently visit makes this island extremely sought after. On a good day you could even accidentally run into a sea turtle as he’s gliding through the smooth shallow waters.


What to consider before booking with a dive program:

1: First, how large do you want your dive groups? The smaller resorts tend to have smaller groups of 2-3 people per 2-3 instructors.


The bar at Buddah View was always fun! People were great, just poor facilities.

2: Secondly, what resort do you want to spend your time at? This may seem simple but shop around a bit. Email resorts and find out what their dive groups are like, how many instructors, etc. Bans is the most well known diving resort on a Koh Tao. They single handedly certify the most divers every year, more than any dive school in the world! We opted for the “resort” Buddha View. My friend had recommended it. The dive instructors and whole program were great…but the lodging was crap. If we had to do it over I might have opted to stay at a nicer resort for the same price. I’m sure their instructors would have been just as helpful and knowledgeable as ours.


Final thoughts:

Before the scuba diving course the ocean genuinely frightened me. I decided to try diving to once and for all get over my fear. My plan was a success! I am now “Open Water Certified.” This means I can scuba anywhere around the world up to 18M, almost 60ft down in the ocean. I plan to go back to Koh Tao and get my “Advanced Open Water” certification in the next coming months…

So, is scuba diving in Koh Tao THE PLACE TO SCUBA DIVE? YES! Koh Tao is definitely THE place to get certified and scuba dive.