Best Diving sites in Koh Tao

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If you have dived in Koh Tao before, please share your experiences: Dive spots you would recommend, which Dive Center you used, Fishes & Diving, Visibility, Currents, etc. Please post your comments in the section below, by doing so you will help fellow divers to plan their next trip ;)

In this page you will find more detailed information about scuba diving in Koh Tao.

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Best Dive Review

Scuba diving in Koh Tao is actually quite good but can’t compete with the world class dive sites of the Andaman sea like for example in Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi or Similan and Surin Islands.

Whale Sharks are sometimes spotted around Koh Tao, and on offshore dive sites like Chumphon Pinnacle, it is possible to see Bull Sharks. It is actually one of the few places in the world where it is possible to spot them from up close. They have been misidentified for a long time as Grey Sharks. Bull Sharks can be curious, and sometimes aggressive, but in years of diving on these sites, there hasn’t been any problems reported of attacks or the like.

Apart from the big stuff, you will also spot turtles, reef sharks, Leopard Sharks, barracudas and all the usual reef life of South East Asia.

Don’t expect to be alone underwater! The most popular dive spots are often very crowded during high season…

Where to stay?

I usually use this website to book in advance my hotels in Koh Tao as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because it's free to cancel and change the dates.

Best time to dive in Koh Tao

It is possible to dive in Koh Tao all year round. The best diving time runs from May to August when the conditions are excellent. Luckily it is also the off season on the West coast of Thailand. Water temperature is about 29 °C all year round.

Dive courses

Koh Tao is where there is the highest number of Padi open water certifications completed in the world after Cairns in Australia!

People from all over the world come here to take cheap (around US$ 24 for a dive) diving lessons as the Island features very easy dive sites with gentle currents and shallow coral reefs. Experienced divers come to get higher certification and many dive centres propose all inclusive dive master courses with accommodation provided.

As there are over 30 dive operators, competition is high, meaning dive prices in Koh Tao are generally quite low. Always visit several dive shops and ask questions before choosing as they may not all have the same standards. It is sometimes better to spend more money for better service and safety.

Scuba Diving conditions

Conditions underwater are excellent. No current on most of the dive sites, nice and shallow coral reefs.

Visibility can be sometimes poor especially in November after heavy rains. You can expect from 10 to 20 meters visibility otherwise. Water temperature is around 29 °C all year round ;-)

Ko Tao Beach

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jelle82/4802659392/

Snorkelling in Koh Tao

You can find great snorkelling spots around Koh Tao. It is possible to arrange snorkelling tours to take you to the best places around the island. You can also try to reach the beaches by scooter but it can be very difficult and even dangerous. You will often have to finish by foot.

A popular spot is Shark Bay where you can spot harmless Black Tip reef sharks. Although Koh Nang Yuan, Freedom beach, Laem Thian, Mango Bay, Hin Wong Bay and Tanote Bay are good snorkelling sites.

Diving Safety

If you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to Koh Tao, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this diving insurance as they offer worldwide coverage and focus on providing scuba divers a quality insurance and medical assistance service.

Diving in Ko Samui

It is actually possible to dive around Ko Samui and Koh Phangan but most of the dive shops will take you on a day trip diving around Koh Tao. Note that visibility is usually poor and diving interest low around Ko Samui. It will take about one hour by speed boat to reach the Koh Tao dive sites and as the fuel is expensive, the average cost of a dive is higher on Ko Samui than on Koh Tao. Snorkelling in Ko Samui is also poor.

Diving Ko Tao

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/davespencer/3789837841/

“Actually we use speed boats and dive on Sail Rock and Koh Tao area. To
Sail Rock travel time is 45min and to Koh Tao/Chumpon Pinacle around 1h
15min.

Water is really shallow around Koh Samui and waves disturb sand bottom and
visibility. Here are couple of dive sites, but not so good that we use
them very often.” Padi Instructor in Koh Samui.

Travel Guide

Now that you know all about the underwater world, you might want to start planning your scuba holiday! Check out our Koh Tao Travel Review for information about how to get there, activities and excursions, where to stay, and more.

Diving Reviews for this region

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Dive spots reviews in Koh Tao

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White Rock dive site is located South of Koh Nang Yuan. It consists of two Large rock boulders as well as a shallow cora...
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Laem Thian dive site is located on the East side of Koh Tao Island. It is an easy and relaxing diving spot suitable for ...
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South West Rock dive site is located about 13 km southwest of Koh Tao Island. It is one of the best spot of the area. It...
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Chumphon Pinnacle is an excellent dive site and the best spot in Koh Tao. The spot features several pinnacles and underw...
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Green Rock is great diving site in Ko Tao. It consists of several interesting rock formations creating small caves and s...
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Twins dive site is also called Twin Peaks. It is one of the best diving sites around Koh Tao. It consists of 2 large und...
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Hin Wong Pinnacle dive site is located on the North East side of Koh Tao Island. It consists of several underwater rock ...
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Japanese Garden is a shallow and easy diving site in Koh tao. It is used by many of the dive centres for the first divin...
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Mango Bay is a nice and easy dive site. The depth ranges from 2 m to 15 m and it is a perfect place to learn scuba divin...
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Nang Yuan Pinnacle is located on the Northwest side between Koh Nang Yuan and Koh Tao Island. The dive site consists of ...

Liveaboard Reviews in Koh Tao

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Diving centers in Koh Tao

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24 dive logs in “Koh Tao

  1. What is in your opinion the best diving school in Koh Tao?
    I am going there in two weeks and would like to try diving for the first time…

    Thanks!

    Giorgis

    • I have just done a Padi course and some fun dives with Davy Jones Locker on Koh Tao and it was a great school. My Instructor was really patient and knowledgable and made the experience really enjoyable! I would definitely recommend them and the diving was awesome including some bull sharks on a couple of of dives!

  2. i did PADI Open water diver course at the end of July from Davy Jones Locker dive center, Koh Tao. we had first 4 dives in the north west of the island at Japanese gardens and white rock. dived up to 16 meters and there were no currents. visibility was good. equipment was in good condition and instructors Matt and Steven were excellent,

  3. Im planning on doing the advanced open water course in Koh Tao in the first week of Oct. Any suggestions for dive operators and resorts? Thanks

  4. you cannot delete messages of others without a reason, that is not friendly. public has right to information and sharing different stories if not so divezone.net should be kept for yourself as private to choose what you want people to think :(

    • Hi Kylie,

      I don’t delete any comment / review. What happened, your comment disapeared? If it is the case I am really sorry about it. This should be only a technical problem. Please try to post it again.

      Best regards,

      Julien

  5. Diving in Koh Tao was really great. I especially liked our day trip to Sail Rock, where there were thousands of fishes and coral life. I went to French Kiss Diving, which was great for french speaking divers. Prices were more than ok, considering I was mostly alone with the instructor. Just inform yourself before heading on a trip, since the groups tend to change and you might end up in a group of over 10 people, which is unfortunate, if you wish to get close to the nature around you.

  6. This was my 3rd and 4th dives after certification. First two dives were in Cozumel over the July 4th weekend. I have to say I was disappointed with diving at Koh Tao. I went over two different days with two different operators and prefer Bans Dive Resort over Big Blue Dive Resort because Bans boat was better for equipment set-up. But the dives were disappointing -visibility was a poor 10 meters both days and while we saw a few nice schools of fish, overall the diversity was low. No whale sharks to be found although they are advertised all over the place as good chance of seeing them at Chumpon Pinnacle. Nope – and the diver master made it clear they’re pretty rare. So no whale sharks, poor visibility, poor diversity. I don’t get why Koh Tao has the reputation it does.

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  8. EASY DIVERS NOT RECOMMENDED – VERY UNPROFESSIONAL

    I was recommended to try out diving with Easy Divers by a girl that was working in the hostel I was staying. Me and my friends started off with just a Discover Scuba Diving day which we all really enjoyed and had a great instructor from Wales who had a really patient teaching manner. As I had had so much fun on the DSD day me and my friend decided we would do the PADI Open Water Course the next day.

    When we went back on Thursday 19th of June we spoke to an instructor called Paul Allard. We only had 2 full days left in Koh Tao but he was really keen to get us on board (presumably for the money) so told us we could cram the whole course in if we worked hard enough to which we agreed. Initially we had to pay a deposit of 4,000THB (£80 approx.) and then we started to study for the exam.

    After we did some exam revision it was time for us to go out on our first dive with Paul which involved completing a variety of different tasks in shallow water. This included things like filling our goggles up with water and expelling all of the water out by breathing out of our noses. Considering my friend and I had never been diving until the day before we both struggled to which I discovered Paul’s teaching methods. After a few failed attempts rather than Paul being patient like most other teachers he was very impatient and was continually shouting at my friend and I, making comments such as: ‘You’re not listening to me!’ and ‘Well, everyone else can do it’. In fact we were listening to him, he just was’t explaining it very well and the whole point of being a teacher is that you are patient with you students. The more he shouted at me, the worse I got because he made me feel so uncomfortable. Eventually we completed all the tasks and got to go on another dive which was fine.

    The next day we completed the exam in the morning which was absolutely fine but when we went to go out diving the boat ride was a lot longer and I got really sea sick, I think this was also nerves because Paul made me feel so on edge as I was scared what he was going to shout at me for today. He was really impatient with my sea sickness, simply telling me I would be fine and then as one of the tasks he made me swim around for 10 minutes – great when you’re feeling sick. When I got back onto the boat I had a drink of water to help with the sickness to which he shouted ‘We don’t have all day get your equipment on!’. So I obliged and sat down next to my diving equipment and was just pulling up a bandage I had around my leg to protect it to which he remarked ‘It will just come off anyway’, which it hadn’t in any of the other dives. He was so impatient and once we got into the water we had to complete more tasks which involved switching from our regulator to a snorkel. As I hadn’t been feeling very well I was struggling with this task. Paul got even more impatient to the point where I felt so bullied that I decided to quite the PADI course. I was so disappointed with the standard of teaching and I just couldn’t believe that I was paying him money just to shout at me rather than teach me properly. Paul tried to persuade me to stay on the course but I said I had had enough. I had only been in the water for a few minutes so I still had a full tank of oxygen and put all of my equipment back on the boat. At the end of the day I washed all my equipment and gave it back and I left without Paul saying another word.

    Unfortunately that evening I got really ill and had very bad sickness which could have been from swallowing sea water. The next day my friend went back to complete the final day of her PADI course and Paul didn’t mention anything to her until after she has completed her last 2 dives and then he told her that I owed him another 1,500THB and he wouldn’t let her leave without paying it! Unbelievable as he hadn’t mentioned anything to me before I left the day before. They said that the 5,500THB covered all of the academic work, two dives and the skills I did on the first day. I actually didn’t do the second dive because I felt ill, so as I mentioned previously there was still a full tank of oxygen so clearly Paul just wanted to get as much money out of me as possible. My friend felt like she had to pay it or she couldn’t leave, which is so unprofessional of Easy Divers as they should have mentioned any due payments before I left the day before.

    I found out a week later that even if you don’t complete the PADI course they should give you a referral form so that you can complete the course within a year should you wish to. This was yet another thing that Paul chose not to mention to me even though it was something I was rightfully owed. This is when I decided to make an official complaint to Easy Divers which I made on Sunday 29th of June. A lady called Elizabeth responded to my email on the same day in which she said that she would check the story. I didn’t hear back from her for several days so I had to chase up my own complaint on Thursday 3rd of July, another unprofessional move of Easy Divers. Elizabeth responded to my email the same day but all she did was send me my referral form. She did absolutely nothing about the complaint that I made which is so unprofessional of Easy Divers because every company should take complaints seriously.

    This experience has completely knocked my confidence with diving and I feel that I could not go back and do it again, it is so bad that a company and instructor have made me feel this way. Paul’s teaching methods were to bully, which makes you feel unsafe when he has your life in his hands 12 metres underwater. I would be very wary of using this company and be careful of which instructor you get as some seem to be better than others.

    I am hoping that this complaint on Trip Advisor will finally make Easy Divers respond to my complaint. I definitely won’t be recommending Easy Divers to anyone I know wanting to dive in Koh Tao.

    • Joanna just a quick reply about your attempt to brutally destroy Easy Divers, and this dive instructor Paul.

      First of all let me tell you that i am a dive instructor who worked on Koh Tao for a while, although i didn’t work for Easy Divers nor do i know this instructor you have such a problem with.

      First of all you should have filled out a dive medical, which asks whether or not you suffer motion sickness, if you lie on the medical forms, and then suffer sea sickness then this is your problem and not the instructors

      Also you said that you studied for your exam, therefore you should know that you do not dive using Oxygen. This is even in the knowledge reviews you would have completed. So maybe when you had problems clearing your mask you in fact were not listening to him like you clearly weren’t listening when Paul would have explained the question how to avoid problems with Oxygen while diving.

      Also the fact that he made you swim around for 10 minutes makes him a good instructor, not a bad one. It is a requirement before Open Water Dive 2 that you must complete these swim tests. If he allowed you omit this task because you felt a little bit sick then he could have his teaching license stripped. The same with skills such as snorkel to reg exchange, sure he could have been nice and not made you do them, but then he would be breaking standards that he has to follow.

      Also with regard to you being rushed. I’m sure you felt rushed but you had very little time to complete the course, and the instructors also have strict back on boat times so the boat can get refueled and the tanks re-pumped for the next day.

      And with regards to the payment, of course you have to pay for what you use. Sure you didn’t use the tank, but you still used their equipment, and took their boat space which could have been taken by another diver. If you go to the cinema and don’t like the movie do you leave and ask for the money back for the bits you didn’t watch? I don’t think so…. It might seem annoying but they could have easily charged you full price to start with and offer no refunds like so many companies on Koh Tao do.

      You are right though that they should have mentioned the referral forms before you left, and mentioned any undue payments, I don’t mean to pick at your story sorry and if you feel like your diving career has been ruined by this man i am truly sorry. Koh Tao can be a very frustrating place to work as a dive instructor because 90% of people who go there to learn how to dive there do not give a damn about diving and do almost nothing but complain the entire time, in fact they often don’t even want to do it, they only do it because a friend is doing it. Rant over…

      • Nicely said. I am traveling to the island soon in hopes of diving for the first time and glad I read all these comments. I for one love to learn. In fact, I love the ocean. The whole reason why I am putting beautiful Koh Tao on my list to visit after Bangkok. Hope to see you soon!

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  10. I am sure new divers will be thrilled but for my 100th dive around the world koh toa was just ok. Saw some big Groupers and blue spotted rats on chumpon and white rick. I thought white rock had more to see but i was here later April. A whale shark is spotted every other week and to see one is luck. Also no one speaks of seeing a shark even on shark point. Sail rock is close to kho phanan so i will try from there. Nit sure where you found free accomidations fir the divemaster course. I get laughed at but mist offer free diving there for life. Bans was the biggest and is a factory. I enjoyed New Way more for less people and group size.

  11. After many year’s of thinking about it i finally bit the bullet and decided to go Diving in Koh Tao Thailand.
    But after looking at many dive shops and seeing so many people packed onto boats, i felt like i was not going to get the training or have the experience i required.
    Another day of searching and an amazing meal at the Gallery restaurant also owned by the same couple, I found A perfect way to escape the crowded dive sites on Koh Tao is with Ace Marine Expeditions.
    They will adapt there schedule after your needs and to make sure that you’ll get the best diving possible on the best dive sites adapted after where the other dive boats are so that you get an exclusive dive experience without the risk of over crowded dive sites.
    Either you’re an experience diver with high demands or just a beginner in diving that want to learn how to dive and do courses ACE Marine Expeditions works to adapt there expeditions after you and your demands.
    One of the best service minded dive companies on Koh Tao.

  12. Very nice to read this information about Diving on Koh Tao. Now living on Koh Tao for 8 years I have seen a lot of Dive Centers but Sairee Cottage Diving really shines in compared with most other ones.

    The Quality and Professionalism is unprecedented, especially with the Sairee Cottage Diving Divemaster and Scuba Dive Instructor IDC Courses!

    Marcel

  13. Ko Tao diving is ok if you’re a beginner, but people who had the chance to travel more around South East Asia and the equator will not be impressed I think.

    I think Ko Tao gets a lot of great reviews because many people do their Open Water courses here and are therefore rightfully excited. Their reviews drown out the ones from well-traveled divers who can actually compare KT to a range of other destinations.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is not about bashing Ko Tao. If it’s among your first dives, it should be great. The courses there are among the cheapest in the world, and despite the low prices there are some reputable dive centers.

    All of the more experienced divers I’ve talked to found KT (and diving in Thailand as a whole compared to Indonesia, Borneo, Philippines to stay in the region) rather disappointing.

  14. Another great dive on KO TAO is HTMS Sattakut, its an ex Thai Naval battle ship around 30 meters to the bottom of the keel. Still has mounted guns and loads of see life. I’m not much into wrecks but this one is an easy one and still intact, if your heading this way don’t miss this one truly its a great dive.

  15. I did my Open Water course on Koh Tao at Chic Diving. They are one of the new dive school and I couldn’t have been happier. Because they are new, all the equipment is new, they have great facilities using the Tarna Align resort for their base with a 3.5 meter deep pool. The instructors Chris and James were supper friendly and took us out for dinner to celebrate passing the course with the other 2 divers we learned with.

    Not just that but they were one of the cheapest places we found to dive and they also included free accommodation. Check out Chic Diving for your Open Water Course on Koh Tao. =)

  16. Me and my boyfriend signed up to the trial dive at Big blue as we didn’t have any diving experience yet. This was a fantastic opportunity as you get to learn some of the basic scuba diving skills and your instructor guides you around some of the best coral reefs up to 12m underwater. The whole day was absolutely brilliant. Our instructor Reiss was amazing! He took the time to make sure all members of the group were up to speed on the info he was giving and explained and demonstrated everything so clearly that it felt much easier than I expected. My boyfriend was even able to secretly arrange with Reiss to propose to me during the second dive. Reiss really went out of his way to make the proposal happened without a glitch. He made sure that I was wearing bright colored equipment- to make sure my boyfriend proposed to the right girl (everyone looks the same in the equipment) and he found a great spot for the proposal. He even arranged a slate to write “will you marry me”, and for another colleague Anouk (Big blue dive master), to take photos of the special moment.
    This was truly one of the greatest days ever! It was such a shame we left this to the end of our holiday as we would have loved to carry on to do our full open water course. We will definitely l be back at Big blue to do it.
    Thank you so much Reiss and Anouk and everyone at Blue Diving for making this day so special and for introducing us to our new favorite hobby!

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Have you dived in Koh Tao?

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