Scuba Diving in Koh Tao – From the Reef to Padi Certified
Koh Tao is a small 21km square island on the eastern coastline of Thailand. It’s part of the Chumphon Archipelago together with two neighbouring islands, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Koh Tao attracts visitors with its incredible natural beauty, paradisiac beaches, relaxed atmosphere and life style. However, most people come here for one specific reason: the underwater world. Koh Tao is surrounded by stunning coral reefs and abundant marine life in clear, warm waters making it an unforgettable destination for divers. If you ever dreamed of becoming a certified diver or just trying out scuba diving: Koh Tao is the place. And our guide will help you plan the experience!
Scuba diving in Koh Tao is every’s divers dream: it doesn’t matter what level you have. There are many incredible dive sites including beautiful coral reefs with rich marine life, as well as wall dives, drift dives and even stunning underwater wreck diving for advanced divers. Koh Tao is renowned as the best place to get scuba certified in Thailand. The diving prices are very competitive and the standard of teaching is very high. The dive centres here are recognised as some of the best dive training facilities worldwide.
Discover Scuba Diving Courses in Koh Tao
To experience what it feels like to breathe underwater, the half-day Discover Scuba Diving Course is a great option. You will learn how to use dive equipment and enjoy an underwater tour at a maximal depth of 12 metres under the direct supervision of a certified dive professional.
Open Water PADI Certification
The Open Water Padi certification is the most popular diving certification in the world. It’s recognised worldwide and provides the foundation for all future dives. Typically, an Open Water course takes 3-4 days and includes theoretical learning and practice. You begin with learning basic skills and watching an instructional videos in a classroom. At first you will dive in shallow waters or a pool to practice basic skills such as regulator recovery and mask removal. To be able to complete Open Water course you must pass a few tests and complete 4 open water dives.
↬ Note : Don’t stress about the tests. The questions are easy and a lot require just a common sense knowledge. Everything else you will learn from the videos and your instructor .
↬ TIP : If you have already tried scuba diving and loved it, we highly suggest you jump right in and complete your Open Water certification. However, if you are not staying on the island long enough, you can opt for a mid-way course: Scuba Diver. It’s literally half way to Open Water and usually requires 2 days to complete. We started with Scuba Diver in Mexico and completed Open Water in Koh Tao.
Master Divers diving school in Koh Tao
There are over 70 diving schools on this 21km square islands. So it leaves you with a great choice and possible confusion: which school to pick to try out scuba diving or complete Open Water course?
Luckily, we did that research for you! Master Divers located on Mae Head Beach, right off the ferry port, is the best choice!
Master Divers are known for their professional attitude towards safety, customer service and scuba diving in Koh Tao. The staff is highly experienced, patient and fun to be with. They recently upgraded their equipment to the highest standards (2019). The school holds a status of a 5 star Padi Dive School. Their approach is fantastic and their passion for the sea and diving contagious. We completed our Padi Open Water certificate and had the best time in Koh Tao thanks to Juicy (our instructor) and the whole team.
↬ Note : We actually visited a few highly rated and recommended diving schools in Koh Tao before coming back to Master Divers: the very first one we tried. Even if they upped their prices a bit, due to the upgrade of their equipment, it’s worth paying 10 % more for the best team and gear.
What you need to know
Diving in Koh Tao is one of the cheapest in the world. The certification prices are the same for all the diving schools on the island.
- The Discover Scuba Diving Experience costs 2,500 THB (75 EUR)
- The Scuba Diver course costs 8,500 THB (250 EUR)
- The Open Water course costs 11,000 THB (325 EUR)
- The upgrade from Scuba Diver to Open Water costed 7700 THB (225 EUR)
Best time to dive
You can dive in Koh Tao year round. The best weather/water conditions last from March to October, as the water visibility is the best and waters are calm.
From March to May you can dive with Whale Sharks in Koh Tao. This is due to the large plankton bloom that occurs in the water at this time, attracting Whale Sharks (as well as Manta Rays). However, this reduces water visibility.
Water temperatures around Koh Tao is around 27 – 31 degrees celsius year round. Because of this, many divers opt not to use a full body wetsuit. We still suggest you to wear a full wetsuit if you are not experienced diver. If you get very cold in the water you might even ask for 2. Like Martyna who is freezing even in the waters of temperature of 30 degrees ?
Water conditions and visibility
Koh Tao is a great place to learn to scuba dive. The water visibility is fantastic for most of the year allowing you to see the beautiful coral reefs Koh Tao is famous for, as well as rich marine life. There are almost no currents on the dive sites, making dives safe and pleasant.
However, there are challenging dive sites for advanced divers as well. You can drift dive, wreck dive and deep dive. Divers at every level will pleased with diving in Koh Tao.
We use a GoPro Hero 5 for our water pictures, and for the first time in Thailand we brought all our extra material.
- a GoPro Super Suit for 5-60m deep protection
- the Handler Floating Hand Grip
- and Red Filters to correct the lack of light (and colors) underwater
There are typically 3 types of filters: Red, Pink & Purple that are usefull for different depths. In the picture of this article, I used the Red filter but as you can see, even at 15-20m, the pictures are already too red. So next time, I’ll try with the 3 filters, but I think that the pink is good for snorkeling (shallow) and the purple for basics dives (until 20m). Maybe at deeper depth the Red one would come into action, but then you’d need an extra source of light most of the time anyways..
By now you should be convinced that Koh Tao is a great place to pass Open Water certification or try out scuba diving for the first time. But hey, the island has also a lot more to offer.
↬ Read : Discover the Paradisiac Island of Koh Tao – Thailand, to find out more