Scuba diving in Koh Tao – A must do in Thailand!
Scuba diving in Koh Tao is a magical thing. People from all over the world come to this place to experience this adventure and get their scuba diving license. The island is famous for it. Besides that, it has such a chilled out vibe and there is no other option than to simply fall in love with Koh Tao. Scuba diving in Koh Tao will make you feel like you dived into a whole different world, that you never wanna leave again.
Scuba diving in Koh Tao – A must do in Thailand!
For me, Scuba Diving in Koh Tao is one of the best things I have done so far. Especially from all the experiences I made in Thailand, this was one of the top 5. I don’t know why it fascinated me so much. Maybe, because my first diving experience on the Great Barrier Reef was not so good. But this time I fell in love with it. When you do the scuba diving in Koh Tao, then the dive instructors, who teach you how to dive, will take waaaay more time, than during a big tourist tour like the one at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
This is a really good and important thing in my opinion, because even though my first dive experience in the Great Barrier Reef was not good, I still really wanted to learn scuba diving. And, if my dive instructor (a very cool french girl) did not take that much time to teach me, then my scuba diving in Koh Tao experience would have been **** as well.
In that case I would have never learned how to scuba dive, which would be absolutely terrible, because I really love it now and I don’t want to miss it anymore. I do it as often as I can. And you should too!
Scuba diving in Koh Tao – General information
Guys, I have written about Koh Tao in this post already. There you can find all the necessary information about the island, that you might need. Anyway, I still quickly give you some general information about the island again, so that you know a little bit about it.
Koh Tao is lying in the Gulf of Thailand. It is quite a small island with about 5.000 inhabitants. You can get from one end to the other within 15 minutes by scooter, if you drive a little faster. There is a lot to do in Koh Tao. You can visit some nice view points, chill out by countless wonderful beaches/ bays, go on a great night out or, like most others, just get your scuba diving license.
Koh Tao is the favourite island in Thailand for a lot of people – not just only me. Why? Because it has such a relaxed vibe and the people are awesome. Really, really friendly and chilled out human beings all around. Maybe that is, because most of them are scuba divers (we are a really relaxed family 🙂 ).
What scuba diving in Koh Tao is all about
Scuba diving in Koh Tao is really good fun, because the island has very clear ocean waters and a lot to see. You will find all different kind of water colours. Light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, etc. The visability is about 30 m sometimes, which is really good. The scuba diving conditions are very good in general anyway.
Lots of different animals, clean water and a pleasent water temperature (about 28 – 30 °C). Scuba diving in Koh Tao is very famous transregionally, because it’s the island, where you can get the 2nd cheapest scuba diving license in the whole world. If you know some locals, you might get it even cheaper 😉
Why scuba diving in Koh Tao?
I got a recommendation from a fellow german traveller in Brisbane, who told me about a specific dive shop. It’s called Big Bubble and I highly recommend it as well! The fellow german traveller was the main reason why I went to Thailand anyway. And especially scuba diving in Koh Tao.
He showed me pictures and told me stories, that just fascinated me. Big limestone cliffs everywhere, dreamy white sand beaches, crazy monkeys, best weather conditions all the time and so many good vibes.
He also told me about the delicious food and how cheap everything is in Thailand/ Southeast Asia. I did not know by that time. I knew Australia is expensive, but I did not know how cheap and diverse other continents like Asia could be. Additionally he said, that he spent 6 month in Thailand in total. He said, 4 of them have only been scuba diving in Koh Tao, because it was so amazing. He got me hooked…
Scuba diving schools
Koh Tao is strewn with good dive shops. Because, scuba diving in Koh Tao is the main attraction in the whole area, it is not a big surprise, that the tourism industry wants to have a big piece of the cake. Here are a couple good dive shops from what I have seen:
My recommendation & prices
Of course, this is just a small list from all the available dive shops. But these names are getting mentioned more often than others while you are at the island. Still, I would always recommend “Big Bubble” as my number one. It is also one of the most famous dive shops in Koh Tao and based in the south. It’s one of the longest established dive schools on the island, managed by a german woman.
She is such a cool girl and, if you are get along with her, she might even give you a discount. I got my license for about 200 € (240 $) and my advanced for about the same, which is ridiculously cheap. Normal prices are about 8.800 – 9.800 Baht (290 – 325 $), depending on what license you wanna get.
But this only happened, because I told her about the german dude from Australia, who is a friend of her. So, don’t expect to much 😉 “Big Bubble” and many other dive schools even offer accommodation as well for quite a decent price. You can find cheaper accommodation, but this offer is quite good to be honest, as long as you share the costs.
Additionally, most dive shops include a restaurant. The one at “Big Bubble” is pretty nice as well. Good Thai food for quite a decent price.
I highly recommend to stay at the southern part of the island, because it’s really relaxed and not as crowded as the western part (harbour – arrival point). Plus, it is really, really pretty. Just check it out yourself 😉
Scuba diving license
If you want to do your scuba diving license, you will have to start with an “Open Water” (OW) course. This is the first step, which allows you to go down to 18 m of depth. The second one is the “Advanced Open Water” (AOW), which allows you to go down to 30 m. After that, you can do even more (Rescue Diver, Dive Master, Dive Instructor and specialisations). But this only makes sense, if you want to become a professional.
I recommend you upfront to do both, Open Water and Advanced, consecutively, because, once you start, you will be in the diving process anyway. And then it is just way easier to go ahead, instead of doing one license first and the other one 1 or 2 years later. Plus, you will always be able to dive down to 30m anywhere in the world for the rest of your life. And believe me, at some dive spots like Coron you really need the Advanced license in order to really have the best dive experience.
You have two organization options regarding your licenses while scuba diving in Koh Tao:
PADI is the most known organization. ISS is basically the same. The only little difference is, that in some regions of the world (very, very, very few) it will not be excepted. But therefore it’s cheaper. I chose ISS, because I got told, that it really doesn’t make a difference. It’s just a different name on the door bell.
Diving license procedure
Getting your license by scuba diving in Koh Tao will require some skills. The whole course takes 2-3 days, depending on how fast you want to finish it. The 2nd one takes another 2 days. You will have to train some practical skills and gain some theoretical knowledge. It is a bit like being back in school 🙂
You can choose from many different kind of languages and even the dive instructors might speak your native language, so that it will be easier for you to learn the skills.
You will have 5 dives each (OW and AOW) with specific tasks you have to master at each dive. To give you an example:
The first dive will only be at a depth of 2-5 m or in a swimming pool. You will get used to the situation of being under the water for so long, the instructor will show you how to use the gear and so on. The second dive is about taking your mask off and still breath normally, doing some other moves like diving without fins and so on.
As it goes on
This will continue until you are ready for a navigation dive and a deep dive. Scuba diving in Koh Tao will even give you the opportunity to do a night dive, which is soooo cool (more below)! You will see glowing plankton everywhere, which I have never seen before and you probably havn’t either.
Once passing all the classes, the final exam and the practical dives, you will belong to the scuba divers family and get your license. The dive school will register and put you on the worldwide divers list, so that you can be found in any system all over the world. It serves the purpose of proof. If you loose or forget your license card, you can still always go scuba diving anywhere at any time.
Scuba diving in Koh Tao – Dive sites and what you’ll discover
Scuba diving in Koh Tao is especially famous for its unique dive sites. It might not be the best dive sites in the world, but they are definitely really good ones. If you want to see all of them/ the best ones, then you should check out this map and read this article. I will only pick out 3 dive sites/ experiences, that I liked the most to give you a little teaser on what’s waiting for you. To tell you about all the dive sites is just to much right now.
When you go scuba diving in Koh Tao, you should not miss out on Sattakut. It is a professionally sunken war ship from the Thai navy. The goverment sank it to build a healthy enviroment for the marine life, which worked out really well. You will see a lot of different fish down there and it is just an impressive experience to dive at a ship wreck. It was my first ship wreck dive experience ever and I absolutely loved it. You will need an AOW for it though. I felt like a real explorer down there and you will too. Trust me!
As mentioned above, the 2nd thing not to miss out on while scuba diving in Koh Tao, is a night dive (for e.g. at White Rock). Believe me, it is so cool! At night, you will find many animals, which you would not see during the day. When you turn off your lights and start moving, the plankton will start to glow greenish.
I have never seen that before and it really fascinated me to the core. It’s like magic 🙂 Besides that, you will feel even more like a real explorer than at “Sattakut”, because you have to look very closely in between the corals to find some unique fish/ crabs. A night dive is completely different than a normal dive. So, make sure to check it out!
South West Pinnacle
Also have a look at the South West Pinnacles while scuba diving in Koh Tao. It is considered to be the 2nd best dive site at Koh Tao, because you will have a big variety of fish and other animals as well as corals. When the visability is good, the whole dive site looks like a dream. The whole scenery on site really astonished me. So beautiful! Especially all the small pinnacles with one big one in the middle make this dive site look so cool. Definitely try it!
What’s also waiting
It is really hard to only pick 3 dives sites/ experiences, because there are so much more like Sail Rock (the best dive site in Thailand – I have not been though), Chumphon Pinnacle, Japanise Garden and much more. The variety of wildlife you will witness at these places is extraordinary. You will see big Groupers, all kind of corals, Bat Fish, Angel Fish, Clown Fish, Barracudas, Blue Spotted Stingrays and maybe even large Tuna, King Mackerel, Manta Rays, Bull Sharks and the famous Whale Shark. I could go on and on…
In total I can say, that scuba diving in Koh Tao is something truely special and you should definitely do it as much as possible while you are in the area.
Scuba diving in Koh Tao – What I have learned
Just like always, I was able to learn something from my scuba diving in Koh Tao experience. This time it have been to major things. The first one is:
Listen to other traveller’s tips/ tricks and use/ adopt them
I would have never been going scuba diving in Koh Tao, if I would not have listened to the german mate I met in Brisbane. He really inspired me to go to Thailand. I only went there, because of his experiences and the way he told his stories. He also gave me lots of advice on what to do in Thailand, what not to do, how to behave, what to eat, etc.
I am glad I followed his advice and I always recommend anyone to do the same. Listen to others, because the best information you can possibly get, comes from fellow travellers, who have actually been to the places you want to go to or you have not even heard of yet.
The 2nd thing you should always keep in mind is to
Be persistent/ don’t quit
It is a major key to get forward in life anyway. But for me, the scuba diving in Koh Tao proved me this particular travel lesson again. My first scuba diving experience was a disaster. I was really afraid of doing it again after this experience. But anyway, it did not allure me from the desire of scuba diving. I kept thinking about it and I continued to tell myself, that I am gonna do my license, no matter what. And in the end, I still did. You just need to stay persistent and don’t quit on your dreams. That’s the only real “key” to achieve your goals eventually.
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