Renowned as the best place to get scuba certified in Thailand, with the world’s cheapest diving prices, Koh Tao also offers some of the best diving in Thailand, all round.
Located 74 KM off Thailand’s eastern shore, in the Gulf of Thailand, this stunning 21 KM square Island is part of the fabled Chumphon Archipelago.
But with so many great diving schools in Koh Tao to choose from, which one should you sign up for a diving course with?
Where are the best places to stay in Koh Tao for divers? How about when the Diving Season in Koh Tao is?
We’ll cover all this and more. Ok Squad, let’s dive in!
Koh Tao dive schools are legendary, with the island having one of the highest rates of successfully passed diving courses in the world. The calm water conditions found here are ideal locations for beginners to learn to scuba dive.
This, combined with the fact that Koh Tao is the cheapest place to get scuba certified in the world, has resulted in many dive schools popping up all over the island. Below, we review 6 of our favourites.
Master Divers are universally acknowledged for their immensely professional attitude towards safety, customer service and scuba diving in Koh Tao.
With highly experienced staff, meticulously maintained, non-rented, diving equipment and the status of a 5 star Padi Dive School, Master Divers commands respect as a dive centre.
Koh Tao is already the cheapest place in the world to get scuba certified, with unbeatable diving prices! Maybe that’s one of the main attractions of this island for you.
If that is the case, and you’re looking for the lowest diving prices you can possibly find, whilst still attending a great dive school, then Koh Tao Phoenix Divers is the best diving shop for you.
One of Koh Taos most experienced Dive Schools.
For those who are already comfortable diving and want to meet large groups of like-minded individuals to not just dive with, but also socialise with, Ban’s Diving Resort is the best diving school in Koh Tao for you!
They are the largest and most popular diving school – there is not a soul on the island who hasn’t heard of them.
No lie. Koh Tao: Has. It. All. If you seek backpacker jostling hostels, liver obliterating bar crawls and psychedelic light displays that’ll make you question what was in your drink, you’ll find it all on Sairee Beach. And then some.
AND YET: One need only move a short distance away from all of this, inwards to Sairee Village or down a few hundred meters south to Mae Head Beach and the atmosphere takes it down a half dozen knothches. Phew.
Here you actually stand a half decent chance of being able to hear the gentle sigh of the waves lapping up the beach, the chatter of the tropical birds in the jungle further back or maybe even your own thoughts:
“Wow…I’m so glad I came to scuba dive at Koh Tao! Thanks Diving Squad!! I’m going to tell everyone about you =D”.
Still not enough? Maybe you don’t really like people at all?? Fish are so much colourful and they never answer back. We understand.
If this is you, you can head down to Thian Og Bay, where there are only a small handful of dive centres, resorts and restaurants.
With spectacular views across the Gulf of Thailand towards iconic features such as Buddha Rock, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, it is a place of tranquil beauty, situated right amongst the incredible nature of Koh Tao.
Those who come here find it hard to believe the island is populated by any more than a few hundred people. It is more like being on The Beach than one of the party island centrals of Thailand.
For those who don’t mind a small daily commute, possible by taxi or moped, there are a range of other beaches and resorts scattered around Koh Tao, that are even quieter and more peaceful still.
Here’s the truth. Koh Tao is a visually stunning island. Behind the beaches and resorts, it is coated in vibrant rainforest, home to countless tropical birds, monkeys, bats and monitors.
There are a number of great viewpoints to be had for those who don’t mind a short trek. The most famous, John-Suwan Viewpoint offers incredible mile long panoramic views of Chalok Baan Kao Bay and Shark Bay.
Other great viewpoints include Chalok Bay Viewpoint and Nang Yuan viewpoint
Or perhaps love sick couples will prefer the Love Koh Tao viewpoint... a terraced cafe serving pink milkshakes that overlooks Tanote Bay on the islands east coast.
It even has heart shaped signs…if that’s your jam…
Just like you have to get travel insurance to cover medical bills and accidents whilst abroad, you must also get scuba diving insurance in order to be covered for any accidents that occur on a dive.
There’s several reputable scuba diving insurance companies offering different packages – some include travel insurance as part of their main deal or an optional add on. You’ll find that some diving insurance companies offer other cool perks to – like coverage for damaged scuba gear, lost days of diving due to weather or illness, trip cancellation etc.
But which perks you get, what add ons are included and how much you pay for all this varies between the different scuba diving insurance companies and the various packages offered by each!
If you want to find out more, you can check out this epic page on the best diving insurance where we break down, compare and review the very best scuba diving insurance companies of all time so you don’t have to.
March – October, marks the entire diving season within Koh Tao.
July – September are considered the best months to dive in Koh Tao as during this time water visibility is at its greatest and waters are calm.
July – August = Tourist High Season in Koh Tao. This is when the most other divers will be present.
March – May = the best months to dive with Whale Sharks in Koh Tao. This is due to the large plankton blooms that occur in the water at this time, attracting Whale Sharks and other pelagics such as Manta Rays. This does reduce water visibility somewhat.
November – February is monsoon period in the Gulf of Thailand. With rain and choppy seas, water visibility is reduced and turbulent waters make conditions less than ideal for beginners.
Technically, good diving can still be had during the monsoon period in Koh Tao, however water conditions are less consistent and harder to predict, making this hit and miss.
At this time of year, it is better to dive in locations in Thailand’s Andaman sea such as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe and Koh Lanta.
Some of the Koh Tao Dive schools are also resorts that provide a range of accommodation options – whether you are diving with them or not.
Those dive centres that do not have their own accommodation are usually happy to arrange a place to stay for divers through their website.
However, to skip commissioner fees it is cheaper to do this yourself. Below is a list of the best 6 places to stay in Koh Tao for Divers, taking into account all of your possible needs.
Sairee Beach vs Mae Head Beach: Sairee Beach and Mae Head Beach, despite having separate names, are technically part of the same beach, both being located mid way up Koh Tao’s Western Side, with Sairee Beach a little further up north.
You can walk from one to the other within about 5 minutes, and so for those attending diving schools at either beach, an accomodation option on the other is totally viable.
On site of all these cheap accommodation options there is also a dive pool, free wifi, restaurant and massage parlour to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
This is as cheap as koh tao accommodation gets – with a grand total price of nothing! It is also a great way to meet others from all over the world.
On top of that, they’re situated on the beachfront, where daily games of volleyball take place, as well as snorkelling, swimming and cocktail drinking.
Behind this, in the stunning garden area, there is even a gazebo where guests can come together and unwind after a long day of diving!
To sweeten the deal even more, discounted accomodation rates are provided for all those taking diving courses or joining fun dives.
Accompanied by the resorts stunning natural surroundings, Jamahkiri Resort is an all time favourite for nature lovers.
All of its rooms offer stunning ocean views and feature beautiful architecture combined with traditional Thai artwork and French sculptures.
Discounts are provided on all diving courses and packages for guests staying here, with special diving and accommodation combo deals being available.
A range of romance and activity packages are available here including sunset toasts, candle lit dinners on the beach for two, abseiling and rock climbing, snorkelling, yoga and thai cooking classes.
View Point Resort also features a free-form turquoise pool that is surrounded by stone features.
The Cape Restaurant & bar here serves premium food and beverages, sources from the best suppliers, organic and with a selection of locally grown herbs.
They also have their own dive school, which is what makes this the best backpacker hostel for Divers on Koh Tao as you are sure to meet like minded souls here.
Two garden terraces and a rooftop make this mellowed out hostel the perfect place to watch the sunset…whilst enjoying the delicious Mexican food for which it is famous
Getting to Koh Tao is as easy as one, two…four? No seriously, it’s really easy! Here’s what you need to do:
1 Quickest (and most expensive): Catch a flight to the island of Koh Samui. From here, head to the pier and catch a ferry to Koh Tao.
The two most popular ferries are Lomprayah Catamaran (slightly faster, smaller boats) and Seatran Discovery (best for those who get seasick).
Both take around one and a half hours to reach Koh Tao, with most boats leaving in the morning.
2) Next Quickest (and slightly cheaper): Catch a flight, bus or train to Koh Chumphon, on Thailand’s mainland.
Grab a bus or taxi to the pier and then get the Chumphon Koh Tao ferry to Koh Tao. This takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes.
…such as Reef Monitoring or Marine Resources Management in which you will learn a range of exciting, practical activities for protecting and restoring the oceans.
These include underwater debri cleanup and coral reef creation.
The best dive school to do this with are Eco Koh Tao (LINK), but several other dive centres including Crystal Dive (LINK), who originally founded the former.
Plastic is a colossal issue in the sea. Because it is essentially indescribable it never breaks down.
Instead it floats through the water, releasing toxic chemicals, being consumed by and choking sea animals like turtles to death and swamping coral, which depletes its symbiotic algae of sunlight and so kills both the algae and the coral.
Many beaches in Thailand such as those on Koh Tao are sadly swamped by plastic and rubbish. Weekly beach clean ups are held by organizations such as Eco Koh Tao, Master Divers, and Crystal Dives.
If you want to take action, make a difference and turn this problem around, you can volunteer to help out at these beach clean ups.
Alright Squad! Splash some congratulatory water on your face. You have just completed this mammoth article on everything you need to know for diving in Koh Tao! Diving Squad out.