Koh Tao is the most famous scuba diving learning zone of Southeast Asia, where thousands of students from all over the world are trained every year to develop their skills from novice divers all the way to Divemasters and professional divers.
Due to its remoteness Koh Tao is only accessible by boat and boasts no airport. This island remains one of the last true tropical paradises in Southeast Asia.
For Scuba Divers and snorkelers alike, Koh Tao offers a hidden underwater treasure, with an impressive variety of marine life.
Maybe you would like to spend your days relaxing in the shallow crystal clear waters of Mango Bay, viewing the many corals and fish.
Koh Tao definitely has something to offer everyone.
Koh Tao island focused on diving and offers 25 dive sites, with the majority close the island. Average depths are approximately 14m to 18m with deeper offshore dive sites going down to 30m or more.
Please find below a list of some of the popular dive sites:
Located about 11km. Northwest of Koh Tao, Chumporn pinnacle(or Chumphon pinnacle) is widely regarded as one of the Gulf’s premier dive sites. The site itself is comprises of one huge main granite pinnacle and a series of smaller pinnacles rising from the bottom at 36m to within 14m of the surface, with an average dive depth of approximately 20m and is carpeted with anemones with their attendant pink clown fishes.
To the south of the main site lies Barracuda Rock which, as it’s name suggests, usually hosts large shoals of Great Barracuda.
On the main part of the site divers can expect to encounter Batfish, Trevally, large Groupers, as well as huge shoals of Fusiliers and Rabbit fish. Less common, but still available to see, are the Spanish Mackerel, and some Paddlefin Trigger fish. For those with keen eyes it is also possible to see Scorpionfish lazing on the rocks.
Chumporn pinnacle also plays host to seasonal visits by Whale sharks and their attendant Cobias and Remoras, plus the occasional Manta. A memorable experience for every diver !
One of the outlying dive sites to the north of Koh Nang Yuan island; Green Rock has its own special attractions for divers in the form of many varied swim throughs and the lunar like landscape created by nesting Yellow Margin Triggerfish.
With a depth range of 3m to 30m most divers will find this site within their capabilities. The insides of the caverns and the undersides of outcroppings are home to many brightly coloured soft corals and sponges, while the outer parts of the site play host to shoals of electric Blue Damsel fish, Tube Anemones with tiny translucent shrimps (for those with keen eyesight) Emperors, Angel fish and the occasional Turtle.
Just to the northwest of the main pinnacle, lying in 22m depth, is the ‘Trigger Pit”. This area is one of the primary breeding grounds for the resident Yellow Margin triggerfish around Koh Tao. It is characterized by the large nesting hollows excavated by the breeding pairs which are usually guarded by vigilant parents to be, who spend most of their day chasing away unwelcome egg thieves, and other Triggers looking for a nesting spot. During the breeding season spectacular displays, resembling World War One aerial dogfights, can be seen over the ‘Trigger Pit’ by protective families.
Koh Nang Yuan Bay 3 (Twins)
Nestled in a bay between the three islands of Koh Nang Yuan, Twins consists of two main pinnacles, and a smaller, deeper “little brother”. A perfect site for both training activities, and a leisurely fun dive, the pinnacles range in depth from 5m to 18m, and are surrounded by soft white sand dotted with the unusual symbiotic relationships of Goby fish and their blind-shrimp housemates.
Twins offers divers the chance to see the larger groupers normally only spotted at depth on the more remote dive sites. Blue-Ringed angelfish and the striking yellow Raccoon Butterfly fish are abundant, along with a host of varied Parrotfish and wrasse. Combined with green, blue, and red anemones this is one of the islands most colourful dive sites.
Venture south a short distance across the sand to encounter “Mork” and “Mindy”, a friendly pair of the uncommon Saddleback Clownfish, then back to the East pinnacle for the best safety stop on the island with a school of around 500 curious, small Yellowtail Barracuda.
Koh Tao’s East Side
The sparsely populated east side of the island boasts a number of unusual dive sites. Sites here include Lighthouse, a favourite place for turtle spotting, Hin Wong Pinnacle with its stunning blue soft corals at 26m. Laem Tien for exploring a series of connected swim-throughs and canyons, and Aow Leuk Point with cornfield like areas of whip corals. These sites also offer the chance of encountering Banded Sea Snakes, Unicorn Surgeonfish and the occasional passing Black-tip and Grey Reef sharks.
From this side of the island the lush, steep jungle, slopes make a magnificent backdrop. On a clear day divers on the surface can enjoy views of neighboring Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.
Sharks, Schooling Fish and Pelagic Fish
The colourful splendour of the of the coral reef itself with it’s attendant reef fish and invertebrates plays host to many of Koh Tao’s larger, more dramatic individuals. We often see schooling fishes in great numbers drawn by the need for food, provided in abundance at the reef. Schooling species include Java Rabbitfish, Dusky Batfish, Goldbar and Yellowtailed Fusilier, Queenfish, Chevron and Yellowtail Barracuda, and Big Eye Trevally.
Other, more leisurely, visitors occasionally include Manta’s and Whale Sharks, which are drawn by the seasonal abundance of plankton in our warm waters.
Generally it is hot and drier from December 15 to the end of April. July and August can be windy with some light rain during part of the day or night. September through November can have excellent weather with occasional tropical storms passing through. The weather on Koh Tao is acceptable most of the year with an increasing number of visitors choosing the slower seasons to enjoy relaxed island life and lower bungalow costs.
Dice centers rarely cancel diving due to wind because there is always a sheltered bay somewhere around the island where it’s possible can dive.
The best months are mid December through the end of April, with lower visibility in May and June. After June visibility increases until October. In November the annual monsoon season starts.
The average visibility is approximately 15 meters most of the year, with periods of up to 30 meters.
The water temperature around Koh Tao is usually about 28°C/29°C, with the warmest temperatures rising to 30°C Celsius in April and the coldest in November where it may drop to 25°C.
The air temperature runs from 25°C to 34°C, with the hottest days in April, so don’t forget to bring sunscreen.
Learning to Dive in Koh Tao
Starting from the basic introductory course, all levels of dive training courses are offered in Koh Tao. Besides dive master courses, specialized course in underwater photography, nitrox diving, night diving and many others are also offered here. There are more than 50 dive centers in Koh Tao offering mostly either PADI or SSI dive training certification.
Pro Diving Certifications in Koh Tao
Divemaster internship courses and Instructor Training Courses (IDC) are also conducted in Koh Tao. Instructor Development Centers are generally organized at popular dive resorts once in two months. Since Koh Tao is recognized as the most famous diving training area in Thailand, instructor training courses are regularly held here.
A brief History of the Diving Industry in Koh Tao
When diving operations first started in Samui in Thailand, there were no resorts and the divers had to stay in thatched huts for the night in order to be near the dive site. The boats that transported them to the sites were small and crude.
Two years after diving operations started in Samui, some dive centers were opened in Koh Tao. By then facilities had improved, but even so divers had to rely on small fishing boats and there were no wetsuits.
Recognizing good dive sites was a difficult job then. Dive masters were dragged alongside the boats on ropes to identify the sites from the surface.
All this has now changed completely, with more than 50 excellent dive centers located in Koh Tao.
Since the early years, Koh Tao has come long way and become the leading area in South East Asia for professional level training. These days you can enroll in one every 8 weeks and choose from a variety of shops, packages and Course Directors. Other services have grown too, with many dive shops now able to offer you in-house videography, enriched air nitrox and a range of technical diving, speed boat diving, service technicians, oxygen provision training, diving insurance and a full range of equipment retail.
It’s new found fame and fortune has brought with it a new respect for the underwater world, organized beach clean-ups, rubbish collection services, reef conservation education programs and better communication.
Divers these days enjoy an unparalleled level of service and top quality diving at astonishingly competitive prices. And now I can enjoy a nice, cold, imported beer at the end of the day!
Snorkeling in Koh Tao
For those who have no deep interest in scuba diving but are still interested in underwater sights, snorkeling is a good option. Koh Tao has also other recreation provisions for visitors, like swimming and kayaking. Further, the lovely beaches that link the land and sea are themselves infinitely attractive, and you will never tire of enjoying the sceneries of the land and the views of the sea around.
With more than 50 dive centers around Koh Tao, it’s easy to understand why this is one of the world’s hotspots for divers to get their Open Water Licence.
SCUBA JUNCTION is PADI 5* Resort (Professional Association of Dive Instructors)is located on the white sandy Sairee Beach in Koh Tao, Thailand.
Since its opening in 1995, it has been committed to quality, with the goal to bring European standards and safety to the Asian diving experience.
This has been achieved with International recognition in travel publications including the Lonely Planet, Lets Go, The Rouge Guide and Stefan Loose Travel.
With experienced multilingual staff, committed to personal attention and fun, plus high quality equipment, Scuba Junction can introduce you to the underwater wonders of the island.
Whether you are a beginner, looking for a single day diving experience or full certification, the highly qualified instructors will take care of you.
For the experienced diver, the Divemasters, specially trained in local aquatic life, will take you on memorable dives. For those who wish to further their learning, try one of the many continuing education courses.