Diving in Koh Tao Thailand: What You Should Know

For many the island of Koh Tao is a diving Mecca. It’s the second most popular diving place to learn in the world, as well as the go-to destination for more experienced divers. And after a couple of dives there I could easily see why this island is so popular. There’s abundant marine life, somewhat healthy coral and warm water temperature all year round, plus it is buzzing and very budget friendly. Yes, please!

The reefs of Koh Tao are some of the most diverse in the Gulf of Thailand. However, like in many other places, they are heavily threatened by human activities and climate change. But despite this, surprisingly it is possible to find abundant marine life. About 365 species of coral reef fish have been recorded around Koh Tao to be more precise. Including black tip sharks and whale sharks which you could encounter (if you’re extremely lucky)

There’s also plenty dive centres and diving resorts to choose from for a relatively small island. So, you’re certain to find one that suits your needs.

Some of my favourite dive sites in Koh Tao were: Chumphon Pinnacle, White Rock, Hin Pee Wee and Twins. Where I spotted all the marine fauna you will see below.

Lion Fish and Coral Diving in Koh Tao

However, it is important to bear in mind a couple of things about the island. Koh Tao has a decent nightlife scene (If you want to just chill try to find accomodation far from Sairee Beach). There are lots of scooters, is noisy and crowded all year round. Expect to find an interesting mix of tourists, like backpackers, divers, families and just everything in between. In general terms is safe, and just a bit of common sense is enough to get you out of trouble.

Diving in Koh Tao Coral yellow blue Fish

Useful things to know before you go diving in Koh Tao, Thailand

  • Fun dives cost around 700-1000 Baht (£18-£30) depending on how many you want to do and if you have your own equipment. Typically packages are cheaper.
  • Getting travel and diving insurance is a MUST, specially because if you need medical care the nearest decompression chamber is located on another island (Koh Samui). And the costs could get higher due to transportation.
  • You don’t need to rent a scooter to get around unless you want to be super mobile and explore the island a bit more.
brown fish underwater
Photo By Franceso Ungaro
  • While it’s true that black tip sharks and whale sharks can be seen in Koh Tao, spotting them frequently is a myth sadly. Don’t get your hopes too high and you might get surprised.
  • If you’re Padi certified you’ll probably want to check out Padi Travel I find it really useful. For the SSI certification there’s plenty of centres with this method available on the island too.
Black Spotted fish diving in Koh Tao Thailad
  • Do lots of research to find the Dive centre / resort that’s right for you. Accomodation and food is generally very cheap in Thailand and Koh Tao isn’t the exception. I stayed at the Tarna Align which was a good resort but their Dive Centre was chaotic and unprofessional, so sadly I can’t recommend it.
  • Think about the type of dives you’d want to have. Do you prefer dive masters who can speak your language? Do you like big, medim or small size groups? This will depend on the size of the dive centre and their boats. So choose carefully.
Daniela Diver Diving in Koh Tao
  • Wear a full suit to be safer around coral (I didn’t and paid for it on my 3rd dive). Or in case you come across a territorial Titan Trigger fish (don’t get too close or they will get pissed) 🙂
  • Visibility is reduced dramatically during monsoon season which is Nov-Dec.
Titan Trigger Fish Diving in Koh Tao Thailand
Titan Trigger Fish

Well, that’s it for me here. I hope that this guide has been both fun and useful for your next diving trip to Koh Tao, and to those of you who don’t dive, you don’t know what you’re missing! Yew

Galápagos: The Complete Wildlife Observation Guide

Where else are you going to swim next to marine iguanas and sea lions or see penguins catching fish next to you?

When I landed in Galápagos it felt as if I wasn’t supposed to be there. I remember reading so much about it and watching dozens of documentaries to kickstart my dreamed wildlife observation journey, but nothing could have prepared me for what lied ahead. It was all too surreal. Sea lions hanging out at the entrance of my hostel as if they were street dogs, and birds that weren’t scared of humans! (Later I discovered the birds’ behaviour was down to a lack of predators). It was such a humbling experience and at that point, I could really understand why Darwin and even Attenborough were so fascinated with the archipelago.

I visited the archipelago for 7 days with a yacht cruise called ‘The Montserrat’ which had comfy rooms, good food, helpful crew, and most importantly a very knowledgeable and friendly tour guide. Below is the itinerary with all the islands I visited, the must-see places and best spots for wildlife observation and diving.

Wildlife Observation Guide

San Cristóbal Island and Cerro Brujo

My trip started on San Cristóbal island where I had the chance to go for a quick explore around Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Punta Carola beach before jumping on my boat. Once on board, we arrived at Isla Lobos which is home to a big colony of sea lions.

Sea lion swimming with me

The island is named after them in Spanish, lobo marino. There is a protected channel where you can go snorkelling with them as shown above. This area is also an ideal place to watch nesting frigates and blue-footed boobies.

Cerro Brujo Hill Galapagos

Other interesting places nearby are ‘mirador Cerro Tijeretas’ (viewpoint) and Cerro Brujo  (shown above) which is located on the northern coast of San Cristóbal Island. It is a great place to watch marine iguanas swim (while they snort salt from their nostrils), or visit a tortoise breeding area in the highlands with lots of endemic flora.


Española Island

One of the oldest islands in the whole archipelago at around 4 million years old, La Española is actually dying and with time it will become a barren land with no vegetation. Having said that, this is great spot to see waved albatrosses, and if you are extremely lucky like I was, the blue-footed boobies mating dances.

Blue-footed Booby

I also explored a lovely sandy beach in Bahía Gardner and wrapped my day up watching the bird colonies at Punta Suárez.

Waved Albatross Galapagos
Waved Albatross

Highlight: There’s an epic blowhole in Punta Suarez that you can’t miss!

Blowhole Galapagos Punta Suarez

Floreana Island

I had the opportunity to dive at a fascinating site called the “Devil’s Crown”, it’s an underwater volcanic cone with schools of fish, sea turtles, sharks and sea lions, and many epic coral formations.


Punta Cormorant is also a must, only a short walk past a lagoon to see flamingos, rays, sea turtles and lots of Sally Lightfoot crabs.

Turtle swimming Galapagos
Green Turtle from Galapagos

Santa Cruz Island

Here’s where you visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the incredible giant Galápagos tortoises roaming freely. Puerto Ayora hosts the largest human population in the entire archipelago and it is a great place for chilling at a beach bar.

Giant Tortoises Galapagos Wildlife Observation
Giant Tortoises or Galapagos

Tortuga Bay is a beautiful and very long sandy beach where you can not only swim but also spot white tip reef sharks close by a natural mangrove that’s only a short walk from the beach.

Giant Tortoise Galapagos
Giant Tortoise Galapagos

Playa El Garrapatero is a nice beach to spend some time at after a long day exploring. But possibly the highlight for me on this island was hiking up to the Los Gemelos (The Twins) craters to see some very old rock formations. Also places like ‘Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado’, Galápagos Beach at Tortuga Bay, and ‘Reserva de Tortugas El Chato’ are great to learn more about the giant tortoises.

Fun fact: the Spanish named the archipelago after the giant tortoises that once roamed the islands. As in Spanish “galápago” translates to giant tortoise. 

Top Tips for Wildlife Observation in Galápagos

Galapagos penguin catching fish



How to get there?

There are two ways to get to the Galápagos archipelago, either flying to Baltra or to the San Cristóbal Airport from Quito (via Guayaquil) which is the option I went for. There are three airlines flying daily to the archipelago: Tame, Avianca, and Lan. 

What currency?

The official currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar. Generally speaking, it is very cheap to travel around Ecuador. However, prices on the Galápagos are much higher than on mainland. Also, make sure to take cash out before arriving in the Archipelago as sometimes cash machines on the main island aren’t reliable.

Top place for diving and seeing sharks and rays

I was on a mission to find all the marine fauna I could possibly see around the islands, and most of the time I was very lucky. And Kicker-Rock or León Dormido  (in Spanish) is where I enjoyed diving the most, I got to to see some reef sharks, hammerheads and stingrays and mantas. 

Stingray resting Coral Reef Galapagos
Stingray resting Coral Reef Galapagos

Kicker Rock Galapagos

Galapagos is one of the most extensive marine wildlife diversity preserves in the world. But diving here isn’t always pleasant like in South East Asia, because the water is SERIOUSLY cold, so make sure you pack a very thick winter diving suit. 

Galapagos Reef Shark
Galapagos Reef Shark

Last but definitely not least, its really important to limit your interactions with the wildlife. While you should enjoy your wildlife observation trip, you should know that increased tourism to the national park have a negative impact on this fragile ecosystem. Human presence affects their natural behaviours! So, let’s all try to keep it as pure and wild as possible. 

Let me know in the comments below what you thought of this post and what are you most excited to see when you go to Galapagos!