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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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