THE complete guide TO DIVING IN KOH TAO

Updated: 2/2/2020 | February 2nd, 2020

This is a guest post by Alexandra Baackes, the legend behind Alex in Wanderland. She’s also a PADI divemaster and a citizen of Koh Tao, Thailand. Koh Tao is a popular destination for scuba divers and one the greatest places people learn in the world! In this guide, Alex gives you the insider scoop on diving schools, prices, and the best areas for checking out sea life when you visit Koh Tao.

Travelers in Thailand like to label their destinations neatly. complex island paradises are boiled down to one or two basic words or associations: Koh Phi Phi? Pláž. Koh Phangan? The full Moon Party. Koh Tao? Diving.

Some of them are fairly well deserved.

After all, Koh Tao is one of the world’s top destinations when it pertains to number of annual dive certifications issued — in fact, it’s second only to Cairns, Australia. Travelers flock from across Southeast Asia to take their first breaths underwater in the coral reefs fringing this paradise island. It’s basic to see why: the courses are among the most economical in the world, the teaching standards are high, the conditions are easy, the dive sites are abundant, and it’s a dang fun place to decompress after a day underwater.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when planning a trip to Koh Tao — there are a lot more than 70 dive schools on the island! — so a bit of research goes a long way when it pertains to such a large investment of your time and travel budget.


There are a lot more than 50 scuba diving training systems around the world, but in Koh Tao, the choice normally comes down to two: the professional association of Dive instructors (PADI) or scuba schools international (SSI). Each organization develops its own teaching materials; writes its own standards based on those set by the umbrella organization, the world Recreational scuba training Council (WRSTC); and awards its own certifications.

No matter what certification card you walk away with, you’ll use the same equipment, see the same fish, and be able to dive at the same destinations. Certifications are interchangeable and recognized worldwide. the most crucial aspects in the quality of your course will be your dive school and your dive instructor. but there are minor differences between agencies.

PADI is the world’s leading scuba diving training organization. If you find comfort in numbers, then
this agency with nearly one million certifications per year might just be for you! The major benefit to diving with PADI comes at the professional level. For instructors and divemasters, PADI supplies the most employment opportunities, and PADI instructors can work independently (while an SSI instructor need to show through an SSI-registered shop). So if you have dreams of staying in Thailand to show the backpacker masses and you want to be devoted to one agency, PADI is a strong agency to hedge your bets on.

Once just a small subset of the diving industry here, SSI has exploded to control a full 50% of the market share on Koh Tao. All coursework is done by means of the complimentary app and/or online, making it a green choice (although PADI has digital products for a lot of courses as well).

What’s the course Like?

The open Water course is the first certification you’ll complete as a diver. lots of divers come to Koh Tao to complete their open Water certification, and some get hooked and stay till they’re instructors themselves. but be wary of “zero to hero” packages that include the full variety of courses from first underwater breath to master scuba diver trainer — take it one step at a time.

(While half-day experiences called “Discover scuba Diving” or “Try scuba Diving” are available, they don’t cause any sort of certification and must really only be considered if you’re (a) incredibly strapped for time or (b) very not sure if diving is for you. Otherwise, just dive in, literally, to the open Water!)

The normal open Water diving course is completed in three to four days. There are videos to watch, book chapters to read, tests to take, and, of course, dive sites to explore! It might sound intimidating, but the course is created for students as young as 10 — the academics shouldn’t intimidate you.

Here’s a rough outline of what your course will look like:

Day 1: Orientation, paperwork, and videos.

Day 2: A morning in the classroom learning about basics skills, equipment, and the effects of diving on the body. An afternoon spent in the pool or at shallow dive sites working on skills such as regulator recovery and mask removal, among others.

Day 3: A morning in the classroom finishing knowledge reviews and taking some quizzes. In the afternoon, the fun really begins with open-water dives 1 and 2, which will stay shallow and low-key. Some skills will be practiced during the dives.

Day 4: You’ll go out on a morning boat and complete open-water dives 3 and 4, where you’ll get to go a bit deeper and explore. In the afternoon, you’ll take the final exam. Congratulations — you made it!

Upon completion, you’ll receive a certification card that allows you to dive anywhere in the world up to a depth of 18 meters. Time to start daydreaming about your advanced open Water!

And the open Water course is just the beginning! Koh Tao is a true mecca for dive education: you can take courses in freediving and technical diving, and specialty scuba courses in everything from photography to conservation and beyond — plus the gamut of continuing and professional courses up to instructor Trainer!

Which school must I Choose?

Koh Tao ain’t called a mecca for diving for nothing: there are nearly 70 dive schools on this 13-square-mile rock! This decision is the greatest when it pertains to figuring out the quality of your diving course. For the most part, the schools fall into a few categories:

Big schools: Bans, big Blue, Crystal
These schools are massive scuba powerhouse resorts that can churn out hundreds of open Water divers a week, with instructors for nearly every language imaginable. They are ideal for someone who is confident about going under water (i.e., doesn’t need extra individual attention) and wants to make lots of friends and meet people in a big group setting. However, those groups can be a bit large for comfort.

Medium-sized schools: Master Divers, Sairee Cottage
Medium dive schools normally have the best of both worlds. They have a range of instructors and groups large enough to make friends in, but they aren’t as prone to overcrowding or rushing through the course.

Small schools: Hydronauts, ocean Sound
These schools are great at accommodating special needs or focusing on a certain specialty. The extra attention with instructors is crucial for those who are feeling uncertain about heading underwater or who simply want to be spoiled with attention and learn in a a lot more focused environment. However, these schools often rent boat space and pool time from other dive schools rather than having their own facilities.

When picking a school and an instructor, consider these factors:

Does it have an instructor who speaks your language? There are lots of specialty language-focused dive schools on Koh Tao: for Spanish, head to Pura Vida or La Bambona; Isla Tortuga Divers, or Alvaro Diving; for French, French Kiss Divers; for Finnish, Koh Tao Divers.

Will the confined dives take place in the ocean or in a pool?

How lots of students will be in the group?

What time do they leave in the morning? Those eager beavers who want to be the first on the dive site might not mind being up in time for new Way’s 6am departure, while night owls might like Ban’s or Sairee Cottage’s a lot more kicked back dive times.

Is the equipment up to date and in my size? schools in Koh Tao have a good record for equipment range and maintenance, but it never hurts to ask.

Will you get to have my own dive computer throughout the course? will there be an extra charge?

How qualified is the instructor? Some students may appreciate the enthusiasm and up-to-date training of a new instructor, while others may find comfort in a teacher with tons of qualifications and years of experience.

Do you like the instructor?

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Koľko to bude stáť?

Open Water courses on Koh Tao cost 11,000 baht (approximately $350 USD) without accommodation. (Once upon a time, nearly every dive school on the island bundled accommodation in with their courses, but that’s becoming a lot more and rarer outside the largest dive resorts. If accommodation is included, it’s a very basic fan room — or you can upgrade to a nicer one at a discount.)

Though it’s less common these days, lots of schools will have a videographer come along on dives 3 and 4 and make a 10-20-minute music video–style recording of your day. At night, the class will gather to enjoy it. depending on the video company, they may charge you a flat rate for a copy or base it on how lots of copies are sold — so you can take one home for anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 baht ($32–97 USD). Some schools have switched to supplying still photos instead, which you can purchase as part of a package — expect to pay around 300 baht ($10 USD) for one photo or 1,000 ($32 USD) for a set of several.

Though it’s not an agency standard, lots oF Schools majú politiku, že študenti nemôžu vyniesť svoje vlastné fotoaparáty na kurzy s otvorenou vodou, takže ak nemáte dovolené prinášať svoj GoPro – nesnažia sa vás šikanovať do videa alebo fotografie obal; Snažia sa vás udržať v bezpečí, sústrediť sa a vyhýbajú sa poškodeniu útesov a morského života, kým sa nezvládne vztlak.

Pre potápačov, ktorí už absolvovali svoj kurz s otvorenou vodou, stoja zábavné ponory okolo 700 – 1 000 bahtov (23 – 32 USD), v závislosti od toho, ako veľa ponorov budete robiť a či máte vlastné vybavenie. Tí, ktorí majú časové a peniaze obmedzenia, budú chcieť, aby bolo prioritou navštíviť aspoň jedno z popredných potápačských miest Koh Tao.

Aké sú miesta potápania?

Ak ste úplne nový potápač, ktorý robí váš kurz s otvorenou vodou na Koh Tao, úprimne povedané, nezáleží na tom, kam idete – bude sa vám páčiť! Prvýkrát sa budete zameriavať na svoje zručnosti a kúzlo dýchania pod vodou.

Dvojčatá sú veľmi bežné miesto na výcvik, ktoré sa používa na ponory 1 alebo 2 kurzu s otvorenou vodou. Dvojčatá sedia hneď pri pobreží Koh Nang Yuan a sú najlepšie pre nových potápačov vďaka svojej malej hĺbke. Vrcholom je tu rodina vzácnych sedlových klaunov vo vnútri sasanky, ktorý nemôžete nechať ujsť – okolo neho je prsteň skaly!

Biela skala
Biela hornina je ďalšou z najčastejšie kontrolovaných potápačských miest na Koh Tao, často pre potápanie 4 otvoreného vodného kurzu. Je to masívne potápačské miesto, ktoré dodáva veľký vzorkovanie morského života Koh Tao – vrátane nepárnej morskej korytnačky, ktorá prepadá. Prečítajte si oveľa viac o potápaní White Rock tu.

Juhozápad je zbierka Pinnacles kobercov v mäkkom koralovom sasanke a
Ružová sasanka, ktorá ich sprevádza. Toto je skvelé miesto na pozorovanie Barracuda a gigantických skupín. Nachádza sa 13 km juhozápadne od Koh Tao a je takmer vždy skontrolovaný na ranných lodiach. S hĺbkami vrcholu od 6 m do 27 metrov je to najlepšie pre každého jednotlivca z certifikovanej a hore s otvorenou vodou. (Cítite sa dobrodružný? Je tu tiež tajný vrchol.) Čítajte oveľa viac o potápaní juhozápadu tu.

Ostrov žralokov
Ostrov žralokov je tak pomenovaný pre svoju podobnosť s dorzálnou plutvou, a nie množstvo určitých zubných rýb. Severná strana je najlepšie známa svojou rozmanitosťou koralov, zatiaľ čo južná strana má špeciálne mäkké koraly, ktoré inde neuvidíte na Koh Tao. Skalnatá východiská sa nachádza juhovýchodne od Koh Tao a je menej často kontrolovaná stránka kvôli svojej polohe a často náročných podmienkach – súčasná aj viditeľnosť tu môžu byť zápasom. Prečítajte si oveľa viac o potápaní Shark Island tu.

HTMS Sattakut
Táto bývalá loď amerického námorníctva bola potopená v júni 2011 pri pobreží Sairee Beach a stala sa domovom Jenkinsových Whiprays, Great Barracuda a desiatok šplatov, ktorí hrajú skryté a hľadanie v Rusty Crevices. Vrak sa nezačína až do 18 metrov a sedí sa na 30 metrov, takže skutočne musíte mať pokročilý certifikát Open Water alebo urobiť hlboké dobrodružstvo, aby ste sa v ňom plne potešili. Ak chcete preniknúť, musíte mať alebo trénujte na špecialitu vraku.

One of the HTMS Sattakut’s greatest assets is its location less than 15m from neighboring dive site Hin Pee Wee. So you can compliment a spin around
the wreck with a zip around the coral reef. Hin Pee Wee features several pinnacles, a citizen turtle, and some excellent macro life. read a lot more about diving the HTMS Sattakut here.

Chumphon is a submerged granite pinnacle covered in colorful sea anemone and surrounded by large schools of trevally, batfish, and barracuda. lucky divers will spot gigantic groupers, pompanos, and even whale sharks. due to its depth, this is a dive site best took pleasure in by advanced open Water students.

Chumphon is nearly always checked out on the morning boats. due to the distance — it’s 11km from Koh Tao — and the size of this dive site, some schools schedule two dives in a row here. read a lot more about diving Chumphon here.

Sail rock

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