Diving Around Ko Tao

Silke Baron

of Diving Around Ko Tao

The main attraction in Ko Tao - apart from partying - is scuba diving. Ko Tao has gained a reputation for being one of the best dive places in the world, especially if you want to learn to dive, and rightly so! Ko Tao is surrounded by numerous great dive sites ideal for both beginners and experienced divers. The coral and marine life you can see are stunning. The waters contain superb hard corals in a wide range of reefs, with an abundance of tropical fish and other exotic marine life. It's also one of the cheapest places to dive! Even though the prices are low, standards are high, with many dive outfits receiving excellent feedback for their relaxed but highly professional attitude. There are literally dozens of dive centres (nearly 40) on this tiny island which are said to issue 6% of the PADI certifications in the world! Diving groups are usually quite small, ranging from 1 to 4 persons, which again make it a more friendly and enjoyable experience, as you receive more personal attention from your dive leader or instructor. Under Thai Law, all dive operators and instructors are members of the PADI or SSI associations, and must be registered with the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand). This ensures they are all properly qualified, provide a professional service, observe all internationally recognised safety rules, and do not overcharge. So ensure that you book through a TAT registered dive centre. Highly rated dive sites include: Sail Rock - Located between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao (50 mins from Ko Samui), one of the most famous dive sites in the gulf. This stunning site can be explored by divers of all levels of proficiency. The huge rock which rises out of the water provides a great wall dive with excellent diving from 6m down to 35m. It's an incredible display of underwater scenery with fascinating rock formations and a wealth of tropical marine life. Whale Sharks are often spotted around here! Champhon Pinnacle - One of the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand and is located 11km NW of Ko Tao, the furthest dive site from Ko Samui (2 hours by boat) but well worth the extra distance. There are several pinnacles; the main one starts at 14 meters and goes down to 36 metres. There is an abundance of marine life, and besides the dazzling array of tropical fish, you are likely to see big fish such as Giant Groupers, Bat Fish, Cobia, Barracuda. Manta rays are also occasionally spotted. From February to May and September you stand a chance of seeing the amazing Whale Sharks. They are colossal at several metres long (up to 12m!), but are filter fish so there's nothing to fear! For those of you wishing to learn how to dive, there a few options; including a one-day introductory course to see if diving is for you, as well as a full beginner's course. You can attain the internationally recognised PADI Open Water Certificate that will allow you to dive anywhere in the world. The Open Water course involves a few hours classroom learning. PADI now allows you to do this online before the practical part if you wish. Just look on the PADI website for more details. SSI is another internationally recognised diving certification offered by some schools. Prices vary between the dive shops but are reasonably consistent. At the cheaper end (but still highly rated like the ones we have listed), you can expect to pay around 3,000B for Discover Scuba Diving (2 dives), 8,600B for Open Water and 8,000B for Advanced Open Water. There are also many different courses for experienced divers such as Rescue Diver, EFR, Nitrox Enriched Air, and even courses for those wish to become professional instructors. We have listed three dive operators below but there are many excellent schools spread around the island, and we actively encourage you just to go into your local places and see which appeals to you. Just be sure to check out their reviews online or fellow travellers. Roctopus Dive (SSI) Tel: +66 77456611 Address: Wind Beach Resort, 11/2 Moo 1, Sairee Beach Website: www.roctopusdive.com Scuba Shack (PADI) Email: info@scubashackkohtao.com Tel: +66 77456815 Address: Sairee Hut Resort Website: www.scubashackkohtao.com Pimp My Dive (SSI) Email: info@pimpmydive.net Tel: +66 970356818 Address: 8/44 Moo 2 Mae Haad Website: www.pimpmydive.net

Map of Lower Gulf of Thailand

Lower Gulf of Thailand-Map