Scuba Diving Koh Tao

Scuba Diving Koh Tao: The Ultimate Diver’s Guide

Koh Tao is the epitome of Southeast Asia’s paradise island. White sand beaches palm-fringed coastline greets you as you step out of the boat onto this real-life postcard. Not to mention the transparent blue waters that surround it all!

Located off Thailand’s east coast and situated in the Gulf of Thailand, this tropical island offers a true sense of paradise castaway life. Its location makes it one of the easier islands to access from Thailand is highly regarded amongst visitors as a slice of heaven on Earth.

Let’s not forget, this fascinating and peaceful retreat is still an island and offers some immense diving! Scuba diving Koh Tao offers warm, crystal clear blue waters and unrivalled amounts of species of tropical fish and other marine life. You’ll never get bored of discovering new vibrant soft coral and beautiful coloured fish. You’ll also find far fewer crowds than other islands. What’s more, it’s well known as one of the best and cheapest places to obtain your scuba certification!

Scuba Diving Koh Tao

What’s Good About Koh Tao Diving?

As if the postcard-worthy beaches with soft white sand and lush green palm trees aren’t enough, Koh Tao offers a range of fascinating dive sites ensuring you’ll get the most out of your island retreat. Here are some of our favorite bits!


Let’s not beat about the bush. It’s well-known in the diving world that Koh Tao offers some of the best and cheapest diving in the world. You simply can’t find value like this anywhere else.

Many divers come here from other parts of Asia and Australia to complete their open water certification as it’s highly regarded as the best place to do so. Many backpackers and travelers opt to dive here too in order to save money.


Its remote island location leads it to be so peaceful and untouched.

That’s not the only reason we love its location, though! Koh Tao sits amongst the action in the Gulf of Thailand and offers some incredible diving spectacles not to be missed on any trip to Southeast Asia.

Diverse Marine Life

If you’re a bit of a marine biology geek, or just like pretty colorful fish, you’ll fall in love beneath the surface of the crystal clear waters of Koh Tao. The warm waters attract an abundance of beautiful, vibrant marine life that’s sure to please the eyes.

Koh Tao Scuba Certification

Scuba Certification

In general, you aren’t required to be certified in order to scuba dive on Koh Tao. In fact, there are many tour operators that cater to those of all levels of ability, no issue for a first-time diver. There are plenty of beginner-friendly and easily accessible dive sites to get your flippers wet for the first time.

What’s more, there’s plenty of opportunities to get scuba certified while you’re on Koh Tao. It’s an ideal location to learn to scuba dive, with calm conditions and many beginner-friendly dive sites. Check out our recommended open water course below to get yourself scuba certified!

Having said that, it’s always recommended to get scuba certified to give yourself the best, most enjoyable diving experience possible. While you’ll have a great time scuba diving Koh Tao as a first-time diver, there’s a lot you can miss out on without the extra confidence and diving experience, such as the more challenging cave dives and wrecks.

In addition, becoming scuba certified will help you feel more comfortable and confident underwater. This leads to maximum enjoyment and safety from your diving experience and something worth considering.

Koh Tao Scuba Diving Requirements

Scuba Diving Safety

Koh Tao doesn’t have any specific laws or regulations with regards to diving. As always, tour operators state that you must be in good physical condition and have some swimming ability. Children must be at least 10 years old to scuba dive with a tour operator.

With that said, it’s always highly recommended to have a dive buddy when you’re out scuba diving in the waters of Koh Tao, as it is anywhere else. This is particularly the case if you’re out diving without a tour operator or guide. In this situation, it’s also good practice to make use of diver down flags.

Best Sites for Scuba Diving Koh Tao

Koh Tao offers plenty in the way of a luxury island getaway, with many bucket list items available to tick off here. Diving is one of its best traits, too. It’s arguably Thailand’s top spot for getting amongst the diving action, and probably one of the best in the world. Here are some of our favorite Koh Tao dive sites.

Sail Rock

Rock Wall Diving

Dive centers in Koh Tao may be biased, but they claim they have the best day trip diving sites in Thailand.

Sail Rock (Hin Bae) is arguably one of these and certainly a contender for world-class status.

More large rock than an island, Sail Rock juts only a few metres above the sea surfaces. This inconspicuous lonesome rock, however, hides some fantastic underwater scenes. Sheer rock walls plunge vertically to the seabed 30 metres below, which in turn slopes downward to a depth of around 50 metres.

Because of its location and tidal currents, Sail Rock hosts coral on its rocky walls, a great draw for a vast array of aquatic life, including pelagics and crustaceans.

Be sure to check out The Chimney, which you can swim straight through. And for more experienced divers, the Secret Pinnacle, which lies off the main dive site.

If this sounds ideal to you, be sure to check out our recommended experience below!

Southwest Pinnacles

Underwater Rocks

Often overlooked by intermediate and advanced divers, the Southwest Pinnacles are a jaw-dropping collection of granite blocks that form a pyramid shape. These pinnacles are easily as awesome as the better known but heavier-trafficked Chumphon Pinnacle.

Ranging in depth from six to 28 metres, the Southwest Pinnacles attract a diversity of marine life. Scorpionfish are there year-round, and in-season whale sharks like to cruise around too.

Year-round, the area’s species is staggering, with juvenile yellowtail barracuda schools almost taking over the entire dive site. Also abundant are fusiliers, snappers, scad, and rabbitfish. This dive spot is also one of the very few places to see coral shrimpfish.

Thanks to the jumble of rocky hiding places, the site is home to an abundance of fish like Potato Groupers and countless aquatic critters.

There is also a ‘secret pinnacle’ off the main site, but advanced divers can only attempt this in good conditions with enriched air nitrox.

Check out our recommended experience below, this one is not to be missed on any diving trip to Koh Tao.

Sattakut Wreck


The 48 metre-long wreck is that of a US Navy ship deliberately scuttled in 2011 to become an artificial reef.

It sits off Koh Tao at a maximum depth of 30 metres. Over time it has become a haven for large schools of yellowtail barracudas, fusiliers, giant groupers, moray eels, as well as anemones and coral.

Much of the wreck is still easily discernible, including a 76 mm gun on the bow and a 40 mm Bofors cannon mounted on the stern. As it is a relatively new wreck, it is possible to penetrate the vessel via a range of doorways. However, the site is recommended only for intermediate and experienced divers.

The best times to go are February through until the start of October. After this, there’s monsoon season until December.

Check out our recommended experience below for more details!

Best Time to go Diving in Koh Tao

Regardless of the time of year you decide to visit Koh Tao, you’ll have the opportunity to spot various marine life such as Whale Sharks, Seahorses, Whales, Dolphins, and Turtles.

What’s more, Koh Tao truly is a tropical island paradise and features great diving conditions year-round with consistent water temperatures hovering at around 82 – 86°F. The crystal clear waters will also treat you to brilliant visibility.

Diving aside, you may want to avoid the rainy season from October-December. The high season runs from January to April and offers beautiful weather with very little rain.

How Much Does Scuba Diving Cost in Koh Tao?

If you’re looking at booking an experience through a tour company on Koh Tao, you’ll find prices between $80-$100. The price includes gear rental so there are no extra fees.

In addition, a PADI Open Water Certification will set you back around $350, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Scuba Diving Gear in Koh Tao

Scuba Gear

There are plenty of dive shops situated on the blissful Utopia of Koh Tao so renting equipment for your dives is an option.

It’s worth noting, you’re left with one less thing to think about when going with a guided tour operator as all equipment and gear are included.

However, buying your own gear might be ideal for you if you’re a more keen and experienced diver!

Be sure to check out our buyer’s guides if you’re looking for scuba gear. There you’ll find all of our top recommendations for a range of scuba gear, including masks, dive computers, and complete gear packages!

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