Koh Tao is the best place to learn to scuba dive for a lot of reasons. Everything from water temperature to the numerous dive sites makes this little island in the Gulf of Thailand the perfect playground for a beginner. I learned to dive there and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.
The introductory class is the 3 day open water course, where you will learn all the basics and at the end you’ll be certified to dive to 18 meters with a dive master. Pretty awesome huh?
So this is why you should learn to scuba dive in Koh Tao
There are over 50 dive shops and schools on the island.
This means you have a huge selection to choose from, and you can find the right school for you. To choose a school you should take a couple things into consideration – what kind of certification you want PADI or SSI (both organizations are legit, and honestly basically the same), and if you want to be part of a big group or what a more one on one experience.
I was looking for a more personal experience, mostly because I was nervous about screwing up. I felt like if I was in a big group it would be harder to get my instructor’s attention for questions and to make sure I was doing everything right. Roctopus, is a small dive school with small personal classes and I loved them. For the open water course it was Rob and I, and another couple, so just 4 people in our group. So I could ask all the questions I wanted, which didn’t end up being that many because my instructor was super thorough, which brings my to my next point.
Seasoned and knowledgeable instructors.
With the crazy amount of dives shops comes a whole lot of experienced dive instructors. Both instructors I had for my open water course and advanced course had several thousand dives logged, and I felt comfortable and confidant with them.
The instructor I had for my open water course was awesome, he was super knowledgeable, and even though he was young (like early twenties) he’d been diving since he was a kid so he had tons of experience. He was also super upbeat and was always cracking jokes and having fun, which makes for a laid back and fun learning environment.
The very reasonable price.
Thailand is probably the cheapest place, price wise to do the open water course in the world. This is especially true on Koh Tao because there are so many dive shops all the prices are kept competitive. The open water course is about 8,600 Baht or about $241, compared to around $350 in the US.
The water is calm, warm, and clear.
The Gulf of Thailand averages about 84 degrees, so it’s quite pleasant for swimming. With the exception of the rainy season (October-November) the water is calm and clear giving you good visibility underwater. You also don’t have to worry about strong currents which is always a plus when you are learning. There’s something about warm calm water that’s just a lot more inviting than cold choppy seas when you are learning to breath underwater.
The underwater sea life is pretty awesome.
There are all kinds of colorful corals as well as fish of all shapes and sizes. So when you are on your training dives you actually get to see some cool stuff, which is a major plus. That’s honestly the whole point of learning to dive is to see cool stuff that you’d never get the opportunity to see from the surface.
Koh Tao has everything from angel fish, to great barracuda, to even the occasional whale shark! I never did get to see a whale shark, but I did see a great barracuda that was just about as long as I am tall!
There are plenty of dive sites.
There are around 30 dive sites around the little island, so there is a lot to check out. During the open water course you’ll do 4 different dives at different dive sites so you’ll get the chance to explore different underwater landscapes. Then once you’ve been certified you can always sign up to do fun dives to explore the other sites.
I actually planned my advanced course to coincide with Roctopus’s weekly trip to the Sail Rock dive site. Sail Rock is known for being one of the best best dive sites in the area because occasionally whale sharks like to hang around the huge underwater pinnacle. Even though there were no whale sharks the day I went out there for my training dive it was still awesome, the pinnacle is huge and full of life.
Once you’ve passed the open water course and you’ve totally fallen in love with diving you can dive even more!
If you are interested in furthering your certifications you can do the advanced course where you’ll learn a little more, and get to go a bit deeper. From there you can take shipwreck, rescue, or videography classes. You can also just do fun dives, which are exactly what they sound like, diving for fun.
I had a blast learning to dive in Koh Tao, the vibes are mellow and everyone there is so stoked on diving it’s kind of infectious. So if you are looking for a little adventure on a pretty little island, learn to dive in Koh Tao, it will not disappoint!