Diving around Koh Tao
Koh Tao in Brief
The tiny gem of Koh Tao or Turtle Island is just 21 square kilometers, yet it is the beating heart
of diving in the Gulf of Thailand and home to an incredible 20 diving schools
and more than 100 professional instructors. Koh Tao's proximity to "under- water classrooms" makes it
ideal for beginners. There are dive sites just one kilometer from the island where you can see pelagics,
large schools of great barracudas, big-eyed jacks, tuna and giant travellys. There are also clown fish,
shark whales and swordfish.
Koh Tao's is also a departure point for trips to the Mu Koh Ang Thong National Marine Park, and its coral makes
it great for snorkeling as well as diving. Many international diving agencies are represented on this small island,
including PADI, SSI, IANTD, BSAC & NAUI. All course levels are available from beginner to professional,
including special courses like UW- photography and technical diving (nitrox) for the more adventurous,
so if you just fancy a few days of fun diving or wish to go on with your underwater career, it's all here.
Actually Koh Tao has become the leading area in Thailand for Instructor Development Centers (IDC).
IDC's are held at the larger dive resorts or shops with courses running every two months .Equipment quality has
also improved with shops using the latest models including Scubapro, Suunto, US Divers, Technisub and Seac Sub.
There are repair shops for divers traveling with their own equipment and who may need a service. There is also a
selection of retail centers for those who wish to purchase some scuba gear.
Safety has been much increased with the nearest decompression chamber located in Samui only 90 minutes away by speedboat
and a heliport is now operational on the south side of the island.
Koh Tao Dive Sites
Located approximately 11 kms northwest, this site is widely regarded as
one of the best in the region. One main huge granite pinnacle and a
series of smaller ones rising from the bottom at 36m to within 14m of
the surface, covered with anemones and their attendant Pink Clown Fishes.
Large shoals of Great and Cheveron Barracuda, schools of Trevally,
Batfish and large Groupers are commonly spotted. Less common but still
possible to see are Spanish Mackerel and Scorpion Fish. This great site
also plays host to seasonal visits by Whale sharks and Manta Rays.
A very popular dive site located 1km off Sairee.It boasts a large coral garden situated between
two distinct granite pinnacles to the north and south side and a vast array of bottom day time and noctural inhabitants.
With a depth range of 26m to 5m, it is suitable for every experience level.
White Eyed Moray and Blue Spotted Sting Rays are commonly sighted, as well as the infamous Trigger Fish.
Several species of Barracuda routinely visit the site, it is particularly impressive to see them hunting on night dives,
following divers torch beams to spot their dinner. Night diving also unveils many different kinds of Feather Stars,
hunting Cone Shell, feeding Sting Rays, Black Spotted Porcupine fish, sleeping Parrot fish and Monocle Beam fish.
You may also be lucky enough to spot a Hawksbill Turtle.
One of the most varied site in terms of marine life. Located about 300m southeast of Ao Leuk, this
small granite peak rises out of the water from a sandy bottom at 20-24m. Enjoy a huge variety of corals, sea whips and Gorgonian Sea Fans
covering the multiple pinnacles. Some of the most usual marine life
includes Blue Spotted Sting Rays, Scribbled Filefish, Harlequin
Sweetlips, Starry Pufferfish, various Groupers and Titan Triggerfish
that sometimes like nibbling the fins of divers who get too close to
their nesting site
Although Shark Island is suitable for divers of all levels, strong
currents may be encountered, especially during full moon, allowing the
possibility of exciting drift dives.
South West Pinnacle
Situated 13km southwest, depth ranging from 30m upward, a series of seven pinnacles form an
underwater mountain range, with the largest peaks rising at 5m below the
surface, covered with sea anemones. Along the lower edges of the site is
an abundance of whip coral and gardens of large sea fans. Impressive
Baracudas over a meter long can be seen, as well as massive Groupers,
schools of black spotted Snappers, Emperors, Sweetlips and Batfish. Not
to forget that Manta Rays and Whale sharks as well as Leopard Sharks may
also pass by.
Hin Wong / Laem Thian / Ao Leuk
Hin Wong / Laem Thian / Ao Leuk
The sparsely populated east side of the island offers a range of unusual sites. Light House, a
favourite place for Turtle spotting, Hin Wong Pinnacle with its stunning
blue soft corals at 26 m, Laem Thian for exploring a series of connected
swimthroughs & canyons, and Ao Leuk Point with cornfield-like areas of Whip Corals.
These sites also offer the chance of encountering Banded Sea Snakes,
Unicorn Surgeon fish, Parrot fish and the occasional passing Black Tip
Reef Shark. From this side of the island, the lush, steep jungle slopes
makes a magnificent back drop. On a clear day, divers on the surface can
even spot Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
Twins consists of two
main pinnacles and a smaller deeper "little brother". A perfect site for
both training activities and fun dives with a depth range of 18m to 5m
surrounded by soft white sand dotted with the unusual symbiotic
relationship of Goby fishes and their blind Shrimp house mates. Twins
offers the chance to spot large Groupers, Blue Ringed Angelfish, Yellow
Racoon Butterfly fish, Parrots and Wrasses of many kinds.
Not to forget "Mork and Mindy", a friendly pair of the uncommon
Saddleback Clownfish, and enjoy your safety stop surrounded by hundreds
of Yellow Tail Barracudas.