Thailand | Travel Guides

7 Spectacular Koh Tao Diving Adventures

Don’t miss this carefully curated list of top Koh Tao diving trips and scuba courses from Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan.

Looking for the Koh Tao diving trip of a lifetime? Want to finally get scuba certified in Thailand? This hand-crafted guide is for you!

Whether you’re already Open Water certified, have 50+ dives under your belt, or have never donned a mask and snorkel in your life, you’ll find an adventure suited for you in our Koh Tao diving guide.

Why dive Koh Tao?

Sure, the island has one of the highest concentrations of top-notch dive centers in the world. But there’s a reason for that!

The waters around Koh Tao are warm, shallow, and teeming with life, and the visibility is excellent most of the time.

These conditions make it a perfect destination for beginners, with sites to lure more advanced divers not far from shore.

Add to that Sairee Beach‘s excellent eateries, chill vibe, and vibrant nightlife, which have helped to make the island the dive and travel draw it remains today.

Lori and I loved our time on Koh Tao, where she finally received her Open Water certification, and I got to get my feet wet again after a years-long diving dry spell.

The verdict? Koh Tao is a scuba divers dream! If you’re a long-time diving enthusiast or always dreamed of ticking this one off your adventure bucket list, Koh Tao is sure to please.

Even if you don’t plan to set foot on Koh Tao, there are plenty of opportunities to visit some of the island’s best dive sites from neighboring Koh Phangan and Koh Samui – and we’ve included some of the best of those excursions in our guide as well.

So grab your favorite swimsuit and shades and get ready to plan your next unforgettable underwater adventure in Koh Tao, Thailand!

diver and school of fish
Source: Nott Peera / Unsplash

In a hurry? Here’s a quick look at our top picks to get you started

Read on for all the essential details, plus helpful tips for planning and packing for an incredible Koh Tao diving adventure!

Heads Up! Never dive without travel insurance! Check out World Nomads for short trips, adventure travel (e.g. scuba!), and strong trip coverage; and SafetyWing for longer-term, low cost, overseas health coverage.

We’re reader-supported. When you book through some links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.


7 Exceptional Koh Tao Diving Trips & Scuba Courses


Here it is! Our picks for the best Koh Tao diving experiences you can book online right now in 2022.

As of June 2022, all trips and courses featured below offer a full refund up to 24 hours in advance when booked through the links on this page.

It’s also helpful to note that some of these Koh Tao diving experiences require good weather conditions and a minimum number of participants.

If it’s cancelled due to either one of these situations, you’ll usually be offered the choice of a different date or a full refund. We always recommend reading up on the cancellation policy of your experience before booking.

woman scuba diving
Source: DPM Diving / Viator

3-Day Open Water Certification Course

If you’ve always wanted to get your dive certification, there may be no better place on Earth than Koh Tao!

And this 3-day Open Water Course with top-rated DPM Diving offers one of the best opportunities for getting it done on the island during your stay.

In three short days, you’ll learn what it takes to dive safely and confidently under the one-on-one guidance of one of DPM’s experienced and knowledgeable certified instructors.

In the Open Water portion of the course, you’ll get the opportunity to dive some of Koh Tao’s renowned dive sites and walk away from it all with SSI Open Water certification for autonomous diving to 18 meters anywhere in the world!

Highlights
  • Course Length: 3 days
  • Group Size: Private (just your group)
  • Location: Tambon Village, Koh Tao, Thailand
  • Activities: Classroom instruction & check-out dives in open water
  • Tour Company: DPM Diving Koh Tao
  • Level: Beginner
  • Price: From US$339
diver and turtle Koh Tao
Source: Discovery Divers / Viator

Full Day Koh Tao Dive Trip from Koh Samui

If you’ve already got your Open Water certification and want to explore the underwater world around Koh Tao from Koh Samui, this Koh Tao diving experience is for you!

This full-day 2-dive Koh Tao day trip from Samui with Discovery Divers offers 8 hours of fun in the sun and sea.

Your dive master will choose from around a dozen top spots around Koh Tao and put together the best trip for the conditions. Popular sites include Chumphon Pinnacle, Shark Island, Mango Bay, Twin Rocks, Japanese Gardens, and more.

Dive trips are taken on Discovery Divers’ own speedboats and include lunch and use of equipment.

Highlights
  • Trip Length: 8 hours
  • Group Size: Group Tour (17 max)
  • Location: Departs from Koh Samui (various spots)
  • Activities: Two dives, boat transport, and lunch
  • Tour Company: Discovery Divers (PADI 5-star IDC)
  • Level: Open Water certified divers and higher
  • Price: From US$173


Koh Tao diving adventures
Source: DPM Diving / Viator

Try Scuba Diving 6-Hour Experience

Thinking about getting scuba certified but not sure you want to pony up for a 3-day certification course? Then this Try Scuba Diving experience with top-rated DPM Diving might be what you’re looking for instead.

The 6-hour, one-on-one introductory experience includes two immersions to a maximum of 12 meters. Perfect for those on the fence who are curious about the underwater world.

Includes experienced dive guide, breakfast & lunch, use of equipment, and more.

Highlights
  • Experience Length: 6 hours
  • Group Size: Private (just your group)
  • Location: Tambon Village, Koh Tao, Thailand
  • Activities: Instruction plus two immersions
  • Tour Company: DPM Diving Koh Tao
  • Level: Beginner
  • Price: From US$105
scuba diver in water
Source: Asia Blue – Scuba / Viator

Full Day Dive Trip to Sail Rock from Koh Phangan

Staying on neighboring Koh Phangan and interested in diving one of the area’s best dive sites?

Check out this 8-hour scuba diving trip to Sail Rock from Koh Phangan with Asia Blue, one of the top-rated dive centers on Koh Phangan.

Often regarded as the best dive spot in the Gulf of Thailand by enthusiasts and pros, Sail Rock is not to be missed if you plan to dive Koh Tao or Koh Phangan.

Located half way between Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, Sail Rock is a 40 meter deep pinnacle offering an abundance of sea life, including barracuda, batfish, and even whale sharks!

Highlights
  • Trip Length: 8 hours
  • Group Size: Group Tour (20 max)
  • Location: Departs from Koh Phangan (various spots)
  • Activities: 2 dives at Sail Rock, breakfast & lunch
  • Tour Company: Asia Blue Scuba (PADI 5-star IDC)
  • Level: Open Water certified divers and higher
  • Price: From US$87


divers in ocean
Source: Scuba Birds / Viator

3-Day PADI Open Water Certification

Dreaming of getting dive certified in Thailand? This 3-day PADI Open Water certification course with Scuba Birds is an outstanding option for those looking for a PADI course.

After a few hours of classroom training on the first day, it’s time to hit stunning Koh Nang Yuang to apply what you’ve learned in shallow water.

Days two and three are jam-packed open water days with two dives each day to some of Koh Tao’s best dive sites.

Complete the course and receive your PADI Open Water certification, allowing you to dive autonomously to 18 meters across the globe!

Highlights
  • Course Length: 3 days
  • Group Size: Small Group (10 max)
  • Location: Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Thailand
  • Activities: Classroom instruction & check-out dives in open water
  • Tour Company: Scuba Birds (PADI 5-star IDC)
  • Level: Beginner
  • Price: From US$339

PADI vs. SSI

Confused as to what the difference is between SSI and PADI? This article is one of the more clear and concise we’ve found. But in a nutshell, the Open Water course experience is pretty comparable between the two. How do we know? I’m PADI certified (Open Water and Advanced OW) and Lori’s SSI certified.

school of fish diving
Source: Discovery Divers / Viator

2-Dive Day Trip to Chumphon Pinnacle

If you plan on basing yourself out of Koh Samui but still want to discover the best diving around Koh Tao, this full-day dive trip to Chumphon Pinnacle with Discovery Divers is your ticket!

Teeming with marine life, the Chumphon Archipelago near Koh Tao offers some of the best opportunities in the region to spot manta rays, small sharks, colorful reef fish, and even whale sharks on occasion!

Highlights
  • Trip Length: 8 hours
  • Group Size: Small Group (10 max)
  • Location: Departs from Koh Samui (various spots)
  • Activities: 2 dives at Chumphon Pinnacle & lunch
  • Tour Company: Discovery Divers (PADI 5-star IDC)
  • Level: Open Water certified divers and higher
  • Price: From US$176


Scuba Birds Koh Tao Diving
Source: Scuba Birds / Viator

2-Day PADI Advanced Open Water Certification Course

Last, but certainly not least, if you’re already Open Water certified and want to take your Koh Tao diving experience to new heights (and depths!!!), this 2-day PADI Advanced Open Water certification course with Scuba Birds is worth a serious look!

Build confidence, learn new skills, and extend your diving depth limits to 30 meters under the guidance of experienced PADI instructors.

The course centers around 5 specialized adventure dives. The first two are mandatory and include a deep dive and underwater navigation skills dive. For the remaining three, choose from activities such as ship wreck diving, night diving, and more.

Getting your Advanced Open Water certification offers quite possibly the ultimate Koh Tao diving experience on the island!

Highlights

Course Length: 2 days
Group Size: Small Group (4 max)
Location: Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Thailand
Activities: 5 specialized adventure dives
Tour Company: Scuba Birds (PADI 5-star IDC)
Level: Open Water certification
Price: From US$308


Monkey Flower Koh Tao
Source: Monkey Flower Villas / Booking

Where to Stay in Koh Tao

Planning the Koh Tao diving adventure of a lifetime and want to extend your time on Koh Tao? Check out our top picks for top-rated places to stay in Sairee Village and beyond.

Our Top Budget Pick

If you want budget bungalows on the beach just steps away from the action, Mama O Chai Bungalows offers that and more.

Bungalows here are pretty basic, but having a beautiful beach just steps away might well make up for it.

Our Top Mid-range Picks

If a few more amenities like air conditioning and pool are what you’re after, check out beachfront Wind Beach Resort.

Another great mid-range value (without pool) is Palm Leaf Resort featuring tasteful Southeast Asian inspired bungalows.

Our Top Upmarket/ Luxury Pick

If you’re looking for a bit of luxury, Monkey Flower Villas might be your ticket. Just up the hill from the north end of Sairee Beach, Monkey Flower is a tropical island dream getaway.


When is the Best Time to Dive Koh Tao?

The Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand have similar climates, but for one big difference. Many die-hard divers start fleeing the Gulf of Thailand in October and November as the rains approach for the Andaman side as the South Asia monsoon begins to recede.

But that’s not to say that Koh Tao diving can’t be great in these later months. We visited in mid-October and had good visibility and mostly sunny days (with some periods of rain).

The weather in Koh Tao is warm year-round, and sea temperatures average a comfortable  28-29°C (83°F). But conditions for diving might not be optimal in all months.

March through September tends to offer the driest, sunniest weather and best underwater visibility, making these months the best time of year to dive Koh Tao.

HOWEVER…

If you want to avoid the crowds, you’ll most definitely want to avoid July and August.

While it is technically possible to dive Koh Tao year-round, it’s often recommended to avoid November to February when the rains and winds are most pronounced.


hidden cove
Source: Max Böttinger / Unsplash

Koh Tao Diving FAQ

Your most frequently-asked Koh Tao diving questions answered!

Is Koh Tao good for diving?

While many experienced divers might choose to head elsewhere in Thailand to get their scuba fix, Koh Tao has proven itself a superb destination for beginner and intermediate divers to get their feet wet or improve on their skills.

The warm water and climate, good visibility, and wide variety of good dive sites within a small radius make Koh Tao one of the best places in Thailand for diving and snorkeling.

In addition to all that, Koh Tao’s Sairee Village has also distinguished itself with its excellent cafes and bars, hopping nightlife, and reputation as being a crossroads for travelers from around the world.

How much does it cost to dive in Koh Tao?

Koh Tao diving experiences can vary quite a bit in price depending on what you’re after.

But if you’re looking for a 2-dive day trip with gear rental, prices typically range from US$75 to US$175 depending on which sites you plan to visit and which island your tour departs from.

In terms of Open Water certification, 3-day courses typically run between US$300-US$350.

Are there sharks in Koh Tao?

When deciding on Koh Tao diving and snorkeling trips, many visitors ask whether there are sharks around Koh Tao.

The short answer is, YES, there are indeed a handful of species of sharks around the island.

But not to worry. The sharks that ply Koh Tao’s waters are generally not a threat to humans. Sadly, humans have become much more of a threat to Thailand’s sharks in recent decades.

If you’re going to see a shark in the waters off Koh Tao, chances are it’s going to be the small and sleek Black Tip Reef Shark.

In deeper waters and some of the more popular Koh Tao diving spots such as Sail Rock and Chumphon Pinnacle you may still encounter Bull Sharks and Leopard Sharks.

If you’re luckier still, you may even have a close encounter with one of the mighty giants of the sea, the amazing Whale Shark!

Thanks for reading our guide to the best Koh Tao diving trips!

Have you been on a Koh Tao diving adventure recently? Which Koh Tao diving sites were your favorite? Let us know in the comments section.

Koh Tao diving
Koh Tao diving

Cover photo by tawatchai07 at Freepik.com.

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