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Diving in Koh Tao

Everything you have to know

Everything you have to know about diving in Koh Tao

Koh Tao is a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand. Only 7km long and about 3km wide, this small spot on the map offers its visitors numerous idyllic bays, as well as party beaches and palm-covered mountains. There are not many other things to do than diving in Koh Tao.

For most divers Koh Tao means: hardly any current under water and numerous beautiful coral reefs that are not too deep. The perfect place to get your first diving license. So it happens that Koh Tao is 90% dive schools. The selection of diving bases is huge and the prices are – thanks to the big competition – extremely low for diving in Koh Tao.

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⇒ When is the best time for a diving holiday in Koh Tao?     

As the island is located on the east coast of Thailand, you can go diving in Koh Tao all year round. Depending on personal preferences and travel planning options, there are better and worse times to visit. Basically you are not as dependent on the rainy and dry season as on the west coast of Thailand.

High Season on Koh Tao

High season is mainly between July and September, at Christmas and January to February. The advantage during the summer holidays, i.e. from July to September, is that the weather is sunny and dry and the diving conditions are almost ideal. At Christmas and in January and February the weather can be a little more unsettled.

Low Season on Koh Tao

Between March and May it gets hot, the island empties a little and life generally slows down a little. If you always wanted to see a whale shark, the biggest fish in the world, you have the best chances at this time.

Those who can choose should try to come go diving in Koh Tao in June. The island is not overcrowded, the sea is shallow and the diving conditions are good. September and early October are also very good times: Top conditions under water and good chances to dive with whale sharks.

Rainy Season on Koh Tao

Towards the end of October, the rainy season slowly begins. The wind changes, some shops close for a few weeks, some dive centers take a break. But there are also years when the weather god cancels the rainy season or limits it to a few days. Those who come to Thailand at this time should inform themselves about the weather situation at short notice and then decide on a visit to Koh Tao. With very high waves it can even be that the ferries do not drive one or two days.

⇒ Which are the best Dive Sites for diving in Koh Tao?     

Diving at Chumpon Pinnacle

The Chumphon Pinnacle is certainly the best place to go diving in Koh Tao and should be part of your dive planning in the Gulf of Thailand. Chumphon Pinnacle is a huge granite rock that rises from 35 meters to 14 meters. The rock is surrounded by a dozen small rocks.

The rock is completely overgrown with anemones that move gently back and forth in the current. These are home to an enormous number of different species of anemone fish. The best place on the east coast to see fish such as perch, batfish and barracudas.

Large schools of mackerel are regularly found here, which sometimes make it difficult to spot the dive site. Whale sharks are common here from February to April. Furthermore you can always meet lionfish, fusiliers, doctorfish and schools of bannerfish.

The depth of the dive site and the strong currents are the reason why the Pinnacle is not for beginners. You should already have some experience with deep dives or at least the Advanced Open Water Diver certification.

Diving at Southwest Pinnacle

The Southwest Pinnacle is about 13 km from Koh Tao. The dive site is good to dive when the sea is calm as it is completely open sea and has no shelter from the waves of the ocean. But you should take the opportunity when it comes, as the Southwest Pinnacle is one of the best dive sites in Koh Tao.

The highlight of this Koh Tao dive is a group of limestone rocks and large boulders covered with a carpet of pink and golden anemones, harboring pink anemone fish. Around the rock formations are black corals and fans. Marble groupers and blue spotted stingrays are often found here on the sandy subsoil.

Whale sharks can sometimes be seen here from February to October. Besides the big stars, Southwest is also popular with pelagic fish and their young, such as yellowtail barracudas, schools of reef fish such as yellow snappers and a few squids.

Diving at Sail Rock

Sail Rock is a large granite rock that lies at about 30 meters depth. Thanks to currents, nutrients reach this dive spot and this leads to a multitude of fish. Swarms of barracuda, mackerel and batfish can be seen every time. With a little luck you can also see whale sharks. The whale shark is the largest fish of the present and with its bluish color and bright stripes and spots on the back very easy to spot. The whale shark filters plankton and small fish out of the water with its large mouth that extends across the entire width of the flattened and blunt snout. This is the only way it can cover its enormous food requirements.

You should not miss the chimney at Sail Rock. This is located on the northwest side and has a diameter of about 3 meters. You can climb from 18 meters to 6 meters through the chimney. It is a great photo subject and very popular with experienced divers.

Diving at White Rock

This beautiful dive site White Rock is located in the immediate vicinity of Koh Tao and can be reached within a few minutes by boat. The underwater view offers an incredible variety of fish of all kinds. The colorfulness and visibility of up to 35 meters is almost amazing. The diving area is about 8 meters and is therefore a rather longer diving pleasure.

Often night dives are offered here where octopuses, hermit crabs and giant barracudas are spotted.

⇒ Diving in Koh Tao at a glance     

Good for: Healthy reef variety, beginner, price – performance, and snorkeling
Depths: 5 – 35m
Visibility: 10 – 30m
Currents: Usually no, but occasionally on dive sites further out (Chumpon and South West)
Surface conditions: Normally quiet
Water temperatures: 27 – 30°C
Level of difficulty: Easy – Moderate
No. of dive sites: about 15

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