Touring Thailand

 

 

Koh Tao Diving

The Diving Scene on Koh Tao

There are as many as 50 dive shops and schools based on Koh Tao and all compete for business. If you travel on one of the dive boats from either Chumpon or Koh Phangnan you will likely be approached by a tout employed by one of the Big 4 dive schools. As soon as you step off the ferry dozens of touts working for the 'Big 4' dive schools will hassle you to stay at their resort and dive. While this is fine if you are out for diving, if you are just out to go out riding this can be a pain in the ass.
If you're looking at picking a dive school then bear in mind that the communal pier (located at Mae Haad) uses the primary port mooring and it can get very crowded. You may have to cross several boats that are pontoon moored together to get to your respective dive boat. A private pier or mooring (accessed via a longtail) is a bonus.

Be aware that diving equipment is mega-expensive in Thailand (due to import taxes) and on Koh Tao it is as expensive as Phuket. It is wiser to purchase equipment and bring it with you if you intend on doing a lot of diving. For the occasional fun diver or student an advantage is that you don't have to pay for any equipment rental (as its included in the price). If you intend on sticking around to do several courses or your Divemaster course then having your own equipment is best.

You may hear the term IDC 5* Resort mentioned too. That means is that they can qualify Divemasters / Assistant Instructors to become Instructors. Its not really relevant if you're just after some entry level courses and fun diving, but the schools will make a big deal out of it.

There are advantages and disadvantages to almost every dive school on Koh Tao these can be major or slight depending on your preference.

The Main Diving Schools on Koh Tao

Asia Divers / Buddha View

A diving conglomerate that controls part of Mae Haad and nearly all of Chalok Baan Kao. While not usually a small group-based dive school they operate 3 dive boats and are quite easy going and quirky with a laid-back attitude to diving.
Based in Mae Haad Town and Chalok Baan Kao.
IDC 5* Resort

Bans Diving Resort

Arguably the oldest, largest and most powerful diving school on the island. A huge chunk of Sairee is controlled by them. Operates multiple vessels, has a very opulent resort with pool that stretches from the beach to the main island road. They operate huge groups of divers on courses/fun dives at a time. Do not expect to be in a small group going diving with this school. Their dive boats are large but are often filled to capacity and are often remarked as being 'cattle boats' by rival schools.
Based in Sairee but with offices in multiple locations. Private Mooring. IDC 5* Resort

Big Blue Divers

They are considered the fun-loving pissheads of the diving world on Koh Tao. They operate from two dive boats. They tend to be all about diving by day and partying hard on the beachfront bar they run at night.
Based in Sairee Beach. IDC 5* Resort

Planet Scuba

Considered as one of the more serious minded diving schools but they are no less important. They operate 2 dive boats. Based in Mae Haad Town. Communal Pier. IDC 5* Resort

The Other Main Dive Schools

Big Bubble Diving

Small to Medium sized groups.
Based in Chalok Baan Kao.
Communal Pier.

Black Tip Diving

Small groups, one of the only dive schools to use steel dive tanks as opposed to aluminium ones.
Based on the Eastern side of the Island in Tanote Bay. Private Pier.
IDC 5* Resort

Coral Grand Divers

Almost one of the Big 4 dive schools, but not quite. Spacious and opulent resort with 2 Dive boats.
Located on the outskirts of Sairee village. Private Pier. IDC 5* Resort

Crystal Divers

Medium sized groups.
Based in Mae Haad Town. Communal Pier.

LV Diving

Above average resort with 1 dive boat. Based in Sairee. Communal Pier.

Master Divers

One of the few dive schools to teach technical diving.
Based in Mae Haad Town. Private Pier.

New Way Divers

Ordinary resort with a single dive boat. Small to medium sized groups.
Based in Sairee. Communal Pier.

Scuba Junction

Above average resort with 2 dive boats. Based in Sairee. Communal Pier.

In the old days they used to pressure guests staying at their resorts to sign up for dive courses and get angry if they didn't eat at their restaurant. These days these incidents are rare, however non-divers tend to be charged a higher accommodation rate than divers paying for fun dives who in turn will be paying a higher rate than dive students.

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Koh Tao Map Koh Nang Yuan Mae Haad

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