The popular diving destination in the lower Gulf of Thailand, known as Turtle Island by the locals, is bursting at the seams with fringing coral reefs and sunken shipwrecks.
This section contains useful information about the dive sites in Koh Tao, including the depth limits and what kind of aquatic animals scuba divers and snorkelers can see.
There are 44 sun-drenched islands in the Chumphon Archipelago. But, the major hot spots for diving and snorkeling are:
Koh Tao is a compact kidney-shaped island that has about twenty one (21) square kilometres of total land mass.
Nonetheless, the pristine white sand beaches and azure blue water has transformed Koh Tao Island into one of the best places to scuba dive in Thailand.
Here's the thing:
Most scuba divers want to explore destinations that are sunny and have calm conditions underwater. Well, Koh Tao has over three hundred days of year-round sunshine and the temperature of the water is a constant 29° Celsius (84° Fahrenheit).
As a consequence of that, it's fair to say diving in Koh Tao is an annual activity. But, divers need to be mindful that the southwest monsoons usually arrive towards the end of October and may continue until the end of January.
At certain times of the year, the south western gulf can have thirty (30) metres of underwater visibility. Hence, the best months for divers to enjoy clear water dives are July, August, and September.
Pro Tip: Check out our sea life section for interesting facts about whale sharks that tend to make an appearance around the islands near Koh Tao during the months of April and May.
The island of Ko Tao is smaller than Koh Phangan (about 45 kilometres to the south) and Koh Samui. Even so, the underwater scenery is better for divers who enjoy swimming around coral-encrusted rock pinnacles and diving on shallow artificial wreck structures.
Koh Tao dive sites are good places to see big fishes (e.g. pelagics). Plus, divers should expect to catch sightings of macro marine life as well, including:
The island has become a key breeding ground for large marine reptiles, such as hawksbill and green turtles. There are regular events to reintroduce juvenile turtles back into the vibrant ecosystems and help stimulate the growth of colourful coral reefs.
Koh Tao has no shortage of shallow picturesque bays with cystal clear water that are ideal spots for scuba beginners and snorkel swimmers.
This guide contains useful tips and information about Aow Leuk and Hin Ngam dive sites on the southeast coast, with extra details about the local marine life.
Imagine having the opportunity to dive around huge, submerged rock pinnacles rising up from the ocean floor and all within a short boat ride from a major tourist destination.
This guide contains information for scuba divers heading out to the best Chumphon Pinnacle diving spots less than 11 kilometres north of Koh Tao ("Turtle Island").
The rocky coastline on the eastern side of Koh Tao is somewhat remote and less travelled. So, you will need a boat to reach the best dive sites.
But, the popular diving spots at Ao Laem Thian are excellent locations for beginners to explore the shallow bay and for experienced divers to go deeper at Laem Thian Caves.
Pro Tip: This short video clip [1:01 seconds] presented by "PADI®" contains footage about the best places in Koh Tao for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Daily ferries depart from Chumphon, Surat Thani, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan to the central hub of Mae Haad Pier on Koh Tao Island.
In addition, the Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran takes less than an hour to travel from Koh Samui to Koh Tao. There is also a six-hour sleeper crossing ferry available on the mainland at Chumphon Pier.