Koh Tao has many dive sites circling the island, ranging from shallow sheltered bays that are perfect for people taking their first breaths underwater to deep outlaying pinnacles for the more experienced divers. Koh Tao has dive sites for scuba divers of all levels, which is why it is known as a scuba diving “mecca” and is one of the most dived areas throughout the world.
Let’s take a look at some of the relevant facts and highlight points of interest about the dive sites around Koh Tao.
Chumphon Pinnacle – deepest dive site around Koh Tao
Koh Tao’s deepest dive site is Chumphon Pinnacle that drops down to 40m+. This is also one of Koh Tao’s most famous sites and extremely popular with fundivers. It’s a dive site best suited to advanced divers and is a 45 minute journey from the island.
The dive site itself is made up of one huge pinnacle with a smaller rock formation just to the south known as Barracuda Rock. As it reaches 40m+ in depth, this is the site for divers taking their deep specialty and technical diving courses.
Twins – most dived site around Koh Tao
Twins is not only the most dived site on Koh Tao but it can also claim to be the most dived site in the world!!! The main reason for this is that the site suits all levels of divers and can combine 3 different sites into 1 dive. The main part of Twins dive site consists of 2 rock formations that are nearly identical hence the names with a smaller deeper rock formation just to the west.
It has an artificial dive site named buoyancy world to the North that is perfect for diver training of PADI open water and advanced diver courses. There is also a deeper dive site around 100m to the west called No Name that provides extra depth.
Laem Thian / Green Rock – most swim through and caves
This is a close call to name the site with the most swim through or caves as both Laem Thian on the west of Koh Tao or Green Rock which is on the North of Koh Nangyuan can lay claim to the title. Laem Thian contains plenty of swim through throughout the giant rocks and boulders that lie underneath the water on the West coast of the island. Here you can also get a chance to see bumphead parrot fish and Harlequin sweetlips.
There are plenty of caves to explore with most being around 15-20m of depth. Green Rock’s swim throughs are based in the rock formation of the site itself as it is made up many giant boulders that have fallen to create small caves for divers to explore.
White Rock – best site on Koh Tao for turtles
For people who wish to see Turtles while Diving Koh Tao then White Rock provides the best chance for you to see them underwater. The reason for this is that Hawksbill turtles actually live and sleep on the site, with the most famous one living under ‘white rock’ itself (a rock which is visible from the surface).
White Rock is also popular with fun divers as it does have a big diversity in the marine life living on the site and is also a very common site for divers taking their final dives on the PADI Open Water course.
Sail Rock – best site on Koh Tao for whalesharks
Sail Rock is the most famous dive site in the whole Gulf of Thailand Sea as it is the number 1 place to see Whalesharks. The site lies a 1 hour 30 minute boat ride heading South from Koh Tao with the rock penetrating 8 meters out of the water, meaning you can see it from a far as you make the journey.
The site acts as a way station for migrating Whalesharks as they make their way around the sea on their never-ending journey for food. Sail Rock not only gives you the best chance to see Whalesharks but you should also encounter schooling great Barracuda, Giant Groupers and many large jack fish. The site is also unique as you can make you descent and ascent inside the rock with in its vertical swim through ‘Chimney’
Japanese Gardens – best site on Koh Tao for corals
Japanese Gardens is the best site for corals on Koh Tao as the site consists of hundreds of hard and soft coral formations that have formed in a fashion similar to an oriental garden. The site sits on the East side of Koh Nangyuan and is a relatively shallow site with the max depth around 15m.
The beautiful corals here make it a great dive site for scuba divers but as it is shallow it also can make for a great snorkeling site for day trippers to the Island of Koh Nangyuan itself.
HTMS Sattakut – shipwreck on Koh Tao
The HTMS Sattakut is the number 1 wreck on Koh Tao, the ship was formally of the U.S Navy and served in the Pacific theatre during World War 2. It actually took part in the famous battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa where its task was to land U.S Marines on the beach. After the war the Thai Navy purchased the ship and converted it into more of a patrol boat but still retaining the original guns made in 1942.
Now sunken off the West coast of Koh Tao it has become home to an abundance of marine life and has become the premier wreck for divers taking their wreck specialty course as it provides easy penetration points and a safe interior to explore.
White Rock – best night dive site around Koh Tao
White rock holds the title for the best place to night dive on Koh Tao due to the nocturnal life that comes to life after the sun has set. As mentioned before it is the also the best place for turtles as they live on the site so it is very common to see one after dark here as they return home for a rest.
Also great barracuda enter the site looking for prey to feed upon, on a night dive they have been known to follow divers torches when looking for their favourite food of Rabbit fish. The dive sites around Koh Tao are suitable for divers of all levels and facilitate some of the safest diving in the world.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)