Making a choice between scuba diving and snorkelling on Koh Tao can be a difficult decision but it is hard to compare these 2 quite different activities. The easiest way to differentiate these 2 exciting sports is to ask yourself the following….
- Do you want 2D or 3D?
- Do you want to view marine life from above or from within, being surrounded by it?
To make a decision on which one you enjoy the most you really have to experience both.
Both sports require some of the same equipment with Mask, Snorkel and fins being worn to aid swimming. It is recommended that you are able to swim and be comfortable in water that is too deep to stand. If a little nervous about taking a scuba course then snorkelling is a great way to build up your confidence and introduce you to the underwater world.
Note: If you are not a great swimmer then ensure you wear a life jacket to aid your buoyancy and snorkel safety.
No formal training is required to snorkel which is one of the appeals; you simply put on your mask and fins place your snorkel mouthpiece in and off you go with your face in the water. The only skills you need is to remember to kick your legs straight from your hips and don’t tip your head too far down as your snorkel will submerged under the water. Other than that it is up to you to have fun, explore and see what you can from above.
Snorkelling on Koh Tao
Koh Tao has a few great beaches and bays to which you can head to for a spot of snorkelling, all just a short taxi, bike ride or water taxi away. The best spots for your snorkel adventure are usually on the South and East of the island away from the main tourist spots.
Shark Bay is probably the most famous as it gives you the chance to share the water with Black Tip Reef sharks and a large green Turtle. But spots like Aow Leuk also give you the chance to enjoy colourful coral formations that are close to the surface, as well as the small reef critters swimming around.
Scuba Diving Basics
Learning to scuba dive does have a lot more to it than snorkelling. You have to earn a full certificate to be able to dive around the world. But the good news is that the training only takes a few days before you can call yourself an open water diver. During the course you will participate in a few classroom sessions, learning about the effects of pressure, the underwater environment, decompression as well as scuba equipment. You will also complete a swimming pool session where you are introduced and practice 20 something skills.
Then comes the fun part as you head out to the ocean to take 4 open water training dives which will take you down to a maximum depth of 18 metres. This will give you your ticket to explore the 71% of the world that is covered in water. If still unsure about taking a full certificate you can first give it a try with an ‘Intro dive’ or ‘Discover Scuba Diving‘ as PADI call it. This is a short program lasting less than a day and designed to get people who are unsure, or neither has the time or money, the opportunity to give scuba diving a go.
Feel The Difference – What Makes Scuba Better?
Scuba diving is awesome because it is total immersion in the ocean, actually being surrounded by the sea life. You have a great feeling of actually being part of the marine life, surrounding you and not just watching from what seems like afar.
It is 360 degrees of pure freedom, allowing you to go deeper – within your certification limits – and explore much further than snorkelers can. Snorkelling may seem easier as the is less equipment to worry about but you will be surprised how easy it is to breath with a regulator, not having to worry about water entering nor battling with waves.
Scuba Diving Koh Tao
Koh Tao is world famous for its scuba diving with more people coming here to dive and get certified than anywhere else on planet earth. The island is home to over 20 Dive quality dive sites which are all local with the premier sites of Chumphon Pinnacle, Southwest Pinnacle and Sail Rock providing an opportunity to share the ocean with the majestic Whaleshark.
The sites are located around the island, providing caves and swim thrus for the more adventurous and appealing but shallow bays for all levels that contain impressive coral reefs. ‘Turtle Island’ also gives you the opportunity to dive around shipwrecks with a few sunken boats including an old navy ship down below.
A Different Challenge – Freediving
For those who want a different adventure, combining some of the qualities of scuba and snorkelling then why not become a freediver? Apnea allows you to experience the underwater world in a relaxing and graceful manner where you can spend minutes gliding around in silence.
After taking a freediving course you will be able to use advanced breathing techniques enabling you to hold your breath for 2 minutes and dive down to 16 meters. So if you want to be like a fish then why not look at completing a freediving and enjoy the beauty the ocean has to offer in total silence.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)