10 Best Dive sites around Koh Tao

When is the best time to dive around Koh Tao in Thailand

Koh Tao offers some great scuba diving sites

Koh Tao is one of Asia’s diving hotspots with visitors coming from all over the world to experience high quality dive experiences and complementary training. The most important things you want to know when visiting a dive destination is where are the best places to go, what will I see and how experienced a diver do I need to be?

People come to Koh Tao for many reasons, but diving heads a long list of marine and coral reef based activities. If you only have a limited time, we’d hate you to miss the best diving that Koh Tao has to offer, so we have compiled a list of the top 10 best dive locations around Koh Tao. 

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1. Chumphon Pinnacle

Dive site rating:   crystaldive.com 5 star rating

Depth: 0 – 32m

Without a doubt the best dive site on Koh Tao is Chumphon Pinnacle. Located around 12kms offshore from the North West coast of the island, a short 30-40 min trip will take you to the site featuring spectacular underwater limestone and granite formations.

Good visibility highlights great marine life such as batfish, angelfish, large schools of chevron barracuda, jacks and snappers. With a minimum depth of around 14m and the bottom close to 30m and beyond, the site suits more experienced, Advanced Open Water Divers.

One of the highlights of Chumphon Pinnacle is the frequent excitement provided by visits from the largest fish in the sea, the whaleshark. You still need to be lucky to encounter one, however somewhat ironically, sightings of whalesharks on Koh Tao have become more common in recent years.

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2. Sail Rock

Dive site rating:   crystaldive.com 5 star rating

Depth: 0 – 40m

While Sail Rock remains one of the most distant sites from Koh Tao, it is clearly a highlight and well worth the trip should you get the chance. The 1.5 hour journey brings you to a tiny limestone outcrop half way between Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.

The small island is home to nesting seabirds and the waters abound with spectacular marine life. Thousands of shimmering damsels surround the vertical walls providing a stunning backdrop to large schools of barracuda, trevally and fusiliers. Whalesharks love to visit Sail Rock as well so keep your fingers crossed.

The site ranges from 0 – 45m and is often subject to mild currents making it suitable for more experienced Advanced Open Water divers. More confident open water divers will enjoy the location despite their depth limit of only 18m.

That said it is a great location to take the next step and complete your PADI deep adventure dive as part of PADI advanced open water training allowing you to go to 30m.

One of the best parts about Sail Rock is the vertical swim-through, a vertical tunnel hollowed out of the island allowing you to enter at 6m and drop down to 18m before exiting. Make sure to get your dive leader to show you where it is as you don’t want to miss it.

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3. White Rock

Dive site rating:   crystaldive.com 5 star rating

Depth: 0 – 22m

White Rock is easily the best dive site close to the island of Koh Tao. Located just offshore from Sairee Beach, White Rock dive site provides a variety of habitats for different marine life as it ranges from 1m to 20m deep. Colourful butterflyfish, angelfish, and schools of roaming herbivores highlight the site.

White Rock is also the most popular site for the endangered green and hawksbill turtles. Inquisitive triggerfish and filefish are common sites on some of the isolated coral bommies while a search under some of the rocks and caverns might reveal some blue spotted ribbontail rays.

White Rock’s depth profile accommodates all levels of divers from open water to experienced divers and is a popular site for the final dives of PADI Open Water training.

 

crystaldive.com twins dive site koh tao

4. Twins and Buoyancy World

Dive site rating:   crystaldive.com 4 star rating blog

Depth: 5 – 18m

Backed by the extremely picturesque Koh Nangyuan, Twins inhabits one of the bays of this idyllic island.

Twins offers something for everyone with a shallow hard coral covered fringing reef extending from the beach to isolated limestone and granite boulders teaming with life.

Twins dive site is complimented by the community designed and built artificial reef that is Buoyancy World. Home to a shipwreck, a giant octopus and an underwater forest, Buoyancy World provides a great opportunity to see butterfly fish and bannerfish, rabbitfish and groupers up close and personal as they shelter amongst the structures.

Coral growth over the last few years makes this site spectacular attracting more and more marine creatures to the artificial structures. From 5 – 20m deep with lots of marine life, Twins and Buoyancy World are great for all dive levels and is probably worth more than one visit.

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5. HTMS Sattakut

Dive site rating:   crystaldive.com 5 star rating

Depth: 18 – 30m

Wreck diving is one of the most exciting and exhilarating dive experiences and to accommodate its popularity a decommissioned Thail military vessel, the HTMS Sattakut, was sunk just offshore from Sairee Beach.

Scuttled in 2011, the vessel 49 meters long and 7 meters wide was sunk in 2011 and is located next to the small but interesting dive site of Hin Pee Wee. The hull of the vessel extends as deep as 30m while the top of the captains cabin sits around 18m.

Home to barracudas, jacks, snappers, wrasse and moray eels, the site is already brimming with life. These depths make the Sattakut a perfect location for experienced divers or for training dives as part of the PADI Wreck Adventure dive or the PADI Wreck specialty.

crystaldive.com-koh-tao-dive-sites-shark-island

6. Shark Island

Dive site rating:   crystaldive.com 4 star rating blog

Depth: 0 – 22m

Shark Island is located just off the southeast coast of Koh Tao and is a favourite with many of the locals. The island gets its name from the shark fin like appearance of the island as it emerges from the ocean.

Mild to strong current support a diversity of marine life living amongst the cascading granite boulders that extend from the surface down to around 20m. Hard and soft corals provide habitat for large schools of butterfly fish, yellowtail barracuda, turtles and sea snakes, and like many of Koh Tao’s more remote, deeper sites, whalesharks can be regular visitors.

The site is suitable for various levels of training and different PADI diving courses from Open Water Divers with some experience to more experienced Advanced Open Water divers.

crystaldive.com whalesharks koh tao

7. Southwest Pinnacle

Dive site rating:   crystaldive.com 5 star rating

Depth: 0 – 28m

Southwest Pinnacle appears like a giant granite underwater toast rack as each rock spire is slightly deeper than the one next to it. The shallowest pinnacle is only 6-7m deep making it perfect for safety stops while the deeper depths (around 25m) support a variety of flora and fauna.

The deeper site supports large groupers, bannerfish, pipefish, occasional visits from whalesharks and even more occasionally, brydes whales! Depth and sometimes strong currents make Southwest Pinnacle more suitable for Advanced Open Water divers and above.

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8. Junkyard

Dive site rating:  crystaldive.com 4 star rating blog

Depth: 5 – 12m

Junkyard Reef is one of the few custom designed dive training locations on Koh Tao. Close to the harbour and sheltered for most of the year, Junkyard was designed, developed and deployed predominantly by Crystal Dive and Eco Koh Tao, Crystal’s marine conservation partner.

Junkyard is a local favourite for training dives from open water to PADI rescue diver with a maximum depth of 12m and average to good visibility most of the time. The dive site hosts large schools of batfish, rabbitfish, fusiliers, some isolated lionfish, the occasional ray and some larger coral trout.

Despite its popularity for training and marine conservation efforts, photographers and videographers also love Junkyard for the opportunity to photograph some unusual species such as sea hares, nudibranchs, and giant clams. This site is not to be missed no matter your experience level.

crystaldive.com-green-rock-dive-site-koh-tao

9. Green Rock

Dive site rating:   crystaldive.com 4 star rating blog

Depth: 0 – 22m

Green Rock dive site is a fascinating site and home to a myriad latticework of underwater caverns and swim throughs. The unusual underwater formations are home to numerous inquisitive triggerfish, adventurous moray eels, clownfish and some spectacular soft corals. The dive site is located off the northwest tip of Koh Nangyuan.

Its exposed location makes it sometimes challenging to access, and strong currents make it more suitable for more advanced divers.

crystaldive.com laem thien dive site koh tao

10. Leam Thien

Dive site rating:   crystaldive.com 4 star rating blog

Depth: 0 – 35m

Due to its relative remoteness and prevailing westerly winds, the east coast of Koh Tao is featured far less than it ought to in a list of great dive sites around Koh Tao. Leam Thien dive site is a hidden gem ranging from the beach all the way down to 30m and beyond with something to offer all levels of experience.

Humphead parrotfish headline some exciting marine life that can be found among the underwater coastal topography. Butterflyfish school in numbers rarely seen on Koh Tao and groupers, barracuda and drummers can all be found in large numbers.

Turtles are common as are stingrays and triggerfish. Amongst the rocks and boulders you can find numerous swim throughs providing an eerie experience for the brave, suitably experienced divers.

The sheer number of high quality dive sites on Koh Tao make it an ideal destination to learn to scuba dive, or continue your scuba diving training with a scuba diving internship or a pro level scuba diving course.

One of the great things about Koh Tao is that you can dive all year around at a PADI Dive Centre that offers the highest safety standards and quality diver training with a range of opportunities to continue your training.

With annual sea temperatures around Koh Tao averaging around 28oC, the water is warm and the sea conditions accommodating. And if you are lucky you may have an encounter with the largest fish in the sea, the whaleshark. What could be better than that?

Author

Nathan Cook M.Sc

PADI MI #479720

Crystal Dive Koh Tao

7/1 Moo 2
Tambon Ko Tao
Koh Tao
Surat Thani
84360
Thailand

Phone+66(0)77456106
E-mail: [email protected]

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