Why are there so many different dive schools on Koh Tao?
The Background Story
Has planning a dive trip to Koh Tao, got you asking yourself, why are there so many dive schools on Koh Tao?! Read on…
The island has a land mass of 21km², and is home to 70-80 different dive schools! That’s a pretty crazy statistic to consider when you take into account that less than half of that land mass is actually inhabited. Along with all the different options of dive schools there are also the options of different agencies, such as PADI, SSI, and RAID to name a few. Therefore it can become quite a daunting task to try and choose one to dive with. In this blog we’ll discover why this is the case and why, especially for learning to dive, Koh Tao should be at the top of your list to visit!
The Open Water Course Schedule Loves Koh Tao!
We can first look at the basic schedule used by most dive agencies to help people to learn to dive safely:
- Step one is to get used to breathing underwater in water shallow enough to stand up. Today this is usually done in a swimming pool, however, before the first swimming pools were built, dive schools were using one of the many sheltered, sandy bays that circulate the whole island
- Step two is usually limited to 12 metres deep, to help build the new diver´s confidence, dial in their buoyancy skills and re-practice some safety skills learnt in the confined water sessions (pool like conditions mentioned above). There are as many as 17 separate dive sites around the island that offer some sandy patches between 5 and 12 metres deep, with some nice reef to look at too!
- Step three moves on to around 18m deep, completing your open water certification. This is where you can start to see things you will not see while snorkeling, and where SCUBA diving really starts. There are around 12 dive sites that offer this. The dive site ´White Rock´ stands out as one of the most popular for student divers and Instructors alike.
- Step four, for those that get hooked on the feeling, will often pursue the advanced certification that pushes towards 30 metres deep. Again Koh Tao has this well and truly covered with a selection of some of the best dive sites found in Thailand, such Southwest and Chumphon Pinnacles just a short 30-40 minute boat journey away from the island. These sites will often be visited by the largest fish in the sea, the Whaleshark, which is usually at the top of any divers list while diving in the Gulf of Thailand.
Koh Tao Is Kind To New Divers
As outlined above, you can now understand how the natural underwater topography surrounding the island ideally suits the steps involved in the learning process all the way up to advanced. Beyond this, Koh Tao´s location in the Gulf of Thailand means tidal effects on currents are very minimal, meaning we can dive at any time of day and expect currents to be mild to moderate at worst. These factors set the foundations for the huge diving mecca that the island has become today.
More Than Just Diving…
The more obvious factors for Koh Tao´s popularity are the crystal-clear waters, diverse marine life, and beautiful underwater landscapes. The boost that diving has given to the local economy has since brought a thriving tourism trade with many accommodation options to suit any budget, a bustling nightlife and a huge range of restaurants serving all kinds of tastes. The fast and reliable ferry services also make it very easy for tourists to arrive here from the neighbouring islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan (home to the original full moon party).
Efficiencies of Scale
The growth of the diving industry on Koh Tao has brought further benefits to the students that learn here. Through the increasing scale of the diving operations, efficiency has improved so running costs are lower, paired with the pricing competition between schools, you´ll find that getting your diving Certification of Koh Tao will be one of the cheapest in the world. However, just because it’s cheap, doesn´t mean it’s of a lower standard. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, the increased competition drives up standards as well as drawing in passionate instructors who are looking to teach as a career, all year round. Now, beyond the basics, different dive schools may specialize in various aspects of diving, such as technical diving, underwater photography, or marine conservation. This variety caters to the diverse interests of people seeking diving experiences.
Ultimately, the presence of numerous dive schools on Koh Tao offers divers a wide range of options and opportunities to explore the underwater world, leading to a thriving diving community on the island. So all that is left for you to do is book your ticket and come and get involved!
© Crystal Dive Koh Tao