Koh Tao is the smaller of the three sister islands, the other two being Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, but it is probably the most popular scuba location in all of Thailand. Sure, there are better sites in the country, but there is good reason why Koh Tao has the record for the most people getting certified to dive with PADI in the world. 


Located just down the Thai peninsula, just off shore from Chumphon in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao boast dive sites that are suitable for every level. 

Here you will find dive schools that teach everything from basic PADI Open Water, to tec diving, underwater photography and everything in between.  

If you like to spend your surface intervals mingling with loads of backpackers, divers and on beaches during countless full moon parties, and like a good nightlife, this might be the perfect place for you! 

If you want great diving, but in a more relaxed setting, head down the coast to Koh Lanta. Otherwise, you’ll never be bored with either the diving or the top-side activities in Koh Tao. 


whale shark in koh tao

Shark Island

Here you can dive a wall that features coral gardens abundant in colourful soft corals and countless critters. It is names because it is shaped like a shark fin, but if you look out into the blue you might just see the real sharks swimming around. 


Southwest is a pinnacle with lots of formations, some encrusted in corals that house all kinds of critters. The formations range in depth from 4m to 30m, and maybe the most spectacular aspect is the many colors of anemones laying everywhere. 

The Twins

This is an easy dive, and one you are probably going to be trying yourself if you are taking your Open Water course. Be sure to look for the anemone with the rare saddleback clownfish in it. 

White Rock

This is another pinnacle with tons of nooks and crannies that hide all sorts of species. Look closely and you might just discover sea snakes, porcupinefish, turtles,  and a range of butterfly fish and angelfish species.

Green Rock

Green Rock is all about the formations, with overhangs and swim throughs, so is a good place to practice your buoyancy. Just watch out for the famous angry titan trigger fish! 

Chumphon Pinnacle

This is one of the best dive sites for Koh Tao, and can also be reached by dive centers from Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Here you will find batfish, giant grouper, trevally and giant schools of barracuda and snapper to name a few. 

HTMS Sattakut Wreck

This 158 foot purpose-sunk wreck, sitting around 30m max, is a landing craft that is now an artificial reef home to schools of fusiliers, yellowtail barracuda, groupers, trevally, moray eels and more. Keep an eye out for those cute blennies peaking out from little holes!

Sail Rock

This dive site is far from Koh Tao, with a 2 hour boat ride, so you might have to ask around for shops that are going, as they don’t go daily. That said, this pinnacle is probably the premier dive site of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Samui, and worth the trip. 


Since Thailand is in the tropics, it is warm all year round. The warmer and wetter monsoon season is during May to September, and is more dry around November to mid-March.

Different regions have different climates, but the Gulf of Thailand is at its peak from May through September.


By air: 

The closest airport to Koh Tao is on Koh Samui, and from there there are plenty of ferries that will take you over. Flights to Samui usually only originate from Bangkok’s smaller airport Don Mueang.

By land:

If you want to see more of Thailand, then you can take the night trains or buses from Bangkok and get off in Chumphon. In Chumphon you can take one of the many fast or slow ferries that make the crossing. 


koh lanta diving
People normally head to Koh Tao thinking they will only spend a day or two, and end up having too much fun and staying much longer.

When you are there you will hear many stories of someone going to get get certified with PADI, only to fall in love with it and take more and more courses, becoming an instructor and getting a job right there on the island. It’s all too common here, so beware. 

We have already talked about the diving around Koh Tao, and the many oportunities for countless courses and training, but there are also plenty of top-side attractions to keep you busy. 

Besides the white sand beaches all around the island, you can also rock climb, check out view points, take flying trapeze lessons, play mini golf, take a cooking course or relax in one of the many massage spas.

Read more about Things to do in Koh Tao




What use to be yet another fishing village back in the day, the smallish island of Koh Tao is now a backpacker mecca, as well as a go-to place for scuba diving training. 

Although it is only 2 miles wide and 5 long, it is relatively remote, being 30 miles from the mainland, and 2 miles from it’s nearest neighbor. 

Even though Koh Tao is getting crowded with countless bars, dive and luxury resorts and other tourist attractions, there is still quite a bit of natural beauty that you can still find on the island. 

It’s a little less developed here, compared to it’s sister islands, but that doesn’t stop the hoards of backpackers who have seen the movie “The Beach” and want the experience themselves. With unlimited full-moon parties, and half moon, and no-moon, they have nightlife covered. 

Time zone:

Calling code:

Closest airport:

220-240 V


“Hello” in Thai:
Sawasdee (sah-wah-dee)