Koh Tao is now a premier dive centre for beginner and professional divers alike, as it offers shallow clear water bays for training and world class deep dive sites just a boat ride away.
Whether you are looking to try a dive, go fun diving, update your dive skills or make a career change as an instructor, all can be achieved on Koh Tao.
In fact, a lot of people take their Open Water courses here, get addicted, work up to instructor level, and then end up working for the dive company the first learned with.
Some beginners are taught the 20 basic skills in a pool or a before being taken out into the ocean, but most schools take divers straight to a secluded and shallow bay to learn the ropes. Course for beginners start with the PADI Bubble Maker and Seal Team (for eight-year-olds and upwards), which are both only pool-based courses. This then leads on to Discover Scuba Diving and Open Water courses, which provide a mixture and pool and ocean practice. Similar SSI and BSAC courses are also offered by some dive schools.
The most popular qualification in Koh Tao is the PADI Open Water course, which usually costs 9,000 Baht including three nights accommodation, making the island one of the cheapest places to earn your diving stripes. Some courses cost from 8,500 Baht, but cheaper prices does not necessarily mean better value so visitors should check out the school thoroughly before making their choice.
The course takes between three and four days to complete and offers a mixture and classroom and poolside practice, theory training and ocean dives. A single Discovery Dive can be done (average price 2,000 Baht) and if someone decides to do the course this can be credited towards it. Once certified, you are free to take dives anywhere in the world or progress to further qualifications.
More experienced divers can take a range of other courses on Koh Tao, such as the PADI Adventure Diver, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, Master Scuba Diver or Emergency First Response courses. The Divemaster Internship also offers a performance-based programme in three modules for those who are looking to pursue a career in diving. These courses are generally much more expensive than the beginner modules, with the latter costing 25,000-35,000 Baht depending on the shop.
Those looking to ‘go pro’ can take everything from an Assistant Instructor course to a Master Scuba Diver Trainer certificate, with ‘zero to hero’ courses offered by most schools, teaching the very basics right up to the advanced level in one go. These courses will often take several months to complete and many require previous certifications.
Finally, there is a good amount of dive operators in Koh Tao that offer specialist courses, such asDigital Photography, National Geographic Advanced, Underwater Navigator and Deep Diver. These courses are only for advance divers who want to progress their career or gain new underwater insight.
You can even begin your dive course online with PADI before arriving on Koh Tao and start the practical elements. It has a tutorial for US$120, designed to show potential divers what it means to be a scuba diver and to give some background. PADI also offers online theory courses for all levels to allow you to do the theory at home and concentrate on the underwater skills on the island. Visit their website: www.padi.com for all details on courses.