There are over 40 dive schools on Koh Tao offering the whole suite of PADI and SSI dive courses, from intro discovery scuba diver to instructor level. Most of the dive instructors and dive masters speak a number of different languages, which is perfect for the multi-lingual visitors that come to the island.
The number of people on the course depends largely on the dive operator’s policy; Open Water courses generally attract the highest number of participants. Ideally, if you are looking to do your Open Water course, source a school which offers small groups with four students. Some of the bigger schools take 12 students with two instructors, which still ensures you will receive some one-to-one time with the instructor if you’re travelling with lots of friends.
The price of a PADI Open Water Course is 9,000-10,000 Baht, although many dive schools will offer discounted accommodation as part of the deal.
Those who want to progress to Dive master level and pursue a career in diving can often negotiate discounted board with the school as you will usually need to be on site for weeks on end.
This does appeal to a growing number of scuba-enthusiasts, however, with the prospect of having your hobby as your job and a tropical lifestyle with the freedom to travel all around the world hard to beat.
Recommended Koh Tao Dive Schools
Located on Sairee beach, Phoenix Divers run dive courses to suit every need, from entry-level training through to specialty diving and professional certification. Both SSI and PADI courses are available at all recreational levels, and for divers who are looking to pursue a career in scuba diving, it is also a 5-star SSI Instructor Training Centre.
You can also take a Green Fins snorkel tour around the island with the multi-lingual team for those that may not be diving. The SSI course is around 8,500 Baht with discounted rooms and breakfast, while fun dives start at 1,950 Baht per dive.
New Way Diving
As one of the first diving operators on Koh Tao, New Way has built up a solid and dependable reputation. The small school is always the first out in the morning, leaving the harbour at 06:00 to avoid taking their divers to crowded sites. They come highly recommended both by novices and professionals and have multi-lingual instructors who only teach in small groups. The school also offers basic and superior beachfront accommodation in a tropical garden, cutting down on the overall costs of joining a diving school in Koh Tao.
Located on Mae Haad beach, Impian Divers offers great value by providing dives in groups of no more than four. They operate different dive times to most schools (not too early in the morning) and offer longer dives than many. With 13 years of experience under their belts, the multi-lingual instructors are reliable and professional and their diving equipment is very well maintained throughout the season. Furthermore, free beach front or garden accommodation is offered while doing a PADI course plus free taxi service if your accommodation is not within walking distance.
Big Bubble Dive School
Also one of the oldest dive operators on the Island, the Big Bubble Dive Resort is located on the main street in Chalok Baan Kao. It is a PADI 5 STAR Gold Palm Resort, offering courses from beginner to Divemaster. The instructors are friendly and professional, but the school does not have its own accommodation.
Asia Divers offers the complete Koh Tao diving experience with some of the best trained staff on the island. A full range of PADI courses are offered including up to instructor level while their resort, restaurant and bar are the perfect places to relax after a wonderful day surrounded by shoals of barracuda, batfish, angel and butterfly fish under the waves.
This dive centre is located on the south of the island and is one of the best places in the bay of Chalok Baan Kao for diving courses in Koh Tao. The dive school specializes in providing small-scale trips with personal service in a relaxed atmosphere to high standards. Instructors have an excellent safety record and promise to provide an amazing experience for all customers – whether divers or non-divers.
Big Blue Diving
Big Blue diving is a well-established dive operator with two resorts on the northern end of Sairee beach. As a large SSI Centre, they offer all PADI and BSAC courses from beginner to instructor level, including specialised tech dive courses like wreck diving. Sub divisions include: Big Blue Tech, Big Blue Conservation, Big Blue Pro and Big Blue Free Diving. Courses at Big Blue are taught in all major languages and the resorts feature a great variety of accommodation, along with restaurants, bars and swimming pool.
Davy Jones Locker
Excellent Koh Tao diving school which gets rave reviews and offers everything from Scuba Review, Advanced Courses, EFR and Rescue training to BSAC and Master Scuba Diver. There are also power boat handling lessons, instructor courses and videography tuition.
This Koh Tao dive shop offers very small and personal diving trips with a speedboat straight off the beach. All manner of dive courses are on offer plus adventure activities such as rock climbing, wakeboarding and combination trips as well.
Ban’s Diving Resort
This Koh Tao diving resorts maintains a special family oriented feel that keeps customers coming back year after year. Facilities include dive centre, beach-front restaurant, spa, hair salon, 24-hour minimart, two swimming pools and Fish Bowl Bar. Customers are promised a relaxing stay with travel agency, laundry, internet, fax, kayak rental, snorkelling excursions and so on. Ban’s is also one of only two diving schools in the world to have achieved the milestone of 100,000 student certifications so you will be in good company.