After deciding to get your Open Water Diving Certification, the next thing is to decide where to do it. Depending on where you decide to learn to dive, the prices will differ. There are some really affordable destinations to get your certification.
Due to the big competion among dive centers (more than 75 of them!!), Koh Tao has earned itself a reputation as South East Asia’s best destination for learning to dive on a budget. Travelers come from all over the world to take their first breaths underwater among the coral reefs surrounding Koh Tao. The reasons for its popularity are clear. We’ve summed up 9 reasons to get your Open Water Diving Certification on Koh Tao. Hopefully, this will help you make a decision on where to learn how to dive!
1. Great marine life
Koh Tao has an amazing marine life with lots of different fishes and coral reefs. Therefore, there’s a lot to see and discover. There’s always something to rest your eyes on in the tropical waters surrounding Koh Tao. Small fishes, big fishes, many fishes, colorful corals, more corals that looked nothing like the last you saw; they all live in the waters of Koh Tao. If you’re lucky you might even see a turtle or a whale shark.
2. LOTS of dive sites
Sail Rock, Chumphon Pinnacle, White Rock, Japanese Garden and Twins are just a handful of the many dive sites surrounding Koh Tao. Thanks to the mild current and the great aquatic life, this small island is surrounded by lots of great dive sites.
3. Warm Waters
Koh Tao has perfect waters for diving. During February to April water temperatures reach up to 32°C. Even during the monsoon period the temperatures rarely go below 26-27°C. We believe it’s a good thing to learn how to dive in warm waters. This way, you can focus on the wonderful experience, rather than on the fact that you’re freezing your butt off.
4. Amazing visibility
In addition to the good water temperatures, the visibility in the waters surrounding Koh Tao is usually great! On good days the visibility can reach up to around 30m (this is a lot compared to many other places). Usually it doesn’t go below 20m. There are exceptions though, for us during our last dive the visibility was below 10m due to lots of plankton.
Koh tao is one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, place in the world to get a diving certificate. The reason for this is the really high competition among the 75+ dive schools fighting to win the interest of new divers. Prices for a full Open Water Course is between 8,000-10,000 baht (250-300$) with reputable and popular schools. We took our Open Water Diving Certification at Scuba Shack Koh Tao and paid only 8500 baht (265$) per person.
6. Lots of dive schools to choose among
Even though Koh Tao is a small island, there is currently around 80 dive schools on the island! This means that you get to choose a school that fits you, and you can be relatively specific in your desires. Whether you are looking for a school with small groups, a school filled with people who likes to party or a school with no early mornings, you will find something that suits you. You can even find schools that offers courses in your language if you prefer that.
We chose Scuba Shack Koh Tao since they have small groups (maximum 4 people per instructor), very helpful staff, a personal touch/vibe and great pricing (prices shouldn’t affect your decision too much though). You can read our full review of Scuba Shack Koh Tao here!
7. Dive season all year round
Due to warm waters, it’s possible to go scuba-diving all year round in Koh Tao. Thanks to this, there’s no need to worry about having to schedule your trip during a specific dive season. If this would’ve been the case, everyone would’ve went during the same time period and hence the crowds would’ve been way too big. Instead, you have the opportunity to schedule your scuba course during the low season. In this way you can enjoy cheaper prices, less crowds of people and a more quiet and laid-back Koh Tao.
8. Koh Tao is a huge Scuba Community
For divers, Koh Tao is basically like heaven on earth (or, heaven in waters…). Koh Tao has made it to the top 10 most popular places to get certified. The majority of the employees in the many dive shops and instructors at dive schools are foreigners who once came to Koh Tao to learn how to dive, fell in love with the place and refused to leave.
The majority of people visiting Koh Tao tries diving while there. This means that you’ll have at least one common interest with more or less everyone on Koh Tao. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll find yourself at least a few new friends by taking advantage of the fact that you have a common interest to talk about.
9. Non-diving activities
Although Koh Tao is most famous for its diving, there is still lots of other things to do. No matter if you’re in to partying, hiking, relaxing, eating or chilling by a beach; there’s something for you on Koh Tao. Koh Tao offers amazing hikes, night-long parties, beautiful beaches, cooking classes and great day trip activities. Before we went to Koh Tao we were a bit worried that it would be all about partying all night, but no. There’s so much more to do. You can read our post about things to do in Koh Tao [coming soon].