Situated 70km off the mainland in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao is an idyllic small tropical island. Translating from Thai, the name means ‘Turtle Island’, due to the many hawksbill and green turtles that the early visitors discovered.
Only 21 square kilometers, Koh Tao was previously used a prison then colonized by coconut farmers from nearby Koh Phangan, Samui and the mainland, cultivating plantations and settling on the island.
During the 1980’s that the first travelers made their way to Koh Tao, discovering an island paradise. Since that time Koh Tao has grown in reputation and popularity. In fact, Koh Tao was recently featured in the UK Times Newspaper, as no.4 of Lonely Planet’s top ten must see destinations worldwide.
Koh Tao’s small size, steep terrain and location mean it has remained much less developed than other tourist destinations in the region. White sand beaches, coconut tree groves, and jungle covered slopes, the scenery is amazing.
But the main attraction lies below the water. The island is surrounded by coral reefs, which are home to an huge range of marine life. Scuba diving from Koh Tao you can see countless species of aquatic life, including turtles, stingrays, reef fish, moral eels, sea snakes, squid and much more.
Further off shore, there’s a scattering of deep, submerged pinnacles which make truly world class dive sites. These are home to larger marine species including giant grouper and bat fish. Pelagic species such as great and chevron barracuda swarm around the pinnacles, and we even get the biggest fish in the sea – whale sharks, migrating through the area.
Nowadays Koh Tao is especially popular with young travelers in the 18 – 35 age range. Alongside the amazing diving and scenery, Koh Tao has a laid back, island-style ambience, great nightlife and restaurants, and the level of development is just about right.
By now, everything you need is available on Koh Tao; Mostly reliable electricity, decent internet, comfortable accommodation, beach bars and restaurants, shops and ATMs and small post office. Yet development has been restricted so there are no high rise hotels, and Koh Tao retains a small island charm.
Most development has taken place on the western side of the island, especially around the pier area and popular Sairee Beach. The eastern coast of Koh Tao is much less developed, with steeper terrain and rough roads over the mountain.
Located within the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao is sheltered and so experiences low wave heights and little wind. The climate is ideal; we have all-year round scuba diving and tourism, only receiving a brief monsoon each November. Koh Tao is busiest between late December and April, then again during July through till late September.
Koh Tao is the ideal choice for Divemaster or Instructor training for many reasons.
Firstly it’s an incredible place to spend a few months; Exciting atmosphere, stunning scenery and fantastic scuba diving.
From a training and working perspective, Koh Tao is a popular dive destination with a steady stream of divers and students. That means lots of real hands on experience whilst training and plenty of opportunities for paid gap year work once you qualify.
Plus it’s the perfect setup for diving. All our dive sites are only a short boat ride from the island. Coral reefs, pinnacles, even ship wrecks on our door step. Which means less time sat on a boat travelling back and forth and more time diving. (This also means fuel costs are lower, so ultimately the cost of diving here is a lot more affordable than elsewhere).
Plus there are plenty top-side attractions when you’re not diving, lots of exploring to do and lively nightlife if you want to let your hair down!
Money goes a long way in Thailand. And each day you can enjoy delicious spicy Thai cuisine, cold sunset beers on the beach in the evenings, experiencing an amazing time in a beautiful part of the world.
Patty M, Mexico
one of the most amazing places Ive seen in my life .... Oh man, the shenanigans we got up to underwater!.
Lisa & Ash, ZW & UK
made more friends in that short time on the island and had more fun than we have in 3 years in the UK rat race.
Joe M, Wales
I remember thinking, wow, is that where Im going to be spending the next 10 weeks...time of my life.