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Diving in Koh Tao

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PADI Open Water Diver Course
Koh Tao, Thailand

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PADI Open Water

Starting from beginner, the PADI Open Water Diver Course trains you to become a PADI certified diver, qualified to dive to 18 meters anywhere worldwide.

On Koh Tao, the course runs over three and a half days. Scuba diving theory, shallow water training and four proper dives exploring Thailand’s amazing coral reefs.

At Simple Life Divers our experienced PADI instructors run all courses in small groups to guarantee everyone gets plenty attention, qualifies as a competent diver & has a great time along the way!


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PADI Open Water FAQs

How much is the PADI Open Water Course in Koh Tao? 

Including all PADI materials, scuba diving equipment, and certification card the PADI Open Water course is 11,000 THB.

PADI open water dive course

How long does a PADI course take in Koh Tao, Thailand? 

Taking the full PADI Open Water course here on Koh Tao, we usually schedule the program over 3 ½ days.

The course includes scuba diving theory, shallow water skills to get you familiar with using scuba gear plus four proper dives exploring the amazing coral reefs around Koh Tao.

If you are on a tight schedule we can reorganize the course to fit your travel plans. (Get in touch with your requirements and we can put together a bespoke plan for you).
Usually we schedule the full PADI Open Water Course like this:

Day 1: Arrive on Koh Tao.

Our taxi can meet you at the pier, you can settle into your accommodation, relax and explore a bit.

Day 1 – late afternoon: Orientation and Scuba Diving Theory.

You’ll meet your instructor, complete some signup paperwork then get stuck into scuba diving theory.
You watch videos that introduce important scuba diving principles. This includes topics such as:

  • What is scuba diving
  • How water pressure affects our body when we dive
  • How scuba diving equipment works underwater
  • Dive procedures, staying safe and underwater communication
  • How to control your buoyancy using scuba gear and breathing

After watching each short video your instructor will review any key points. We keep the scuba theory fun and interactive, and there’s plenty of opportunity to ask any questions. You’ll then complete a quick quiz to make sure you understand the diving topics.

PADI open water course theory


Day 2 – morning: Shallow Scuba Skills

Time to get wet!

At Simple Life Divers, we’ve custom built two swimming pools for dive training. This is the ideal environment for taking your first underwater breaths.

You’ll learn how to assemble and check your scuba unit, then perform pre-dive safety checks with a dive buddy.

We’ll then begin in shallow water practicing lots of skills to get you comfortable and confident using scuba equipment. These include:

  • Breathing underwater
  • Using hand signals to communicate
  • Clearing water from your mask and regulator
  • Maintaining neutral buoyancy to be able to float ‘weightlessly’ in mid-water
  • Ascent and descent procedures
  • Maneuvering around underwater
  • Breathing from an alternate air source

Your instructor demonstrates how to perform skills which you then practice. It’s great fun and by the end of the shallow water skills session, you’ll be confident and ready to head out to the ocean.

Learning scuba skills on the PADI Open Water dive course

Day 2 – afternoon: Dive Planning Workshop and Quizzes

During the afternoon we’ll cover how to plan your dives to stay within safe diving limits.

When planning dives we have to consider the maximum planned depth and duration of dives, which we do by using PADI’s Recreational Dive Planner (PADI RDP). You’ll practice planning some example dives and we’ll review suitable dive profiles for your four open water dives over the coming days.

You’ll round out the scuba diving theory part of the PADI course by completing a quick final exam.


Day 3 – afternoon: PADI Open Water Dives 1&2 (max depth 12 meters)

Finally the best bit! Around noon we’ll prepare dive gear then board Simple Life Divers’ boat to go diving.

We’ll visit two of the shallow coral reefs off Koh Tao to make your first two dives. Each day we assess the weather and sea conditions to get the best possible diving experiences – so dive sites vary from course to course. Potential dive sites for these two dives include Japanese Gardens or Twins at Koh Nangyuan, Mango Bay, Aow Leuk, or White Rock.

During your first two dives we can explore to a maximum depth of 12 meters. We’ll reinforce what you learned in shallow water by repeating a few scuba skills to build up even more confidence. Most of the dives will be spent exploring the ocean and seeing amazing marine life. There’s a huge amount to see underwater near Koh Tao; tropical brain corals, pore corals, table corals, butterflyfish, angelfish, blue-spotted rays, wrasses, jacks, groupers, triggerfish, turtles, moray eels, batfish, and more.

We’ll visit two dive spots before returning to the dive shop around 5 pm.

Open water dives on PADI course

Day 4 – morning: PADI Open Water Dives 3&4 (max depth 18 meters).

For the final two dives of the PADI course, we’ll meet at the dive shop around 7 am.

For dives 3 & 4 we’re able to dive to a maximum depth of 18 meters, opening up even more dive site possibilities. Provided sea conditions are calm, we’ll likely start at one of Koh Tao’s submerged pinnacle dive sites such as the famous Chumphon Pinnacles, Green Rock, or the Nangyuan Pinnacle. Again expect to see amazing corals, anemones, giant submerged rock formations, and colorful aquatic life, with the possibility to see some of Koh Tao’s larger marine species such as Giant Groupers, barracuda, trevally, and batfish.

We’ll then move Simple Life Divers’ boat to a second site for another 18-meter dive before returning to the dive shop by noon.

On completion of the course, we’ll sign you off as a PADI Open Water Diver, qualified to dive to 18 meters anywhere worldwide.

It is possible to take the scuba diving theory component of the course online before traveling to Koh Tao using PADI eLearning.

If you do finish the theory online, we’re able to complete the remainder of the PADI Open Water course in two and a half days. This is a great option if you want to maximize the use of your vacation time in Thailand.

If you are interested in using PADI eLearning to take the scuba theory online, get in touch to register.


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How deep can you go with a PADI Open Water certification? 

The PADI Open Water diver certification allows you to dive with a buddy to a maximum depth of 18 meters/60 feet.

As a PADI Open Water Diver, your certification means you can enjoy scuba diving anywhere worldwide.

Dive to 18 meters depth on PADI Open Water course

How long is a PADI Open Water dive? 

The duration of dives during the PADI Open Water course depends on several factors which you’ll learn about during the course. For your first dives, a good target is aiming for a bottom time of around 45 minutes per dive.

Whilst scuba diving we have to plan our maximum depth and bottom time to stay within safe diving limits – something we will cover during the PADI course. In brief, the deeper you dive, the shorter your dive will be.

During the open water course, the first two dives explore to a maximum depth of 12 meters. Then for dives three and four, we can explore down to a depth of 18 meters. At these depths, a good target bottom time is about 45 minutes per dive.

The idea is to maintain relaxed, steady breathing combined with good buoyancy control, exploring underwater at a calm pace to conserve your air supply and enjoy long dives. These are skills and techniques which we’ll practice during the PADI course.

Staying calm to enjoy a long open water dive

Do you need to be able to swim to take the PADI Open Water course in Thailand? 

You must be able to swim to take the PADI Open Water course.

The PADI course requires that you can swim 200 meters, or 300 meters wearing a mask, snorkel, and fins. You can swim as slow or fast as you prefer, but the swim must be continuous.

Plus you must be able to stay afloat for 10 minutes (without using any buoyancy device).

If you are new to swimming or nervous about completing these swim assessments, we recommend doing some swimming practice before traveling to Koh Tao.

Ultimately if you are relaxed and confident in the water, you’ll enjoy the PADI course more.

Swimming underwater on the PADI course

Can you take the PADI Open Water course theory online? 

Using PADI eLearning you can take the theory part of the PADI Open Water course online.

This is a great option to avoid classroom time in Koh Tao. You can complete the PADI eLearning (online theory) before you travel to Koh Tao, and free up your time here for relaxing, enjoying the island, and exploring the amazing coral reefs and tropical marine life.

If you’d like to use PADI eLearning to complete the theory online ahead of your arrival, please get in touch. We’ll register you on the eLearning system and you can start your PADI Open Water course immediately.


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PADI online theory

How long is the PADI Open Water online theory? 

PADI eLearning for the open water diver course takes about 10 hours.

Using PADI eLearning is a great option because you can proceed through online lessons at your own pace. Speed through the bits you find easy or take more time recapping any trickier topics.
Plus PADI’s online theory is available in many languages so you can learn in your preferred language. (PADI online theory is available in English, Thai, Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Norwegian, Swedish, Portuguese, Polish, Danish, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew & Bahasa Indonesia).

To complete all the theory modules for the PADI Open Water course, a good average is about 10 hours.

This can be split over several sessions whenever you have free time, and you proceed through the online lessons as fast or slow as you want.

Koh Tao open water course

Does PADI eLearning expire? 

PADI eLearning is valid for 12 months from the first date you log into the PADI eLearning website.
So you need to plan on traveling to Koh Tao to complete the PADI Open Water course within 12 months of commencing PADI eLearning.

When you do travel to Thailand for the open water dives, you want the scuba diving theory to be fresh in your memory. So if you completed PADI eLearning several months ahead of traveling to Koh Tao, it’s worth rereading the content to refresh your diving knowledge.

How difficult is the PADI open water exam? 

You’ll likely find it very easy to pass the PADI Open Water course exam.

During the PADI Open Water course, our instructors cover all the important scuba diving topics which you need to understand. You’ll watch some videos, review the content with your instructor and do quick knowledge reviews to make sure everything is clear. By the time you take the PADI Open Water course exam, you’ll already know the answers and should find the quiz very simple.
The minimum age for the course is 10 years old, and we’re able to provide materials for the PADI Open Water course in almost any language you prefer. Learning is fun and interactive at a relaxed pace, and what we cover in the classroom is reinforced by our shallow water sessions and open water dives.

The PADI Open Water exam is rarely an issue for passing the course. We’re confident that by taking the course here at Simple Life Divers we’ll train you to qualify as a competent and confident open water diver.

How fit do you need to be to take the PADI Open Water course? 

To join the PADI Open Water course you need to be in good normal health, with no preexisting health conditions which might be an issue for scuba diving. You don’t need to be a super-fit Olympic athlete.

If you think you may have a condition that might be an issue for scuba diving, take a moment to review PADI’s Medical Statement. This highlights conditions that are potentially unsuitable for scuba diving (such as asthma, lung disease, epilepsy, or heart disease).

If any of the health conditions do apply to you, you must get a checkup from your doctor to assess whether or not it is safe for you to take the PADI Open Water course.

PADI dive course in Koh Tao

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Scuba diving in Koh Tao PADI dive resort PADI Asia Pacific member award






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