How to choose the best dive school for you on Koh Tao

Learning to Scuba Dive on Koh Tao

“Oh you’re going to Koh Tao, make sure you go Scuba Diving!” Is heard all over the popular backpacking spots in Thailand and South east Asia. Koh Tao is known worldwide as THE place to learn how to Scuba Dive & get your Open Water Certification. And here’s why –

  • Koh Tao’s crystal clear waters – There are many beautiful islands in Thailand but Koh Tao has what nowhere else does, year round Scuba Diving in clear, flat waters that are perfect for learning.
  • The diverse marine life – Whale Sharks, turtles, barracuda, beautiful corals; you name it, we have it.
  • The cheap price – There are more than 60 dive schools on Koh Tao meaning the competition is high and the price remains low. Open Water Courses can cost anywhere between 8,000-12,000thb.
  • Experienced instructors – A huge amount of people learn to dive on Koh Tao and this means the instructors teach a huge amount of people as well. In just one year it’s normal for an instructor to teach more than 150 people to scuba dive; so the instructors here definitely know what they’re doing!
  • Safety – Because Koh Tao is a diving mecca the certifying agencies and governing diving agencies keep a close eye on all the dive schools here resulting in every dive school doing things by the book.

There are so many dive schools where do I even start?

There are more than 60 dive schools on Koh Tao so the process of finding the right one for you can be a little daunting. You need to take into consideration how much you want to spend, if you want a big or small dive school, where you want to stay on Koh Tao, what you expect the dive school to offer & if you want to do a PADI or SSI course.

Do you want a small or big dive school for your Open Water Course?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The big dive schools act as scuba diving factories that pump out divers and cram 50 people onto one dive boat – not exactly a relaxed environment to learn to dive in. They also tend to have large group sizes and sometimes up to 8 divers with only one instructor.

The small dive schools on the other hand almost guarantee small group sizes but they also come with some setbacks. Scuba diving should be fun & when you travel it’s always great to meet new people; if it’s only you at the dive school then you could end up spending 4 days on your own. Small dive schools often won’t have the facilities a bigger dive school can offer. Things like their own dive boat, dive pool, beachfront location or a dive hostel/hotel.

We recommend to choose a small to medium sized Dive School. This way you get the best of both worlds, more people to meet, lots of facilities & still small group sizes.

How much should I pay for my Open Water Course?

Open Water Courses can range from 8,000 – 12,000thb here on Koh Tao. The competition is huge so lots of dive schools offer added incentives including free accommodation whilst you are diving with them – which really is a great way of saving some valuable travel money. Do your research and find the dive school with a price that fits your budget.

Where do you want to stay on Koh Tao?

When you think about islands in Thailand you think about white sandy beaches, clear water and the ocean breeze right? Then make sure you find a dive school that has a diving center on the beach, obviously. You don’t want to get stuck on the wrong side of the island away from all the other travelers, the restaurants and bars do you? Sairee Beach is Koh Tao’s main beach and it’s where all the action happens, try and find a dive school based there.

What do you expect the Dive School to offer?

Make sure you find a dive school that offers you what you need to both have a good time and get some quality SCUBA training. Look for a dive school that has it’s own dive pool & its own dive boat. Learning in the pool is 100 times easier and gradually introduces you to the underwater world, getting chucked into the open ocean the first time you’re wearing SCUBA gear can be too much for beginners.

If the dive school has its own boat it also makes things much simpler. Some dive schools share boats which often means the meeting point is at the pier, so be prepared to wait for other dive schools to transport its divers, equipment and tanks to the pier. Find a dive center that has its own boat & leaves for diving from the beach for a much more private and relaxed experience.

Should I choose SSI or PADI for my Scuba Diving License?

There are more than 100 diving agencies that can certify you to dive. PADI & SSI are the two biggest companies that do it, they are recognised worldwide, governed by the same group the WRSTC and thus follow the same rules, use the same equipment and you end up with the same Open Water Divers license that certifies you to dive to 18m. All you need to worry about is finding a dive school that offers an internationally recognised certification, if it’s either SSI or PADI then you’re good to go. Learn more about SSI & PADI here.

Getting your Open Water Diving license with Phoenix Divers

About Phoenix Divers Koh Tao

Phoenix Divers has been open for more than 15 years and we’ve taught more than 25,000 people how to Scuba Dive. Our small to medium sized dive center is run by an awesome team of dive professionals that have all carried out their training here at Phoenix creating a family atmosphere and an experienced team that brings over 60 years of combined teaching experience.

Sairee beach is the place to be for diving and everything else on Koh Tao, and lucky for you our Dive School and free accommodation are located right in the center of it.

The best way to learn is in small groups – at Phoenix Divers we do maximum group sizes of 5 so that you can fully enjoy your Koh Tao diving experience.

Our Open Water Diving Course is only 8,500thb which includes 4 nights accommodation, all of the equipment rental and the certification costs – the best deal on Sairee Beach.

Our Dive Center, accommodation and purpose built dive pool are on Sairee Beach, we have one of the biggest dive boats on the island & all of our equipment is serviced on site and is of the highest quality.