How to choose a dive centre on Koh Tao.
Koh Tao, Thailand
How to choose a dive centre on Koh Tao. Reviews
What to look for !! Aug 01, 2006
Many many people come here to learn to dive, after all it is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to do this life changing activity. As a result there are nearly 40 dive centres for you to choose from and this can be a little off putting !! I've worked here as a dive instructor over the passed 4 years and am writing this to help make your choice easier and hopefully more informed.
Ask yourself what you want from your course....
1) Are you happy in a large group or would you prefer smaller groups?
2) Do you want a lively resort who will offer a busy after dive party scene or do you wanna chill ?
3) What kind of accomodation do you want ?
4) What sort of location do you want - the main and central area of Sairee, quiet and out of the way Chalok Ban Khao or the main arrival point of Mae Had?
5) What language would you like to complete your course in ?
Do not worry that there is a choice of PADI and SSI courses. Each are valid licences and all SSI instructors are PADI instructors too - so you will benefit from the same experience which ever you choose. The big difference is in terms of cost. During an SSI course your materials are borrowed from the dive centre but on a PADI course each student must buy their own books - this can cost you an extra 1000-1500 baht and then of course you have to try and cram then in your backpack and carry them around !!
Booking before arrival is a good idea as it ensures you have the accommodation reserved for you and a free taxi from the pier. This means you dont have to deal with touts and haggle with taxi drivers upon arrival after a long journey. All the touts and taxi drivers are on commission and will 'sell' you the dive centre they work for which leaves you with little choice.
To choose your dive centre before arrival I would advise speaking to fellow travellers and getting their recomendations and thoughts, look for reviews on online forums and check out websites. Prices vary little but I would not advise simply booking the cheapest. Look for what you want based on the answers to the above questions.
If you do not have time to book before arrival then be prepared with the answers to the above questions so you know what you are looking for but be prepared for some pavement pounding.
1) Either go and find somewhere to stay and my advice would be to grab a cab to Sairee - this should cost you around 150/200 baht each get some accom and then go out looking for a dive centre. The upside to this is that you can have a rest, chill, freshen up and grab some food before hitting the pavement. The downside to this is that you will usually get a better deal on accom within the dive centre if you are diving with them, however you can always move after one night.
2) Your other option is to pick up a free cab from the pier that belongs to a dive centre, again I would advise one in Sairee, but check the policy of the taxi - ie what happens if you choose not to stay and dive there - do they charge you for the taxi or what? Most dont worry because atleast they have got you to their dive centre for a look around. Then you can look around that dive centre, you scored a free cab and you can move on to check out other places...
I recomend coming to Sairee as it will offer you the largest choice in terms of accom and dive centres as well as bars and restaurants and a beautiful long sandy beach.
Weather you choose option 1 or 2 - pop into a few dive centres and check them out - speak to their instructors, find out about them, notice their passion and enthusiasm but keep in mind what you want based on the questions at the begining. See who you like and the atmosphere that suits you too - take your time and even speak to a few divers around the centre too.
Dont be pushed and take your time - when you have spoken to a few - go and grab yourself a well earned beer, have a little think and decide.
Part of the Living in Thailand travel blog
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!