Koh Tao - Diving for n00bs

Koh Tao Travel Blog

 › entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
The Pier on Koh Tao.
Koh Tao is the smallest of the three main islands in the south-western part of the Gulf of Thailand. The two others are of course Koh Phangan, and Koh Samui. Wikipedia says that most of the income for the 1300 or so that lives there comes from tourism, and most off all from scuba diving. The diving was, of course, the main reason for my arrival as well. I got of the boat pretty early after taking the night bus from Bankgok, and was picked up at the pier by the hotel pickup truck. The drive to my hotel on Sairee Beach didn't take more then about ten minutes, but was more then scary enough. They really drive like assholes here, which put me off the idea of hiring a motorbike.

When Arriving at the Silver Sands Hotel, my bungalow hadn't been cleaned out yet (it was still early, can't really blame them), so the manager told me to go get a coffee across the road for half an hour or so.
They do drive like mad here.
I spent the next 45 minutes checking out the little Sairre Village, which I found out had mostly everything one needs while on vacation. A few book stores, lots of bars, even more restaurants and small cafe's, a couple of clinics and pharmacies, many mini marts and 7-elevens and of course; Diving shops. Oh so many diving shops.

I got checked into my hotel and John took me to see the bungalow. He said he had upgraded me free of charge, so I ended up paying 1000bht a night for a nice and clean bungalow about forty meters from the beach, with a minifridge, hammock, large tv, hot water shower, free wifi, a fan and the usual free dog on the porch. The bungalow also had an AC, but they had removed the remote. I could probably have paid for that as well, but those things tend to give me a cold so I kept with the ceiling fan.
Free dog included! This guy kept me company every night.
The staff was really friendly and helpful, and the stay awarded a discount at the dive center Davy Jones Locker across the road.
In retrospect, I could probably have found something a lot cheaper on the island had I shopped around a little, but I booked this hotel earlier online, and as that usually gives you a better price, that's not always the fact in Thailand.

After a short nap to get to my senses after the lengthy bus ride the night before, I checked out Sairee Beach. And as Silver Sands was located almost dead center of it; I didn't need to walk many meters before finding several nice and cheap beachfront restaurants and lot's of bars where you generally just sat down on some pillows or beanbags in the sand. Lot's of them had live music in the evening and some also had the fire shows going all night.
Sairee beach - 40 meters from my bungalow.
I got myself some excellent fish curry at a nearby restaurant, and got to talk to a couple of Australian girls living at the hotel next to mine. They had both newly taken their diving licenses (PADI open water)on the island, and couldn't praise the dive sites around Koh Tao enough.and as I hadn't been diving since I did the liveaboard trip to Simmilan a year ago, I was really looking forward to hit the dive shops the next day.

As Davy Jones' Locker was located right across the street and of course, the guys working there was a really nice bunch; I ended up doing all my dives on Tao with them. Although I did get 6 pretty nice dives, I'm pretty sure the diving industry on this island is based on the newbies and the unexperienced divers. At all the trips on the DJL boat (which was nice) there were at least one group taking either their open water course or their advanced training.
A picture from the DJL dive boat.
We even had a group of kids with us one day who did the discover scuba thing, where you swim around the beach at around six meters below to look at the fishies.
However, it has to be said that they also took as good care of the more experienced divers as they possibly could. On my last day, I was paired up with a divemaster in training and kicked of the boat about a kilometer before we reached the planned divesite. Here we had a few really nice, but small caves, and also got some cool driftdiving towards the rest of the group. By far the best dive of the week.

They had both morning and afternoon divetrips, and both included two dives. The cool thing on Tao is that most of the dive sites is very close to the island, which means you don't have to sit on the boat for hours to reach the destination.
Early evening on Sairee beach
This also means you have plenty of time to have fun, have some beers, and meet up with people when you get back on land.

Although I had a really nice time there, and met a lot of cool people (specially the crew at DJL) I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the island in total; It was a little to crowded (not Phi-Phi crowded though), the dives was a pretty shallow, murky and a tad uninteresting and everyone complained about how expensive it had gotten there. As I live in Norway, nothing really seems expensive to me though....




Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
The Pier on Koh Tao.
The Pier on Koh Tao.
They do drive like mad here.
They do drive like mad here.
Free dog included! This guy kept m…
Free dog included! This guy kept …
Sairee beach - 40 meters from my b…
Sairee beach - 40 meters from my …
A picture from the DJL dive boat.
A picture from the DJL dive boat.
Early evening on Sairee beach
Early evening on Sairee beach
Koh Tao
photo by: RyanCorrea