The waters around the islands in the Thai Gulf have a number of incredible underwater reefs, rocks, and caves that are absolutely teeming with colourful marine life. Because of this, scuba diving is one of Samui’s main attractions when it comes to water sports.
The relatively shallow, calm and warm waters off Samui and the nearby island of Koh Tao, offer the perfect location and conditions for beginners to try scuba diving for the very first time. For more advanced divers, there are also a number of more challenging dive sites located in this area; some of which are considered by many to be amongst the best in Asia.
On Koh Samui you will find a wide range of dive schools and instructors all offering different courses and trips to a number of dive sites that are within close proximity to the island. As competition amongst the dive schools is fierce, it is possible to negotiate a reasonable price with a school or instructor for a place on scuba diving course.
However, whilst seeking out the best prices, it is important that you do not compromise on health and safety standards and you should always make sure that any dive operators, schools or instructors are properly certified.
Generally speaking, many of the Samui’s dive schools adhere to international standards when it comes to scuba diving instruction and health safety. This is particularly true with many of the islands foreign owned dive schools, but it is important to be aware that some will offer better, more experienced scuba instructors, as well as more modern and higher quality equipment than others.
PADI Courses on Koh Samui
If you are new to scuba diving then a PADI course is what you will need to complete in order to become properly certified and is the best option for people who might be planning to a lot more scuba diving in the future. The course normally takes about 3 or 4 days to complete and will include specialist practical training for beginners, which normally takes place in a swimming pool, as well as classroom lessons on scuba diving theory.
To take a PADI course in Thailand is generally much cheaper than in other countries and once you become fully certified you can go to other destinations throughout the world and dive freely with other dive schools or operators. After completing your PADI course you can even go onto study scuba diving further and take part in courses specialised in dive rescue or as a dive master, both of which can take up to a couple of months to complete.
Many dive shops and operators on the island offer courses in a wide variety of languages including English, German, Italian, French, Dutch, Japanese and Thai.
As well as the affordable prices, the other important factor as to why Samui and the surrounding area is so popular for scuba diving is due to the stunning locations and sites at which the dives are conducted.
Many of the dive sites in the area can be visited all year round. However, optimum dive conditions are normally found from the months of March to August. Between September and November, visibility can be reduced due to monsoon winds; strong swells can also be present. However, diving during these months is still generally quite good. November to February is probably the worst time to dive in the waters around Samui as there can be very strong wind and rain in the Gulf of Thailand during that time of year.
Koh Samui Dive Sites
Here is some information on the dive sites off Koh Samui, Koh Tao and the surrounding area:
The area around the Koh Yippon islands is considered by many to the number 1 dive sites in the Ang Thong Marine Park. Perfect for novice divers, the waters around the islands are noted for their magnificent array of marine life, soft corals and shallow caves, which can reach depths or between 15 and 20 metres. Some of the marine life that can be found in this area includes stingrays, yellow tailed barracudas and angel fish. A trip to Koh Yippon is made even more enjoyable by the stunning natural scenery that is found above the water, as well as below it.
Only a short distance from Koh Yippon, in the Ang Thong National Marine Park is Koh Wao. Another popular dive site, this sheltered bay offers depth ranges between 10 and 20 metres and suitable for divers of all levels. The waters around Koh Wao are also really good for snorkelling. The marine life that is often found here includes turtles, stingrays, squirrel fish and fusiliers.
Located approximately 45kms from Koh Samui, between the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, Sail Rock is widely acknowledged as the best dive site in the Thai Gulf. The site consists of a single 40m pinnacle, which rises approximately 15m above sea level. The waters around the rock are home to thousands of fish and other beautiful marine life. Sail rock also offers divers stunning underwater rock formations and tunnels that are large enough for you to swim through. There are also a number of incredible coral gardens that are well worth exploring. A casual swim around the rock will take approximately 45 minutes depending on conditions. During this time you will come into contact with an amazing array of fish including moray eels, bat fish, barracuda, parrot fish and, if you are lucky, maybe even a whale shark or two.
What is arguably one of Koh Tao’s most famous and spectacular dive site, Chumpon Pinnacle is a regular part of the itinerary for many of the diving operators on Koh Samui. Located 11kms north of Koh Tao, the dive consists of one large granite rock which starts approximately 12 metres under the surface of the water and goes down to a depth of around 35 metres. There are also several other smaller rocks located close by. In these waters it is common to see whale sharks, clown fish (Nemo fish) and even leopard sharks. The depths and strong currents around these areas mean that this site might not be suitable for absolute beginners but is certainly worth checking out for more experienced divers.
Koh Samui Diving Summary
Good Points: Good for beginners, offers value for money, with a wide range of dives sites.
Bad Points: Not too good for diving of exploring wrecks or drift diving.
Depth: Between 5 and 40m
Currents: Can sometimes be strong.
Visibility: Between 5 and 25m
Water Temperature: Around 27 to 29c
Diver Level: Beginner to advanced.
Koh Samui Dive Operators
Here is a selection of some of the scuba dive operators that can be found on Koh Samui:
Discovery Dive Centre
Address: 14/3 Moo2 North Chaweng Koh Samui Surat Thani 84320 Thailand
Tel: +66 77 300 656
Open: 10am to 6pm daily