It’s quite likely someone you know has been to Thailand recently. Within this Asian country, the island of Koh Samui attracts international tourists in large numbers. It has some of the world’s best dive sites along the Gulf of Thailand and is the perfect base for people looking for an exciting underwater adventure.
There are many diving schools around Koh Samui, offering courses for beginners and experienced divers alike. While the initial lessons are conducted on the Koh Samui mainland, the actual scuba diving happens in the waters surrounding its neighboring islands. Diving schools use their boats to take you to the diving sites and back. They provide you with the necessary gear and safety instructions. Most guided tours also include lunch within their diving package.
Koh Nang Yuan is made up of three smaller islets connected by a sandbank of velvety white sand. At its eastern end, the Japanese Garden is a marvelously sheltered site for divers to practice advanced techniques. There is a second diving site called Twin Peaks on the western side of Koh Nang Yuan. The Aow Leuk and Leam Tien beaches on the turtle-shaped island of Koh Tao are also popular among divers. A group of 42 small islands form the Angthong National Marine Park; here, you can learn diving with stunning tropical rainforests and natural limestone formations as a backdrop.
Sail Rock is the top diving site in the western Gulf of Thailand around Koh Samui. A single granite rock pinnacle submerged twenty meters under the sea rises above the water with a downward vertical shaft offering an entry point for divers. To the south of the gulf, Chumpon Pinnacle goes thirty meters underwater and fifteen meters above. Its many small pinnacles are covered in beautiful corals. This site is meant for advanced, open water divers.
What Diving Has to Offer
The clear tropical waters around Koh Samui are home to innumerable species of fish in a great range of sizes, shapes and colors. Near the surface, you will find pink, red and purple anemones floating about. Clownfish, surgeonfish and bannerfish add to the diversity of Thailand’s marine life in the shallower waters. At medium depths, you can spot groupers, batfish, bull sharks, leopard sharks and gray reef sharks. One of the highlights of the diving experience is the rare sighting of the majestic Whale Shark. Some diving tours even take you to see interesting shipwrecks.
If you are serious about learning to dive, you can enroll for one of the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification courses: Bubblemaker, Discover Scuba Diving, Open Water or DiveMaster. The first part is theoretical classroom training including diving videos if time permits. You may be itching to jump into the water, but it is important to know this information first. Later, you will practice the breathing techniques you just learned in a swimming pool. Finally, you can dive into the open water 12 meters and then 18 meters deep to earn your certification.
Avoid booking a diving tour during the monsoon season between November and February; the usually calm, clear waters can get quite choppy and murky. You can opt for an individual trainer but a group class offers the chance to make new friends who share your passion for diving. You may be vacationing in Thailand with family or friends who are not interested in diving. They can still accompany you on the diving tour in Koh Samui and enjoy peaceful snorkeling, swimming or sunbathing while you explore the underwater beauty of Thailand.