Scuba diving is by far the biggest attraction on Ko Tao, and it is easy, fun, and you will see a lot of fish, perhaps even turtles, stingrays, barracuda, reef sharks, and even a whale shark if you get lucky
You will get good diving weather on Koh Tao apart from November, when the sea is choppy, and visibility is poorer than normal. The visibility can be over 40 metres during the rest of the year.
You will find a lot of dive operators on the island, and some of them offer accommodation. Just beware that when you read the accommodation is free, it's not really, because they will offer discounts if you stay somewhere else.
In 2006 you will pay in the region of 10,000 bht for a PADI open water certificate, and this should include the new PADI training manual, proper professional instruction, rental equipment, boat dives etc. This may include insurance and basic accommodation, but shop around, and remember the methods of instruction may differ enormously.
A few hints include avoiding shops that use swimming pools to teach you in. You'll find it cold, boring, and unhygienic, bearing in mind this is a very popular diving island, and they will have literally hundreds of students .
Choose one that will take you to a private beach so you will see fish and coral right away, it is a lot more interesting, and you will probably get more dives!!
It's also a good idea to find a dive shop that has its own private pier, so you won't have to climb over other boats at the pier, although you won't be carrying your dive gear, that should be carried by a Dive Master Trainee. In addition you ought to ask how many students there will be in your group, because there should not be more than a small handful, if they tell you there will be more than ten then look elsewhere. You want personal tuition for something as important as this, and you want your course to be really enjoyable.
If you are looking for specific dive shops, this list whilst by no means exhaustive, is at least a starting point.
- Coral Grand . Located in a much quieter area than the other dive shops, at the far end of the beach, the hotel is more upmarket than most on the island although the 'free' rooms are still basic. Operates 2 dive boats plus a speed boat.
- Divepoint . Located in Mae Haad on the waterfront. Divepoint has probably the nicest dive boat on the island, big enough that you won't have to carry your gear to and from it. PADI and SSI.
- Easy Divers. Fantastic Dive Shop with really experienced instructors. Professional and fun with great accommodation. Based right in the heart of Ko Tao.
- IDC Ko Tao. Instructor development courses (IDC's) run every month by English PADI Course Director Matt Bolton.
- Phoenix Divers. Right on Sairee Beach, has good boats, new gear and multilingual often western staff.
- Stingray Divers. Very modern dive resort overlooking Chalok Ban Khao Bay.
Hope this information helps you to have great diving experience on Koh Tao