Although Koh Tao is world famous as a destination to get certified as a scuba diver, there are plenty of special dives to be had for more advanced divers! The relatively calm waters coupled with the possibility to shelter from bad weather means you can dive here all year. The best times to go based on visibility is generally considered between March - May & September – November, but there's still incredible dives to be had through the rest of the year.
Here's our top 10 list of scuba diving activities we recommend trying while visiting Koh Tao!
#1 Whale Shark encounter
Ok, this one requires a fair bit of luck. Sadly it's not like Whale Sharks are spotted every day in the waters around Koh Tao. But there have been seasons in recent years where up to 8 whale sharks have been spotted daily, and this lasted for months! Generally speaking the best time of year to witness whale sharks is between March – May & October – November.
We did a whole article about whale shark diving in Koh Tao, check it out!
#2 Blacktip & Turtle snorkeling
Now I realize snorkeling isn't quite what this top 10 is suppose to be about, but the truth is all ocean lovers should visit Shark Bay and it's inhabitants while visiting the island. Blacktip reef sharks and turtles can be seen here throughout the year but generally you want to visit between February & October for the best chance at good visibility.
While Hawksbill turtles are also spotted here frequently, it's the 7 residential green turtles that you want to keep an eye out for. Some of them are truly massive and believed to be over 80 years old!
Want to help out? Photograph & report your turtle sightings to this database while visiting any part of Koh Tao. You might even get to name one!
#3 Muck Diving
A very well kept secret is that Koh Tao actually have some pretty good muck dive sites. What is muck diving you ask? Essentially it's when you've already seen all the big stuff and there's nothing left but the macro. Muck diving takes place away from the reef in mucky or sandy habitats at depths ranging from 5-40+ meters, although the local golden zone is generally between 12-30 meters.
Several incredible creatures can be spotted here, such as the Blueringed Octopus, Frogfish, Seahorses and a huge variety of shrimps, crabs, nudibranchs & cephalopods.
#4 Coral Spawning
Now coral spawning is truly one of natures rare treats, and it can indeed be seen yearly in the waters surrounding Koh Tao. The only way you can attend however is to sign up with New Heaven Reef Conservation Program (RCP) on one of their conservation courses.
But if you're into corals and rare marine life encounters, it is such an incredible experience that I absolutely recommend!
#5 Morning dive at Sail Rock
There's not many things I enjoy waking up at 5am for, but a morning dive on Sail Rock during a good time of year will do it! Sail Rock is an incredible dive site but can get a bit too busy at times.
If you manage to head out with one of the early, early morning boats you'll be treated to a near empty dive site that is just waking up. There's still hunting behavior, massive schools of fish haven't broken apart yet and the morning light is just incredible. And who knows, it might even lead to a whale shark encounter!
#6 TECH & wreck
While not known for its wreck there are some deeper sites around the island that sits out of reach of what recreational diving allows for. Both the Unicorn and Trident wrecks are within short distances of Koh Tao, and there are others located further out as well.
Koh Tao also offers tech training courses through dive schools like Koh Tao Divers.
#7 Shark Island drift dive
This requires a boat crew of at least 2 who doesn't mind moving the boat around a bit after entry.
Jumping in at the north side of Shark Island is quite magical on the right day. The shallow areas of the north are stunning with bouldering rocks leading deeper into some beautiful areas along the eastern side of the island.
Finally you end up at the south where there's more soft corals to be found. The current usually goes north to south throughout most of the year, and if you time it right it's a very comfortable dive.
#8 UV Night Diving
Ultraviolet night diving has been a thing for some time, and Koh Tao has several sites that are ideal for UV exploration. Some marine life like certain species of fish & corals emit various ultraviolet colors when illuminated by a certain spectrum of light.
It's a very trippy experience where you can see and witness marine life in a totally different way. Our favorite UV dive guide is Dan, you can get in touch with him here.
#9 Baby blacktip congregation
This one is again more in the realm of snorkeling but it is totally worth it. Every year in April onwards random beaches around the island become home to small blacktip reef shark pups. The shallow waters of the beach is the safest place for them as they are vulnerable to larger predators at this stage of their life.
Finding out which beach they're on (there are usually multiple) can take some time as sightings are spread amongst locals. But being able to get close to baby sharks is quite a unique opportunity! How many sharks end up on each beach varies, but expect somewhere between 5-25. If you get lucky they'll all be hanging out too!
#10 Night dive at Chumphon Pinnacle
Finally we got this gem of a rarely executed dive; doing a night dive at Chumphon Pinnacle. Occasionally some dive schools will put out trips like this and they're usually fully booked when going out, so you need to stay on top of which dive schools do it if you want a spot.
Chumphon Pinnacle at night is an incredible sight. Much of the marine life you're accustomed to at daytime is nowhere to be found, while larger pelagic fish come in to hunt and other creatures like octopus and cuttlefish make an appearance.
So which of our top 10 activities will make it to your bucket list? Or do you have other Koh Tao highlights you'd like to see included? Let us know in the comments!