The tropical island Koh Samui is one of my preferred retreats in Asia, and a perfect diving destination. Find here a collection of experiences of diving in Koh Samui, as well as tips on where to stay and which dive center to use.
In recent years, Samui is becoming the Epicenter of island tourism in Thailand. Together with its surrounding islands Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, Koh Samui is an easily-reachable, incredibly rich destination with lots of great hotels and a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene. And, of course, Koh Samui is the perfect place to go diving or to get licensed as a diver.
Diving in Koh Samui
First things first, when you want to go diving in Koh Samui the first thing you will notice is that you’re actually not going to dive on the island of Koh Samui. The archipelago is based on a relatively shallow portion of the seabed, and waters around the island are usually not very clear. This is why the major diving spots are located primarily on islands nearby, such as Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and the Ang Thong National Park. That being said, the boat ride to Koh Phangan’s dive sites is only a few minutes from Koh Samui’s Bophut Pier. And, most of the dive schools and excursion companies are based in Samui.
The principal way of going diving in or around Koh Samui is by speedboat or on a larger dive boat. Speedboats are usually more comfortable for experienced divers, as you can do more dive sites in a day, and have less transit times. Many of the dive training schools in Koh Samui are using slower, large dive boats for their students because it allows for some relaxation and instruction between dives. I personally enjoy the slow ships just as much, because it gets you into a relaxed state all day long, and gives me more of an island feeling.
Dive Instruction in Koh Samui
The island of Koh Samui is home to some of the best dive schools in the world. Whatever organization, being it PADI, ISS or others, are represented here with certifications up to OWSI (Open Water Scuba Instructor). There is plenty of choices, and quality is good in general. Some of the schools I have worked with are IDC Thailand, Planet Scuba and iDive.
Diving Highlights around Samui
There are a number of exciting islands around Koh Samui that offer excellent diving. You can reach all of them by speedboat from Koh Samui’s Bophut Pier. Let me name just a few highlights you shouldn’t miss:
- Sail Rock – a massive rock in the middle of the sea between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Visibility varies but is mostly acceptable. This spot is full of colorful fish, small and large, as well as some smaller coral caves to explore. A stunner!
- Japanese Garden (Koh Tao) – a beautiful coral reef alongside one of the most beautiful island beaches in all Thailand. As a diver, you don’t even notice the tourism craziness that goes on at the beach. Some of the most fascinating coral formations, and the occasional giant turtle.
- Koh Wao – a small island in the Ang Thong Marine Park that is excellent for anchoring, taking a break and snorkeling. Dives are also fun here.
- Chumphon Pinnacle – Probably my favorite dive site, but it is the farthest from Koh Samui. Speedboats take 1.5 hours to come here, it is located between Koh Tao and the mainland. Only for experienced divers, it is actually an underwater pinnacle, so boats moor in the middle of the ocean and then divers descend to about 15-20 meters. I have personally seen both whale sharks and bull sharks here on several occasions during dives.
In conclusion, if you are a diver and plan a trip to Koh Samui, take your chance and go diving. The choice of world-class dive sites around Koh Samui is unique, and so is the very competitive offering of dive centers on the island. Let me know in the comment section if you need any specific information, or click on the links to particular dive sites above.