Koh Tao

Koh Tao
Diving Type Boat Diving, Wreck Diving
Level Beginner, Experience Diver
Depth 10 - 30 m.
Visibility 5 - 15 m.
Current None - Medium
Water Temp 27-31 C
Dive Site Chumphon Pinnacle, South West Pinnacle, Sail Rock, Shark Island, White Rock, Twin, Ao Luek, Japanese Garden, Hin Wong Pinnacle, Pee Wee Rock
Season March - October
Highlight Whale Shark, Bull Shark, Titan Triggerfish, Snapper, School of Barracuda, School of Jack Fish

General Info

This island is renowned as a diver's paradise, from beginner to professional. It’s a popular spot for people who want to learn scuba diving, with a lot of dive schools all over the island.

This island is located in the Gulf of Thailand, approximately 74 kilometers from the coast of Chumphon and approximately 110 kilometers from the coast of Surat Thani. It’s not far from Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

Interesting Marine Life

  • There are bountiful coral reefs around the island, both natural reefs and artificial reefs, including underwater sculptures that serve as artificial reefs.
  • This island is one of the places that whale sharks regularly visit. If you see a whale shark here, you can post a photo to the Facebook Group: Koh Tao Whaleshark, which use patterns in left side of the shark to identify individuals and collect the data into a citizen science database.
  • Even though the name Koh Tao comes from the shape of the island that looks like a turtle (Tao means turtle in Thai), sea turtles are also easily found here, both green turtles and hawksbill turtles, even a rarer olive ridley turtle has been reported. Like the whale shark program, there is Koh Tao Turtles Program, in which divers can submit photos of turtles with left and right cheeks, which the pattern can be used to identify individuals. Until now, there have been more than 160 turtles in the database and all of them have been named.
  • There are also many other interesting sea creatures from big to small: blacktip reef sharks, stingrays, barracudas, moray eels, pufferfish, porcupinefish, batfish, scorpionfish, lionfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, parrotfish, clownfish, octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, sea slugs, flatworms, etc.


  • In July to December, be extra careful with box jellyfish, especially for night dives since the box jellyfish often come to reefs to feed at night and are attracted by flashlights.
  • The Titan Triggerfish of Koh Tao are known for their aggressiveness, especially during the nesting season. There are many cases where the fish chased and bit divers who came in their territories.

If you encounter a titan triggerfish, please keep the distance. If you notice its dorsal fin is erect, that means the fish feels threatened. You should immediately swim away. The best way to escape this fish is to swim horizontally, because its territory is conical (V-shaped) from the sea floor. And it’s recommended to swim backwards, always facing the fish to avoid being bitten.

Dive Site (Detail)

Chumphon Pinnacle: Maximum depth is 30 meters, filled with hard corals, soft corals, sea anemones, clownfish, and schools of fishes. Here is one of the best spots to encounter whale sharks.

Southwest Pinnacles: Maximum depth is 28 meters. There is a large rock surrounded by smaller rocks. There is a high variety of fishes and a good chance to see whale sharks. Even a Bryde's whale and the super rare guitarfish have been reported here.

Sail Rock: The name comes from the shape of rock above the surface. Maximum depth is 40 meters. The highlight is the "chimney", which is a tunnel for divers to dive down and explore. The entrance is at 5 meters depth and the exit is at 18 meters. There are schools of fish that sometimes can be as many as thousands. Variety of marine life can be found from the large whale shark to the tiny coral banded shrimp.

Underwater Sculptures: There are many of them that serve as artificial reefs such as:

  • Ocean Utopia: Located in Tao Thong Bay. Made by a French artist named Valérie Goutard.
  • Artificial reefs in Aow Luek: There are various structures from the concrete  sculpture of people’s faces which are now covered in corals, to the steel structures wrought into various shapes. They are made by artists and conservation divers from New Heaven Reef Conservation Program. Some corals on the structures were actively restored by the team of volunteers who rescued coral fragments on the seafloor and reattached them to the structures. Some of these structures are using the new technique called Mineral Accretion to enhance the growth rate.
  • Buoyancy World: Located near Twin Rocks. It is a structure made for practicing buoyancy. One of them is made into the shape of an octopus, which each tentacle has a hole for divers to swim through.

White Rock: Maximum depth is 22 meters. It’s one of the largest dive sites on the island and a popular night diving spot. There are a variety of animals including sea turtles, pufferfish, cuttlefish, moray eels, even a sea snake can be seen.

Shark Bay: This bay in the southern part of the island is a destination for snorkelers who want to see sharks and sea turtles. There are little corals here since a big die off after a massive bleaching event in the past. Now, it’s covered with algae and full of rubble, however, it’s home to many resident herbivores such as parrotfish and green sea turtles. Snorkelers have a good chance of seeing them. Blacktip reef sharks can be seen in the morning and evening.

Apart from dive sites mentioned above, there are many more interesting dive spots around the island such as Sattakut Shipwreck, Green Rock, Hin Wong Pinnacle, Shark Island, Japanese Garden, Nang Yuan Pinnacle, Mango Bay, Tanote Bay, Red Rock, etc.

Go There

Traveling to Koh Tao can be departed from many areas including Koh Samui, Surat Thani, and Chumphon.

From Koh Samui : After landing at Koh Samui Airport, you can take the Lomprayah speed boat to Koh Tao.

From Surat Thani: Whether you come by plane (Surat Thani Airport), by train (Surat Thani Station) or by bus (get off at Surat Thani city), there are two main types of boats to Koh Tao:

  • Speedboat: such as Lomprayah, which takes about 4 hours and costs approximately 1,000 baht. There is a pick up service from the airport or train station.
  • Night boat: departs around 9-11 pm and reaches the island in the early  morning. Tickets are cheaper, around 600 baht. There are several companies taking turns each day, such as the Koh Charoen, Sandee Maneesap, Mae Tapi, Secret, etc. You can check the boat schedule each month from this Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/gov.kohtao.

From Chumphon: You can arrive in Chumphon either by plane, train, or bus. Then you can catch a boat to Koh Tao, either speedboat or night boat.

  • Speedboat: The most popular one is Lomprayah, which costs around 750 baht and takes approximately 1 hour 45 minutes. The company has a pick up service from either the airport or train station to Thung Makham Noi pier, where the boat departs.
  • Night boat: departs around 9-11 pm and reaches the island in the early  morning. Tickets are around 500 baht. There are several companies taking turns each day, such as the Talay Sap, Pornthaweesin, etc. You can check the boat schedule each month from the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/gov.kohtao.
 Chumphon - Koh Tao

How to Go toChumphon - Koh Tao


Recompression Chamber 

SSS Chamber Network Koh Tao : Mae Haad, Tel 081-081-9777

Other Hospitals

Koh Tao Hospital : Mae Haad, Tel 077-456-490