PADI Open Water Diving Course in Koh Tao Thailand

I went for the PADI Open Water Diving Course in Koh Tao, Thailand, over a 4-day course. Scuba diving is one of the fun activities to do underwater and explore the world underneath. There are many places in the world where one can do this scuba diving, and when it comes to doing the certification course, there is one place that is popular in Southeast Asia, and that’s Koh Tao. The dive centres in Koh Tao are ranked among the top places, offering a very professional approach and being the best in the world. 

It has been one of my dreams to do the certification course for scuba diving, and there are quite a few good options in India and in other countries around India. The course spans 3–4 days, depending on the dive centre, covering various aspects of diving, from classroom sessions to pool training and 4 dives to a certificate to do fun dives anywhere around the world up to 18 meters. In this blog, I will cover everything you need to know before planning your big scuba diving certification trip to Koh Tao Island in Thailand

Koh Tao Island

Koh Tao Island, also known as Turtle Island, is part of the archipelago on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. You can reach Koh Tao by ferry from Koh Same or Surat Thani pier, which is a 2.5-hour bus ride from Krabi Town. Koh Tao is a small island with more than 50+ PADI dive centres offering everything from beginner to advanced training. In terms of dive sites, Koh Tao has some of the most amazing dive sites with flourishing corals, rich sea life, clear visibility, warm water, and less current in the sea.

In terms of cost, the PADI Open Water Diving course in Thailand is reasonably low compared to places like the Maldives or Europe. There is no doubt why there are so many dive centres in Koh Tao, and you will see people from across the world coming here to either pursue their course or just come to explore abundant dive sites. 

Koh Tao Thailand

PADI Open Water Diving Course

The PADI Open Water diving course lasts four days and includes classroom instruction as well as four dives in open waters. The course goes over various aspects of diving, from basic skill requirements to survival skills to emergency procedures. Let’s go over each and every day of the course:

Day 1: Classroom Session

Our first day of the course started with a classroom session, which involved going over the basic facts and knowledge of scuba diving. It includes knowing buoyancy, scuba gear, procedures, and know-how. Each part of the syllabus was shown in a detailed video, followed by a discussion session and a test. It was a whole day of training with an introduction to our scuba gear.

Day 2: Pool Training

The second day was the toughest as it involved training inside the pool, starting with getting used to scuba gear and doing various techniques underwater. From basic tests like breathing through a regulator and putting it back if it comes out to remove water from the mask, to more advanced sessions like descending, equalising, floating underwater, and staying still on the surface. With each session, activities got harder and harder. We did it on repeat until we were absolutely comfortable with it.

Day 3: Dive 1 and Dive 2

First day in the open water, a truly nervous yet exciting movement when we actually went into the sea and did the first dive. The first dive, as we expected, was a mess, but on the positive side, we managed to do everything our instructor asked us to do. The first dive is all about learning, doing the things we learned in the pool at 3m and 10m in the sea. After our first dive, we went over the mistakes we made, things we need to work on, and things we did right.

After a short break and changing our dive site, we went for our second dive. The second dive was definitely better than our first dive. We were more stable and managed to do all the tasks. We descended into the water, did all the skills, and then started to explore some before it was time to come up. Again we had to do some survival techniques to prove that we can manage ourselves in case of any emergency underwater. 

Day 4: Dive 3 and Dive 4

After the first 2 dives, we understood much better and managed to do better underwater. Whether it was removing water from the mask or even trying to maintain our buoyancy to navigate underwater, it was all part of learning. The third dive was when we had to do the final set of skills at 15m underwater. The main focus on the third dive was descending, as it is very important to go with equalising at each meter to avoid any pain in the ear. While coming on the surface, we had to practise safety stops at 5m, which was tough, but somehow we got through that as well. After the third dive, the fourth dive was all about exploring underwater as if we were on an actual fun dive. It was putting everything we learned into practise and also enjoying amazing sea life underwater. 

Once you complete all this, you are officially certified to fun dive anywhere in the world with a buddy up to 18m. You register yourself on the PADI app and write down your dive details along with those of the instructor in charge as a record of your dive. 

Dive Centre and Cost

The cost for certification is standard across Koh Tao; it is THB 11,000 per person, which includes equipment and diving. Now the big question comes, which dive centre to choose out of the 50+ available on the island? There are some that are very big and popular, like Ban’s and Crystal, whereas others are like Simple Life, Sairee Cottage, and many more.

I did my course with Crystal Dive Centre after going over various questions with them over email or phone. We communicated with 3–4 dive centres before finalising Crystal. Our focus on selecting a dive centre was first on the student-to-teacher ratio and second on their policy for those who couldn’t complete the course due to various reasons. Some centres offer a stay with the dive cost, which is basic, however, they do have deals with resorts to offer a better rate for your stay up to the course days. 

During a dive course in Koh Tao, shooting your dive yourself or for your instructor to do is strictly not allowed. It is basically for your safety, as they want you to focus more on learning and course instead of focusing on camera angles. However, they do allow you to hire a professional photographer or videographer to take your pictures during the last dive, but that is also up to your instructor. So if they say no for the camera, don’t feel bad. It is only for your own safety.

Things to do in Koh Tao

Apart from diving courses, Koh Tao also offers some fabulous snorkelling sites. During your stay, plan an extra day to visit Koh Nangyuan Island. It is 3 islands together, offering some amazing sightings of turtles and manta rays. Apart from that, there are many other popular sites for snorkelling, like Mango Bay, Tanote Bay, Lighthouse, Shark Island, etc. All these sites are also visited for diving, however, you can also snorkel at these sites from the shore. 

Sairee Beach is another popular spot on the island, as it offers amazing cafes and restaurants. Koh Tao is buzzing when it comes to cafes and restaurants; from vegan cafes to traditional Thai restaurants, it has nightclubs and pubs on the beach to relax and enjoy a sunset as you sip on some drinks and munch on the food. We found some Instagram-worthy cafes and restaurants. Must-try places in Koh Tao are Factory Cafe, Coconut Monkey, Cactus Cafe, Sandbar, Breeze, and Cafe Del Sol, to name a few. 

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Massage centres in Koh Tao are another popular activity to do, and some of them offer amazing views of the sea as you get your feet and back massaged. Even cost-wise, it is so reasonable that you will end up getting it almost every day.

The best way to travel around Koh Tao is on a 2-wheeler, as the island is quite small with small lanes and roads. Taxis are available that can drop you off at another location, and you can book them through local vendors. 

The only way you can reach Koh Tao is via ferry from Surat Thani and Koh Samui. Many tourists opt for a day trip to Koh Tao from Koh Samui, as there is daily ferry service between the islands.

Here are some common questions related to the PADI Open Water Diving Course in Koh Tao.

What are the prerequisites for the PADI Open Water Diving Course in Koh Tao?

Aside from the person’s swimming abilities, there are no specific requirements. Another important factor is the health of the applicant. Before enrolling in the course, it is advisable that anyone who has undergone surgery or has breathing or cardiac problems obtain a medical certificate. With regards to swimming capabilities, 10 minutes of float and 200m swimming are important. Some centres will not be that strict on completing the 200m swimming test. All they want to know is that you can swim and are capable of managing yourself in the sea. 

Which dive centres offer PADI Open Water Diving Certification on Koh Tao?

There are more than 50 centres in Koh Tao, and all of the certified centres in Koh Tao offer the course. They also offer Advanced Dive Certification and rescue diving.

How long does it take to complete the PADI Open Water Diving Course in Koh Tao?

It takes 4 days to complete the course. 

Is the PADI Open Water Certification in Koh Tao recognised worldwide?

Yes, the PADI certification you obtain in Koh Tao is recognised worldwide and allows you to dive up to 18 meter. As you register for the course, you also register yourself on the PADI website and put in your training dive details. After COVID, PADI centres don’t send physical certificates. They input and confirm your details online, and the same is available on the app. 

Can I book accommodation as part of the PADI Open Water Diving Course package in Koh Tao?

The centres offer stays on their own property and are affiliated with other resorts that offer discounted rates for your stay during the course of the course. Other accommodations vary from budgeted to premium as well. 

How to reach Koh Tao?

Koh Tao is accessible by ferry from three primary ports that connect to Surat Thani, Koh Samui, and Koh Pha Ngan. These ferries operate regularly between the mentioned islands, and you can conveniently book tickets online through trusted portals. We booked our ferry through 12GoAsia.


What sets Koh Tao apart as a top destination for PADI Open Water Diving Course training?

Apart from the cost of the course, the level of expertise and dive sites make Koh Tao the best location for diving and an open water dive course. Whoever comes to Koh Tao for more than 5 days enrols themselves in the course. Compared to other destinations like the Maldives or Indonesia, Koh Tao is very affordable. All the instructors are well trained and experienced. Personally, I found it much better considering dive sites have less current and tropical weather makes the water warmer. 

I tried to cover everything related to the PADI Open Water Diving Course in Koh Tao and the trip. Feel free to leave a comment should you require more information about the course or are planning a trip to Koh Tao. 

Check out my PADI Open Water Diving course in Koh Tao experience on the Eat Travel Fun Youtube Channel

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Mansi Oza

A travel enthusiast juggling a full-time gig in tourism with my love for exploration! Instead of tallying countries, I'm all about cherishing the experiences each journey brings. Whether it's blending business with leisure or diving headfirst into new adventures, I'm here to share the thrill of discovery with you! Let's embark on unforgettable escapades together!

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