Thailand is one destination where you can expect amazing scenery almost anywhere you go around the country. There are many beautiful modern cities, but one of the biggest attractions are the country’s beaches. Thailand boasts some of the best beaches around the world. This fact can be attributed to the several islands that are part of the country. When you combine amazing islands with ideal weather almost year round, you’re sure to always choose Thailand as your choice destination.
Many of Thailand’s islands are major tourist destinations, and once you step foot on them, you will understand why. The islands here offer a range of activities to enjoy and plenty of scenery to explore. At almost every island around Thailand, you will find that diving is a major island activity. One of the most popular islands in Thailand for diving is known as Koh Samui.
Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island and is a major tourist destination. Many people view Koh Samui as a paradise. The island itself is inhabited by locals, but the majority of people you see here are visitors looking to enjoy the island experience. Tourism is the main driver to the island so you can expect anywhere you go to be catered specifically to the industry. On Koh Samui, you will find many hotels, resorts, shops, and food markets showcasing the local produce.
There is a vast tropical forest that surrounds the middle of the island but around the shores are amazing beaches. The beaches welcome you with white sand and clear blue waters with views looking out into the Gulf of Thailand.
There are several ways of getting to Koh Samui from around Thailand. The island is large enough to support its own airport, so the easiest way is simply to fly into the island. You can also find many ferries that will bring you to the island as well.
Diving in Koh Samui
Koh Samui has a lot to offer for tourists and is worth exploring. One of the main draws to the island are the beaches and water activities available around the island. Koh Samui has several beaches along its shores with each creating their special atmosphere. One activity that a lot of visitors enjoy taking part of while at Koh Samui is diving. Koh Samui has some of the best diving in Thailand. The water of the Gulf of Thailand is perfect for exploring and has an abundance of underwater life to keep you amazed.
Best Koh Samui Dive Spots
Koh Samui earns its recognition of having some of the best diving spots in Thailand. This island is a hub for accessing a variety of diving locations that are each a short distance away from the island. Koh Samui provides many services and dive centres that you can use as a resource for finding the best diving. The sites around Koh Samui range in dive skill level from first-time divers to highly experienced divers. Each dive centre will be able to help you select the right place for diving as this is a major factor for a successful dive trip. Two of the most popular diving areas for everyone are Sail Rock and Koh Tao.
Sail Rock is one of the main diving locations for Koh Samui. It is a short distance from the island’s shores and can be reached by boat. Sail Rock’s distance makes for amazing diving because it is isolated from the high traffic area of Koh Samui.
The dive site is famous for the large rock formation emerging from the water. You can follow this formation down to its depths where you will begin to see the abundance of Sail Rock marine life. There are also several other rock formations that do not rise above the water but go just as deep. Sail Rock is known for the many species of fish that dwell here. Some of the fish you will encounter include Barracuda and Queenfish. The colourful array of fish is truly a must-see. Whale sharks are also known to swim here if you come at the right time.
One feature of Sail Rock that’s very well-known is called “The Chimney.” “The Chimney” is a part of the rock formation that opens up and allows divers to descend in the middle of the rock. The bottom of this formation reveals an entirely new set of sea life. You will come across several shellfish, eel, and sea corals which houses countless other creatures.
Chumphon Pinnacle is the second most popular diving location around Koh Samui. It is nearby an island known specifically for its diving spots called Koh Tao. Koh Tao is relatively close to Koh Samui and many visitors to the island venture to this destination for the variety of diving spots around it.
Chumphon Pinnacle is an underwater haven for divers. The site is a large rock formation that is completely submerged in the water and has several other nearby smaller formations. Near the top of the rock, close to the surface, you will find many fish species such as anemone, and shellfish including crab and shrimp. The foot of the rock is home to much larger fish. This is where you will come across several schools of fish, including the most common, barracudas.
The smaller rock formations that surround, the larger site also hold their own unique marine life creatures. You will encounter large fish such as Giant Barracudas and Giant Groupers. These are known to hang around these formations known as pinnacles.
One place with amazing marine life is Koh Yippon. Koh Yippon is a very popular diving site since its proximity to the Angthong National Marine Park. This is not far from Koh Samui but gives an entirely different environment for diving. Koh Yippon consists of more than 50 islands, each able to be explored with diving. The maximum depth at Koh Yippon is 25 meters.
A favourite feature about diving in Koh Yippon is the underwater caves. There are several shallow caves that you can swim through and see a variety of marine life. The underwater caves and rock formations around Koh Yippon are habitats for many sea creatures including schools of fish, coral, and even sting rays. Whale Sharks are also frequent guests here.
Koh Yippon diving is ideal when conditions are right. The water current here ranges from still to fast currents. When the water is still, you will have more visibility and an easier time navigating the Koh Yippon waters while diving.
Koh Wao is located within the Angthong National Park region. This region also consists of several islands, and Koh Wao is the most northern. Its location gives it the deepest waters compared to the other islands (18 meters), but it still has clear visibility for an enjoyable diving experience.
Koh Wao name originated from the shape of its island which resembles a “sleeping dragon.” The outer area of the island is deep, but you will also come across shallow bays which are also good places for snorkelling.
Koh Wao is known for its rare underwater plant life. This is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the island. It has several coral types which will add some colour to your underwater view. Swimming within the coral and reef are many types of fish including angelfish, groupers, snappers, etc. You will be able to see schools of these fish swimming around Koh Wao.
Other Diving Spots Nearby Koh Samui
The top diving spots around Koh Samui are good places to begin diving because they offer a range of marine life to enjoy all in one location. There are many other diving spots that are more specific as to what you will see and also cater to different diving levels.
Some great diving locations for beginners include Mango Bay, Aow Leuk, and many parts of Green Rock. These are ideal for beginners because the waters in these locations are more shallow and have fewer currents. You will still find a large assortment of underwater life at each of these. Many of these dive spots will have a big range of fish, coral, etc. The clear water of the Gulf of Thailand is a huge bonus. You will enjoy the underwater visibility to see as much of the sites as you can.
Some of the more advanced diving sites are Shark Island, Green Rock, and Twins. Beginners can also navigate them, but their depths and currents make them a bit more challenging. It is also the reason why you can discover a different set of marine life the deeper you go from the surface.
Koh Samui Diving Centers
The popularity of Koh Samui diving has led to the establishment of many diving centres around the island. These diving centres will be able to provide all the necessary equipment and information for getting the best diving experience that you’re expecting. These diving centres can also provide training and guided tours for exploring the underwater world around Koh Samui. The top diving centres around the island are The Dive Academy and Searobin Dive Center.
Both of these dive centres have multiple locations around Koh Samui and offer a variety of tours for diving. These tours will take you along to many of the top diving locations including Sail Rock and the Koh Tao locations. The tours are available for a half day or a whole day depending on the route you wish to take. The great thing about these tours is that even if your diving group has a mix of beginners and experts, the guided tours make them fun for everyone. Speedboats are used for transporting between diving sites and whole day tours may even provide a meal during the tour.
Koh Samui Freediving
One feature of the diving centres and many of the others around Koh Samui is their courses on Freediving. Freediving is a special kind of diving that is more natural and takes special skill to do. Typically, when you dive, you will have special dive equipment and suits that will help you stay underwater longer and also maintain when certain depths are reached. Freediving is the exact opposite. Freedivers have essentially no equipment on and rely on trained breathing, swimming techniques to last underwater and enjoy the same pleasures as regular diving. Koh Samui has many of these courses available to visitors and range in duration for proper prep.
Beginners are welcome to join any of the intro courses that take you thru a series of classes and level upgrades to work you way up to an expert freediver. These courses start you off with various breathing exercises and take you into training pools for practice. Many visitors may have other plans for exploring other parts of the island or Thailand overall. This is an experience that should not be passed up so many of the dive centres on Koh Samui hold 1-day courses. You may not get to explore the depths that an expert freediver can reach but this is a good crash course to learn the basics and get a taste of the underwater sport.
Koh Samui Snorkelling
Koh Samui is also a destination if you have an interest in snorkelling. Snorkelling is a milder version of diving, but at Koh Samui, you will get a lot of the same pleasure close to the surface. There are several snorkelling tours that will take you to snorkelling places nearby Koh Samui. This is one activity that you can do right along the beaches of Koh Samui if you choose. The island itself has a lot of underwater sights. You can also get a more abundant marine life experience by venturing to many of the same locations that are popular for diving.
The diving spots nearby Koh Samui have more shallow areas that are perfect sites for snorkelling. The diving centres are also useful for locating this exact sites to see many unique underwater features. Sail Rock is just as good for snorkelling as it is for diving. Closer to the surface you will still be able to witness the beauty of underwater and the abundant life it holds. The clear water reveals many of the schools of fish swimming right below you and the various rock formations that divers often explore. You will also come across a lot of coral reefs that have a lot of sea creatures inhabiting them.
Snorkelling in Koh Tao
Koh Tao is also a location that doubles as a great snorkelling site. The marine life at Koh Tao is ideal since it’s isolated so you’ll see just as much sea life as you would while diving here. Koh Tao has many shallow bays to explore by snorkelling as well. Snorkelling tours come here and take you around to various parts of the island to see many different views and sea life. The clear waters benefit snorkelers as much as the divers because you will have great visibility underwater to see at a good distance through the water and into its depths.
Snorkelling in Angthong National Marine Park
There is also a nearby Angthong Marine Park which is a major snorkelling site around Koh Samui. This is another island that has both emerald pools and island caves that you can explore via snorkelling. This site can be accessed on different snorkelling tours provided at Koh Samui.
The Gulf of Thailand has amazing water conditions for vibrant marine life and diving is the perfect way to explore its depths. Koh Samui is a destination for all tourists and those with interest in diving get an even better experience when they visit. There are many resources available around the island to customise your diving journey. With guided tours, you will be able to get a better understanding of the underwater life, and natural formations found here. And if you’re up for the challenge, try your hand at freediving. This will be a one-of-a-kind experience, and Koh Samui is the best place to do it.