How to Prepare for Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand: A First-Timer’s Guide

It's going to be one unforgettable experience.
by | June 22, 2017

As Thailand’s tourism is year upon year soaring, one of the main pulls of the land of smiles is undoubtedly its pristine and popular southern islands. With each one almost having their own identity as independent and adventurous travelers, there seems to be something for everyone. One of the islands gets a reputation more than any other and is the first location for many travelers who want to try their hand at scuba diving.

Koh Tao is famed for its laid-back vibe, hedonistic approach, and abundance of scuba dive shops. Koh Tao’s appeal lies in two factors: the availability to dive for the first time, and how cheap it is to do so. With Koh Tao being one of the cheapest destinations in the world to acquire your Open Water Diving Certification, many travelers flock here and either experiment with scuba diving or eventually (if not swiftly) fall in love with it.

If you fancy exploring the world underwater, and Koh Tao is your first destination to do so, we’ve got the lowdown on how to prepare for your experience.


Decide if you want to stay at a dive shop accommodation

Staying at a dive shop accommodation likely means you’ll be a part of a big group of other travelers with the same idea of scuba diving for the first time. Especially when you’re doing your Open Water. It could get crowded, but it’s great to live and breathe the vibe while you’re at it. If this is for you, go for it.


Shop around if you’re eager to do so

With more and more dive shops opening up in Tao, it’s safe to say tourists are flocking the area. Make sure you don’t get ripped off just for the money, and you’re comfortable with your instructors. Some instructors might say you’re ready when you don’t think you are.

If you’re seeking a one-on-one dive experience

Everyone is different; so if that means you want a more personal one-on-one dive experience, then discuss that with the dive shops and instructors. Some people learn better that way or just feel more comfortable. The price might be a tad more expensive, but you know you’ll be getting the full attention of your instructor.

Don’t go partying before your first dive

Due to the Thai islands’ laid-back nature; it’s going to be hard not to have fun. So, whether you’re partying at Fishbowl Bar, or on the beach, try keeping it timid if you’re diving. You’ll only feel it worse in the water the next day!

If you begin your open water certification, finish it

This goes without saying but if you start your Open Water, make sure you get through it. You’re paying the money for this qualification, and although the first day might seem a bit unsettling, you’ll feel better the second day once you get back in the water.

Make sure you do pool work prior

One of the big mistakes some dive schools do is throwing unprepared travelers into the ocean with all the funky and uncomfortable equipment on, without any real practice. Make sure you do some pool work prior, just to get used to the breathing at least!

Being nervous is normal

Some people will take to the water; others have a fear of it. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there. Speak to your instructor about this and do some research. A lot of it is because the whole underwater situation is new to you, but once you realize nothing is coming to eat you, and you’re among other divers looking out for you, your nerves will calm down. Protip: concentrate on how beautiful the underwater world is!


Enjoy it

The peace is beautiful, the corals are colorful, and marine life is fascinating — you’re doing something not a lot of people get a chance to. The ocean is detrimental to our ecosystems and lives, so enjoy the chance of seeing the diversity of what makes this world. In the water you’re free, and you’ll feel like you’re flying. Embrace the beautiful adventure that is scuba diving!

Tommy Walker originates from Northeast England. He began his journey on the road back in 2012 throughout Asia, Oceania and Latin America. Now, over 4 years in, he is a freelance travel writer and content marketing specialist. Tommy has visited the Philippines twice and especially raves about Banaue. He has attended Sinulog festival, swum with Whalesharks and even DJ’d in Boracay! He was featured in the Business Insider, BBC and Choose Philippines. Tommy goes by his own motto “every new place is a good place.” If you don’t see Tommy focused doing Hot Yoga, trailing through rainforests, ducking into the ocean or eating local street food, you’ll see him at a small bar drinking what the locals drink!

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