The complete guide to Koh Samui diving – Tripfuser Travel Blog – Hand Crafted by Local Experts

Lying off the east coast of the mainland, Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island, renowned for its palm-fringed beaches and mountainous rainforests. But if you prefer getting your action underwater, Koh Samui offers a tempting range of dive sites. If you love exploring towering undersea pinnacles and vibrant reefs, and encountering majestic marine life, then Koh Samui scuba diving is calling you.

And you don’t need to be an experienced diver to enjoy hovering suspended above walls of coral amongst passing parades of fish. In fact, Koh Samui is a perfect place to learn to scuba dive, with one of the many available courses. For those with experience, a Koh Samui diving package may be just the thing for that Thailand holiday you’ve always wanted to take.

Dive sites

This internationally-renowned site is located north of Samui, between the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. The granite pinnacle extends 15 metres above the water, but the excitement all happens underneath, where it plunges to the sand 30 metres below. It’s an ideal site for divers of all levels, with something to see from the surface to the sea floor.

Sail Rock’s most famous feature is the “chimney”—a vertical swim-through that is entered at 18 metres and can be exited at 12 or 7 metres into gardens of pink anemones. With few other pinnacles nearby, Sail Rock is a magnet for marine life, with whale sharks being one of the main attractions. The coral-crusted pinnacle is also home to a myriad of reef-dwelling fish, like angelfish, butterfly fish and scorpion fish. The currents bring schools of pelagics including barracuda, tuna, king mackerel and trevally.

Sail Rock is usually dived in a circular fashion, starting deep and spiralling towards the surface. There can be strong currents around the rock, in which case the local divemasters will guide divers to more sheltered areas. Advanced divers may be able to explore a series of submerged pinnacles off the main rock, which are home to reef sharks.

Offering some of the most stunning diving in Thailand, the Ang Thong Marine Park lies roughly 30 kilometres northwest of Samui. The park is a protected area of more than 100 square kilometres. Comprised of numerous limestone islands, Ang Thong boasts underwater scenery to float any divers’ boat, such as caves, swim throughs, overhangs and sloping reefs.

Almost directly north of Koh Samui lies Koh Tao, a much smaller island. Just southeast of Koh Tao, Shark Island is a small uninhabited island named for its resemblance to a shark’s dorsal fin. Shark Island is best known for its diversity of marine life. Sloping gently from the surface down to 24m, each side of the island is a separate dive site— one side has a vast variety of hard corals and sponges, and is a popular home for turtles. The other side boasts some of the most spectacular soft corals you’ll see diving in Thailand, with frequent sightings of stingrays, moray eels, pufferfish, porcupine fish and titan triggerfish.

The main pinnacle is completely carpeted with magnificent pink, blue and green anemones, with their resident anemone fish. You’ll see scorpion fish, dancing shrimps, crabs and groupers. Marine life also includes snappers, emperor, blue-spotted ribbontail rays, white-eyed moray eels and harlequin sweetlips. Giant grouper dwell in the depths, with leopard sharks and whale sharks also visiting the site. King mackerel, tuna and trevally are regulars.

It now rests in the sand, with the stern lying in around 30 metres of water, the bow in 26 meters, and the bridge at 18 metres. The wreck—which is 49 metres long and 7 metres wide with two canons—has already accumulated an abundance of marine life. From the portholes on either side, divers can see giant groupers, one-spotted snappers, sweetlips and butterfly fish who have made a home inside.

Dive operators are located at all the main beach resorts, offering everything from one day courses that give you a taste of Koh Samui diving, right through to instructor level training. PADI is the most common diving certification agency on Koh Samui, with a few dive centres also offering certification from other agencies such as CMAS, SSI, and NAUI. The low down on going under Visibility

Between October and November, monsoonal winds and swells are rarely severe enough to interfere with diving trips, but can reduce visibility and make boat rides a bit bumpier. From November and February, rain and wind from the northeast monsoon can affect the Gulf, causing waves and a drop in visibility to 10m, so it’s not the ideal time for your Koh Samui diving holiday. Water temperature

Sunburn and dehydration are the most common injuries suffered diving in Koh Samui. The sun can be very strong, so be sure to use sun safety principles—stay in the shade (many boats will have a shaded canopy), wear a hat and UV protective clothing, and apply sunscreen liberally and frequently. Nothing can ruin diving holidays faster than burned, raw skin.

Alternatively, catch a night train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, and transfer to the ferry port for Samui. The standard ferry takes 2½ hours; there is a slow night ferry; and a couple of faster boats. Trains are often full, so book well in advance. The cheapest option is bus transport, but some are more comfortable than others, so check out what you’re paying for. The bus trip takes about 10 hours from Bangkok to Surat Thani.