Publish date :: 19 January 2020
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Thailand is not so famous for surfing (even though there are a few great places where you can learn how to surf, rent equipment and practice your favourite activity, eg. Kata Beach in Phuket) but it is one of the best places for diving, taking the second place after Indonesia. And the best place for learning how to dive in the whole world. 

There are a few reasons why you should choose Thailand to get your first diving certificate:

The highest number of diving professionals who came to Thailand to fulfill their dreams and become diving instructors.

Dive instructors here are passionate about the ocean, the underwater life, the ecological situation in the coral reefs, the bottom and the shores. Weekly hundreds of schools around Thailand are gathering to pick up trash and clean the ocean from the people’s intervention.

Most of the diving places like Koh Tao, Koh Lanta, Phi Phi islands, Phuket, Koh Lipe, some places in Krabi have already prohibited to sell unnecessary plastic (like plastic bags, straws, plastic cups) to stop wasting and prevent all those plastic straws end up in the ocean. Thailand has a long way to go, but the first steps were definitely made.

The price of the diving course is considered one of the lowest in the world. The lowest can be found only in Malaysia.

As an example, we will show you the price range in different countries provided by the official PADI organization in 2019. We will take the most common places people go to get their dive certificate:

  • Thailand (345 USD for the diving course in Koh Tao)
  • Malaysia (236 USD)
  • Indonesia (495 USD)
  • Australia (699 USD)
  • Fiji (505 USD)

Thailand has amazing diving spots and unique underwater life that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

The ocean life of Thailand includes 83 unique species which can be found only in Thailand or mostly in Thailand. There are 7 species of sharks, stingrays and rays in Thailand: Coral catshark, blacktip reef shark, blue spotted stingray, famous whale shark - the biggest shark in the world which you can only spot in Thailand (the best time is March, April), unique and absolutely gorgeous zebra shark, whitetip reef shark and leopard shark.

Thailand is considered the safest place in the world to dive.

Especially Ko Tao which was untouched by the 2004 tsunami. The water in Thailand is calm, there are no harsh underwater streams that can turn your learning into a lot of hustle. There are no dangerous animals underwater that can hurt you or which you can’t avoid by the surveillance of the experienced dive instructor.

Okay, now we have found out why Thailand. But Thailand is huge and there are hundreds of dive schools. Which one to choose?

There are beautiful places to go diving all around Thailand. You can choose any location you would go to spend a vacation as there are no bad choices. Places, where the diving courses are available, are Ko Tao, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, the whole region of Similan Islands, Krabi, Khao Lak, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui.

Our absolute recommendation is, of course, Ko Tao. Ko Tao is a small, chill island with the biggest concentration of diving schools in Thailand. There are more than 60 schools and each of them is highly professional and has something unique and special. Recently, the new price regulations were implemented and now all the schools are obligated to have the same price level (which is 11000 THB or 345 USD) so the new diver can choose based on the professional qualifications and not on price.

This rule also allows schools to stop competing on price and put more effort to raise the quality and bring new interesting features. 

We know that it’s so hard to choose from such a variety of schools and we went to ALL of them to make a list of THE BEST ones and tell you what is so special about each of them.

Below you can see the name of the school and the main features that make it special. Read till the end to learn also how to find the cheaper price for the course and have a private island all by yourself as a bonus:

1) Calypso Dive Ko Tao

Calypso Dive Ko Tao Center, Thailand 

  • The best and less crowded location in Koh Tao with an absolutely gorgeous beach. The way to Tanote Bay is curvy and not easy, but the view and nature is breathtaking
  • Has been established over 20 years ago
  • German, Thai, English and French languages are available 
  • Shore diving (not in the program of most schools)
  • Diving in Tanote reef (other schools don’t always have access to it)

Tanote Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand

2) Simple Life Divers

Simple Life Divers Center, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • PADI 5 stars dive school
  • Socially responsible: they are cleaning reefs and Koh Tao beaches on an everyday basis
  • Have their own pool and beach from where the boats leave to the diving destination
  • Have their own diving resort and restaurant with the freezer for beer (that is rare on the islands)

3) Koh Tao Divers (KTD)

Koh Tao Divers (KTD) Center, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • The oldest diving school in Koh Tao
  • The only Finnish school on the island
  • The crew members are professional tech and cave divers 
  • The owners of the school took part in Thai cave rescue (Tham Luang caves case in 2018 when 12 boys and their assistant soccer coach were stuck in the flooded cave for three weeks)

4) Rainbow Fish Divers 

Rainbow Fish Divers Center, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • German and Engish courses available
  • Concentrating on teaching and safety. The classes are taken seriously
  • They only form small groups 
  • Introduced environmental friendly policies

5) Czone Diver

Czone Diver Center, Koh Tao Thailand

  • Run private course/family course/couple course
  • English, German, Dutch, Thai and Spanish languages
  • Thai instructors
  • An atmosphere of a Thai Family

6) Pura Vida Diving Koh Tao

Pura Vida Diving Center. Koh Tao, Thailand

  • Number 1 certifying dive school chain in the world!
  • Have their own hostel and restaurant to build the strong Pura Vida Diving community
  • They have their own diving boats 
  • They are famous for great parties and fun atmosphere. Plus they make delicious Argentinian barbeque.

7) Master Divers

Master Divers Center, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • They are proud of their own conservation department which takes care of the regular beach clean ups 
  • Take an active part in the island life being responsible for its life and prosperity
  • A study by the book, no quick jumping and “skipping unnecessary”
  • Flexible timetable and small groups

8) Pimp My Dive Koh Tao

Pimp My Dive, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • French, Spanish and English Course
  • Rescue diving course
  • Stick to their words and keep their promises
  • An atmosphere of being part of a French family

9) Koh Tao Scuba Club

Koh Tao Scuba Club, Thailand

  • You walk in as a stranger, leave as a family
  • Lunch included in the price of the course and you will have a barbeque party
  • Russian, Chinese, German, English, Thai, and Spanish courses
  • Small groups of 4 people

10) Isla Tortuga Divers

Isla Tortuga Divers, Koh Tao, Thailand

  •  Practice all 24 skills and don’t skip any
  • One of the few schools that never had accidents
  • They create a community, show you the best places to go and will take care of you while you are on the island
  • Have textbooks in almost all the languages 
  • Very responsible instructors
  • The Spanish branch of the third largest dive centre in the world

11) Aqua Tao, Koh Tao

Aqua Tao, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • French Dive Schools
  • Everything is official and legal
  • Have their own boats
  • Offer long wet suits for more protection
  • Close to the pier

12) Pearl Diving Center

Pearl Diving Center, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • The first diving session is not in the pool like in all other schools but in the sea
  • Breakfast included in price plus snacks after diving sessions
  • They use their private beach for practising and even during the first dives you get a gorgeous view of corals and fish
  • Fixed schedule of where to dive
  • They offer try dives
  • They offer coral conservation courses

13) Koh Tao Diving Academy

Koh Tao Diving Academy, Thailand

  • Spanish, German and English are available
  • Flexible timetable. They will adapt to your pace and ability to learn and apply skills
  • Will go through all the materials and information with you as many times as you need until you know it
  • Great people and atmosphere

14) Ocean sound dive + Yoga

Ocean sound dive + Yoga, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • The only diving centre that also has yoga
  • Number 1 on TripAdvisor for 5 years
  • Focuses only on Entry-level, Discovery, Open Water, and Advanced courses
  • Not a diving certificate 
  • Not a dive certificate factory but rather focuses on students experience and quality of education
  • Has long-term working instructors

15) Ban’s Diving Resort 

Ban’s Diving Resort, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • The whole diving resort!
  • The biggest diving centre in the world! 
  • Running since 1993
  • Have the large diving boats
  • Provide very personal service even though they grew up so large
  • Have one of the best instructors due to the high competition to get a job here
  • Involved in the island life
  • Do regular beach cleanups
  • Have a very active social life
  • Have their own recycle centre

16) Sairee Cottage Diving

Sairee Cottage Diving

  • Have a great variety of high professional gear
  • Have their own boat and control their own diving schedule
  • Create a social hug where everyone is comfortable 
  • Provide a high level of education and have groups up to 6 people
  • Have a beautiful pool, bar and sea view
  • Have their own compressor and technicians so all the gears and equipment can be fixed right away

17) Siam Scuba Dive Centre

Siam Scuba Dive Centre, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • You come as the customer and leave as the family
  • Safe and trustworthy
  • Russian, French, German and English courses 
  • Not about business, it’s about family, touch and knowledge
  • Having experience on the beach, and having as much time in the water as possible (to have the real diving experience)
  • A lot of self-studies are implemented

18) Carabao Diving

Carabao Diving, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • 3 own boats
  • Perfect location right on the beach
  • Amazing facilities
  • A very social place. A lot of activities are going on and there is always something fun to do and hang out even after the course is over
  • German, Italian, English, French and Spanish

19) Nava Scuba Diving

Nava Scuba Diving, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • Free pick-up and drop-off service
  • Free lunch included
  • Family courses (Bubble-maker course from 8 years old)
  • Have their own dog
  • Nice place to hang out and see a sunset
  • Great spot and classroom with an amazing view over the sea
  • You get an amazing shirt, handy bag, and a bracelet.

20) Koh Nang Yuan Easy Divers 

Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

Koh Nang Yuan Easy Divers, Koh Tao, Thailand

  • The only school on the private island in Thailand, 15 minutes by taxi boat from Koh Tao
  • Have access to special diving spots which are not available for other schools
  • The price is 9700 THB (20% cheaper than on Koh Tao as it is not under the Koh Tao law)
  • If you take the course, you get a great discount for accommodation on the Nang Yuan Island. The great benefit of the island and staying here is that after 5 pm the National Park is closing its gates and you will be the only one on the island until 10 am! Whole personal island only for you!