by Jane de Leon
Fabulous sights await you diving off Koh Tao!
The island used to be a prison island up until the 1930s. The first settlers of the island were the released prisoners and their families.
Koh Tao means turtle island but life in this island is most things but not slow-paced as its meaning implies. Though the island has become a major tourist destination, it has retained some of its quaintness, its natural resources preserved.
The island was unknown to the outside world until 20 years ago when some backpackers stumbled on the beautiful place. Koh Tao is now pretty much the diving capital of Thailand. The clear blue waters and the many interesting dive sites off the island have attracted amateur and professional divers.
Many enterprising expats have set up camp on the island and some of the earliest Koh Tao Resorts & dive centers are owned and operated by expats.
Koh Tao is more famous as a scuba diving vacation. There are more than 30 safe and breathtakingly beautiful dive sites around the island. Diving schools with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and SSI (Scuba Schools International) instructors pepper the island.
To date, there are more than 40 internationally accredited diving schools in Koh Tao. Most dive sites are within 10 to 15 minutes from the island of Koh Tao.
“White Rock” is a very popular dive site for its variable depth of 2 meters to 20 meters. In this dive site are two giant pinnacles rising from a depth of 20 meters.
Soft corrals and hard corrals are found in the area and marine life such as: groupers, angelfish, parrot fishes and butterfly fishes are abundant. Night dives will bring you face to face with barracudas.
“The Twins” has three, not two, peaks of covered with sponges and corrals. Depth is from 7 meters to 17 with abundant trigger fishes and banner fishes. The occasional sting ray could also be found here.
“The Green Rock” has a maximum depth of 25 meters. The dive site is more challenging as there are crevices, swim holes and arches that you can swim through. This site is definitely not for beginners as it’s one of the deeper dive sites in Koh Tao. The occasional great white shark is spotted here.
“Chumphon Pinnacle” is one of the most challenging dives sites off Koh Tao. With a depth of 36 meters and a strong current to boast, this dive site is certainly not for the fainthearted.The dive site is home to black corals, huge anemone gardens, giant groupers and yellow box fishes. There are four submerged pinnacles alive with mackerel and barracuda. There are batfishes too who are more than willing to swim around with you around the pinnacles.
There are more dive sites for all levels of diving skills, beginner to pro. If you don’t know how to dive, the diving schools in Koh Tao are tops. You can take your pick!.