Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive Sites

Planning to Dive Thailand? Check Out Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive Sites

Want to dive Thailand but you’re not sure where to go? Check out a few of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep dive sites. First, learn about Koh Tao’s island beauty and charm, next check out this amazing video packed with local scenery and marine life, then read some highlights about our top five favorite dive sites.

Koh Tao’s Island Beauty

Koh Tao, a tropical gem in the gulf of Thailand, forms part of the Chumphon Archipelago. White sand beaches fringed with palm trees, rugged cliffs, and stunning sunsets mesmerize all who make the ferry trip from the mainland. Even more amazing, Koh Tao’s underwater reefs captivate scuba divers with coral encrusted rock pinnacles, vibrant reefs, and our local ship wrecks, the HTMS Sattakut, the Unicorn, and the M.V. Trident.

If you’re interested in big marine life, turtles, whale sharks, black tipped reef sharks, and even spotted eagle rays, and dolphins may be seen throughout the year. At all times, an abundance of chevron barracuda, fusilier, and rabbit fish school around our favorite dive sites. Read on to learn about Koh Tao dive sites.

School Chevron Barracuda Fish by Richard Carey. Adobe Stock

25 Dive Sites – More Than You Can Squeeze in a Vacation

Koh Tao boasts a little over 25 dive sites, each unique and worthy of exploration. It’s possible to explore a new dive site every day on your vacation and not return to the same site; however, we choose the most suitable sites for training, leaving the deep and more remote sites for advanced, specialty, and fun divers to explore. Sites range from crystal clear and shallow bays, coral gardens, limestone formations, artificial reefs, reef nursery’s and our ship wrecks.

On Koh Tao, SCUBA divers dive all year, as a number of Koh Tao’s bays are protected from the wind by the land formations. Outside of the monsoon months of November through January, calm, bright waters are the norm. The clarity and calmness of our local waters provide excellent conditions for student SCUBA divers.

To get a taste of Koh Tao, watch this beautiful, one-minute video about the island and our reefs, then read about our top five, favorite, deep Koh Tao dive sites below. These sites require a minimum of the PADI Deep Adventure Dive certification to appreciate them fully due to their depths beyond 18 meters.

Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive Sites

Chumphon Pinnacle: #1of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive Sites
(Deep to 40 meters)

This is one of Koh Tao’s most famous dive sites for its spectacular pinnacles teeming with abundant marine life. Despite its name, Chumphon Pinnacle features a series of stunning granite and coral-encrusted pinnacles which are home to batfish, giant grouper, travelly and giant schools of barracuda and snapper. The occasional whale shark and manta ray also visit, thrilling divers who long for the dream opportunity to swim with these mesmerizing creatures.

On every visit, divers can take pleasure in the rich anemones of all different colors, branching corals, sea whips, and barrel sponges, which cling to every side and depth of this gorgeous dive site. On the west side and north of Barracuda Rock, divers may discover a swim through with a plaque in memorial of a local diver. The amazing life and beauty of this large dive site makes it #1 on our list of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive sites.

Ready to Come Learn to Dive with Us? Choose Your SCUBA Adventure here. 

It's whale shark madness on Koh Tao.

PADI Instructor Chris giving the Okay sign while a whale shark passes above. Chris’s student stares up in awe at the majestic shark.

South-West Pinnacle: #2 of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive Sites

 (Deep to 30 meters)

South West dive site includes a series of rock formations ranging from 4 meters / 13 feet to 30 meters / 100 feet. Divers discover breathtaking carpet anemones in brilliant greens, pinks and blues, with inhabiting pink anemone fish. Crevices and ledges among the pinnacles provide hiding places for snappers, emperor and harlequin sweetlips.

What about whale sharks? Whale sharks are occasional visitors to South West pinnacle, delighting lucky SCUBA divers. More often, divers see large schools of snapper, yellowtail barracuda and fusiliers inhabit the reef. SCUBA divers who look carefully also see scorpionfish, stonefish and other bottom dwellers here, too. More this year, local divers spotted guitar sharks on the bottom.

South West pinnacle’s sheer size, and the fact that it’s surrounded by thriving marine life, makes it #2 on our list of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive sites.

Very near to South West Pinnace, divers who spend more time on Koh Tao will enjoy Secret Pinnacle, a compact dive site with a couple of gorgeous pinnaces. Although, it’s not far from the cluster at South West, it’s much less known or visited by big boats. Good navigation skills and dive planning are required to reach South West, as it’s about a five minute swim from the western mooring line block. For old-school Koh Tao diver’s, Secret Pinnacle may top the #2 spot for a sweet deep dive.

Ready to Come Learn to Dive with Us? Choose Your SCUBA Adventure here. 

Gun at bow of HTMS Sattakut.

HTMS Sattakut Wreck: #3 of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive Sites

(Deep to 30 meters)

The Sattakut, one of Thailand’s premier wrecks provides divers with the opportunity to explore a military vessel with an interesting history. It’s depth of 30 meters makes it well within reach of recreational divers certified as Advanced Open Water or the Deep certification.

The Thai Royal Navy sunk the 48 meters/158 foot long, Sattakut in 2011 just off the Mae Haad beach near Koh Tao. The sinking itself provides an interesting story, as the team was not successful on the first attempt. Finally set upright, the ship now rests straight up on its hull, anchored in place by chain and cable, which are visible to divers.

The HTMS Sattakut was originally a Landing Craft, Infantry (or LCI) amphibious assault ship deployed during WWII. Now, it provides an artificial reef and home to dense schools of fusiliers and yellowtail barracuda as well as groupers, trevally, and moray eels. Diving deep to 30 meters and looking under the stern, divers often discover a jenkins ray. This is one dive site which continues to thrive year after year with new discoveries made daily by our local divers as the ship becomes habitat to an increasing number marine life. Our favorite places to explore on the Sattakut include the pilot house, the highest point at the mid point, and the guns at the bow and aft.

Divers interested in exploring the HTMS Sattakut in more depth have the opportunity to penetrate the inner passageways as part of the PADI Wreck Specialty course. We truly enjoy teaching this specialty for the opportunity to go inside the ship ourselves. Read about Halie’s wreck penetration with new PADI instructors here.  The exciting opportunity to train on and penetrate the Sattakut makes it #3 on our list of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive sites.

Ready to Come Learn to Dive with Us? Choose Your SCUBA Adventure here. 

White Rock: #4 of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive Sites

(26+ meters)

White Rock’s two rock pinnacles span a large dive site with a narrow, sandy channel fringed with a series of ledges and steps between. On one side with higher exposure to current, fan corals are a definite highlight. Look closely into the recesses and holes to find moray eels, cleaner shrimps, and other reef fish seeking shelter. Other reef life which divers can expect to see here include a variety of nudibranch and sea slugs, blue spotted rays, file fish, turtles, and a range of butterfly fish and angelfish species. If you love to take underwater photos and videos, you will want to visit White Rock.

White Rock is a favorite dive site of old and new divers alike for the wide variety of life that may be found. Whether your’e interested in schooling fish, cleaner shrimp, or tiny nudibranchs, White Rock does not disappoint. White Rock’s vastness and biodiversity make it #4 on our list of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive sites. For those who don’t care about wreck diving, White Rock moves up quickly to compete for the top three dive sites.

Diver and Bluespotted stingray by frantisek hojdysz. Adobe Stock

Ready to Come Learn to Dive with Us? Choose Your SCUBA Adventure here. 

Shark Island: #5 of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive Sites

(Shallow to 25 meters with mild currents)

SCUBA divers know Shark Island for its incredible variety of marine life. It features a wall, pinnacles, and a coral garden abundant in colorful soft corals. On the deeper edges of the site, divers may see passing pelagics such as whale sharks and black tip reef sharks. The coral garden guarantees a range of marine life including moray eels, angelfish, scorpionfish, pipefish, nudibranch, crustaceans and great macro critters.

Shark Island can have a mild current, so swimming into the current at the beginning of the dive ensures an easy return back to the boat. It’s not a large enough site for a drift dive; although, some divers swim their way around the entire perimeter of the island in one dive. Shark Island has its fans, some who rave about the soft, purple corals and the interesting life that may be seen here. When the weather is right, it’s a stunning dive site that’s shallow enough in areas to snorkel (although getting here requires a long tail). It’s definitely a favorite, coming in #5 on our list of Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive sites.

In addition to Koh Tao’s Top 5 Deep Dive Sites, many other deep dive sites around Koh Tao intrigue visiting divers, including Hin Wong pinnacle, Green Rock, No Name, and more. Each of these dive sites has fans among our local SCUBA divers. Not mentioned on this list is one of Thailand’s top dive sites, Sail Rock, which is a day trip dive from Koh Tao. Sail Rock deserves a separate blog post as a dive trip, so it’s not included here. Finally, tec divers can go deep beyond 40 meters, including to the training Trident wreck near Shark Island and the deeper Unicorn wreck.

Ready to Come Learn to Dive with Us? Choose Your SCUBA Adventure here. 

Koh Tao’s Reef Life

Whale sharks cruise around our favorites Chumphon and Southwest; however, they’re also spotted at other sites, including the HTMS Sattakut, Hin Peewee, White Rock, Shark Island, and Green Rock. In 2018, scuba divers recorded a record number of whale sharks from January thru May. One or two whale sharks visited Koh Tao dive sites every day. To see whale sharks, you’ll want to dive with a reputable operation that will change its boat schedule to follow local whale shark sitings, and you may consider visiting during the peak months of March to May.

Chris and I take great pleasure in giving our students these opportunities of a lifetime to SCUBA dive with whale sharks, turtles, rays, and more. We cannot guarantee a sighting, so the more you dive, the more chances you have in checking marine life off of your bucketlist. Of course, it helps that the dive operation we teach from follows the whale sharks and delights in finding our local turtles.

In addition to the visiting whale sharks, Koh Tao’s reef inhabitants include many colorful fish, some interesting macro critters, and nudibranch, morays, and blue spotted ribbon tailed rays. Turtles are seen on Koh Taos reefs, but sightings are more special than common. Koh Tao triggerfish are legendary for their antics, so keep your eyes open, and swim wide around them. Over the years, the barracuda have learnt to hunt their prey using divers’ torch beams as assistance so night dives can be very exciting.

Ready to Come Learn to Dive with Us? Choose Your SCUBA Adventure here.