Top Koh Tao Diving Sites

Looking for the best Koh Tao diving sites?

Lucky for you, there’s a lot of them! It’s one of the top places to go scuba diving in Thailand.

This travel tip will probably make it harder for you to choose a diving spot… as there are so many. Best is to try them all!

Go scuba diving in Koh Tao with Nava Scuba Diving. They offer Discover Scuba Diving, 3-day PADI open water dive, 2-day PADI open water dive, refresher dives and fun dives. Book here.

Top Koh Tao Diving Sites
Top Koh Tao Diving Sites

Top Koh Tao Diving Sites

Mango Bay

Located to the north of Koh Tao the area around Mango Bay makes a nice relaxing dive. With depths ranging from 2 to 15 meters its ideal for beginners and snorkelers. Hard and soft coral formations here are plentiful along with a variety of sponges and clams. The bay is only accessible by boat and makes a popular snorkelers day trip. Drop in further around the northwestern tip of the island and drift into the bay area to avoid the crowds.

Sail Rock

One of the more famous Scuba diving sites in the Koh Samui archipelago. It is an iceberg shaped pinnacle that rises from the sandy sea floor at 40 metres and rises 15 metres above the surface. It is a suitable dive site for all levels of diver, from Discover Scuba up.

Its surface consists of small patches of hard and soft coral. Common fauna that may be seen include barracuda, batfish, jacks, occasional whale sharks, and many other species of tropical fish. The currents can vary considerably, but generally are mid to strong. Visibility is usually in the 10-30 meter range. For more advanced divers, there is a vertical ‘swim through’ on the northwest side of the rock. Commonly called “The Chimney”, it begins at a depth of 18 meters and exits the rock again at depths of 12 and 6 meters. There are no associated fees as yet with diving Sail Rock.

Chumphon Pinnacles

Widely regarded as the Gulf of Thailand’s premier dive sites, 5 km Northwest of Koh Tao. The site is comprised of one huge granite pinnacle with some smaller pinnacles rising from the bottom. 40 Meters. Bull Sharks, schooling Barracuda. Batfish, Giant Gropers, Pacific Lionfish, occasional Whalesharks.

Southwest Pinnacles

Consisting of seven granite pinnacles ranging from 5 to 30 metres deep and located around 12km off the south west coast of Koh Tao is one of the islands best dive sites. The shallower sections of the pinnacles are covered in anemones, whip corals and sea fans. Big groupers and barracudas can often be seen here and you may be lucky enough to spot even larger visitors.

Green Rock

Green Rock offers several small swim throughs, caves and crevices where marine life can be seen sheltering. The boulders range in depth from 5 metres down to around 32. There is often a strong current here that you can use to drift around the submerged pinnacles so its not really recommended for inexperienced divers. You will certainly encounter Yellow Margin and Titan Trigger fish here as it forms a popular breeding ground for them … so approach with caution.

White Rock

Two large granite boulders make up the White Rock dive site. An expansive coral garden can be found here at around 10 meters that’s teeming with schools of butterfly fish and angelfish. Blue spotted stingrays are also a common sight on this dive. White Rock is also a popular night dive spot where feather stars, and an array of crustaceans can been seen hunting for food.

Red Rock

This Koh Tao diving site is also referred to as Nang Yuan Pinnacle. It starts at around 2 metres and drops to 22. The pinnacle itself is nothing special and the main attractions to this site are the swim throughs. The entrance to the swim through can be found if you leave the pinnacle and head west towards Koh Nang Yuan. This is usually done as a drift dive down to Japanese Garden where you can relax for the safety stop.

Scuba diving in Koh Tao, Thailand
Scuba diving in Koh Tao, Thailand

Twin Pinnacles

On the far side of Koh Nang Yuan starting at around 5 meters below the surface and dropping to a depth of 18 metres is Twin Peaks or just “Twins”. This is an ideal site for beginners due to its depth and ease of navigation. The rocks are embedded into white sand and there is no shortage of marine life here. A friendly pair of rare saddleback clownfish and be found to the western side of the larger of the Twins.

Japanese Gardens 

This dive site is named after the ornate arrangement of coral boulders here. Situated on the east side of Koh Nang Yuan and with depths ranging from 2 to 12 meters it is suitable for snorkelers & beginners. Plenty of staghorn and plate coral can be observed in the shallows. A popular drift dive can be done from Red Rock through a series of swimthroughs and emerging into Japanese Gardens for a relaxing safety stop amongst the myriad coral formations.

Hin Wong Pinnacle 

Situated on the east side of Koh Tao is Hin Wong Pinnacle. This site comprises several large granite boulders covered with sea fans and whip corals, as well as filefish, shrimpfish, coral grouper and many other reef fish. You may encounter the resident Green Turtle if you’re lucky. The summit is a tabletop rock formation within about 10 meters of the surface and the maximum depth at Hin Wong is around 32 meters.

Laem Thien Pinnacle

Laem Thian Pinnacle is a great rocky dive site near Mao Bay full of swim throughs, caverns and small caves. There are a few steep walls with some predators hunting for smaller prey. Some excellent white soft coral and sea whips can be admired along the wall at depths between 18 and 5 meters. It is possible to combine this cave dive with the beauties of shallow reef diving inside Mao Bay or Aow Mao.

Shark Island

Named after its resemblance to a dorsal fin, Shark Island is a twin rock outcrop situated to the southeast of Koh Tao. Each side of the islet offers a different array of marine life and features making it almost two sites in one! On the east side you’ll find myriad soft corals, gorgonians and sponges while the west offers hard coral formations that are home to moray eels, nudibranchs, sting rays and the odd Leopard shark. Titan triggerfish can be very aggressive here so approach with caution. Maximum depth at this site is 25 metres.

Unicorn Wreck

It was rumored at the time of sinking in 1989 that the Unicorn was sunk on purpose as an insurance scam. The 60 meter long cargo vessel was reported to have a hold full of expensive tuna fish which turned out to be inexpensive dog food, hence the nickname it later acquired – the “dog food” wreck. Lying around 12km off Mango Bay and in 50 meters of water it is also a technical diving site. Still mostly intact with the majority of the obtrusive fishing nets now removed some penetration is possible. The wreck is now home to some big red snappers and patrolling groupers.

Torpedo Wreck

The Torpedo is a 70 meter Japanese cargo vessel sitting upright in around 55 meters of water an hour north of Koh Tao, she sank in the mid 1970’s. Due to the depths involved this has been classified a technical dive for experienced divers only. There are three areas of penetration however visibility is usually poor at depth. The deck is at 45 meters and the cargo holds are still full of teak logs, with a few scattered on the seabed.

Hin Ngam

Same wider bay as Aow Luek, shallow training or sheltered dive dive.

Hin Pee Wee

Next to White Rock, 30m.


Diving in Maria la Gorda Cuba

Diving in Maria la Gorda, Cuba

 

Maria la Gorda is in Pinar del Rio province in western Cuba. It is mostly synonymous with the diving camp that is situated there.

The entire settlement consists of a hotel, diving centre, small shop, sandy beach and 2 restaurants.

However, even if you are not a diver, it is a nice place to spend a night.

If you walk a few kilometers away from the camp, towards the top of the peninsula, you see interesting landscape — mangrove swamp and the sea are divided by wall of old shells/corals. Some big (50 cm) empty shells there.

This entire peninsula was recently run over by Hurricane Ivan (and subsequently Hurricane Wilma) and it will probably take some time to restore its natural beauty.

Diving is the main activity on offer. A range of options are available, and snorkeling trips go out with every dive (though on one trip there was little to be seen by snorkelers that couldn’t be seen by snorkeling from the jetty). There is also a volleyball pitch.

The hotel also advertises that it runs hiking excursions, and other entertainment, but travelers report little evidence of any of that.

If you have your own transport it is possible to drive (with a paid guide) to the western end of mainland Cuba. You may see some Iguanas. There is a deep swimming hole with an underground connection to the sea (and containing some tropical fish) at the Ecological station, where the road meets the sea on the way in. Other trips (including hikes) are also available from the station. If you’re interested in Cuban birdlife there are a few bits and pieces to be seen. Bee Hummingbirds (the smallest bird in the world) are said to be present on the peninsula and at Playa Larga. Royal Terns loaf on the piles near the resort entrance and there are some Yellow-headed Warblers and Black-throated Green Warblers around a dump not far from the resort – follow a track into the scrubby woodland next to a roadside pool on the inland side of the road half a mile or so from the resort entrance. In spring large black, yellow and red land crabs swarm in their hundreds across the roads (especially after rain) and the inevitable casualties attract scavenging flocks of Turkey Vultures. Quite a sight.

Getting there:

There are no public buses to this part of Cuba. You can however book transfers easily through tour agencies.

From Vinales for example a transfer bus leaves daily at 8:00am and returns at 5:00pm – journey time 3hrs cost 15CUC per person. Bear in mind that Maria la Gorda is a long way from anywhere.

Hotel Maria la Gorda, CUC 66 for a room with 2 beds (hot water, TV, rich breakfast). This is the only hotel in entire area down from Guane. They have a complex of wooden cabins connected by walkways which were comfortable and pleasant.

If anyone knows if there are Casa Particulares, please add them as a comment or write an own tip. Thanks!

The dinner buffet is no good and at 15CUC per person is very bad value. There is also a small a la carte restaurant which is marginally better. When booking the hotel don’t take the dinner option – you can decide when you get there if you want to risk the buffet! (In March 2006 the food was found to be OK, though the restaurant was better than the buffet. Both were no better or worse than most of the meals in various parts of Cuba.)

 

Shark Cage Diving

Top Five Shark Cage Diving Hotspots in the World

 

Shark cage diving is the exhilarating experience of diving with the ocean’s apex predators with the protection of a steel cage.

There are only a handful of places where you can reliably see the most infamous predator of them all, the great white shark.

Here are the top five places to dive with great whites in the world.

Top five great white shark diving hotspots

Gansbaai, South Africa

Dubbed the ‘great white capital of the world’, Gansbaai’s large population of sharks congregate between Dyer Island and Geyser rock, creating an ideal situation for those willing to brave the cold waters and come face-to-face with a number of shark species.

In addition to great whites, Mako, tiger, black-tip and blue sharks can all be found in Gansbaai. The local cape fur seal colony provides the sharks with a perfect place to hunt for food, making it arguably the best location for shark cage diving in the world.

Isla de Guadelupe, Mexico

Located roughly 240km off the west coast of Mexico, Isla de Guadelupe is a popular eco-tourism destination because of its diverse marine life and visibility unrivalled by any other location on the list.

Guadelupe Island is the main dive spot to see great whites off the Mexican coast, while the Rivelligegedo Archipelago further up the coast is a hotspot for dolphins, manta rays, humpback whales and a number of shark species.

False Bay, South Africa

False Bay is without a doubt the best place to witness great whites ‘breaching’, the unique hunting technique where they use the element of surprise to catch seals with such force from below that they fly out of the water.

Shark cage diving is popular in the bay, and many operators offer the opportunity to scuba dive within the cage, allowing divers to observe sharks at greater depths for a greater length of time.

Neptune Islands, Australia

Neptune Islands Conservation Park is a safe haven for great whites, who continually face challenges worldwide for survival due to human factors such as shark nets, overfishing and habitat destruction. This is the only place in Australia where shark cage diving is permitted.

Split up into two sets of islands, the Neptunes are characterized by rocky terrain and are home to the largest colony of fur seals in the country. In addition to the impressive ocean life, the islands are also well-known for their terrestrial flora and fauna and include an impressive array of mammals, reptiles and birds.

Farallon islands, United States

Just 30kms from San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the Farallon Islands are a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean. Known as the ‘Islands of the Dead’ by Native Americans, they have remained largely uninhabited for most of their history, but marine and weather researchers maintain have recently established a small presence.

The islands are closed to the public but the surrounding waters are an excellent place to view great whites due to the large elephant seal colony scattered around its shores, which provide an excellent food source.