Diving Koh Samui

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Koh Samui, Thailand

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Country: Thailand  Area: Thailand

Water Temp: 27 - 31°C (81 - 88°F)

Visibility: 5 - 30m (16 - 98 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 35m (16 - 115 ft)

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Practically the biggest island in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is perfectly seated next to the magnificent Ang Thong Marine Park. Its dive sites are stunning filled with rich marine ecosystem.

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Koh Samui is the perfect holiday getaway for people looking to experience a bit of everything, from nature treats to an exotic urban adventure. The Ang Thong Marine Park brings everyone in harmony with nature as well as providing untainted fun for divers.

The diving near Koh Samui can give divers of all levels amazing experiences with the chance of seeing Green Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles, Whale Sharks, as well as smaller life such as banded sea snakes, moray eels and an abunadance of reef fish.

The Beach, Credit

People also come here for famous but morally dubious elephant rides. See 'Activities' section for more why you should not ride Elephants.

Marine Conservation

Koh Samui has a artificial reef structure project taking place on the north shore. Broken coral is collects and then attached to a structure will a low current running through it which helps stimulate the corals regrowth. Hopefully in the future this technique will enable the healing and replacement of a lot of destoyed and damaged reefs around the island.

Climate

The climate in this area is tropical so although most of the year is it lovely, hot beach weather it does have a monsoon season. This is from the end of October to the beginning of December. During this period the temperature drops and there is heavy rain most days with strong winds which can cause flooding and loss of electricity. Obviously dive operators close during this time tend to close as the seas are very rough and it’s inadvisable to dive, so the dive season runs from late December to late October.

Water temperature can vary from 27C-31C with the coldest water temperature being during and either side of the monsoon in October and December. The sea warms up until it reaches its highest point around May and then slowly drops down again towards October.

Koh Samui Sunset, Credit

The coldest points of the season, when the water temperature has dropped to around 29C, are the best times of the season to see sharks, as when it’s at its 31C peak the water is to warm, so they migrate elsewhere until the temperate drops back down.

 
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The Diving

There isn’t much shore diving around Koh Samui as most of the reefs have been destroyed or polluted with bad visibility. Chaweng Beach can be dived as a shore dive and is the main option for those wishing to night dive from Samui. You can see lots of little critters that aren’t out during the day as well as many crabs and many even some squid.

The beaches are all very shallow and easy dives so can be undertaken by any levels. The main thing to watch out for on Samui’s shore dives are unobservant jet skiers or other motor boats and the associated decapitation risk! Be cautious and aware of what is going on above the water!

Most of the main sites visited are actually closer to Koh Tao and are accessed on day speed boats which tend to leave Koh Samui at 8.30/9am and arrive back around 3pm. These all provide lunch in between dives which is usually taken one of Koh Tao’s beautiful white sand beaches.

Sea Snake, Credit

Diving around Koh Tao caters for all levels of experience from beginners to experienced as there is a range of dive sites from easy shallow shore dives such as Mango Bay to deeper sites like Chumphon Pinnacle. Mango Bay is a typical beginner dive which has a sandy gently sloping bottom and plenty of marine life including a huge shoal of fusiliers which can reliably be found every dive. Chumphon is a much deeper pinnacle offshore which can have strong currents but also the chance of Whale Sharks in season. This site isn’t for beginners but is an excellent advanced deeper dive if the currents aren’t too strong.

The other main dive site of the area visited from Koh Samui is Sail Rock which is a rocky pinnacle just north of Koh Pha Ngan. This site is a must dive for anyone in the area, not only does it have colourful coral gardens and steep walls dropping off to 30m plus, but it also includes a swimthrough called the chimney and regularly has big schools of trevally, fusiliers, batfish and barracuda! To top it off it is also one of the best places in the area where you are most likely to spot the elusive Whale Shark.

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How to Get There

Koh Samui is the most accessible of the 60 islands in the gulf of Thailand as it is the only one with an airport with frequent flights to and from Bangkok and Phuket and also a direct ferry service from the mainland. This makes it a very low hassle destination and also a perfect stopping off point to journey on to some of the more remote islands in the area such as Koh Tao.

 

Koh Samui Airport, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

Chaweng Beach is the main tourist hub of the island with a huge selection of beachside bars, restaurants and also a few nightclubs. This does mean it can get very busy during the peak holiday season but luckily there are many other quieter options around the island.

Food! Credit

Some of the quieter options are the Fishermans Village on the north side of the island, near Bo Phut, which has an excellent selection of restaurants and shopping and there are also some nice little restaurants in some of the bays such as Silver Beach and Ban Taling Ngam.

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Other Activities

Diving at Koh Samui doesn’t just offer an easy location to base your dives from, there is a lot more to see and do. This makes it an ideal location to visit with family or friends that don’t dive or want a dedicated diving holiday.

Some of the other activities range from a day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park, where the book “The Beach” was set and has jaw dropping scenery, Elephant rides, jungle tours, stunning waterfalls, many white sand beaches lined with palm trees, cheap shopping, markets and there is even a popular shooting range that caters for tourists (of course).

An architecture in Koh Samui, Credit

Family Friendly

Family activities range from soaking in the beaches and going for jungle adventures.

Children can practice diving or snorkeling with Koh Samui’s popular beginner-friendly shore dives and Dive Centers offer the PADI Bubblemaker at affordable prices.

Koh Samui, Thailand,  Credit

Elephant Trekking & Abuse

Please do not support Elephant torture and abuse by riding Elephants (or supporting Elephant performance) in Asia;

In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive to humans.
Asian Elephant spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them. 
Any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to get them to where they are
Please do not support Elephant torture and make your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry.
  • In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive - starting as a calf
  • Asian Elephant's spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
  • There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them.
  • Remember; any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means the Elephants have undergone horrific abuse in order to train the Elephants

You can help these magnificent animals by making your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry. The main problem is a lack of awareness - most people have no idea! 

Dive Report is committed to raising awareness to the abuse suffered by Elephants used in the tourist industry. If you want to know more you can find out more hereherehere and here. Also see a PETA documentary video here.

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Tips

Motorbike accidents are very common, so ensure you wear a helmet and do not drink drive! Most roads on the island are only dirt roads and are not recommended unless you are an experienced rider.

If you do hire a motorbike bear in mind that although the vehicle hire shops are cheap it can be very expensive paying for scratches on the newer bikes, so try to hire an older bike. 

When roaming the islands, don’t just eat everything you see. Some colourful street foods may be too enticing not to eat but they may send you running to the nearest loo.

Fishing Boats, Credit

Remember, you are just a visitor in an exotic paradise, take care of the environment and respect the local people.

Koh Samui has a couple of hospitals and also has a recompression chamber.

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Is Koh Samui a good destination for beginners?

I am fairly new to scuba diving, and I'm relocating to Thailand very soon, so I want to take the chance to explore Koh Samui and I thought of doing scuba diving, but is it a good destination for beginners?

I am planning to take a tour with Boutique Yachting because they have many years in the sector and their ships are pretty good (https://www.boutiqueyachting.com/yachts/), but I do not know if they will help me with scuba diving (I will message them haha).

But, according to you experts, is it a good idea to do scuba diving as a beginner in Koh Samui? Thanks a lot in advance!

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Edward Callahan

0 votes

Yeah, Koh Samui is pretty good for beginners - there are LOADS of dive schools there to take you through the early stages of learning too.. I would recommend not going for the cheapest center - to a large extent you pay for what you get and its not a sport you want to cut corners in!

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Joanne Roberts

0 votes

Hi. we dived with the Dive academy. They are a professional outfit that make safety the first priority. Water can be choppy, so travel sickness tablets are a must if you suffer. This dive school do provide them onboard. http://www.thediveacademysamui.com.

P5149803

Joanne Roberts

0 votes

They also have a school and provide teaching qualifications under the PADI certification

What sort of budget do I need to stay in Koh Samui?

Aside from the diving, how much does it cost to stay there - daily food & accommodation? (I do not have expensive tastes so I guess an average sort of cost per day would be useful as a guide)

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nina

Norma Thompson

1 vote

$20/day on a budget - $30/day is easy and $40 if you are enjoying a few drinks etc.. but don't drink too much before diving!

Abigail Booth

Abigail Booth

0 votes

You can probably get accommodation for B400 (cheap) to B1200 (not so cheap) depending on season. High season ends around April/May. Food I guess breakfast/lunch/dinner all eaten at low-mid range eateries of which there are many you would spend 150-250 per meal.

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Edward Callahan

0 votes

Second that. $40 dollars a day (1200 baht) would be pretty comfortable! Lol yes - last time I dived in Thailand someone was so hung over they threw-up while getting in the water.. not very clever and wasted their whole day. Part of the problem with diving at places where there is also a lot of partying.

Rating 8/10

Divemaster Trainee :)

Koh Samui25 Jun 2010 - 3 Sep 2010 with 100 Degrees East

Koh Samui is where i worked as a DM in training :) Had some excellent dives during that time around Koh Tao and Sail Rock. Although i was slightly early in the season for Whale Sharks, which arrived a few weeks after i left! i still had some very fun enjoyable dives with plenty to see.

Loved the huge schools of trevally numbering in their thousands that swirl around completely engulfing you at Secret Pinnacle just off Sail Rock, also the huge schools of batfish, barracuda and fusiliers! Will definitely be back to re dive Sail Rock......next time in the Peak Whale Shark time! :)

batfish3 fusiliers4 grouper P1030611 DSC07834
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