While nearby Koh Tao has a more storied reputation for scuba training, diving off Koh Phangan can offer a more laid-back experience while leaving plenty of time to explore this scenic, jungle-dense island and its many expansive beaches. So whether you’re first taking the plunge or just in need of a detox after your Full Moon Party extravaganza, check out these excellent dive outfits.
Sail Rock has become as ubiquitous to the region as Pad Thai. Routinely named the Gulf’s best dive site, Sail Rock Divers promises mere 15-minute journeys to the marine life-packed destination from its northern location in Koh Phangan. With more than 20 years experience training all levels of divers and hosting hassle-free excursions, the shop’s facilities fully celebrate its entrenched excellence, from the 3-meter deep training pool and state-of-the-art classrooms to its impressive fleet of boats and on-site accommodation.
A shop with a keen eye for customer service and prioritizing small group sizes, Pirate Divers travels daily to iconic Sail Rock and also runs weekly trips to Ang Thong National Marine Park and other nearby pinnacles. With full offerings of RAID and PADI training courses available, Pirate Divers also prides itself in its highly knowledgeable dive guides, who are both experts at finding the best marine life the area has to offer as well as highly attentive to customer satisfaction.
This efficient shop strikes an excellent balance between laid-back comfort and high-level customer service. While priced slightly higher than its competitors, the quality of training programs is in a league of its own, with patience and friendliness the key features across all members of its staff.
The longest-running dive centre on Koh Phangan, Haad Yao has delivered consistent service and quality training since 1997. Its highly international team of instructors create a very social, fun vibe, while management still keeps group sizes small and highlights customer service. Haad Yao is also a member of the locally run Green Fins Thailand organization, contributing to coral reef monitoring initiatives and operating through its commitment as an eco-aware business.
For those already sporting a diving licence and eager to venture deeper into their understanding of the marine world, CORE Sea is Koh Phangan’s marine conservation and research centre. Their titular conservation training program typically runs for about two weeks, and trains participants in elements of marine biology and conservation, including robust local fish and coral identification, monitoring and evaluating coral reef ecosystem health, and work on artificial coral structures and nurseries.