How Diving On Koh Tao Can Change Your Life!

If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be where I am now, I’d have never believed you! In my head life was already mapped out, and I was definitely one of those ‘go to university, take a gap year, then get a proper job and settle down’ types! So in many ways my eyes were pretty blinkered to the possibilities of a completely different way of life. But then something changed… I’d been to university, I’d taken a gap year (which actually turned into 2 gap years without much active thought or persuasion!), I had a proper job (and a pretty good one at that!). But the settling down bit….well turns out it just wasn’t for me – not in the conventional sense at least!

new-zealand-landscape
Beautiful Scerery in New Zealand

 

So….what to do? Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t unhappy. I had a good job (which on some days I liked, but in all honestly never really loved), a great group of friends, and an active social and sporting life. Somewhere deep down though, I knew I could be happier, and I felt like I was just going through the motions. Constantly working towards the next promotion or pay rise, always on the lookout for new opportunities where I could step up the chain, or even step sideways into another field where I would be happier/more fulfilled. Plus I still had itchy feet from my time overseas. Sound familiar?!…

typical-autralia-backpacker
Classic Gap Year Tourist!

 

The following summer I’d arranged a reunion holiday with my bestie from my gap year who was still living in Australia, and Thailand seemed like a cool equidistant place to meet. At the end of our trip I still had a few extra days whereas my friend had to fly home and get back to work. So while walking down Khao San Road on her last night, we ducked into a travel agency and I booked a package trip to Koh Tao to learn to dive. And the rest, as they say, is history!…

first-tuc-tuc-ride
My First Ever Tuc Tuc Ride!

 

I took my PADI Open Water Course, stayed on for my PADI Advanced Open Water Course, then extended my stay (again!) to take some fun dives. By the end up my trip I was in love with both diving and Koh Tao, and knew for sure that I wanted to become a PADI Instructor here. I was also on particularly good terms with Anastasia in the Quantas office, who was incredibly patient and helpful on every occasion that I called up to delay my return flights for ‘just another couple of days’ while I took my Advanced course and fun dives! But that’s another story…

my-first-koh-tao-sunset
My First Koh Tao Sunset

 

And so I did it! I returned home and started planning. I handed in my notice at work, sold my car, and started ebaying furniture, clothes and anything else that would not be required for my new island lifestyle! It was a huge decision and turning point in my life, and not one I took lightly. But I knew deep down it was the right decision. Telling my family and friends was the hardest part, as I really do love and miss so many people back home…just not enough to live there! 😉 Besides, having a friend or relative to visit in a sunny tropical paradise somewhat softened the blow of my leaving for most people!

my-first-whale-shark-koh-tao
My First Whale Shark!

 

The minute my feet set foot on Koh Tao, any lingering reservations just dropped away. I felt like I was firmly in the right place at the right time, and I was excited to begin my training!

A decade later and I still feel the same excitement and passion for both diving and Koh Tao as I did back then. The dive industry is home to such an awesome community of people, and Koh Tao…well Koh Tao just has it all!  And if it worked for me, it can work out for you too!

Considering it? If it helps, here are some answers to the most common questions that are most likely running through your head right now… It it a risk? To an extent, yes. One worth taking? Absolutely! Any regrets? Hell no! Did some of my friends and family think I was crazy? Probably! Are they all super jealous now? To the max! 🙂

koh-tao-sunset
Classic Koh Tao Sunset with Friends

 

So what are you waiting for? Enter our Master Divers Life contest and get planning to live your best life with us here on Koh Tao! Find details and enter at www.master-divers.com/life

 

When environment means community as well

Keeping it local

The environment is really important to us, it’s our job, our life and also our community as well. Here on Koh Tao we are really lucky to have a group of like minded individuals that are all doing their best to make changes in habits to preserve the planet, dive in a safe and environmentally friendly way and also look after wildlife and animals a bit closer to home.

 

We are not alone at Master Divers having a menagerie of animals that we all adore. Anyone that has visited Koh Tao has seen the dive shop pets, the dogs piggy backing scooter drivers and the cats lazing on the spirit houses outside homes.

Meet our crew below!

Fatty, Greedy, Sandy and Sky

 

It’s because we love them so much that we wanted to show our support to the Koh Tao Noistar foundation animal clinic, and this morning went for a visit to donate 5000 baht raised from selling off unused equipment and a variety of eco presentations and evenings. They do such an important job on the island looking after our 4 legged family members. We would be lost without them and wanted to show our appreciation.

 

Donating 5000 Baht to the Koh Tao Animal rescue

 

From everyone at Master Divers past and present, thank you. Thank you for keeping our animals healthy and being such an important part of our Koh Tao community.

 

Happy Songkran (Thai New Year!)

Considered quite simply ‘The Best Day Ever’ by most who experience it, Songkran is an experience to be remembered. Celebrated on the 13th April every year, the original meaning behind this amazing water festival was to rinse away the previous year’s sins with water, and enter the new year cleansed and revitalised. However…over the years this tradition has morphed into what can only be described as the most insane water fight ever! It’s the most popular public holiday, and an amazing party that everyone gets involved in. Celebrated by toddlers and pensioners alike, men women and children around the country flock to the streets to spray – and be sprayed – with water.

Songkran

 

Sounding pretty amazing?! It is! Considered the favorite day of the year by Thai’s and expat’s alike, its a super fun time to get involved with the local community and celebrate. Everywhere you go from the main street to side streets, and from the beach to every bar and swimming pool, there’ll be a party to join. Here in Koh Tao the this lasts for just one day. However elsewhere in Thailand New Year celebrations can last anything from 3 days to a week – particularly in the big cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

 

Do keep your wits about you though. It’s no fun if you are too sick or injured to enjoy it! To help with that here’s our top tips for Songkran Survival:

Reapply your sunscreen frequently. It will wash off several times over throughout the day, so you can easily get burned.

Drink lots of water. Running around in the sun all day (no doubt with a beer in hand for the most part!) will dehydrate you, and the local clinics often report a surge in dehydration sickness & heat exhaustion/sun stroke at this time of year.

This is the hottest time of year on Koh Tao, so please be respectful of our fragile island environment. There is a constant shortage of fresh water supplies, so use sea water to refill your super-soakers.

Do not take phones, cameras or other electronic equipment out with you. Whatever your intentions, you WILL get drenched and anything not fully waterproofed will get ruined. Any valuables that you cannot do without should be safely inside a dry dock pouch or dry bag.

Avoid driving motorbikes/quads anywhere. No one gets a free pass at Songkran, and with everyone wrapped up in the party atmosphere, even motorists are fair game for a face shot with a super-soaker! You’ll still get water and powder thrown in your face, which makes accidents a lot more prevalent. You have been warned!

Some of the powders used as part of the traditions have been replaced over the years by prickly heat powder and similar. So protect your eyes – it stings!

We hope you have a wonderful celebration, and happy 2561 (yes, we’re a few hundred years ahead in the Buddhist calendar!) from all of us here at Master Divers 🙂

Songkran

Sabai Dee Pee Mai! (Happy New Year!)

When is Monsoon Season on Koh Tao?

A fair question, and one that regularly comes up in our email correspondence with customers who are planning their trips to make the most of the best of Koh Tao weather. Its also becoming an increasingly difficult question to answer however, as weather patterns have been changing quite a bit in recent years.

The first thing to explain is that the weather system in Thailand is extremely regionalised.  Thailand stretches over a long distance running North to South, and the climate does vary quite a bit because of this, with different areas experiencing their wet seasons at different times. The country is also surrounded by different oceans on each side – the Andaman Sea to the West, and the Gulf of Thailand to the East, and is affected by different weather systems accordingly. So if you are travelling around other areas in Thailand too during your stay, then do be prepared for different conditions in the various locations you are visiting.

Rain on the surface while these divers descend
Rain on the surface while these divers descend

 

On the West Coast for example (Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta etc) the monsoon comes in June through to August. So while it is usual on Koh Tao to experience some sporadic rainfall during these months from the spillover effect of the monsoon that is hitting the West Coast, it’s usually just for an hour or two at a time.

The monsoon season on Koh Tao normally arrives in November, and in the past by mid December the sunny skies have been back in force. However, our monsoon is becoming very difficult to predict with accuracy, as the seasons have been changing so much in recent years due to climate change. So in the last couple of years monsoon has been delayed and did not arrive until December/January. If and when monsoon does come (some years it just doesn’t, and some years isn’t as powerful as it used to be) you can expect rains and high winds.

A dull day in Mae Haad but calm conditions for diving
A dull day in Mae Haad but calm conditions for diving

 

Diving conditions during monsoon are affected with choppy surface conditions and reduced visibility, although its actually a pretty cool sight to look up from underwater and see the raindrops hitting the surface. If you are after a challenge and are keen on becoming a more experienced diver these are great conditions to dive in! This is specially for those taking pro level courses –  in terms of becoming a confident and competent PADI professional, it’s actually a great time to train! Plus with your training being completed in low season, it would mean you were finished and available to work when high season starts if that’s something you were looking to do.

An underwater view of rain hitting the surface
An underwater view of rain hitting the surface

 

If you’d like to know more details about weather and conditions both above and below the surface on a monthly basis, feel free to check out our previous blog post on diving conditions throughout the year 🙂

Master Divers Commitment to the Environment

If you’ve already visited Master Divers, or have been following us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or reading our blogs for a while, you will have noticed we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.

As ambassadors for our underwater world and also Koh Tao in general, we are passionate about doing everything we can to minimise the environmental impact we have, as well as implement programmes, policies and events to educate others too. This is something that we are incredibly passionate about – and its not just paying lip service with us, when it comes to environmental awareness, we’re the real deal!

Beach Clean up in Koh Tao, Thailand

Thankfully, we are not the only business on Koh Tao that is becoming more environmentally aware. We do, however, offer a lot more than the bare minimum when it comes to doing our bit. Some other dive centres get together once a month for a clean up day. Every little helps, so this is a great initiative, but we believe more than 1 clean up a month between half a dozen businesses is required to really make any impact.

So….What does Master Divers Do Differently?

We employ a full time Eco instructor, Hayley, who organises weekly beach and roadside clean ups for staff and guests to help remove garbage that has washed ashore, and prevent any further trash from being taken by the sea.  Having just a few people volunteer an hour of their time to spend cleaning up the beachfront or road area makes a huge difference. This year, we plan on weighing and tracking how much trash we collect, so we can keep a tally of how much trash we’ve removed.

Beach and Ocean Clean

Hayley also works with the Koh Tao local government and local businesses to educate and encourage others to be more environmentally friendly in their practices – for example how to reduce plastic bags in local stores, and looking at solutions to reduce plastic waste from cups and straws in bars and restaurants too.

We run regular snorkeling and scuba diving clean ups at various dive sites (depending on which are the most in need), and have championed the abandoned beach of Laem Thien as our responsibility too.

Environmental-Policies-Master-Divers

We have environmental policies in the shop and onboard our boats. We do try to educate those outside the island as well as our own customers and those who live here.

We’ve written several blog posts on the topic on environmental initiatives, such as the ‘top 10’ things to reduce your plastic waste, and how to make natural household cleaning products to reduce your chemical waste.

The emblem for the no-plastic movement on Koh Tao

We sell reusable straws as well as reusable drinking bottles and cloth shopping bags and encourage our guests to reduce their usage of plastic – and single use plastic in particular.

We are heavily into recycling. In the corner of the reception area, there is a custom made collection bin in which our customers – and even passrs by – can dispose of their recyclable goods (water bottles, batteries, aluminum cans, and paper or cardboard products).

Master Divers sells eco-straws as an alternative to the single-use variety that are often used in restaurants

We offer Marine Conservation Packages and Marine Conservation Adventure Dives with our courses, which provide customers with a deeper insight into the issues that face the ocean environment. This includes a presentation evening and a marine conservation dive.

We run Coral watch dives to monitor and report on the health of our reefs, and also report into the DMCR (Department of Marine and Coastal resources) on any sightings of any species of rare/endangered/protected marine life that our divers or staff spot.

Coral-Watch Framed

We have created and deployed structures which have increased the scope and size of artificial reefs.

We sell natural and environmentally friendly sun screen and mosquito spray.

Sunscreen is important for skin health

We have strict no feeding and no touching policy for all of our dive and snorkel trips, and display codes of conduct for interactions with marine life at the dive centre and on our vessels – and ensure this is covered in our boat and dive briefings.

We are an official Shark Guardian Dive centre, and run regular events and presentations to educate divers, other tourists and local residents on how they can do more to protect marine life.

Be a Whale Shark Guardian

We don’t throw any waste into the ocean. Even biodegradable waste like leftover fruit gets brought back to last and disposed of properly (we use it for compost!).

Our smaller boat is 100% no smoking to eliminate accidental littering. There is a designated smoking area on the bigger boat, and while our customers are welcome to smoke on the larger of our vessels, you wont find our staff smoking on either of our boats.

We are heavily involved in local government meetings on conservation policies. We are committee members in planning the annual Save Koh Tao Festival, organise special events for all Ocean Days, and we are one of the founders and main organisers of Koh Tao Earth day.

Earth-Day-2017-framed

We have a free water refill station, so our customers don’t need to buy plastic bottles every time they need a drink. We are also an official refill station for Trash Hero bottles. So anyone who has one of the metal trash hero reusable bottles can come in and refill for free!

We have reusable cups and mugs both in the dive centre and out on the boats. In the dive centre we also have reusable plates and tupperware containers our customers can use on their lunch breaks so they don’t need to get any food in plastic bags or in single use containers.

Koh-Tao-Eco-Bottle

We use environmentally friendly cleaning solutions so as not to add chemicals to the water supply. We flush our toilets with salt water which preserves the sometimes scarce ground water supplies.

We ensure that both sides of every piece of paper is used, and old/discarded paper is used for scrap/to do lists etc.

We offer PADI eLearning (online), PADI Touch (app based) and digital manuals, all of which replace the need for physical books. This not only offers divers convenience but also saves on the paper used to create the book

PADI-digi-materials

We try to reuse or re purpose everything we can – even the most obscure things can have a second life. Right now for example, we are saving up all of our old fins, and hope to be able to build an artificial structure with them, or even fashion them into slates to make a roof for a shelter at our local animal clinic!

You can read more about our environmental activities by looking at the environmental category on the blog.

Things to Do on Koh Tao – Our Ultimate Bucket List!

Your flights are booked and ferry tickets confirmed. After what seems like ages of deliberation you have settled on the perfect place to stay. Now to the really important stuff: how are you going to make sure you hit up all the must-dos on an island with an overwhelming range of activities, beaches and viewpoints to keep you busy? If you’re struggling to decide which beach to visit, or where to watch sunset, then our handy Ultimate Koh Tao Bucket List will help you get the most out of your visit!

Dive Course
If you have never dived before and have to pick one dive activity to do, make it your PADI Open Water certification with Master Divers!

This course is designed for those new to diving and once completed, will give you an internationally recognised certification, valid for your whole lifetime that allows you to dive up to 18m depth anywhere in the world. This is a must do for anyone who is interested in our beautiful underwater world. Certified already? No problem, join us for your PADI Advanced Open Water or a Specialty Course, or even just some Fun Dives.

Insider’s tip: Save time on your holiday by completing the classroom portion before you get here with PADI Touch or eLearning. 

Fun fun fun with our range of PADI Dive Courses
Fun fun fun with our range of PADI Dive Courses

 

Day Trip
Visit the famous Koh NangYuan islands, just a 15 minute taxi boat ride from Koh Tao. You can snorkel all around the trio of islands where, at some times of year, you can even see Black Tip Reef Sharks! Don’t forget to take the walk up to the viewpoint and see for yourself why it’s one of the most photographed spots in Thailand.

Insider’s tip: Day-trippers make this little island busy during the middle of the day. Beat the crowds by arriving at 14:00 as the big tour groups start to leave. Head to the viewpoint towards the end of the day to have the views to yourself!

Koh Tao is full of postcard worthy beauty
Koh Tao is full of postcard worthy beauty

 

Sunset Cocktail
Sairee Beach enjoys sunset views the whole year round. There’s no better place to relax and watch nature’s nightly colour change, cocktail in hand, than reclining in one of Fizz Beach Lounge’s famous lime bean bags. Get there early to bag a front row seat to the action!

Insider’s tip: Lucky Lily Margaritas! Cocktails are strong so make sure you order some snacks from their extensive menu to keep you going until dinner.

Fizz at Sunset
Fizz at Sunset

 

Viewpoint
For an easy viewpoint hike, we love John Suaan Viewpoint, just 15 minutes hike from the end of the main road towards Freedom Beach. Situated on a small peninsula to the South of Koh Tao, it offers a stunning view looking back with the whole of Koh Tao laid out before you.

Insider’s tip: Visit the gorgeous Freedom Beach, just below the viewpoint and re-hydrate with a fresh coconut or enjoy some relaxing snorkelling after your hike.

Glorious views guaranteed at John Saun!
Glorious views guaranteed at John Saun!

 

Beach
Hidden gem Sai Nuan is just 25 minutes’ walk from Master Divers and is well worth the walk. Here you’ll find a classic old school Thai beach feel with palm trees fringing the white sands. There is a small restaurant and even a slack line to keep you entertained.

Insider’s tip: Take a mask and snorkel with you – black tip reef sharks as well as a resident turtle can be seen just a short swim off the beach.

Its lovely and quiet here in the mornings before the sun reaches its peak
Its lovely and quiet here in the mornings before the sun reaches its peak

Motorbike Rental on Koh Tao – The Dos and Don’ts

Scooters are the most common form of personal transport in Thailand and are a popular choice for tourists to rent to explore Koh Tao. Sadly we hear of stories where the experience has turned sour, whether an accident has ruined dive plans or heavy damage fees have thrown a holiday budget into disarray. Our general recommendation is don’t ride here, especially if you do not have a motorbike licence from home – Koh Tao is not the best place to learn how to drive! For those that do still want to rent a motorbike, check out our handy guide to getting the best hire experience and staying safe while you’re at it:

Renting Bikes

Standard procedure will be to sign a contract. This should list all the charges for damage so check what you may be charged before you sign. Almost all operations will ask for a passport for deposit. Regardless of your opinion about the legitimacy of this, it’s standard procedure for hire here. You’ll be asked to check the bike over. Usually both parties will take photos / videos of the condition of the bike at the point of hire. There are dozens of companies out there, but we hear consistently positive feedback about the following operators:

Honda Click Automatic Bike (125cc)
Honda Click Automatic Bike (125cc)

 

Mae Haad:
RPM
Just a couple of minutes’ walk from Master Divers, this long standing and well-regarded operation offer a range of scooters (110 & 125cc) and smaller semi-automatic bikes as well as a range of larger manual bikes from 150 – 500cc. Good for short term rental but can be costly for longer term.

Oli’s Motorbike
Around 5-10 minutes’ walk from Master Divers, Oli’s offer a range of well-maintained automatic scooters (125cc) and semi-automatic bikes. They also offer resort pick up and drop off service for those staying a little further away. They also provide maps, road safety tips, and hazard information.

Island Travel
Less than 5 minutes’ walk from Master Divers and just a couple of minutes from the ferry arrival point, Island Travel have automatic scooters. They offer different pricing plans depending on the level of damage insurance you’d like to add to your rental. Clear pricing and damage cost information is provided. Will take a cash instead of passport as deposit.

Honda Wave Semi Automatic Bike (110cc)
Honda Wave Semi Automatic Bike (110cc)

 

Sairee:
RPG Travel
Located right on Sairee Beach, RPG offer 125cc automatic scooters for hire. This friendly and honest operation doesn’t usually charge for the odd minor scratch on the bike and the costs for damage are reasonable. Also a good option for longer term (1 month+) hire.

Road Safety

Helmets
It’s the law in Thailand that all drivers and passengers must wear a helmet. Legally all hire shops must provide a helmet for the rider and a passenger. Do not try to ride without wearing one.

Safety first! Helmets are a must.
Safety first! Helmets are a must.

 

Carrying a passenger
It can be tempting to save money by renting one bike for two people but it is a lot harder to control a bike with someone on the back, so this is not recommended.

Road conditions
Although there have been huge improvements in the conditions of the roads on Koh Tao in recent years, do not expect conditions like you get at home. Sand frequently covers the roads making them slippery and older surfaces are littered with potholes. Some major roads also have unexpected unsurfaced sections so always drive slowly.

When concrete turns to dirt track
When concrete turns to dirt track

 

Other drivers
Don’t expect other road users to obey or even understand the rules of the road. Indicators are not widely used and there are some surprising habits of drivers making right turns which involve pulling over to the left had side of the road first, or even driving against the traffic on the wrong side of the road before making the turn.

As always, if you are worried about riding, don’t do it! Koh Tao is small so many things are accessible on foot, there are lots of taxis available and some places even have bicycles for hire.

To end on a lighter note, join us on a trip to Tanote Bay if you want to find this neglected scooter on your dive! 😉

Underwater Scooter at Tanote Bay
Underwater Scooter at Tanote Bay

Where to Find the Best Thai Food on Koh Tao

Welcome to the next installment of our ‘Where to Eat on Koh Tao’ series!

Having given you the low down on higher end eateries and the best vegetarian and vegan hangouts already, this time we are focusing on one of the questions we get asked the most – where to find the best Thai food? Its a hotly contended topic, and everyone has their own personal favourites, but based on all of our own preferences and experiences, these are the ones we recommend to our customers the most…

Thai Food by P Nut

This unnamed food stop is just a minute walk from master Divers and is run by P Nut,  who serves up tasty flavours and fresh food with a smile every day. Easily identified by the pink stripe above the door, it’s a common lunch spot for many of our staff, and offers both eat in and take away (remember to take one of our tupperware containers to avoid plastic!) options. On the menu is a combination of traditional Thai dishes, fried rice and pad Thai, as well as soft drinks and fresh fruit shakes. Our top choices are the fried rice Tom Yum (all the fresh and tasty flavours of a Tom Yum soup, but in a rice), and the Pad Krapow Moo (minced pork fried with basic, garlic and chilies).

Thai-Food-Koh-Tao

 

Rabiangmai

Located right on the water front in Mae Haad by the Lomprayah pier, this is a great spot not just to eat, but the watch the world come and go. With its prime location as a great boat/people watching spot, the prices are slightly higher than some other local Thai places, but the quality and portion sizes (as well as the view) do justify this in our opinion. There is lots of choice on the menu, including whole fresh fish as well as the regular starters, curries, rice and fried dishes. Top picks here include the Massman curry, and the Laab and Nam Tok dishes (both of these are traditional spicy meat salads).

Rabiangmai-Thai-Food-Koh-Tao

 

Yangs

Located on the main road on the way out of Mae Haad heading towards Chalok, this simple wooden restaurant on the bend of the road is a hot spot for both locals and tourists alike. Famed for its cheap prices, good portions and flavourful dishes, the quality of the food here presents excellent value for money. With an extensive range of Thai food, as well as many tasty western dishes, there is something to suit every craving. On the western side, everyone is a fan of Yangs french fries, which are basically the kind of fat chunky chips you’d find back in a local UK chippy – yum! On the Thai side, you cant go wrong with the morning glory with crispy pork – or indeed without the pork if you are not a meat eater!

Yangs-Thai-Food-Koh-Tao.kpg

 

Tukta

Tukta can be slightly tricky to find for first time visitors as its easy to drive past if you don’t keep your eyes peeled! Heading from Mae Haad towards Chalok, its on the left side on the corner right before you drop down the hill to the T-junction. With plenty of parking, seating and a huge menu of generous portion sizes to choose from, its another firm favorite among Koh Tao residents. There’s also a fair amount of curious dishes for those who are feeling brave – frog curry or fried birds nest anyone?!?! But for those who prefer to play it safe and stick to more traditional dishes, we recommend the spicy chicken salad with a side of pork cakes.

Yangs-Thai-Food-Koh-Tao

We hope these tips of where and what to eat help you have a tasty stay, and be sure to stay tuned for the next installment of where to eat on Koh Tao!

The Eco-conscious Island of Koh Tao

 

Exciting news….Koh Tao could soon be known as one of the most eco-conscious destination of South East Asia! Many businesses, including most dive shops, are working together to try and ban single-use plastic items on Koh Tao, including plastic straws and plastic bags. On top of this, efforts are being made to install a recycling program for businesses to have their recyclable goods picked up rather than throwing them in with their everyday rubbish. This was all made possible by Koh Tao’s inhabitants having an eco-conscious mind set and the determination to fight for change.

Koh Tao is full of postcard worthy beauty
Koh Tao is full of postcard-worthy beauty, such as Koh Nang Yuan.

 

The term ‘eco-conscious’ is floated around a fair amount in the media these days, but what does the term really mean?

An eco-conscious individual or business has a way of thinking where they look at how their actions and choices impact the natural world. Dubbed eco-warriors, these people/companies are both very aware of the threats faced by our fragile world, and also work to reduce and ultimately eliminate their impact on those threats. Where plastic is concerned, this largely revolves around ‘The Three Rs’… Reducing  plastic use, Re-using any plastic that is used, and Recycling whenever possible.

Here on Koh Tao, with diving being the primary activity that draws tourists to the island, many inhabitants are already far too aware of the global plastic problem, ans its impacts on our oceans and marine life, and have been puching for changes for some time now.

As an island, there has already been some success in previous years. Just over 4 years ago the local government banned the use of styrofoam boxes, which were commonly used as takeaway containers from restaurants. This milestone showed that the community was willing to make sacrifices when alternatives are present, and when it was in the best interest of the island. Once a few people come around to a more sustainable way of living, it soon catches on, and now we have several key figures in the municipality on board, including the Mayor of Koh Tao! He understands that the island’s natural beauty (both above and below the ocean’s surface) is one of the main reason people choose to spend their vacation here, so it is worth making rulings to help protect it.

The emblem for the no-plastic movement on Koh Tao
Emblem of the no-plastic movement on Koh Tao

 

The latest introduction to Koh Tao to reduce and eliminate plastic waste is the sale of reusable straws (paper, metal and bamboo), with the hope that if the alternatives are available, single-use plastic straws will be phased out entirely.

So, first it was styrofoam, now plastic straws and the next step will be to remove plastic bags from our little island paradise. Its a huge goal, but with enough people involved and the right mindset, we’re not alone in pushing for change and committing to making it happen!

So, what can you do to help?

In short, the best thing you can possibly do is STOP USING PLASTIC as much as possible in your day to day life! And especially single use plastic. The great news is that alternatives are already available. Master Divers is proud to be a vendor of paper, bamboo and metal straws, and our retail section is well stocked with reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bags, meaning you’ll have no need for plastic bottle or cups, plastic straws or plastic bags. And the best bit? You get to take them all home and spread the word!

Please do join us in considering the environment, and not just in Koh Tao. It does not take much effort to live with less plastic in your life, it just takes a little more planning and forethought, but the results are well worth it!

If you’d like to know more about environmental initiatives and events on Koh Tao, feel free to follow us on Facebook or drop us an email 🙂

 

What is the Weather Like on Koh Tao?

“What will the weather be like during our stay on Koh Tao”?…. Its a common question, and of course an understandable one – who doesn’t want perfect conditions for their holidays?!?!

The good news for our divers is that we have a huge range of dive sites on the island (50+), and thanks to the orientation of Koh Tao and how quick it is to circumnavigate, it’s normally easy for us to select dive sites that are suitable for any course or trip you’d like to take with us – whatever the weather! We are very lucky to have such an amenable climate on Koh Tao, and although we have a wet season, it is very short compared to many other tropical destinations. Plus we get less rain in general than our neighbours on Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, thanks to the small size of the island itself, and a lack of any mountains high enough to break those pesky low lying rain clouds. Full details on what conditions you can expect throughout the year as follows….

Great visibility at Koh Tao dive site Mango Bay
Sun Rays Underwater

 

January
January can be a mixture of conditions with the tail end of the monsoon season still around the sea conditions can be a bit up and down, the visibility is improving but the surface conditions maybe slightly choppy. The water temperature is about 27C, which is the lowest it will get around Koh Tao; the air temperature is similar to the water temperature, so it’s warm but not humid. January marks the start of high season on Koh Tao, so there will be a lot of people about; of all ages, you have backpackers starting their trips and families enjoying the New Year in the sunshine.

February

In February the conditions are good the visibility is between 10-15m on average, the surface is mostly calm and the water temperature is usually between 27-29C. The air temperature is warm and comfortable for most of the month, towards the end of the month it starts getting a little hotter. February is one of the busier months on the island with a lots of visitors arriving on our shores to take advantage of the great conditions – both above and below the surface!

Sunny Koh Tao
Sunny Koh Tao

 

March
This month is the start of the hot and dry season for the east coast of Thailand, there is very little rain if any this month. The diving conditions are great, perfect for divers and snorkelers as well as being the perfect temperature for the corals reefs to grow. There is typically a chance of spotting Whalesharks from March onwards for a couple of months too. So bring your go pro’s and underwater housings – you might just get that perfect profile photo!

April

April is the driest and hottest month of the year on Koh Tao but that doesn’t stop the fun. April is also the month Thai New Year (Songkran) falls in on the 13th and 14th April, which is celebrated with an island wide water fight. Locals and holiday makers alike all joining in the fun, and it is definitely a day to remember! April is also the official start of ‘Whaleshark season’ on the East coast of Thailand; the visibility is great this month, ranging between 15-20m. Surface conditions are generally calm in April and the temperature of the water is around 30C.

Whale Shark!
Whale Shark!

 

May
May is the beginning of the quieter months on Koh Tao, it is also the start of the cooler season as well, this month will see temperature start to fall and there may be a chance of rain showers. This is a great time to come and relax as the island is quieter in general. There is also still a chance of spotting a Whaleshark in May as this month and the diving conditions are good with calm seas, clear visibility, and water temperatures averaging 30C.

June

June is a great month for people who want to get away during quiet season as the island is in a peaceful lull before the European summer holidays start in mid-late July. The weather is cooler this month as well. The diving conditions are slightly mixed as the island can sometimes see some rain as a result of the monsoon season on the west coast of Thailand. This can alter surface conditions and visibility, but for most of the month both are great, the water temperature is about 29C this month – perfect conditions for both divers and marine life alike!

breeze-koh-tao-beach-view
Beach life

 

July

With the start of the European Summer holidays the island starts seeing a lot more families and backpackers this month. The weather is still cooler than the hotter months of April and May as well as staying continuously sunny with some rainfall from the monsoon that is hitting the West Coast of Thailand. The rain however, if it does come, usually only stays for an hour or two. Visibility is usually between 15-20m on a good day and the surface is generally calm.

August
August can sometimes be a mixed bag both weather and condition wise. There is a bit more rainfall this month but is usually doesn’t rain for long. The water conditions can change between being choppy and flat calm depending on how hard the wind is blowing. Water temperature is still stable at around 29C this month and visibility is between 10-15m.

Mango Bay
Mango Bay

 

September
September is still peak season with lots going on, and generally fine weather and good dive conditions in terms of visibility and calm seas. Any rain is typically quick to blow over and has little impact on underwater conditions. Normally the ambient temperature starts to drop a little, in the lead up to the cooler months of October and November. Expect water temperatures of around 28-29C.

October
October can still be busy on the island but towards the end of the month the island generally quietens down as the weather and diving conditions start to become poorer. The weather can change quite quickly in October with winds bringing in rain for a couple of hours in the afternoon to then drying up quickly. The water conditions are choppier on the surface and the visibility can range from 10-15m depending on recent weather. The temperature is around 28C.

Koh Tao is full of postcard worthy beauty
Grey Skies over Koh NangYuan

 

November
November is the peak of low season here on Koh Tao, this is when the monsoon weather typically hits the island. You can expect rains and high winds, however in recent years, the monsoon isn’t as powerful as it used to be due to climate change. The air temperature is around 27C. The water conditions are probably at its lowest this month, the temperature is the same as the air; 27C, surface conditions can be very wavy and this visibility can be between 3-10m. If you are after a challenge and are keen on becoming a more experienced diver these are great conditions to dive in!

December
December can be a bit unpredictable depending on if and when monsoon has decided to arrive! The poorer conditions can continue through from November, which can limit the dive sites we go to. Water temperature is around 27C, visibility can range from 5-15m, and surface conditions can still be choppy. The up side is that in the past few years there has been a number of whale shark sightings around Christmas/new year time.

We hope this helps with your weather questions and planning. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us for more information 🙂