Learn to dive in Koh Tao on your gap year! Getting your diving qualifications in Thailand is one of the must do activities when you go backpacking in Asia or as part of a round the world trip. Koh Tao is famous for diving, low prices and great experiences, and maybe even meet the Whale shark, the biggest and most amazing fish in the sea! Come join us and have a great time on Koh Tao.

 Learn To Dive In Koh Tao

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Koh Tao is one of the most popular diving destinations in South East Asia, and the Xtreme Gap Year dive school is one of the most popular and top-rated dive schools on the island!  Young, funky and fresh, our dive shop is co – owned by one of the directors of Xtreme Gap Year, needless to say we make it fun and exciting as possible to get your open water certification.

No where else in the world certifies as many diver as in Koh Tao, this makes it one of the best places in the world, but not all dive schools in the same come get your qualifications with us and you are guaranteed to have an amazing time doing it.

Learn to Dive in Koh Tao Highlights

There are some really good reasons you should consider your dive training here:

  • Very high standards of instruction due to the fact the scuba instructors are constantly training people and keeping their skills fresh
  • Koh Tao is one of the best value places to learn to dive in the world
  • Our dive school is consistently rated as one of the best on trip advisor.
  • There is a great young atmosphere on the Island, where diving is the main activity for visitors
  • Your certificate is for life, and you can dive anywhere in the world!
  • We include your accommodation at a luxury resort with pool, minutes away from the beach!
  • There is plenty to see under the water! With dive sites like Chumporn pinnacle and South West being some of the nicer dive sites in Thailand
  • Check the video below for an idea about what doing your open water course involves

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The Following SSI Courses Are Available

Open Water (OW)

When completing your open water course on Koh Tao, you can expect the open water course diving course to last between 3 4 days. The time scale usually depends on how quick you and your group take to using the equipment. The first couple of days on the open water diving course will be spent in the class room and the swimming pool. This is after a short 8 length swim test: it is a requirement that you can swim this as a minimum before undertaking your open water scuba diving course in Koh Tao. You will learn about the safety aspects, about the equipment used and the physics of diving, all under the watchful eyes of your scuba diving instructor and an assistant Divemaster.

After the classroom and pool modules are completed and you have demonstrated that you are able to complete various open water diving course skills correctly (such as recovering a regulator, clearing your mask and others) you will be ready to continue your open water diving course in the sea!

The open water diving course consists of 4 scuba dives, during these dives you will practice skills learnt in the pool and get used to the underwater environment, whilst diving with incredible fish in a beautiful underwater setting.

To pass the open water Scuba Diving course, you must complete an exam at the end of the course, this is not hard to pass, but you must study, or risk failure!

Advanced Open Water

dive training thailandThe SSI Advanced Open Water Certification is a natural progression once completing the SSI Open Water Course. This course is scheduled over 2 days and consists of 5 Adventure dives from the list below (2 of which must be Deep and Navigation) On completion of this exciting course you will be awarded with the Advanced Open Water Diver certification, which allows you to dive down to a depth of 30 metres.

The real beauty of the advanced course is that it enables you to dive deeper to 30 metres enabling you to see more species and get more from your dives. It also improves your confidence and builds on the fundamentals. If you plan to dive as a continuing hobby, then the advanced course is highly recommended.

The deep dive will be conducted at Chumporn or South west pinnacle, 2 of Koh Tao´s best dive sites. In order to get the best experience of these 2 sites you must be an advanced open water diver. This enables you to get down to the bottom and dive with grey reef sharks and large groupers. Very occasionally a large whale shark my stop by!

Rescue and EFR

dg2When completing your Advanced open water course on Koh Tao, you can complete your Rescue diver course. The rescue diver course to lasts about 2 days. You also need to complete your EFR (emergency first response) course during this time. Challenging  and rewarding best describe the SSI Rescue Diver course. Building upon what you´ve already learned, this course expands on what you already know about how to prevent problems, and how to manage them if they occur. If you are serious about your diving, take this course and have confidence leading dives.

On the SSI Rescue diver course, you are trained how to look out for the danger signs of distressed divers. The rescue diver course also teaches you how to rescue distressed divers, search for missing divers using specific search patterns. Should the worst situation become a reality, on the rescue diver course in Koh Tao, you are taught how to safely recover an unconscious diver from the sea bed, and administer first aid both in and out of the water, this includes giving mouth to mouth resuscitation in the water.

The rescue diver course is a pre requisite for the SSI Divemaster course, however even those not considering going professional, should consider this course, especially if they are intending on diving as an on going hobby. Koh Tao is a great place to do you rescue diver course, with a tropical paradise island full of divers, you will meet like minded people making the learning experience great fun.

If you can already dive we have some other great options for you.

Fun dive pack, only from level Advanced Open Water

divemaster thailand trainingNot taking your Koh Tao Divemaster course but want to become a fully competent diver logging lots of fun dives and gaining lots of under water experience? With Koh Tao´s massive range of dive sites you can be kept busy and excited for months!

Diving all over the world can be expensive, especially if you are on a round the world ticket heading to Australia. With the ultimate Koh Tao diving package you can enjoy more diving for less cost whilst spending your time on Koh Tao.

The Ultimate Koh Tao fun diving package allows you to book by the week inclusive of accommodation and 10 fun dives, Ideal if you are pressed for time or want to maximise your Koh Tao Diving holiday experience.

With the ultimate Koh Tao fun diving package holiday, you can take your fun dives in the morning or afternoon or when available at night to fit in with your own plans. We aim to take the hassle out of turning up on Koh Tao for your diving holiday.

If you have never dived before you might only want to do your open water course (OW) which is the basic course enabling you to dive to 18 metres, personally i would do the Advanced open water as well (AOW), because then you can dive to 30 metres and you are not so limited as to dive sites when you dive else where as well. Bear in mind also that the advanced course has 5 dives included so for a little bit more you get many more dives and a higher level of qualification.

SSI Open Water Course (OW)

This will run for approximately 2.5 days. This includes pool sessions, 4 dives in the sea and practical and theory instruction. The open water certifies you to dive to a maximum depth of 18 metres and is the initial plunge into the scuba diving world.

SSI Advanced Open Water (AOW)

This is a continuation of the Open water and includes 5 dives with specialities-  covering deep dives  (30 metres max) and the theory behind some of the issues you encounter when diving deeper. You also do and navigation as well learning how to use a compass underwater.  There is plenty to know about decompression, and the practical dives are more focused on gaining dive experience rather than the basics of learning how to dive. it is not all study though, the advanced course has much less theory and just builds on what you have learned in the open water, enabling you to properly enjoy your dives.


If you really go for it you can complete your rescue diver course after the AOW, this would mean staying an extra week. The rescue course teaches you how to save distressed divers and greatly expands on diving safety. It also includes an EFR course (emergency first response) which is a first aid course applicable outside of diving as well.

Can you book your open water course out there?

Yes, you could, there are plenty of dive shops in Koh Tao, but the advantages of booking before you travel to Thailand seriously outweighs booking in Thailand.

Koh Tao is becoming increasingly popular, so finding decent accommodation can be difficult at certain times of the year. Once you book with us you are guaranteed a place at our beautiful Koh Tao resort.

We will also send you out all your predeparture information including SSI medical forms before you travel, so you know if you are fit an able to do the course before heading to Koh Tao.

We will also provide you with detailed transfer instructions, or for a small fee can arrange your transfer from Bangkok to the island.

Not all dive schools are the same either, we work with one of the top schools on the Island, and the founders of Xtreme Gap have spent over a year collectively living on Koh Tao, so we know the island like a local and we are on hand to give you all the advice and guidance you need pre and post departure.

Trip Frequently Asked Questions

For Only £129 we can add on a Koh Tao Transfer and night in a luxury hotel in Bangkok. We advise you prebook this service to avoid problems with busses and boats being fully booked to the islands.
  • If you want to learn to scuba dive to a basic level with a maximum depth of 18 metres then the open water (OW) course is for you. After you learn to scuba dive with this certification you can dive anywhere in the world.
  • If you want to learn to scuba dive to an advanced level the advanced open water (AOW) will qualify you to 30 metres. You will learn about diving to deeper depths and also gain more experience in the water.
  • If you want to learn to scuba dive to a professional level then take a divemaster course, and as a pre requisite you will need your rescue diver qualification.

This all depends on where you want to learn to Scuba dive. If you wanted to learn to scuba dive in the UK for instance, then it will cost a lot more than learning to scuba dive in Thailand. Xtreme Gap has partnered with one of South East Asia ´s top diving schools offering some of the best value scuba diving courses available. Taking into account accommodation is included then learning in Thailand becomes a very attractive option. For a full price list and scuba diving options click here: Scuba diving in Thailand.

If you already have scuba diving qualifications, but you are a little rusty then you need to complete a scuba review. This takes a couple of hours and costs £30. This can be arranged locally.

Learning to dive is relatively easy and you do not even have to be that fit to learn to dive. Healthy yes, but athletic, no. If you have any medical conditions that might conflict with diving you can research them here
SSI certifications follow a very efficient and easy learning process, yes you need to study, but you do not have to be a genius to pass your exams. People only fail when they do not study the learning modules at all. But considering if you enrolled on the course, this would indicate that you actually want to learn to scuba dive, and furthermore as you are learning about safety aspects related to diving, that should be incentive enough to hit the books.
This depends on the level you want to learn to scuba dive. An open water course takes on average 3 or 4 days, advanced 2 days. If you are in a hurry you can get to rescue qualified in a week. Your Divemaster course is a different matter. In theory, it only takes 60 dives, however you probably want to make the most of the course. Taking your time is as beneficial as it is fun. The more diving experience you gain on your course the better skilled you become. For this reason the Xtreme Gap divemaster course is a full 12 weeks of pure diving mixed with living on a tropical island: pure bliss.

Surprisingly you do not have to be a very strong swimmer to learn to scuba dive, you do however have to be able to complete 8 lengths, (200metres). Remember when learning to dive you will be trained how to use a BCD (buoyancy control device) and also you will wear fins making movement through the water very easy.

Well lets face it under water there is an abundance of marine life, if you would rather eat fish than be surrounded by them, perhaps ti s best that you do not learn to scuba dive! Some people are worried about sharks. They get a bad press, most species are completely harmless and you are fortunate to see them as they are very nervous around divers. More over shark attacks are so rare you are far more likely to have an accident out of the water. If you learn to Scuba dive you can spend some time in the water with them and get to understand them a little. If you really want to know more, consider completing our great white shark speciality scuba diving course in South Africa with Shark man Mike Rutzen or consider some of our shark speciality courses in South Africa.
A career in Scuba diving is extremely exciting, more over it is lifestyle choice. You will need a minimum of 6 months between your first certification (the first time you learned to scuba dive) and completing your IDC. More information can be found on our Scuba diving instructor course page

How do you really know that you want to learn to scuba dive without actually having experienced it? When you learn to scuba dive you will see several distinct benefits. You will learn a new skill, experience a totally new environment, and learn about the marine life and ecology of the oceans. If you learn to Scuba dive you will be engaging in a social activity enabling you to meet new friends and share experiences with like minded people. You will experience moments of wonder and discover a totally different world. When you learn to scuba dive your fitness will improve, as scuba diving gives you a good cardiovascular work out. Some people want to learn to scuba dive as out of sheer curiosity, not all become return divers, but for many their decision to learn to scuba dive opens up a life long hobby that becomes their passion for years.

Taking a Gap Year Diving Course is a wonderful way to spend some or all of your gap year. On a gap year diving course, you will learn new skills, be in a social environment, and as you would expect from a gap year diving course, learn to scuba dive!

Learning to dive in Thailand will mean that you will live in an incredible environment, rich with culture, gorgeous weather, tanned good looking people all out having an amazing time. Our gap year diving courses are based in Koh Tao, one of the worlds top diving course locations. Xtreme gap have partnered with one of the regions leading dive schools to bring you extremely professionally delivered gap year diving courses, the school is a SSI 5 star resort, operating 2 dive boats, meaning that on your gap year diving course the training will be the best, and that you will always be able to go diving anytime you choose.

During a gap year you have the perfect opportunity to take your diving to Divemaster level. This is because you have lots of spare time on your hands and the Divemaster course is the perfect solution to filling lazy days living on a tropical island. Unlimited diving whilst living the life. Perfect.

If you did not want to go to that level, but you are interested in a taking a shorter gap year diving course, then you have several options.

Firstly you can complete the basic gap year diving course: your SSI open water course. This qualifies you to dive to 18 metres. This is enough to see the beautiful tropical reefs surrounding Koh Tao (or any where else in the world for that matter).

If you really want to experience Scuba diving proper, you would best to complete the second gap year diving course:

The SSI advanced open water course.

This gap year diving course qualifies you to 30 metres, a lot deeper where different fish species can be found. Take it from us, it is very frustrating seeing a beautiful Whale Shark sink below your open water depth limits and you are unable to follow it. For more detail on this gap year diving course option please click here: SSI Advanced Open Water Course.

To take full advantage of the Divemaster course and the unlimited diving included with the gap year Divemaster program, you first have to complete the third Gap year diving course: SSI Rescue diver. This is the next stage from Advanced. This Gap Year Diving Course teaches you more about safety aspects of diving, looking out for others, search and rescue and if necessary recover y of divers and dealing with and aiding distressed divers. For more information on this gap year diving course follow this link: SSI rescue diver course

The best gap year diving course we believe is the Divemaster course, we rate this highly due to the level of experience you gain underwater, the leadership skills you gain and the far more in depth learning about the physics and consequently safety aspects of diving. You can read more about this gap year diving course on the Divemaster page.

Another fantastic gap year diving course is the underwater videographer course. You need to be a fairly competent diver for this, but the experience is second to none. Being an underwater videographer, not only allows you to earn money on your gap year, it allows you to have an incredible lifestyle, making movies of divers and marine life and selling your movies to customers at dive schools. There are not many gap year diving courses that allow you to earn on your gap year!

If you really want to extend your diving further, you can go technical, this is really hardcore but worth it for those brave enough!

One of the benefits of booking your trip on Koh Tao with Xtreme Gap Year is not only do you get to do this awesome activity, but you will become part of the Xtreme gap family on Koh Tao. We will pick you up from the pier and give you a warm welcome at our stunning resort. On your first night our resident representative will take you out for a gorgeous Thai meal annual get to know all of the other members of the group. When you are booking a trip with us it is not just about the activity so please bear this in mind if you are comparing prices to other companies. No other company has such a big presence in Koh Tao, runs groups of like-minded travellers so booking a trip with us is as much about the friends you make as well as the experiences you will have.

Duration Option Price  
3 (Days)Open Water Course OnlyGBP 379Book Now
7 (Days)OW & AOW & One Week AccommodationGBP 789Book Now
7 (Days)AOW & One Week AccommodationGBP 420Book Now
7 (Days)Fun dive pack 10 dives (only for qualified divers)GBP 539Book Now
7 (Days)Rescue & One Week AccommodationGBP 599Book Now
20 (Days)Xtreme Diver OW to Rescue with Deep Wreck & Nitrox | Private Standard Fan Room GBP 1799Book Now


All diving course include the following:

  • Pre departure information
  • Advice regarding transport to Koh Tao
  • Taxi pick up from the pier on Koh Tao, and transfer to accommodation
  • Welcome dinner and island introduction
  • Dive equipment for rent
  • Instruction from SSI registered dive instructors
  • Dive manuals and books
  • Accommodation at great resort at the dive school
  • Certification cards


  • SSI Medical Fee (approx £11)
  • Flights
  • Visa (30 day visa up on arrival)
  • Insurance
  • Meals and Drinks
  • Transfer to and from Koh Tao (Can be arranged in upgrades for £129)


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