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Scuba diving is a top activity in Thailand as Thailand features more than 1,000 miles of coastline facing two different bodies of water. Both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea are speckled with hundreds of islands surrounded by pellucid, aquamarine waters teeming with marine life including manta rays, dugongs, barracuda, and the occasional whale shark, the world’s largest fish!
Because of these idyllic conditions and incredibly reasonable prices, Thailand has become one of the top destinations in the world to learn how to scuba dive. Most popular is the island of Koh Tao, whose shallow, gentle waters are perfect for first time divers. Dozens of internationally accredited diving schools with regulated prices provide certification to thousands of visitors all year round. Koh Tao is located just north of Koh Samui, another great place to learn to scuba, particularly if you are planning on getting certified but wish to participate in other activities during your stay. Either way, the Gulf coast has excellent year round weather, making it possible to get certified no matter when you visit.
On the Andaman coast the diving season is restricted to the non-monsoon season months: October through April, when seas are far more calm. Dive operators in Phuket, Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, and Krabi all feature numerous dive shops that are qualified to give international PADI certification courses and feature spectacular diving conditions.
That said, a dive course isn’t a rubber stamp; several days of coursework and pencil and paper examinations are followed by instruction and training in a swimming pool before divers get the opportunity to try their skills in the ocean. Even then they must show competency in the required skills before they are going to see a large number of fish. Make sure you plan enough time to do some fun dives after your course has finished so you can benefit from your new certification.