Are there sharks at the Shark Island dive site in Koh Tao?

The Shark Island dive site is one of the most popular scuba places in Koh Tao and the whole of Thailand because of the underwater scenery. Just 870 yards (800 meters) off the southeast tip, divers can find many rocks, corals, and fish here. Among others, leopard sharks, but also with a little luck whale sharks can be spotted.

shark island koh tao

For experienced and nitrox divers, Shark Island holds a hidden gem at 118 feet (36 meters) depth: The MV Trident – a sunken shipwreck.

About shark island in Koh Tao

Shark Island is only a 15-minute boat ride from Koh Tao. However, the name is due to the shape of the island, not what is in the water. The rock formations resemble the back fin of a shark. 

Shark Island is an isolated granite Islet comprised of immense, towering rocks that protrude more than 33 feet (10 meters) out of the water and descend to 49 feet (15 meters) beneath its surface. Uninhabitable by nature, this magnificent formation offers a stunning seascape for visitors in search of adventure.

Shark Island can also be reached as a day trip from Koh Samui. Therefore, Shark Island can be very crowded. Liveaboards dive boats also frequent the dive spot.

The dive plan for shark island in Koh Tao

Divers will descend to explore the rock and coral formations. When there’s a strong current, a drift dive is recommended here. Moving from rock to rock along sandy patches on the way. The average depth is only 46 feet (14 meters), but with parts of the dive go as deep as 92 feet (28 meters). If you make your way to the MV Trident, it’s located at a depth of 118 feet/36 meters.

Like most dive sites in Koh Tao and really in the entire Gulf of Thailand, the visibility can range vastly from 7 feet (2 meters) to all the way of 65 or 100 feet (20 – 30 meters).

MV Trident Shipwreck at Shark Island in Koh Tao

Far below the depths of Shark Island – at 118 feet (36 meters), lies the MV Trident – a decommissioned German coastguard vessel and former technical diving boat.

MV Trident was sunk in September 2010 and lies in 118 feet or 36 meters of water. This area often has a strong current, which combined with the depth of this wreck is not suited to inexperienced divers.

Experienced, Nitrox certified divers with advanced deep dive training are the perfect candidates for an MV Trident excursion. In fact, this wreck is often used as an entryway into technical diving courses.

Shark Island dive site brief

  • Access: From boat
  • Maximum depth: 92 feet/ 28 meters (MV Trident 118 ft/36 m)
  • Visibility: 7 – 100 feet (2 – 30 meters)
  • Dive time: 45 minutes 
  • Certification level: Advanced Open Water
  • Current: can be strong and unpredictable
  • Type: rocks; deep; drift; wreck; nitrox
leopard shark koh tao

What’s to see at the Shark Island dive site in Koh Tao

When the current is favorable, Shark Island near Koh Tao becomes an incredible feast for the eyes. Its vibrant colors and a plethora of sea life present a magical underwater paradise.

Among the staggering rocks of this dive site, you will uncover a plethora of underwater life! Corals from purple soft tree corals and hard corals to gorgonian fans, whip corals, and brain corals are scattered throughout. As for the terrain itself, boulders make up most of it, with sandy patches between 49 – 60 feet (15–18 meters) deep. In addition, off the east end, there is an expanse that descends to depths beyond 85 – 92 feet (26–28 meters).

Along the granite rocks that surround Shark Island are vibrant nudibranchs and wart slugs, while blue spotted ribbon tail rays seek refuge among the outcroppings. As you venture further, moray eels will curiously peek at you from in between the rock formations. Inhabiting these waters is an abundance of reef fish such as blackcap butterflyfish. As well as sea turtles, which can be observed busily swimming about and nibbling away at Coral polyps. 

If you get lucky, you can find leopard sharks in Thailand. Also, blacktip reef sharks might roam the shallow parts of the rocks – even though they might be closer to Koh Tao’s bays.

During the season between October and May and due to Shark Islands’ location in the open ocean, it’s one of the dive spots where we most likely can encounter whale sharks during the dive.

So, yes, there might be sharks at Shark Island in Koh Tao, but remember that’s not where the dive site got its name from.

whale shark shark island koh tao

When is the best time?

The best time to dive at Shark Island in Koh Tao is between January and May. Anyway, while it’s possible to dive here all year round, the only time when you should try to avoid is during the rainy season on Koh Tao between October and December.​​ The rainy season is a little different on the east coast of Thailand compared to the rest of the country.

What certification is required to dive at Shark Island?

The dive at Shark Island in Koh Tao, Thailand can be challenging due to strong currents. Furthermore, it’s a deep dive, and therefore only suitable for Advanced Open Water divers. This dive site is often used for deep dive training.

How much does a dive at Shark Island cost?

Koh Tao has some of the most affordable scuba diving prices. A single dive usually starts at around 1,000 Thai Baht (approx. 30 USD). As a rule of thumb, the price decreases to 800 TBH (approx. 25 USD) per dive for more than one and up to 10 dives. Therefore, a two-tank fun dive costs about 50 USD only.

Related dive sites

If you like the pinnacles in Koh Tao, check out the Hin Pee Wee or Hin Ngam. For a shallow reef, we recommend Aow Leuk. The biggest chance to spot a whale shark is at Chumphon Pinnacle. And don’t forget a night dive at the Junkyard and a wreck dive at the HTMS Sattakut.

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