Diving is big business on Ko Lipe, with at least 10 operations offering everything from casual half-day dives to PADI certification in a wide range of languages.
During high season, boats go out daily for spectacular local dive sites like Eight Mile Rock, Stonehenge and Ko Lantcha. More distant sites like Hin Daeng and Ko Haa can be reached on the multi-day live-aboard trips offered by Forra Diving.
When comparing dive companies, it's a good idea to focus on factors other than price: equipment maintenance, ethics and experience should all be considerations too. The following Lipe-based companies have good reputations, with some focusing on straightforward day trips and others offering an impressive spread of specialty courses among other features.
T: (080) 545 5012 ; (084) 407 5691
Since 1997, Forra Diving has been one of Ko Lipe's most noticeable, reliable and innovative dive operations. With headquarters on Sunrise Beach and secondary offices on Pattaya Beach and Walking Street, their coterie of multilingual instructors has developed an excellent reputation. Their live-aboard (aka "marine safari") diving trips take to the seas on a 27-metre yacht and can run from Lipe all the way up to Phuket, stopping at several world-renowned dive sites along the way. Forra also offers night diving and day trips to a rotating collection of local sites. Snorkellers are encouraged to tag along on day dives for 650 baht, or 1,500 baht per day on the live-aboard trips -- good value if you're looking to head north in a more gradual way. Forra is open from the beginning of November until May 15 and consistently gets great reviews. They also operate small bungalow resorts on Sunrise and Pattaya beaches that are usually occupied by divers.
Ocean Pro Divers
T: (089) 733 8068 ; (081) 572 1324
Canadian-owned Ocean Pro have also developed a fine reputation, not only for their experience and expertise, but also their relaxed yet professional service and attention to detail. Divers head out to sea aboard an array of speedboats and rates include buffet lunches that have received good reports. Snorkellers are also welcome to tag along. Ocean Pro can help secure divers a discount on accommodation at Varin Resort, and will give a discount if you book three days of diving or more. If you do a PADI course with Ocean Pro there's also a discount for any future dives you do with them. While they don't offer live-aboard trips, they are experts on the many excellent dive sites in the Adang archipelago.
T: (087) 478 1615
Based at the same-named resort on Sunrise Beach, Castaway Divers offers an excellent diving experience that goes beyond what you might expect. Like everything at Castaway, the vibe is relaxed and professional, and groups are limited to four divers per course, or two students per instructor. Divers head out by longtail boat and enjoy lunch at one of the area's tiny islands. Along with the usual day trips to the best dive sites around Ko Lipe, they offer the full range of certifications in nine languages to go with specialist diving courses that include night diving, deep diving, free diving, underwater photography and navigation diving. Divers also receive a discount on rooms at the resort.
Ko Lipe Diving
T: (088) 397 7749 ; (087) 622 6204
With its main office right on Walking Street, the highly professional Ko Lipe Diving offers nearly two-dozen different types of courses, including search and recovery and wreck diving at the 75-metre-long Yong Hua Wreck, among several other specialty options. Though the multi-lingual instructors are known for their courses, daily fun dives to several of the best sites in the Adang archipelago are also offered. With an emphasis on education and non-pretentious service, this is an especially good option if you're just starting out in diving.
T: (089) 464 5884
Sharing space with Flour Power Bakery on Sunset Beach and Bundhaya Resort on Pattaya Beach, Sabye was one of the first scuba centres to open on Lipe. Their diving rates aren't the cheapest, but their expertise and quality get them high marks from divers. They offer all-inclusive two- or three-day packages, plus specialty PADI courses and underwater photography. Sabye's website was having some issues at time of writing, but it's worth stopping by their offices once on Lipe if you can't track them down online.
Davy Jones Locker
T: (090) 324 1248
Originally launched on Ko Tao in 1995, Davy Jones Locker opened a small operation on Lipe's Pattaya Beach in more recent years. They present a straightforward assortment of small-group diving courses, day trips and packages that represent good value for money. Divers booking multi-day packages get a free air-con dorm bed at Koh Lipe Backpackers Hostel, located in the same building as the main office. This is a good option if you prefer to keep things simple.
Adang Sea Divers
T: (083) 100 6450
Offering more intimate experiences than some of Lipe's dive operations, Adang Sea Divers has an office and eco-lodge where divers get a discount just back from Sunrise Beach. They specialise in digital underwater photography courses and provide all of the cameras and other equipment you'll need. Other options include underwater naturalist and night diving courses. Adang Sea Divers also offers the more standard courses to go with daily fun dives by way of a small speedboat. Prices drop as the number of divers on a trip increases, making this a good option if you're travelling with a group of divers.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 11th December, 2014.