In the month of April, Assava worked with Spotlight and New Heaven dive center to teach the process of coral transplantation on New Heaven’s artificial reef located in the heart of Chalok Bay. As a part of Spotlights ‘Eco Week’, the event was held to allow divers to learn about the importance of coral in our marine ecosystems as well as participate in the transplantation process. The divers were briefed on the different types of coral, artificial reef structures and transplantation techniques that exist in Koh Tao and beyond.

The students were then taught the coral translation process, starting with establishing good buoyancy. Having solid neutral buoyancy is crucial to coral transplantation, as it ensures the diver can properly complete the transplantation process without harming the surrounding marine life. Therefore, the divers are asked to hover neutrally buoyant at the start of the dive as an exercise before the transplantation process. After this, the students learn how to identify ‘baby’ corals or recruits that are suitable to be transplanted onto the artificial reef. Recruits can be characterized as fragments of still-living coral that are broken off and found in the sand.

Once the recruits have been collected, the divers use zip ties to attach the coral fragments to wire frames. The coral recruits are carefully positioned to give them the best chance of survival and growth.

Thank you to all of the divers who participated in the event, and to Spotlight and New Heaven for helping organize and make the event possible. We are looking forward to more opportunities to educate divers on eco programs throughout Koh Tao to help keep our reefs healthy!

 Whale coral transplant 1Whale coral transplant 2Whale coral transplant 3



Bella-Fish-Identification.jpgThe PADI Fish Identification Specialty is available to PADI Open Water Certified divers who are looking to gain more knowledge on marine life that is seen while diving. Fish Identification students will learn how to identify characteristics of fish, gain knowledge on survey techniques, and familiarize themselves with PADI Aware and how to protect marine life.

At Assava, divers are introduced to the local fish species such as butterfly fish, angel fish, groupers, wrasse and more. The dive leader will point out different species to the student during the dive, and the students are asked to note the different behaviors, shapes, and patterns of fish species in order to differentiate between them. Thanks to the abundance of fish species that are present around Koh Tao, students are able to witness different behaviors such as fish that travel in schools and those that travel alone.

Obtaining this specialty is an asset to one's diving journey as it allows divers to be more aware of the marine ecosystem, and can help them notice the differences between various dive sites. Students can also learn about the different corals present in the ecosystem such as hard and soft corals. This specialty is a two-dive course that can count towards Advanced Open Water training, and is a great step toward becoming a more aware and knowledgeable diver.

Our fish identification page:


Everyone’s favourite tiny creature – The Nudibranch!

The Assava Team hosted a “Nudi” day led by our amazing PADI Divemaster Manon Steenbergen. We started out in the classroom where we learned more about the Nudibranch. Did you know the word “nudibranch” means “naked gill” in reference to the tiny lungs that exist outside of their shell-less bodies?! There are more than 3,000 known species of Nudibranchs in the world, 130 of which can be found in the beautiful reefs around Koh Tao. Thanks to the collective experience of this day’s participants, we were armed with special tips on where these little creatures can most often be found.

Next, the team headed out to two of Koh Tao’s dive sites, Green Rock, and Mango Bay on a “Nudi hunt” to look for, identify and photograph as many Nudies as we could find. We had a great day of learning, diving, and especially practicing our perfect buoyancy to get these shots!

Article Cr: Shannon O’Hearn

flatworm 1  flatworm 2  Nudi 4  Nudi 5  flatworm 4


Ban’s and Assava partnered to bring together an amazing and committed group of divers to participate in a coral transplantation workshop. Throughout the day, we learned different techniques for identifying and transplanting viable coral fragments to promote growth and restoration in our reefs.

The day began in the classroom where instructors taught the theory behind coral transplantation and briefed divers on the techniques we would use. Our dive began with a short buoyancy workshop followed by a point-out, where instructors helped identify recent recruits (growing baby coral!). We then identified and collected viable coral fragments that would be transplanted using the various techniques learned. Some fragments, particularly of branching corals like Staghorn, are fixed to underwater structures using zip ties. Other fragments, such as those from massive corals, are fixed to hard concrete blocks using epoxy. We also practiced techniques for mixing epoxy underwater using air-filled buckets and lot of concentration.

Thanks to all the participants and instructors for making this course happen and for creating such a great environment for us to learn new techniques that can be used to support restoration of our reefs.

Credit to : Shannon O Hearn ( Divemaster Candidate)

Eco-Coral-Zipties.jpg  Eco-Epoxy-Process.jpg  Eco-Coral-2.jpg     Eco-Coral-Bouyancy.jpg


Assava Dive Resort adapting to the new “Normal”.

Now we are slowly opening for business at Assava Dive Resort and you may be wondering how we are adapting to the new “normal” here on Koh Tao.  What measures are in place to protect our guests and staff during the pandemic?  And how can we adapt boats, classrooms, resort rooms and public places to meet safety recommendations? Koh Tao is Covid free with no reported cases, so we want to keep it that way.

Assava Dive Resort covers a vast area which stretches from the white sandy beaches to our mangrove nursery behind the resort.  It is easy to spread out and social distance. Our Cove Restaurant and Bar is all open air and spacious too, so you can enjoy being together, separately.

Other than space, we have taken advice not only from PADI, but also other leading agencies, experts in this field, such as DAN (The Diver’s Alert Network), The World Health Organization, and following local Thai laws, as to what we should be doing to protect you during your stay. 

Regarding general movement around the resort, hotel, restaurant, and reception, all areas have been cleaned and sterilized with social distancing measures in place. Staff and guests wear masks and will have their temperature taken on arrival.  At every corner you will find hand sanitizer for your personal use, and our Cove Restaurant sells hand sanitizer gels and face masks for your personal safety when moving around the Island.  Door handles, desk tops, restaurant tables and chairs, payment areas etc. are all disinfected throughout the day.  

Covid Temperature Check JPG

Covid Restaurant








With regards to our diving activities, we have added a few more measures on top of our already strict disinfecting regime.  Firstly, all divers have their own personal mouthpiece on their regulator.  This is removed after every day’s diving for you to take away, and the regulator is disinfected according to guidelines.  The equipment rinse tanks are changed more often with extra added disinfectant to sterilize your dive gear.  It is then thoroughly rinsed and hung with space in between to dry in our large drying area. 

Classes are held in open air classrooms, some of which are next to the beautiful white sandy beach.  Reduced ratio classes make social distancing easier, plus give divers the added benefit of more personal tuition.  At the moment we are teaching at a ratio of 2 divers to 1 Instructor.  This allows everyone, including the Instructor, more time to enjoy courses.

Land social distancing

Hand santizing on boat


The Assava Dive Boat has a top and bottom deck providing plenty of room onboard to relax while staying a couple of metres away from each other.  During surface intervals we wear face masks and have hand sanitizer on board.  Instead of using spit to defog masks, we supply on eco friendly soap for all divers to use.  

PADI have issued this “8 simple rules….” poster which we have posted on our boats and around the dive centre for our divers’ information.  There are some useful tips for divers to stay safe while enjoying our beautiful coral reefs around Koh Tao.


There is no need to social distance underwater.  We always dive close to our buddy and dive instructor for safety and enjoyment.  However, once positively buoyant on the surface, it’s masks on and regs in until we are on the boat, then swapping to our other masks on the boat.

Many PADI diving courses involve skills which make social distancing difficult.  PADI have issued new guidelines to help adapt skills during this time to avoid close contact with fellow students. Assava Dive Resort has implemented these adaptations whilst managing to follow all course standards.

When you are ready and able to return to Koh Tao, either for diving or simply to relax in paradise, rest assured that your health and well being are our priority.  We look forward to welcoming you back soon!



Ollie and Damian 2

"Oliver Keime and Damian Cook - Celebration of PADI Divemaster Certification!"

Big Congratulations to Oliver Keime on completing his PADI Divemaster Program!

He started his journey by doing the PADI Rescue Diver Course with instructor Kelley Houghton, and decided to continue on to become a PADI Divemaster with her as his mentor. Over several weeks of assisting a variety of courses, participating in many eco projects and learning the role of a PADI Divemaster, we are happy to welcome Oliver into the PADI pro community and look forward to having him on his PADI Instructor Development Course in the coming months.  Great Job Olli!!!


Ollie and Damian 3






Colin Neil


Wonder what happens to our PADI Instructor Development Candidates once they have passed their Instructor Exam? There are several options but the majority of our new instructors progress on to taking the PADI Master Scuba Diver Training and Internship Program.

Colin Adams has been interning with Neil Giblin's through our schools Assava Dive Resort and Ban's Diving Resort. 
The opportunity to gain experience in small/medium and large dive operations. During this program he learns course scheduling, lesson planning and skill progression for student divers. Along with gaining the credits to achieve his PADI MSDT rating.

The newly certified divers with Colin and Neil in these photos had a blast during their training! 

A few quotes from Trip Advisor:

"we were all German speaking but did the course in English..our trainers were absolutely fantastic with their unique sense of humour, passion for diving and seriousness they made these 3-5 days a highlight of our holiday"

"Diving for the first time can be something quite emotional, but the staff Colin and Neil, reassured me. I also recommend taking the course in English, as a non-native learning the terms in English will prepare me for international use"

A wonderful achievement for these new PADI open water divers and great instruction provided by Colin Adams and Neil Giblin.


Whale sharks



The whale shark is a shark species classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is the largest of all fish species in the world and can measure up to 19,6 meters. Whale sharks are estimated to live up to 130 years, which means the reach sexual maturity later in life when they are around 25-30 years old. Very little is known about their mating and is extremely rare to see but was recorded for the first-time last year in June outside of Ningaloo Reef, Australia. Females give birth to live young where the eggs hatch inside of the female before birth (ovoviviparous). Just like within other shark species, the pups don’t stay with their mother after birth. However, baby whale sharks are a mystery. As mentioned before, scientists still know very little about how whale sharks reproduce, where they mate, and where they give birth.

Here on Koh Tao divers are sometimes lucky to spot a whale shark, although locals do not all agree on when the best time of the year to see them are. Some believe it’s in February, others in April or October. What most people agree on though is that many of the sightings around Koh Tao are juvenile/younger adult whale sharks, meaning they are rarely over 6 meters long. Still, seeing one of these gentle giants during a dive makes you feel like a tiny individual… Here on Koh Tao, and worldwide, photo identification is used as a research tool to estimate population sizes and to giving information about moving/migration patterns, since each whale shark has individual patterns. This means that the general citizen can contribute to science, by sharing their photos of whale sharks to research groups. Here on Koh Tao, that research group is called Koh Tao Whale Sharks. 

The main threats to the shark worldwide are human intrusion and disturbances (recreational activities like snorkelling) and biological resource use like targeted fishing and harvesting of aquatic resources. According to the Department of Marine and Costal Resources, Thailand have around 100 whale sharks roaming in their waters. The Indo-Pacific population have an estimated decline of around 50 % over the last three generation (75 years). Studies show that the annual catch rate from commercial Whale Shark fisheries in Taiwan have had a significant decrease (of around 58 %) between 1997 and 2001. Also, a decline in mean size and length was noted in Chinese waters, where mean size before 2004 was 8.27 m compared to 6.3 m between 2008-2011. 

Provisioning (feeding) whale sharks is a fairly common method in some areas in the world to attract tourist by keeping the sharks in the same area all year-round. Whale sharks in Oslob, Philippines are fed >300 kg of uyap (sergestid shrimp) daily (6AM to 12PM, year-round). In the wild, whale sharks do not solely eat shrimp but thrive on a varied diet including other zooplankton, fish eggs, crab eggs, small fish and krill. 

One of the main problems with the provisioning industry around whale sharks it that it effects the whale shark’s natural behaviour by interrupting migration patterns that is vital for the breeding of the shark. Studies also show that provisioning is affecting the sharks in a visual and physical way, by changing the shape of their head. This is since they change the position they are feeding, being more vertical than horizontal (since the provisioning comes from boats and are mainly on the surface). Also, studies in Oslob, Philippines show that about 95 % of all whale sharks seen in the area have scars on their body, believed to occur due to boat propellers. 

Worldwide conservation efforts include keeping key feeding locations and migration corridors protected. Site protection is necessary in some areas where high densities of whale sharks are present, as anthropogenic pressures on these sites could have disproportionate impact on subpopulation declines. Where whale sharks are routinely feeding on the surface, areas should be managed to reduce vessel strikes in nearby shipping lanes. Mediterranean and Thai waters are where the shark population has declined at the highest rate, IUCN noted in its recent report. A way to stop the decline, Thailand now have the highest legal protection (since May 2019) of the whale shark species. 


Aquamaster 1

Assava Dive Resort was recently presented the Aqua Master Partnership appreciation certification by Michael Chambers, aka –Tex, from our local Aqua Master Koh Tao distributor.

Aqua Master is recognized as the leader in high quality diving, snorkeling and swimming equipment. Since 1997, Aqua Master has been the Aqua Lung distributor for a wide range of products to cover all diving, snorkeling and swimming needs within Thailand.

Aqua Lung is the name that first introduced the world to Scuba diving more than 60 years ago when Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan developed the first “Aqua-Lung”.  The excitement and adventurous spirit of that first dive continues today and is relected in Aqua Lung’s dedication to quality and innovation.

Through Assava Dive Resort and The Scuba Store located on Koh Tao, we can provide you with a variety of quality dive equipment.  As you start to learn to scuba dive, taking your PADI Dive course programs, you may want to invest in your own dive gear.  

Check out this link for promotions and equipment selections along with Aqua Lung Technician courses.





Hi, my name is Eileen. I live in Australia and am currently on an internship at ASSAVA Dive Resort.  My experience so far has been amazing! All the instructors and the resort staff have been amicable and kind. Recently I have just completed my PADI Discover Scuba Diving program, which was an enjoyable experience. It was fantastic to see and explore the underwater world and enjoy the feeling of weightlessness and see the colourful corals and fishes swimming within my arms reach. 
My internship at Assava Dive Resort consisted of learning more about diving, how a dive centre operates, how to interact with customers at the Resort and customer services in a restaurant.  It is such an enjoyable experience to be able to enjoy gorgeous tropical beaches of Thailand while doing my work as an intern. Yes, that's right,  Assava has a beachfront office and restaurant! Awesome right? Well, the food here is even better! As many have known Thai food is one of the most delicious food in the world. And being here in Thailand, I was able to fulfill my desire for Thai food.
I've been given this opportunity to intern at Assava Dive Resort and do a PADI Open Water Course, as part of my internship to have a deeper understanding of what the course is like. And how to better understand what customers will be experiencing as a diver and be able to communicate with the customers easily on the topic. I am currently just starting the interning at the dive centre, but I will be rotating around in the future.
Thank You, Assava Dive Resort and  staffs for letting me intern and experience a lot of new things and for looking after me during my stay here!


Lionfish Chumphon


Whilst visiting Koh Tao, you may want to explore our gorgeous underwater rock formations at Chumphon Pinnacles. At varying depths you will see the underwater species “The Lionfish” also knows as the turkeyfish, tigerfish, dragonfish, scorpionfish, and butterfly cod.   Mostly found in warm waters in the western and central Pacific oceans, the Lionfish is a predatory fish hunting on smaller fish with its venomous spines.  

Although beautiful to look at and wonderful for underwater photos, they can cause direct or indirect damage to coral reefs with their elevated reproduction, all year round spawning and their feeding habits due to the lack of their predators.   The Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans) has distinctive stripes (bands) covering its body, alternating white and dark (dark red to brown or black). It has fleshy tentacles above its eyes ad below its mouth.

The Pterois volitans has many sharp spines on its dorsal (back) anal and pelvic (lower sides) fins. Venom glands are located along grooves of each spine. If a spine punctures a victim, the venom enters the wound causing intense pain and swelling. To treat this we apply hot water to the area and seek medical assistance.

Come join us and visit the Koh Tao Chumphon Pinnacles to have the opportunity to view these beautiful dancing creatures.



Congratulations to Assava Dive Resort on winning the PADI World-Wide Master Scuba Diver Challenge 2018. Several of our student divers who held their EFR and Rescue Diver certification along with the required 50 logged dives, took on the challenge and learned 5 PADI Specialty Courses to achieve the MSD Rating.

PADI Specialty courses that we offered through Assava Dive Resort included the Underwater Navigator, Peak Performance Bouyancy, Deep Diver, Wreck Diver, Night Diver, Search & Recovery Diver, Self-Reliant Diver, DSMB Specialty Diver, Enriched Air Nitrox Diver and Sidemount Specialty Diver, are just a few options that were chosen by our guests.

Here is a Testimonial from one of our Master Scuba Diver Candidates – Ellie Jo Woods


Elie JoDuring my DMT I had the pleasure of meeting some inspirational people and making some incredible friends. As I was working full time, Platinum Course Directors Natalie Hunt and Minni Vansgaard, helped to design a programme of study that kept me on track but accommodated my teaching job at Koh Tao International Primary. This meant that the majority of my diving was done on weekends, with meetings and theory during weekday evenings.

While this meant I was always busy (something that anyone here will agree with!) I was busy doing something that I’d fallen in love with and found truly inspiring. Working with a range of MSDTs and Instructors (Kelly Ann Nickel, Jack Van Geel, Simon Bard, Devon Whittam and Marcus Pinewald) allowed me to learn so much from people that had developed their own teaching style and had different levels of experience.

I was able to conquer my own fears (mask exchange in the stress test being the main one) through their patient guidance, advice, and utilise different tips they gave the students I assisted. The team at Assava all have different interests and specialisms and have inspired me to teach my class about marine conservation and they role we all to play in it. I have been able to use my burgeoning passion to make contacts with a variety of dive shops and establish workshops and eco weeks to educate the children on the island about ecology. Often finding any DMT, customer or instructor at the Assava Dive Centre with a special skill or interest to come to school and run workshops and presentations with the kids.

Assava Team

Adding to the Assava family experience, were the other DMTs I’ve met and the friends I’ve made. Working with a huge range of people, from gap year students Jamie Philips, Ivy Stein and Philip Wurst who I started my DMT with to legends Trevor Hodgson, Leigh White and Megan Pearce, travelling the world in between jobs, who helped me complete it. I have reached some amazing diving and personal milestones with these people and shared experiences that I will remember forever – including the classic 100th dive challenge. Once I started my DMT and developed confidence in my abilities as a diver, I set myself the challenge of completing both my Dive Master and Master Scuba Diver within 13 months of my DSD.

To achieve my MSD I only needed to complete 5 specialties, as I had racked up my dive numbers during my DMT. The Assava team’s passion for the ocean and what they do motivated me to complete my Wreck, Nitrox, Deep, Coral Conservation and Shark Conservation specialties with MSDT Kelly Ann Nickel in September – 13 months after my DSD experience. Her passion for her job and her knowledge as a Marine Biologist ensured that I learnt as much as possible during my specialties and she was able to help me deepen the knowledge and understanding I had gained during my DMT.

Kelley HoughtonI was able to work with Connor Yamamoto, Kelley Houghton and Leigh White to achieve my MSD rating and help Assava Dive Resort win the worldwide MSD challenge!

To celebrate this achievement we cracked out the BBQ and Natalie Hunt presented us with our MSD prizes, to add to my growing PADI swag collection. We were given our very own PADI backpack with two shirts and cap (score!). I can’t thank the people I worked with enough for their time, patience, knowledge and most of all friendship during my first year on Koh Tao. They made my DMT and MSD truly unforgettable experiences, making friends and memories that will last for years. Although I would like to see more than one whale shark next year– but you can’t have it all, even if you’re living the dream.

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Ellie Jo Woods – PADI Divemaster and PADI Master Scuba Diver - 2018