This is a dive site review of Japanese Gardens, Koh Tao, Thailand, a beautiful location both above and below the water. It is not a deep or difficult diving site, and is located near to the Koh Tao islands, and dive resort areas.
Koh Tao is one of the best places to learn to dive in South-East Asia for several good reasons.
The group of islands has dozens of wonderful dive sites, each one with its own name, character, and diversity of life.
Most Koh Tao dive sites are able to be dived by all levels of scuba diver, but some are better for experienced divers and others more suited to beginners and the inexperienced. Factors determining which is which are currents and depths. The Japanese Garden(s) is a wonderful dive site that is not too deep, yet offers lots of colourful life. It is an excellent place to learn scuba diving or practice your scuba diving skills. Located in one of the bays of Koh Nang Yuan (Nang Yuan Islands), the Japanese Garden dive site enables maximum dive depths of up to 18 metres, with most dives averaging 10 metres.
Recently (2009) a wooden boat sank there which has brought a nice addition to an already lovely dive site. Please don't be concerned. It was not a dive boat or passenger ferry, but a small vessel used by locals which sank in a storm while moored in the bay. The wreck sits a little away from the reef at about 17 metres and can be explored by more confident learning divers. The dive site and wreck area are good for spotting turtles, Porcupine Pufferfish (Diodon holocanthus), Triton Triggerfish (Balistoides viridescens) and cuttlefish (Sepida). In addition, there have been regular sightings of an Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari). However, what this dive site is really known for – and its name derives from – is the abundance and diversity of healthy and colourful corals, sponges and anemones. One can easily spend the whole dive admiring the underwater view from a bit of a distance, or getting up close and personal, exploring the thousands of tiny and camouflaged creatures which often go unnoticed. Nudibranchs, sea cucumbers and sea stars make up many of the soft invertebrates, with all kinds of shrimps and other shellfish to be seen during the day and night. Bony fish gather in schools as well as small groups and alone, each with their own agenda and safe place at times of danger.
The lack of depth or currents, as well as its nearby location to most dive resorts, makes Japanese Garden an ideal place for PADI dive instructors to teach or go through skills while under the water. There are a few sandy areas to get new divers to watch their scuba instructor or peers, then do it themselves. After they have shown their capabilities, the dive site can be explored at a casual pace. On days with the best underwater visibility dive instructors and Divemasters can let their groups float or fin around, while watching them from a bit of a distance. Due to the location of Japanese Garden so near to Red Rock (Nang Yuan Pinnacle), some Koh Tao dive resorts take their divers from one site to the other on one dive. This would normally be from Red Rock to Japanese Garden, due to the latter being shallower.
Being in a sheltered bay there is very little current, yet the visibility remains good nearly every day of the diving season. Visibility is rarely more than 20 metres, but at shallow depths and with such wonderful colour it is more than enough. One can enter the water from a dive boat, or walk in from the beach. Both options have their advantages, and it really depends on the instructor's or Divemaster's judgement on each particular occasion. Don't be put off by shallow depths and comments about a dive site for inexperienced divers. Those with more experience can still enjoy an excellent dive here; taking time to search for macro life, while not having to worry about time, depth or current can make any dive an enjoyable one. In addition, this is one of the most beautifully picturesque dive sites above the surface of the water. This area is famous for its isthmus which links Koh Nang Yuan islands and islets at low tides, but separates them during higher tides.
We aim to be as accurate as we can with our dive site reviews, but admit to not being perfect. Please comment in the box below or contact us with anything that you'd like to add or change to this review and description of Japanese Garden Koh Nang Yuan (Koh Tao). In an ideal world, you divers would leave comments and feedback on recent experiences at this dive site in the boxes below, thus helping those interested in visiting Japanese Garden or any of the other great Koh Tao diving sites. We look forward to hearing from you.
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