Choosing where to do Scuba Dive Master & Instructor

This was written in 2017, so pricing could change.

I ultimately decided on Sairee Cottage Diving on Koh Tao for these reasons:

  1. Their instructors seem more professional & attentive.
  2. They  keep the group sizes under 4 per instructor.
  3. They offer free accommodation for 8 weeks, which balances out the fact that their cost is about 8,000 Baht ($250 USD) more.
  4. Their location and pool are the best on the island.

Before this decision, in researching and contacting dive shops in Koh Tao, Utila, Bali and Gili T, I have found price ranges from $750 to $2500 for the Dive Master Cert and $2800 all the way up to $10k for  combined DM & Instructor course.  Other key variables are whether the shop provides free accommodation, if they allow you to dive free for life, and whether they comp your extra dives needed to get to 40 total dives in order to start the DM. Koh Tao is the least expensive with shops being more likely to throw in perks in order to get you to sign up with them.

One piece of advice, don’t over shop, like I did. lol.  Most dive locations have price fixing and plenty of competition, so usually there’s no more then a 20% price swing.

These are the main things to consider and questions you should ask the Dive shops you’re considering:

  1. Are you planning to become a full time dive professional? If so, you want a shop that will help you find a job by writing a recommendation letter, making a couple phone calls, and reaching out to their networks.  You also want a shop that will discuss the business with you in depth so you can learn in case you want to open your own shop someday.
  2. How many divers maximum per group?
  3. How many dives maximum can I do in a day?
  4. How flexible can you be with my courses, diving, and traveling schedule?
  5. Who will be my main instructor? Who else will instruct me? Who will be I be diving with?
  6. Conditions:visibility, recent sightings, etc.
  7. Check out the lifestyle and accommodation on the island for yourself.
  8. THE MOST IMPORTANT—This could be 2 or 3 of the best months of your life, making great friends and having amazing times! Make sure you have chemistry with the people you’ll be spending the most time with.

The info below the line is copy and pasted from emails I sent in March 2017.

Koh Tao:

Sairee Cottage Diving Koh Tao:

Divemaster: 33000 THB

DM Crewpack: 7500 THB

DM PADI fee: 196 AUD
 Go for the Divemaster and Instructor Package: 97310 THB +
Divemaster Application $196 AUD
Instructor Application $249 AUD
EFR Instructor Application $172 AUD
Instructor Exam $865 AUD
*Other cost depends on if you also want to do MSDT and Internship*
Extras: Free dorm accommodation
Crystal Dive Koh Tao:
The Rescue – DM All inclusive Internship would set you back a one off fee of 63,500Baht.
The IDC separately would set you back 60,400Baht paid to Crystal, and another AUD$1385 that you would pay to PADI directly.
Big Blue Koh Tao:
If you arrive being a certified Rescue diver with more than 40 logged dives, the DM course is 30,000Bt on its own, 5,000Bt for material if you do the course with SSI or 5,000Bt with PADI.
We recommend at least 4 weeks for this course.
You need to have at least 100 logged dives before you can start your Instructor course. The SSI Instructor Training Course for 35,000Bt plus materials and SSI fees (materials 5,750Bt, certification 4,815Bt, IE 17,000Bt) for a total of 62,565Bt. The course lasts for 14 days and maximum group size is six candidates per Instructor Trainer.
Bans Koh Tao:
Price of the course: is 25,000 baht + 7,000 baht for mandatory PADI materials +PADI fee of 196 Australian dollars.
Time: 6-8 weeks.

Being an Open Water Diver, you will need to take the Advanced Open Water, the Emergency First Response and the Rescue Diver course. This should take a week. If you have proof of training in CPR and First Aid in the last 24 months, the EFR is not required.
AOW – 2 days: 8,500 baht manual included
EFR – 1 day: 3,500 baht discounted by 10% -> 3,150 baht manual included
Rescue – 3 days: 9,500 baht discounted by 10% -> 8,550 baht manual includedYou will get 6 nights free accomodation at Ban’s with these courses.
Once you’ve completed your Rescue Diver Course and logged 40 dives – included in the package – you are ready for the PADI Divemaster Course!

Total to go from AOW to DM is: 52,200 baht + 196 AUD

Total go from AOW to Instructor (OWSI) is: 112,600 baht + 1,482 AUD. This will take a minimum of 3 months.

Total for DM + IDC + MSDT is:
 135,200 baht + 1,878 AUD. This will take 5 months minimum.
Our team of Course Directors and Master Instructors is committed to your success at the Instructor Examination (IE) but we also want to make sure that you are comfortable with teaching afterwards and our IDC program exceeds the minimum required by PADI in terms of time and number of presentations you will prepare.
The price of the IDC + EFRI 39,900 baht.
Mandatory PADI materials cost an additional 20,500 baht
This includes:

• free lunch during the IDC
• all equipment rental, although you will need a compass, watch, knife, whistle and surface marker for the exam
• pass guaranteed
• free Emergency Oxygen Provider Instructor course
• free intro to Tec diving in the pool

Exam and application fees are 1,286 AUD, Oxygen Provider Instructor fee is 99 AUD.
If you wish to purchase your own equipment while diving with us, you will get a special discount.
So total for DM + IDC is:
92 400 baht + 1,482 AUD

Time: 3-4 months
Lembogan (Bali):
Lembongan Dive center: Not great communication via email.
The price for that is  4 200 000rp
The efr 1 800 000rp
The rescue 4 900 000rp
And after for the Dm the price is 9 800 000
Plus the crew pack
Dive Concepts:
The total cost is 22.400.000 idr to become dive master.
Legend Diving Lembongan:
So the Internship package in  7 weeks will cost you 23 200 000 plus the monthly accommodation.
upgrade With AC and cold water  btw 1 800 000 Rp – 2500 000 Rp
South America:
Santa Marta – Taganga, Colombia:
 Utila Cost:
The total cost of that course is $1100 and includes 14 nights of free accomodation in our dorms and it also comes free diving with us for life once you’re done. You need to have a total of 40 dives before you can officially begin your training and you could do those with us as well. Our instructor course is $2600 an comes with 10 nights of free accomodation.
 Your DMT should take around 2 months and your Instructor 3 weeks.
As far as what separates us from the other shops, we are the dive shop that go to the north side of the island the most. We have some of the best accomdations in terms of dive shops with our own private beach and kayaks that are free to use.
Underwater Vision. Utila. Cost:

Thank you for writing here at Underwater Vision on Utila.  I hope to be able to answer your questions to your satisfaction and as that you please contact me directly at this email address if others arise or anything remains unclear.


  1. The total cost of the DMT is:
  2. Course: USD650
  3. Materials: USD250
  4. Application: USD119

Included in the course price is 21 days free accommodation, free equipment rental, specialty diver courses at cost.  Not included is a reef tax which costs USD30 and a dive medical which can be done for USD7 on island.


  1. The total cost of the IDC/EFRI is:
  2. IDC: USD1150
  3. IDC Materials: USD499
  4. IDC Application: USD169
  5. Instructor Exam: USD675
  6. EFR Instructor Course: USD250
  7. EFR Instructor Materials: USD90
  8. EFR Instructor Application: USD115

Included in the package price are 14 days free accommodation, free rental equipment, free Oxygen Provider Instructor Course, free career counselling and CV help after the course.  You will be covered by your DM reef tax and dive medical if you do it immediately after completing the DM course.

Utila Dive Centre:
-If I start tomorrow, how much in TOTAL will it cost me to get my dive master?$1978 and allow $1400 for 6 weeks rent/food.

-Instructor? $4529 for basic Instructor/EFR & O2 Instructor and allow $1900 for 8 weeks rent/food.


Parrots Dive Center, Utila:

The price for your Dive Master course is, 950$ , but we will give you a continuing education price of 850$

Remember that there are 4 additional external costs not included in the Dive Master course these are:

1) Medical clearance $15,
2) Reef fees $30 valid for 2 months,
3) PADI Certification fee $104 payable only directly to PADI at the end of the course,
4) 19% of Government Taxes to all programs
The free accommodation is at our hostel Parrots inn…

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