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“Professional, fun instructors. Chilled out, laid back atmosphere. Best classroom view ever!”

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Sunshine Divers Resort
Ranked #20 of 136 Specialty Lodging in Koh Tao
UK
1 review
“Professional, fun instructors. Chilled out, laid back atmosphere. Best classroom view ever!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 31, 2012

Accommodation:
My boyfriend and I stayed here for two weeks Jan 2012. We stayed in a Garden View room with air con and a hot shower. The rooms are quite basic but I've stayed in much more basic, we had our own bathroom, hot shower, and air con for cheaper than you'd pay for a fan room with shared bathroom in other parts of Thailand and Malaysia. We booked with the resort directly, I would advise doing this as there are two more sunshine resorts either side if the dive resort with slightly different names so it could get quite confusing. You can contact them directly via their website and their facebook page. We were quoted 800 baht a night when we weren't doing dive courses and 500 baht when one of us was, 400 baht when we both were. These prices will vary depending how busy they are etc but its definitely worth emailing them to see what they can do or just turn up and chance it if you prefer that way of doing things. if you're just turning up go to the dive shop office to ask about accommodation not the little restaurant next door. In the end we did so many courses beyween the two of us that they gave us the room for 500 baht a night for our whole stay, which was really good of them! (Beware there was a 3% fee to pay by card so if you can take the cash with you it might be worth it, it's worth weighing it up against bank charges etc and I'm very sure it isn't the only place on Koh Tao that charges it. I know I've been charged more elsewhere).
As I say, the rooms were basic but clean. Clean sheets and a blanket were provided on arrival and anytime we asked for clean ones. It was my boyfriend rather than me pushing for the air con and hot shower but I have to admit I was very glad of that hot shower after diving some days!! Ssh, don't tell him!

Diving: I'll be honest, the diving off Koh Tao wasn't as good as I was expecting. I learnt in Malaysia last year and didn't realise how spoilt I'd been. I think The reefs may be suffering from a little over diving but it may just be climate change related, i don't know enough about it,. That said, there is plenty to see, especially as it gets later into the season and the visibility improves. We had some really beautiful dives, the water was 27/28 degrees and we even saw a whale shark, amazing! I need to get an underwater camera!
My boyfirend did his Open Water, Advanced Open Water, and Nitrox Speciality whilst we were there and I did my Rescue Diver and Nitrox Speciality. Both our instructors were great. Sunshine is the sister company of Bans on the busier Sairee Beach so if they need to they can bring instructors in from over there. This means that although it's only a small dive school we didn't have to wait to start our courses. My Rescue instructor came over from Bans which was great. As I just mentioned, it is only a small dive school which was why I picked it. Both the courses and the fun dives are usually done in groups no larger than 4 which I think is exactly how it should be when you're learning to breathe underwater! If you prefer the anonimty of large dive schools that churn out Open Water qualifications by the dozen everyday then there are plenty of, very good, schools like this on Koh Tao but if you're after a more personal, intimate, and friendly touch then go to Sunshine.
If you're in any doubt about whether you want to learn to dive then this is the place for you to learn. The small groups mean that nervous first time divers get the attention they need and aren't pushed too hard to progress faster than they want to (a little gentle pushing is necessary!). As one of the most nervous first time divers ever when I learnt last year I know what I'm talking about!! Also if you're taking a course their classroom is outdoors on stilts over the beach, where better to learn?! It would also seem that a lot of the instructors had been there for a few years. I've know of plenty of seasonal places with a high turnover of dive staff so the staff at sunshine obviously enjoy their jobs and the island.

Koh Tao:

I loved Koh Tao. I think the two hour boat trip involved to reach the island from Koh Samui (if you want to see how the building of an airport can ruin a place go see) has warded off too much development. If you're looking for a Thai island that's still clinging on to the chilled out side of the back packer atmosphere then try Koh Tao. Sunshine is on the quieter of the two main beaches on Koh Tao and I was very glad we picked this one. There are a few bar/restaurants but none playing ridiculously loud music. If you chose a room too close to the small sunshine bar infront of the dive shop (different management) then the music might be a little annoying if you wanted an early night but we were a few bungalows back and it wasn't a problem at all. I've heard much much worse! The little restaurant next to the dive shop (again different management same name) is fine for a quick pad thai at lunch but I wouldn't go any further than that. The man here is possibly the most miserable man in Thailand but it can be quite entertaining if you stay light hearted about it! Go eat at Taraporn along the jetty (good food, beautiful views, friendly staff) or one of the other eateries around the bay. The bars and restaurants are easily reached by taxi.

As a rule I don't go back to places I've already been to, there are just too many places in the world to visit, but I think Sunshine just might be one of those places that drags me back. I met plenty of people there who had gone for two weeks and found they were still there two years later...

Room Tip: The only reason I put 4/5 for sleep quality is because there is some noise from bikes just before th...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Sarah_L_SUk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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155 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (27)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Level Contributor
28 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 9, 2012

First of all, Sunshine is probably the best place to learn to Scuba dive on the island. Reason being is, the class sizes are restricted to 4 students (unless a large group of travelers come), the price is so reasonable. Sunshine is associated with a larger company, Banns Dive Resort. This was nice, because we were able to use there facilities for learning. ie. pool and boat.
I found Sunshine Divers Resort, just by googling them. Their website wasn't the best, but allowed me to contact them in regards to availability, accommodation and classes. Natalie, the general manager or owner (not sure) had a very fast response which was clear, patient and welcoming. The staff are great at Sunshine, very friendly, knowledgeable and energetic. Tamara May our instructor was outstanding. There was only two of us in the group, but provided us with a lot of patience and a genuine experience. I would recommend taking ANY scuba course with Tamara. Thanks to Janice as well for diving with us on the last day to take some action shots.
The accommodation was a little shaky. We took the standard bungalow which was included in the price of the course. If we wanted, we could have up graded to a slightly nicer place, paying a discounted price. There were all the basics, bed, fan, shower. It was a cute little bungalow, but the bed mattress was toast. You could feel almost every spring. We did not receive a blanket or even a sheet, so we used towels and did not have the room cleaned once in 5 days, though I am sure if we asked, that could have been provided. The rooms were clean but needed an upgrade. That or just pay a little for a better room.
Lastly, the location is the BEST. We were 20 seconds from the water, located in Chalok Bann bay. This is from what I understand, the best location on the island. It is unbelievable scenic and nice and quiet. Great little restaurants all over the bay.
Overall, this was a great experience which neither myself or my girlfriend will forget. The area was perfect for relaxing after lessons and everyone was friendly, even the local puppy Yu Yee :)

Room Tip: Ask to see the room first. But really, just put in the extra $5-6 for an up grade, your back will ap...
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
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    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Tim K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
33 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 5, 2012

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't want to dive since snorkeling previously proved to be a challenge. However my drive to see the underwater world led me to Sunshine Divers where I agreed to do the pool school to see if I could truly breath underwater, successfully. First off the staff was amazing and made sure I was comfortable through the ENTIRE experience. The best part is that the class size is pretty much like one on one training which can not be said for a majority of the other dive schools on the island. Their ability to offer smaller groups made this the resort I will always recommend. Aside from the diving experience, the staff is genuine and wonderful. I meet up with my DM in another country where we continue to have fun snorkeling and exploring the islands of another country.

The resort is not in the absolute best location for those that want to party. That being said I appreciated the bars and quiet atmosphere in the bay. You are close to everything you need and if you want to get to the party atmosphere its a quick motorbike ride away.

Relax, sit in a hammock and enjoy the views and get ready for some fun (and travel friends.)

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Auspiciousraja
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The world
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 4, 2012

How could I not return to Sunshine divers after meeting the incredible dive staff?!? Six months ago I took my Open Water Course and now I've returned for PADI Advanced, Rescue and Dive Master training! What sets Sunshine apart from the others is the super friendly staff and personal attention you get with small group sizes, not to mention the great prices. It is obvious the staff at Sunshine is passionate about scuba and takes the time and care to share it with everyone that comes to dive with them, instead of just pushing customers through certifications! Once you dive with Sunshine you'll be looking for any excuse to return!

Room Tip: Sunshine divers can offer discounted/free accommodation with dive courses.
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Jewelswolf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
13 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 17, 2011

I just finished my IDC (Instructor diving course) with Sunshine in Ban's and i can tell: It was better than I expected!! For a very interesting price, it was very organized, the classrooms are so confortable, lunchs delicious and, obviously, I can't forget to talk about the staff. 3 courses director: Nathalie Hunt, her husband Tim and Guillaume (he is doing the course in french, it was very usefull for me! He speaks spanish to) are very professional. We were actually more than prepared for the Instructor Exam! The staff instructors are always here for the students, i want to specially thank Eva, she is from Spain and she was with us every time, supporting us ans helping us in doubts. For the spanish students, she was so usefull!! Nathalie is very lovely and she was so helpfull at the begining, when I was preparing everything, living in Barcelona. She catched me a nice accomodation for a long stay in the Island, cheap, clean and perfect for study during the course. She found me also a month-rented motorbike for a nice price with a friend of her. She gave me a hand for the visa to, helping with paper for the embassy. She sent me a taxi aswell to the pier to pick me up when I arrived! I can tell: Thanks to Nathalie, I am a Scuba Instructor now in Koh Tao, and it was so easy! I enjoyed a few fun-dives for free with Sunshine, the wifi service in the dive center, the good food in the sunshine restaurant, and the estimated help of the staff during the self-study. It is the place to be if you want to run a pofessional course in the dive business, I am very proud of that. Thanks Nathalie and the Sunshine Diveresort!! I hope you see soon! Best regards, Yoan Lefevre Ponce de Leon.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Yoan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ban Ko Tao, Chumphon, Thailand
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 3, 2011

Sunshine Diver’s was initially recommended to me by my OW instructor 4 years back, and I’ve gone back three times now. I initially came just to fun dive, but I loved it so much that I returned to do both my rescue course & DM. In a few months I will also be doing my instructors with Sunshine. The reasons I love this place so much [and therefore, keep returning] are because:

1) The staff are amazing! They are all so friendly, knowledgeable, and inviting. Whether you’re on a course, fun diving, or just hanging out at the shop, you always feel welcome and like part of the Sunshine Family.
2) The courses are small, and therefore you get the one-on-one attention you need. Also, the instructors always make sure you’re learning but having fun at the same time. Additionally, courses are available in a variety of languages, including German, Swedish, Dutch and Spanish.
3) The shop is great! Right on the beach looking out at beautiful Chalok Bay. There are hammocks, lots of comfy Thai pillows to sit on, and a few wooden decks you can hang out and/or tan on; even the “classroom” areas are right on the beach. There is also a great bar (Easy Bar) and restaurant.
4) Location: There are 3 main areas to find dive schools, which are Sairee Beach, Mae Haad, and Chalok Bay. Sunshine Dive Resort is located in the latter, which is quieter than the two former. Moreover, it’s beautiful, has lots of great restaurants nearby, and is in walking distance to everything you need (i.e. banks, shops, corner stores, motorbike rentals, bars, ext.)

Whether you’re new to diving, want to continue your education, or you just want to fun dive, this is definitely the place for you! You won’t regret coming to Sunshine!

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Lauren K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, UK
Level Contributor
50 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 28, 2011

Firstly a point of order:
Sunshine Divers Resort is a Dive School with a personal touch, linked (sister company) to Bans Diving Resort. It has NO link to the neighbouring "Sunshine 1" (SS1) or "Sunshine 2" (SS2) Resorts, which offer very average basic styled accommodation, and trade off the the dive school and the dive schools name, which people must not get confused between! The Dive school does offer to arrange accommodation should you require it, and can book for you various accommodation including local basic rooms at SS1 or SS2, but also other places in the bay, and at Bans Resort itself which offers a more western style of accommodation should you wish for that. They are very helpful, and if you email them they will happily assist with any arrangements you require.

Location: On the beach front, with a fantastic views over the bay. Very tranquil relaxing setting, with a wide selection of beach front restaurants serving mainly local traditional Thai food at Thai prices. Beautiful setting.

Staff: A fantastic team led by a great manager, Natalie . All the Dive instructors, Dive Masters and the boat/shop staff were really friendly, professional and welcoming. A total credit to the school, and the management. A big thanks to Janis, Ali, Nick, Sarah, Natalie and Bastian to name just a few who made our stay truely special. Great job guys and keep it up!

Training: The classroom work was well constructed, time to watch the dvd's, work on the knowledge reviews, and have question and answer sessions with your instructor.
The actual dive training is equally excellent. Maximum student staff ratio is 4:1, but during my course I had 3 instructors/DM's training/helping me out. A great experience for both of us.

Overall:

The dive school is run by a bunch of great people in a fantastic location. Some of the local accommodation is basic, but individuals can opt to stay where ever they like, and the dive school does have deals with a number of places that can save you money should you wish. If your wanting better style accommodation, tell Sunshine Divers, and they will direct you to the better stuff. The diving and training are excellent, and the social life after the day is complete is great too, and you can sit back and enjoy a beer with the other students and instructors and relax. The customer service here is second to none, and we had an amazing time with them on Koh Tao.

We look forward to returning and diving with Sunshine Divers again.

Thank you for a fantastic week.

Room Tip: Eat at the restaurant about 4 doors down from the resort, just beyond the Buddha Cafe and the BBQ pl...
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ultimatehotelguide
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sunshine Divers Resort

Property: Sunshine Divers Resort
Address: Chalok Bann Kao, Koh Tao 84280, Thailand
Location: Thailand > Surat Thani Province > Koh Tao
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #20 of 136 Specialty Lodging in Koh Tao
Number of rooms: 40
Also Known As:
Sunshine Divers Hotel Koh Tao

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