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The yellow boxfish in the sea of Koh Tao
The yellow boxfish in the sea of Koh Tao


In this feature called ‘In the Picture‘ we ask great photographers from all over the world to share their 10 most favorite Thailand photos with our readers. See Thailand through the lens of the photographer, read the background stories and learn more about the land of smiles.

Yes, finally some underwater pictures again! This time from Iris de Laat, a great diving instructor at a friendly dive school of ours. If you are looking for a great dive school on Koh Tao, please let us know or add yourself to our WhatsApp group and who knows, you might even get a discount on a booking.

Thank you Iris for the beautiful underwater photos!

Hello Iris, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi dear Thailand Magazine readers,

My name is Iris! I am a Dutch photographer and Dive Instructor from Breda, a beautiful city in the Netherlands. After working as a dietitian in the Netherlands for a while it was time for something new. I already travelled through South East Asia after my study but I decided to go again. I really wanted to go back to the place I loved the most, Koh Tao. So I booked a ticket to Thailand and stayed in Koh Tao for 3 month to become a Divemaster.

After the Divemaster course I travelled through SE Asia again but eventually returned to Thailand. Back in Koh Tao they offered me a job as a dive instructor and I took it! I did the Instructor course and a new adventure began. I have been working as a dive instructor in Koh Tao for 4 years now at Impian Divers Dutch Dive center. It’s the place where I fell in love with during my travels and it’s the place where I found my real passions, Diving and later Underwater Photography.

I used to take a lot of photos during my travels but to be honest I started making photos “Professionally” just one year ago. 

Besides underwater photography I also do lifestyle photography, like portraits and branding shoots.

Hope that you all will visit Koh Tao!

Iris de Laat


Selfie of a diver at Sail Rock

9 November 2021 @ Diving spot: Sail Rock 

I love to make portraits underwater. The thing you have to keep in mind when making an underwater portrait is timing and lighting otherwise your portrait is full of bubbles or backscatter. Sail Rock (Koh Tao) is one of the most famous dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand.

What is your favorite destination in Thailand?

So obviously Koh Tao is my favourite destination in Thailand. I really like the ambience, the nature and the underwater world. But on the mainland my favourite locations are Chiang Mai and Pai, also for the ambience and the nature but I also love the Sunday Night markets!

Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?

I would love to go to Koh Lipe one day. I hear great stories about diving over there. So I have to check that out!


Hin Pee Wee diving spot

26 March 2022 @ Diving spot: Hin Pee Wee

This is my favourite photo so far. The lighting and position of my student and the anemone is just perfect! I only photograph students at the moment so I don’t really have the time to position people for a photo and look for the best angle. That’s why I’m always happy when photos turn out better than I expected!

Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?

I would recommend visiting Khao Yai National Park. This was one of my favourite locations when I first came to Thailand. If you like nature and wildlife, this is the place to go. I saw a lot of Gibbons, Elephants, Hornbills and so much more wildlife during my stay. Happy memories about that visit!

Where do you like to eat?

I like to eat at Koppee Espresso Bar and Restaurant. Mostly I come here for lunch. It’s located in the more quiet area of Koh Tao (Chalok) so it has a relaxed vibe. There is also a swimming pool, so it’s a great spot to hang out for a while. I really like the fresh Vietnamese springrolls, the smoothies, the pancakes, the fresh wraps/burgers and the Thai food they serve over here. There are a lot of different Thai & Western options to choose from.


Diving at Shark Island, Koh Tao

24 March 2022 @ Diving spot: Shark Island

When the light reaches the corals it shows their true colours.


Anamone at the Japanese Garden a famous dive site of Koh Tao

19 Februari 2022 @ Diving spot: Japanese Garden

Anemones in the shallow bay area of Japanese Garden. This dive site is close to the famous island Koh Nang Yuan. I love the colours!

Tip us a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.

Maya Beach Club at Sairee Beach on Koh Tao is a nice spot during sunset. The music is really nice and it’s the perfect spot to relax after diving or an active day on the island. You can also rent a paddle board over there which is pretty nice as well, especially during sunset.

What is your favorite Thai dish?

Hard to choose, I think Thai food is great! I am a big fan of the Massaman Curries, Gai Pad Med Mamuang (Chicken Cashewnut) and Goong Tod (Battered Fried Shrimp) with chili sauce.


longfin bannerfish in the sea of Koh Tao

13 October 2021 @ Diving spot: Twins

Another beautiful group of coral fish. You see these longfin bannerfish a lot around Koh Tao.


A Titan triggerfish at White Rock, Koh Tao

26 March 2022 @ Diving spot: White Rock

A Titan triggerfish! Some people love them, some people hate them because they can be a little bit territorial sometimes. I personally love them. In Koh Tao we have the largest triggerfish around.

What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?

To be honest I didn’t stay in a hostel or hotel for a loooong time, because I have my own place here and I don’t travel a lot at the moment. So unfortunately no recommendation for now.

Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?

Don’t bring too much. My backpack was packed with unnecessary stuff on my first solo trip. Also don’t rush, take your time for every destination you visit and go look for the hidden-gems! Sometimes the spot next to the tourist spot is even more beautiful.

Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?

“Pet nit noi” = A littlebit spicy
“Kip Tang na ka” = Can I Pay please?
‘Dam naam” = Diving


Lion's Mane Jellyfish in the sea of Koh Tao

8 April 2022 @ Diving spot: Chumphon Pinnacle

Sometimes editing is about creating something cool and trying things out. So once in a while I go for the extreme edits but most of the time I keep it real. I wanted to give this Lion’s Mane Jellyfish all the attention it deserves, so I made the background a lot darker.


The yellow boxfish in the sea of Koh Tao

28 November 2019 @ Diving spot: No Name Pinnacle

One of the first photos I took with my Olympus TG-5 and I’m still proud of it. Underwater photographers and other divers know how shy and small this yellow box fish can be. So I was really happy when I had one sharp photo of this funny looking fish. One of my favourites.


John Suwan Viewpoint on Koh Tao

5 November 2011 @ John Suwan Uitkijkpunt

My favorite viewpoint on Koh Tao, the John Suwan Viewpoint. The view is just amazing, especially during sunset.

The John Suwan Viewpoint looks over two bays, left Chalok Baan Kao Bay and right Shark Bay.

What type / brand of camera do you use?

Above water: the Fujifilm XT-3. I love this camera!

Underwater: At the moment I use an Olympus TG-5 with Inon Z330 strobe but it’s time for an upgrade and I’m looking into the Sony system for my new set-up. 

Where can our readers find your work / photos?

You can follow me om Instagram @iriseve.underwater or at Facebook @Diveinstructoriris.

Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?

I would recommend @florisgone. He has some amazing (drone) shots of Thailand! I love drone shots. You can see the world from a different angle which is pretty cool.


Chumphon Pinnacle at 25 meter depth

16 October 2021, Diving spot: Chumphon Pinnacle

Diver diving with his rebreather at Chumphon Pinnacle. This photo is taken at 25 meters deep. Diving with a rebreather is totally different from recreational diving. With a Rebreather you don’t blow out bubbles but you recycle your air which consults in longer dive times. Really useful for underwater photography as well!


Junkyard Batfish in the sea of Koh Tao

26 November 2021, Diving spot: Junkyard

Batfish of Koh Tao. One of my favourite fish to photograph. They’re always moving gracefully through the water.


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From Thailand with LOVE! June 2020
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