Diving in Koh Tao

 In Asia, Blog, Go exploring, Thailand

Ten years ago, a good friend and I made a pact to go and get our PADI open water certification in Thailand. Jumping into the ocean with a tank strapped to my back to look at the fish and corals seemed like a sensible thing to do at the time.

Fast forward to today and my mind is buzzing with the potential hazards of getting certified, some of them more irrational than others. My ears are a big worry as I have issues with the air pressure on flights. My stomach is another question mark; I get nauseous looking at boats never mind being on one.

Traveling around Thailand, I met many people who absolutely loved diving. Each time they regaled me with thrilling stories about their first dive, all the while smiling gleefully. Not one person was sorry they decided to take the plunge (pun intended) and many urged me to try it. After all, Koh Tao (“Turtle Island”) is second only to Honduras in terms of price quality for certifications.

To cut a long story short, despite the above mentioned fears I somehow found myself on a ferry heading to Koh Tao with the intention to get open water certified.

Koh Tao has over 60 dive schools, so it might take me some research to find the right one. I opted to book ahead of time, but many people just wander into a couple of dive shops and have a chat with the dive instructors to get a feel for the place before settling on their prospective dive school.

The dive course itself is pretty standard and can be completed in three days.

The various steps of the course are as followed:

  • Watch a video
  • Study a book
  • Learn about the equipment and how to use it with an instructor
  • Completed a knowledge and skills test
  • Go on 4 open water dives.

While this might seem daunting (it did to me), there is no need to stress out as the course is designed for divers as young as 12 years old.

I complete the various skill tests and go on my first mini dive down to 4 meters. The biggest struggle I face is buoyancy, my butt just keeps floating back the the surface. Once I figure out how to keep my buoyance, it is time for the real deal, diving in open water to a depth of 18 meters.

Getting on the boat, my stomach is twisted in knots. There is just something unnatural about putting my head underwater and breathing through a regulator. I end up shivering through the dive, not due to the coldness of the water but out of nerves.

By dive three, I somehow find my sea legs and dive to the required 18 meters. I learn how to read a dive computer, dive with a compass. Unfortunately my buoyency goes a bit haywire halfway through the dive and I end up floating to the surface prematurely but the most important thing is I do not panic and am not nervous anymore.

Getting comfy on dive three

This is the best feeling in the world. I am well and truly hooked and feel like I can conquer the underwater world.

On each consecutive dive, I feel more confident and am finally able to stop thinking and start enjoying the underwater scenery that unfolds in front of me. A fishbowl of barracudas, brightly colored clownfish, and did I mention the corals? Just breathtaking!

Comfortable enough for a picture

There are few things as peaceful and relaxing as hanging out underwater watching fish go about their business.

If you are still doubting about getting certified, don’t! You will learn how to equalize with your dive instructor and there are magic anti sea sickness pills that conquer even the weakest of stomachs. There are solutions to any excuse you might make up to get out of diving.

Diving really is easy; you just have to remember to breath.

Pino, my diving instructor, and I

About Koh Tao
Koh Tao is an idyllic island, part of the Chumphon Archipelago on the western shore of the gulf of Thailand.

A couple of reasons to pick Koh Tao

  1. The price: Open Water certifications cost between 8.000 and 12.000 TBT
  2. Abundant underwater life: Barracudas, colorful corals, turtles, whale sharks
  3. Water conditions: Calm with good visibility
  4. High concentration of Dive Schools: Over 60 school on the small island with highly experiences dive masters.

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  • Reply

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  • […] of other adventures to be had in Thailand. Some of the best things to do in Thailand include going diving in Koh Tao, go temple hopping in Bangkok and finding the very best Pad […]

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