A few days post fasting and we were finally ready to break free of the hippies, so caught a ferry from Koh Phangan across to Koh Tao to learn to how to scuba dive. Koh Tao is a small island, 20km in circumference about an hour or so from Koh Phangan and is famous for diving – the island is covered in literally hundreds of dive schools and offers some of the best value dive courses in the world.
Our thinking was that we may as well get a basic scuba diving license here, then in our travels as we came across those amazing underwater locations like Zanzibar, Egypt, Galapogas or anywhere in Central America, we could just charter fun dives to experience it, without the hassle and expensive overheads of the courses etc.
For those that haven’t scuba dived before, the PADI system of diving seems to be a fairly global standard these days. The most basic level of PADI training you need to be able to dive is the “Open Water” certificate, which license you to dive to a depth of 16 metres. The certification requires a combination of basic training, written tests and supervised open water dives.
So we signed up to a reputable dive company on the back of several friends recommendations – “Buddha View” and booked into a cheap bungalow next door (The Tropicana) and prepared ourselves for 4 days of study and diving. The total course costs around 9,000 Baht (Just under US$300), plus textbooks and bungalows (About US$12 or so a night)
I wont bore you too much with the details here, suffice to say lots of stuff happened underwater and we passed. The diving course and diving in general is pretty easy once you have nailed the basics. We did however get very lucky with both our fellow divers and instructor James, (an Aussie guy who has been instructing on Koh Tao for 6 or 7 years) which made everything that much more enjoyable. As a result we decided to extend for an extra couple of days to do some more diving. This mean’t that on top of our “Open Water”, we did another 5 dives and were able to complete our “Advanced Open Water” certificate as well – thus licensing us to dive to 30m and at night etc.
Some of the key highlights:
- New Horizons – Realizing we now have access to a whole new dimension to our global travel destinations – ie underwater.
- Night diving with Barracuda’s: Giant Barraccuda’s (2-3 m) hunt other fish by swimming alongside us and using our spotlights as spotters for other fish at night. They then swim right past you to go for a kil. We saw 3 different Barracuda’s, make 4 kills this way in our 45 min. night dive.
- Several amazing “Aquarium like” swims at the “Shark Bay” and “Chomphon” dive sites, just teaming with aquatic life.
- Drinks & Sunset on Sai Ri beach – quite stunning.
- Knowing we can now dive wherever / whenever we want!!