Diving Thailand’s waters
Koh Tao, (thai.: Turtle Island) is THE place to get your Open Water diving licence in Southeast Asia. With over 50 diving schools, the tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand offers the most competitive prices, with an average of 9000 Bath for SSI and 10.000 for PADI 3-day courses. Some dive centers even include free accomodation.
I opted for one of the smaller centers, Goodtime Adventures, and had an instructor just for myself. Jon, my british dive master, did an excellent job and was great fun. After a first day of theoretical training and shallow water skills, we headed for the first 12m dives on Day 2. At the ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘White Rock’, two of the many beautiful dive locations off the shore, I had to demonstrate the required skills: take off the mask and compensator underwater, get a feeling for neutral buoyancy or master the numerous hand signs involved in underwater communication.
On Day 3, we were lucky enough to score two dives at Chumphon Spinnacle, Koh Tao’s best dive spot, 30km off the coast. To complete the Open Water course I had to absolve two final dives to a depth of 18m max. The sealife down there was nothing short of spectecular: huge swarms of barracudas, thousands of anemones and large groupers as far as you could see.
Although scuba diving can be quite dangerous, the SSI course was an amazing experience and I am thinking about completing the Advanced Open Water, which allows you to go even deeper, to 30m.
The island itself is one of the most stunning I have seen so far. Sairee beach is the most popular among backpackers. After a long day of diving, you can relax in one of the many cozy beach lounges and enjoy a delicious Thai dinner. Koh Tao, I will be back!