You don’t have to be ‘advanced’ to take this course. The idea of the PADI Advanced Open Water course (AOW) is to ‘advance’ your scuba diving training and experience, allowing you to explore deeper, feel the excitement of diving at night and gaining the necessary skills so you can navigate underwater.
A common misconception is you need to have completed lots of dives after completing the open water course before you can take on the next step. The AOW course is designed to give you more confidence underwater as you fine tune your scuba skills under Instructor supervision, having fun learning and experiencing new things.
But All I Want To Do Is Dive
The AOW is nothing like your Open Water course; it is a lot more relaxed, with no classroom, tests or practice sessions in the swimming pool. The AOW consists of 5 different adventure dives, with the main aim of the program being to learn and have fun.
With each dive you complete a short knowledge review which will give you some additional knowledge specific to the dive that you are about to make. You will choose 3 of the adventure dives with Deep and Navigation adventure dives mandatory. This means you can tailor the course to your personal interests.
The Adventure Begins
Many years ago I arrived in Thailand looking for a new adventure and ended up at Crystal Dive where I completed my Advanced course.
Looking back, I believe this was the course that made me want to become a PADI Professional and eventually an Instructor. It made me realise how much there is to explore underwater and improved my diving skills significantly.
After completing the AOW I truly felt comfortable underwater. I actually wish I had taken the course straight after passing my Open Water course as I learnt so much and had such a great time.
Diving Koh Tao lets you experience so many different types of adventures with the dive sites being so diverse. You can think of each Adventure dive as a Specialty sampler, providing you with a little taster of different types of scuba diving. This gives you, the diver the opportunity to find out what you enjoy the most.
Each adventure dive credits towards the first training dive of the corresponding PADI Specialty diver course, whether continuing here at Crystal, or any other PADI dive centre in the world.
At Crystal Dive we schedule the AOW course over 2 days. The emphasis is to learn while diving and gaining more experience. When teaching this course I generally meet my students in the morning for a chat about which dives they want to do.
We will then spend some time covering the knowledge reviews that correspond to the adventure dives we will be doing, followed by a little refresher on compass skills and some dry land rehearsals of the underwater navigation skills my students will be expected to complete on their Underwater Navigation Adventure dive.
Then, after lunch the fun begins as we head out of one of our dive boats for our first two adventure dives.
Our Students’ Most Popular Choice
I like to conduct the more skill based dives first, these will usually be Peak Performance Buoyancy and the Underwater Navigator adventure dives. I strongly recommend the PPB dive to anyone taking the course, whether they have just finished their OW course or have been diving for a while as buoyancy is the most important skill for scuba divers.
Finding Direction In Life
The Navigation dive builds on what the students were introduced to during their open water course. It gives them a better idea of how to use a compass as well as lead dives and estimate distance underwater. After these 2 dives I can already see a significant improvement in my students’ general diving abilities and confidence underwater.
Are You Scared Of The Dark?
At Crystal we do night dives every second night. The Night adventure dive is probably the second most popular choice on Koh Tao after the PPB dive. Night dives are one of my favourite dives. They can sound a little scary to some people but once underwater people relax and enjoy the experience.
During this dive students complete a basic navigation exercise and learn how to communicate at night, the rest is just swimming around, exploring and enjoying?
Deeper Into Diving
Regarded as Koh Tao’s best dive due to the amount of marine life, as well as diversity, that inhabits the site, as well as the most common site for Whaleshark sightings. For the deep dive you will be briefed and taught how to plan and stay safe during deeper dives.
Once underwater you complete two simple and quick observation exercises; comparing depth gauges – to show you how much faster you breathe air at depth – and demonstrating how colour changes at depth. Once these skills are completed we then cruise around the dive site looking for bigger fish such as Giant Groupers and Barracuda that inhabit the deeper sites.
Let’s Get Wrecked!
The last adventure of the course is usually the Wreck dive. This is conducted at the HTMS Sattukut, Koh Tao’s number 1 wreck dive, and is also a deep dive, with the Sattakut sitting between 22-30 metres. Again this is more of an experience dive, the main performance requirement being to identify hazards and avoid them.
It is a great way to end the course as the wreck, being an artificial reef provides such a different experience to the rest of the dive sites.
Super Size Me
A good recommendation for the deep and wreck dives is consider combining these dives with a Enriched Air Nitrox Speciality. As both are deep dives you will get more bottom time using Nitrox compared to normal air. This is due to the extra Oxygen content inside the Nitrox cylinder.
The course schedule I have just described is the most popular choices taken by our student divers at Crystal Dive, but by no means is this schedule mandatory.
Life Is All About Choices
Here is a little look at some of the other adventures that you can take on your PADI Advanced Open Water course.
Fish ID – Ever wondered what the fish you just seen is called? Then this dive is probably for you. You will learn how to group fish into families making it easier to identify what you are seeing underwater.
Underwater Naturalist – A dive for people keen to learn a little more about underwater life and the interaction between different species.
Search & Recovery – Ever dropped something on a dive and been unable to retrieve it? If yes then the Search & Recovery adventure dive is definitely something you will be interested in. This dive will teach you the skills necessary to complete a successful search underwater.
Diver Propulsion Vehicle – On this dive you use underwater scooters to propel you through the water. A really fun way to get round a dive site. You will learn the correct techniques for entry and exit with the DPV as well as how to descend and ascend safely.
Digital Underwater Photography – During this adventure you are shown the correct care techniques for preparing a camera, the best techniques for underwater picture taking and a lesson on editing your pictures. A good choice if you are a keen photographer on land.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)