When was the last time you thought ‘I really love my job?’
Being able to live on Koh Tao and work as a PADI Professional is a privilege few people have the opportunity to do. Waking up, on another warm and sunny morning, enjoying the sunrise whilst drinking a coffee, before jumping on your bike and driving to work on empty roads to do a job many people working in the ‘real world’ can only dream of is a fantastic way of life.
Working on a small island in the Gulf of Thailand can have its ups and downs but when your job is to share your passion for the underwater world, teaching people to scuba dive, it becomes a truly rewarding and exciting experience.
Here are the 7 best thing I like about living in Koh Tao and teaching people how to scuba dive.
1. Whalesharks and Turtles
Being a PADI Scuba Diving instructor means you have the opportunity to share your work space with some wonderful marine life as well as share this experience with your students. Everybody loves turtles and on Koh Tao we are lucky to have plenty of these beautiful creatures living and habitating our dive sites. It’s quite common to be able to introduce PADI Open Water student divers to either a Hawksbill Turtle or Green Turtleson Koh Tao.
Even as an experienced diver it’s still a great experience to watch and admire these beautiful creatures when they grace you with their presence.
Apart from diving with turtles, my other personal highlight when diving Koh Tao is seeing the biggest fish of them all cruise around the dive site. Diving with Whalesharks has got to be one of the most exciting experiences of my life, and I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy this experience many times. Whalesharks are most commonly seen at the deeper dive sites such as Sail Rock, Chumphon Pinnacle & South West Pinnacles.
Every time I take out a PADI Advanced Open Water group we all have our fingers and fins crossed that one will turn up for the dive and over the past 18 months or so our dreams have come true more often than not as Koh Tao has enjoyed unprecedented sightings of these majestic creatures. These gentle giants can grow up to 12 meters in size, although here on Koh Tao, the Whalesharks we tend to see are generally around 3-5 meters.
Either way, they are still an amazing sight to see underwater for any level of diver regardless of how many times one has already had this life changing experience.
2. Meeting People and the Social Scene
Koh Tao is the number one destination for travellers and backpackers in Asia. What makes Koh Tao even more special is the local community. A rich blend of characters from all over the globe, make living on Koh Tao all the more fun and enjoyable.
One of the highlights of teaching people to scuba dive is meeting and getting to know so many of the interesting people that visit Koh Tao. And quite often your students stay around for a while, as they too fall in love with Koh Tao. Your Open Water student who planned on staying on Koh Tao for 4 days ends up staying for 4 years and becoming a good friend!
3. Sunset Drinks on the Beach
There is only one thing better than the beautiful sunrises on Koh Tao and that is the stunning sunsets! And of course ‘Sunset drinks’ on the Beach is part and parcel of Koh Tao life. At the end of a ‘hard’ day’s diving we head to our favourite beach bar to enjoy a few cold beers or a cheeky cocktail, unwind and chat about the days diving adventures.
My favourite beach bar is naturally the Crystal Dive bar, situated right on Mae Haad Beach!
Drinking with the sand between your toes certainly beats sitting in the local pub back home and on days off, I’ll have a beach day at one of the other bars situated further along Sairee beach such as Maya bar a short walk north of Crystal and laze on the sun loungers, listening to chilled house music playing in the background.
Fizz, which is further north still, right in the middle of Sairee has great cocktails and food for you to enjoy as you relax on their enormous green bean bags. Whichever one I choose, it is a great way to spend a day off.
4. Stunning Viewpoints
Koh Tao has some amazing viewpoints that leave you in awe of this small idyllic island. Looking down from a high vantage point, a visit to one of these viewpoints offers a great opportunity to take some great photographs. When you don’t fancy a beach day, a great way to spend a few hours, or even the entire day is to take a hike up the hills, visit some of Koh Tao’s breathtaking viewpoints, unwind and take in the beautiful scenery.
Some of my colleagues have even managed to get themselves bungalows that are half way up some of Koh Tao’s viewpoints meaning every morning they wake up to an incredible view! Waking up and taking in the breath-taking view before heading to work for a day of scuba diving isn’t a bad way to start the day!
5. Spectacular Sunsets
We are very lucky here at Crystal Dive as we get to see the sunset every day as our resort and beach bar faces out directly to the West. Around 18.30 every day we are treated to a stunning show as the sun slowly sets and creates some wonderful skies for us all to enjoy. And it doesn’t matter how long you have lived on this beautiful island, the far eastern sunset never ceases to amaze or remind me why I have called this place home for so long.
What a fantastic way to end a ‘hard’ day’s work – drinking an ice cold beer with friends whilst taking in the spectacular sunset.
The sun setting over the still ocean, almost mirror like, with a traditional local ‘long tail boat’ positioned in the water creates a spectacular photograph, and whilst watching from my beanbag, quite a crowd of amateur photographers will gather at the water’s edge to collect a memory they can share across their social media platforms.
6. My Beachside Office
When not diving, the PADI Professionals working at Crystal Dive will sometimes be on office duties. Well it’s not the type of office you will find in London, New York or Bangkok as we are right on the beach, literally metres from the ocean. So even when we are not out exploring underwater we still have a marvellous view of the beach and sea.
As we are on the beach no one wears shoes all day, meaning you get to work with either sand or water between your toes.
7. ‘Do Some Good’ – Help with Marine Conservation
When we are not teaching people to become scuba divers, or helping out in the dive shop office it’s always nice to put something back into the local marine environment. Working with Eco Koh Tao our in house conservation team, we have regular opportunities to help with their various Eco projects that have had a positive effect in keeping our reefs healthy and sustainable. It gives you a feeling of great satisfaction knowing that you are helping keeping the reefs clean and gaining knowledge that you can share with your future scuba diving students.
I have been lucky that my son has made a small coral nursery, so I have the opportunity to monitor the coral nurseries progress when I am diving on our very own artificial house reef Junkyard. It is really encouraging to see the great work done by Eco Koh Tao, on a daily basis, which makes such a difference and helps to keep our coral reefs and underwater environment healthy.
Becoming a PADI Professional, like any profession can be hard work at times but the lifestyle and rewards of introducing people to the wonders of the underwater world are fantastic, and made all the better when living and working in a location such as Koh Tao.
If you are bored of your current job and are seriously considering thinking about a lifestyle and career change then make that move now. Why not embark on the adventure and challenge of becoming a Scuba Diving Instructor on Koh Tao and get to live the dream.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)