I came to Koh Tao in March 2017. I was a PADI advanced open water diver and from speaking to my fellow diver friends and buddies I had heard quite a lot about Koh Tao. I was intrigued by this little island shaped like a Turtle according to the locals (hence the name “Turtle Island”) and seeing pictures of the perfect blue water and amazing fish that lived around it.
So I booked a ticket from South Africa to Thailand for a scuba diving adventure.
I arrived on this picturesque island and immediately got into the water to get some dives in and started to experience what I had been looking at on the internet back home.
I soon enrolled onto my PADI Rescue course. It was 4 days of hard but fun training to help give me the skills necessary to help people in distress in the water. This was when I really started to think like a professional as my concept changed from just thinking about myself to considering what my fellow divers are also doing.
Going Pro – taking your scuba diving to the next level
After becoming a Rescue diver I was keen to continue enhancing my scuba diving education and quickly enrolled onto the PADI Divemaster course. This was probably one of the most fun things I have ever done!
The course was 4 weeks of diving with my fellow Divemaster candidates, assisting courses and learning lots of skills and knowledge. It went by so fast! I wish I could do it all over again.
The next step PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) was a 2-week intensive course taking my diving knowledge to another level. It was not as enjoyable as the Divemaster course but it is very rewarding and necessary so you can gain the qualification to begin to teach scuba and share your passion for diving.
I finished my training off on Koh Tao by taking the PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer program. On this course I was able to team-teach with Crystal Dive’s most senior instructors (some with up to 15 years of teaching experience) and learn different techniques on how to teach.
Also as part of the program I learnt how to teach different specialty courses, which was awesome fun! Now I was ready to go and help teach people how to dive but also show people how to penetrate wrecks, fix equipment and dive to 40 meters.
I have listed below some of the reasons why I went so far with my diving on Koh Tao, it is almost an addiction, a hobby and a passion.
Koh Tao dive sites offer a different experience every time you dive
There are so many dive sites on Koh Tao. From the many beautiful spots along the coast, to the deeper dive sites further out such as Chumphon Pinnacle and Southwest and our ultimate favorite Sail Rock.
Diving is not seasonal here and diving on Koh Tao can be enjoyed all year round and is accommodating to anyone who is looking for a fun diving holiday or to take their very first steps into a new hobby, passion or take the most popular entry level diving course in the world, the PADI open water course.
Every dive site brings its own charm and adventures along with the different creatures you will find all around Koh Tao. But that does not mean that multiple dives at the same dive site bring the same experiences.
Every dive is different with new creatures, discovering new spots and the excitement is that you never really know what you will see. You and your buddy could go diving together and yet you can both experience the dive completely differently. No dive is the same!
There are no restrictions while swimming
Snorkeling is a great way to have a glimpse of what is going on under water. Though not being able to breath underwater requires you to come back to the surface every time to gasp for air.
This limits you as you get tired very quickly and cannot stay underwater for too long and you cannot go too deep either.
Scuba diving allows you to move freely underwater and makes you feel like you are part of the marine life – a visitor in their home.
Also it is the closest feeling you can get to being in space as you are weightless and not affected by gravity, the only difference is that you are surrounded by the big blue sea in a world full of mystery.
Explore the Underwater world and marine diversity
Over 70% of the world consists of water so why only explore 30% of it? Scuba diving allows us to see more of the world that exists beneath us. It is accepted that 70 to 90 per cent of species in the World’s oceans still remain undiscovered.
Discovering the underwater world is truly an incredible experience and completely different from earth as you know it. Scuba diving gives you the chance to find marine life that you have never witnessed with your own eyes before!
Scuba diving allows you the chance to envelop yourself within this world to experience all of the creatures in their natural habitat and it is a moment you will never forget. It is truly amazing at the point when you swim among and see the ocean dwellers and let them inspect and accept you.
I mean if you have ever wondered what it would be like to breathe underwater, come to Koh Tao and I can guarantee it will blow your expectations out of the water.
The underwater world provides a serene and peaceful experience
I have never experienced a more peaceful environment until the day I went on my first dive. You completely forget about the world you live in and feel a part of the underwater world that is so calm and beautiful.
Diving is a great way to get away from all the noise, the traffic and the troubles in the world. As soon as you descend into the waters you hear nothing but your own breathing underwater and the crackling of the coral.
No talking, no phones ringing and all communication is via hand signals, it is so peaceful. For the time you are underwater it is just you and your thoughts and if you dive for long enough it becomes part of your world.
It is an amazing experience and you slowly begin to understand how this new world functions with every dive you go on, it is incredible to know that something that looks so basic can actually be so complex.
An opportunity to make new friends for a lifetime
When you dive on Koh Tao, you will always be in great company.
It’s great to hear how other people have experienced their dives and you will often find yourself sharing your stories before and after the dive.
Many friendships have started during a scuba diving course or fun dive trip, even marriages originated from meetings like this. It opens up more destinations for you to dive and you can possibly plan your next trip with people you just met.
Koh Tao Island has a vibrant nightlife
Koh Tao isn’t just about scuba diving, it does also offer other adventurous activities both on and off the water. There are plenty of rugged cliffs and lush green jungle for trekking and exploration and some rock climbing.
It is possible to take PADI freediving courses to give you a different watersport activity, I thoroughly enjoyed learning to breath-hold dive here on Koh Tao and it was an amazing, challenging experience.
Koh Tao has somehow managed to find the perfect blend of local culture and western influences, the island will celebrate traditional festivals such as Songkran and Loy Krathong along with the major Western holidays such as Christmas.
The Island has so many places to kick back and relax, which gives the island a chilled out and stress free vibe. There’s no better way to unwind than in a hammock whilst listening to music and relaxing on a day off from diving.
If you are looking for an amazing dive experience, then visit Koh Tao as there are a lot of dive sites to choose from and no dive site is the same. There is plenty of opportunity to get a lot of dives logged and increase your experience while having awesome fun.
I guarantee you will get some great footage on that Go pro as well, who is going to beat a selfie with a Whaleshark?
If it is fun diving or taking your first PADI courses there is always something new to experience and it is the cheapest place in the world to dive with the highest levels of training and safety.
It is so easy to come for a few days and end up staying for a few years, you can ask anyone of my colleagues and that is my plan.
The fact that the island has an amazing vibrant atmosphere makes your time out of the water worthwhile as well.
It is a great escape from the real world, great for families, couples and singles the island has something to offer for everyone, all year round. The weather does not stop you from doing what you want as it comes and goes so quickly, so make Koh Tao your next diving destination, you will not regret it.
Luke Braun MSDT #398115