Koh Tao is one of the worlds most popular dive locations. The extraordinary diversity of Koh Tao’s underwater world coupled with the reputation as the cheapest place in the world to dive, is undoubtedly drawing a crowd. Koh Tao boasts between 35-45 dive sites (depending on who you ask and who you know) so despite it’s popularity it hardly ever feels busy. The same applies on land too, with the laid-back atmosphere only an island of scuba divers could pull off, you never feel in too much of a hurry to do anything.
Heading out to the dive boat.
With that being said, I planned on visiting for around 5 days, just enough time to do my Open Water diving course and then I would farewell the islands of Thailand and head north. Only, Koh Tao doesn’t actually let you do this. I started chatting with the instructors and ex-pats that had moved to the island and the funny thing was that most of them had a similar story. They planned on staying for a few weeks or a month and here they were a year later with no plans on leaving.
So, there will be no surprises when I say I’m moving here for a couple of months too. I had been looking for somewhere to lay low somewhere for a while, catch up on a lot of writing and work for this blog, but mainly I was looking for somewhere that I could unpack my bag. Here’s how it happened.
I like long walks along the beach, as long as they go to a dive boat.
The Open Water certificate was another bucket list item. Koh Tao was on my radar, so I hopped on a boat from Koh Phagnan with my full moon party hangover and went in search of a dive school. I’d been recommended Sairee Cottage from a good friend of mine so I headed that way. They were about 1000 baht more expensive that other dive schools, as a budget backpacker this is usually the point where I walk away but there were a couple of things that swayed my decision.
The dive office, pool and surrounding bungalows looked immaculate and there was a friendly group of staff hanging around to help me out. I was shown the complimentary dorm room and on the walk up the instructor let it drop that there was plenty of bar work available for westerners and this is what sparked the idea of a long-term stay.
That afternoon I began the Open Water course which was just a couple of videos and an orientation. Walking out from the classroom, I crossed a small road and was at the beach just as the sun was making it’s way for the horizon, showcasing a sunset that I’d rarely, if ever, seen beaten. Yeah. I could probably live here.
The following day was divided between the classroom and the pool to learn the basics of diving and the two days after were when the fun was to be had. The course takes you on 4 dives to a depth of 18 metres and we saw blue-spotted rays, barracuda, yellow box-fish, huge groupers, puffer fish and a whole lot that I can’t even begin to name but I’ll be exploring more of the underwater world in the next couple of posts. It was stunning enough that I decided to back it up with an Advanced Open Water course which meant wreck dives, night dives and chance to learn the basics of Navigation.
So where has this taken me? Well, it all amounted to convincing me to complete my Rescue Diver and Emergency First Responder training and I’ve signed up to spend the next 2 months training as a Divemaster which will mean some opportunity to work once I’ve finished.
I’m on my way to Kuala Lumpur for the weekend to extend my visa and then I’ll be back to diving. Watch this space, exciting things to come.