You are now looking at three PADI-certified open water scuba divers!!! The exclamation marks hopefully help you understand how thrilled about our experience scuba diving in Koh Tao we are!
The diving course ended up being way more than expected. I’ve often looked at photos of people diving around some coral and thought little of it. It seemed like a usual Mexico day-trip, like snorkelling, and I’ve never had a big draw to trying it. But, being down 18m in the ocean, doing rescue skills and realizing you’re only relying on this one mouthpiece and tank of air is kind of crazy!
We decided on scuba diving in Koh Tao on recommendation from multiple people on the last island. They said it was amazing, so we thought why not – it’s way cheaper here than anywhere else while also being a place renown for their diving. So we called up the Diving Resort and asked if we could do their 4 day course in 3 days (that’s all we had!) and ended up with a package including our course, accommodations, and a bit of snack food. Not a bad deal!
Day 1 was in the classroom. This was slightly gross considering we were on vacation, but we had a great instructor (who also preferred to teach in his swim trunks and provided Andy and I with some eye candy) and we were with a fellow Canadian so we made the most of it! We spent the afternoon practicing all our skills in the pool and found it fairly straightforward.
Day 2 is where things got interesting with our first 2 ocean dives. To be honest, I didn’t much like the first dive (and it seemed I wasn’t the only one). I felt completely uncomfortable relying on just a mask to breathe and knowing I couldn’t just resurface quickly if something were to go wrong. And just to make it a little more pleasant, my goggles fogged up and I couldn’t even enjoy the sights. After this dive, I wondered what we got ourselves into…
However, dive 2 was amazing. I think it just took one dive to get used to the equipment and environment. We swam around with a massive school of fish that didn’t even flinch in our presence. It was fun to swim straight through the middle of the school of fish and have them just swim around you. We also practiced some rescue skills, like if you or your buddy was to run out of air. A little unnerving to practice skills without your mask (in case it happens), but a good learning experience.
Something I found really interesting was our buoyancy control with breathing. When you’re down deep you wear weights and a buoyancy vest; you balance these out so that you stay neutrally floating in the water without moving. So the way you move up and down over coral is by inhaling and holding your breath to move up, and exhaling to move down. You become so sensitive to your body’s actions and breathing.
Day 3 was better yet, as this is when we did our two deepest dives to 18m. There was a point in the middle of the dive where I couldn’t really see the surface of the water, nor the bottom of the ocean, which was an odd feeling; I couldn’t even really tell if I was moving.
This last day was awesome: we swam through caves and around coral, learned to do flips and blow ring-bubbles, and saw tons of fish including barracudas, eels, puffer fish, and a couple meter-long needle nose fish. Whats nice about diving is that you swim so slowly and quietly that you don’t disturb any marine life. They just swim with you like you aren’t there (except for the boys who had some peeling skin that the fish loved to snack on). Amazing experience!
I am ridiculously sad to be leaving Koh Tao today as it signifies the end of our beach bum lives for this trip. I don’t know if I’m ready to be back in the big cities!