Skip to the end for the practical stuff
Koh Tao is world famous for being one of the cheapest places in the world for diving it also boasts beautiful coral reefs as well as an abundance of sea turtles and whale sharks. After allot of research and personal advice it was where l had finally settled on to get my licence. (Thanks Dean for advising me!)
The day I arrived I was picked up in the back of a pickup truck and driven the 15 minutes from the dock to “big blue diving” right at the end of sariee beach. Sariee beach was one of the most beautiful beaches l have seen the water was crystal clear and there were restaurants along it where the tables went all the went out into the sand and you could eat freshly caught barracuda and tuna and watch the sunset. Which l did without fail every night of my stay, the sunsets never get old!
After arriving to big blue l met my group and was shown to my dorm. Classes started that same day at 5:00pm and there was homework! It had been years since l had homework! Our instructor was a large handsome man named Luke, who was also one of the most cynical and comically grumpy men l have met! So of course me and my group, which consisted of 4 other girls, all took it upon ourselves to make him laugh and generally frustrate the hell out of him as much as possible. Much to our mutual delight. ( he was English it was all just a big farce, he really was the biggest softy ever) I have to say though that I couldn’t have asked for a better instructor he was patient and calm and focused on the fun of diving and not just passing the technical aspects. Plus he was terribly good looking so that helped.
The first day l have to admit l was terrified, my lips actually went blue from a mixture of cold and anxiety, Luke made me wear two wetsuits and was sure to let us enter the deep water gradually so that l wouldn’t panic. And then we were under and it was beautiful l stopped worrying about water in my mask or my air messing up, it was just the silence of the deep punctuated by the sound of your bubbles floating to the surface. And all around you were surrounded by brightly coloured fish and dazzling coral, soon everything else was forgotten and time flew by.
All together we did 4 dives for the course and a extra dive for fun, each dive lasted about 45-50 minutes. Dives last according to the amount of air left in your tank. When you are panicked or wasting energy underwater you go through your air faster. I am proud to say that l had the best airtime from my group which means that when we surfaced l had the most air remaining. I don’t even know how it’s possible but l just seemed to relax and it seemed effortless.
When we weren’t diving we were studying about the gear and risks involved such as nitrogen narcosis and air embolism, we took tests and watched tutorials. But at night we walked down the beach to where the fire dancers would perform and we laughed, flirted, danced and drank “banana coladas” in the sea.
On the fourth day we did our final dive and we all passed with flying colours, It was undeniably one of the highlights of my trip.
The practical stuff
How to get there
If you are coming from bangkok there is a company called lomprayah that do a combined bus/ferry ticket from just off khaosan road
you can book your ticket online here: Lomprayah the cost is THB 1100 there are two journeys a day one at 06:00 am and one at 21:00 the first takes approximately 9 hours and the second journey around 12 hours due to the ferry connection. Make sure to arrive at least a hour early as the checkin process at the bus station can take some time.
Once you arrive at the port there are many drivers waiting to take you to your hostel, I had booked my stay with Big blue diving and they had a driver who picked me up free of charge.
What to do
Scuba course and snorkeling
Koh tao is all about the diving I can highly recommend Big Blue Diving and they include accommodation in their price. The location is just amazing and you are right on one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. The Price for open water diver which is the first step in becoming a accredited scuba diver is THB 9800 for SSL and THB 1,800 for PADI. Both are equal and accepted worldwide.
If scuba diving is not for you then there are hundreds of day excursions that take you snorkeling with sea turtles and to coral reefs. YOu will be spoiled for choice.
This beach is where everything happens, during the day it’s a sun worshiper’s paradise strewn with low key bars that aren’t screaming tourist trap. In the evening the sun sets on this side of the island and its unique and awe inspiring each time. The restaurants serve freshly caught fish and the chairs are on the sand barely feet away from the lapping water. At night there are fire dancers and bean bags and buckets are in abundance.
Rent a scooter you can get one for as little as THB 250 if you haggle and ride toward this amazing view point. Be careful though as roads on Koh Tao are gravelly and sometimes dangerous. Its a common scam for people to discover and charge tourists for scratches and bumps on the scooter that were previously there so make sure to inspect the scooter thoroughly and point them out to the rental shop as well as take pictures.
If you are not a confident driver then get a taxi.