Koh Tao

Stepping off the boat onto Koh Tao pier brings an onslaught of picturesque delights, closely followed by an onslaught of taxi drivers and hawkers, all vying for business from the bleary eyed travellers, newly arrived after an over night trip from Bangkok via Chumpon.

This beautiful island is nestled above Ko Samui and Koh Pha-ngan on Thailand’s east coast, named after its turtle shape it is a dive mecca for beginners and old hands alike, it is the lure of diving in these crystal waters which has drawn us here too.

A short truck ride runs us to Sariee beach, a long sandy beach housing all manner of dive schools, shops , restaurants and bars, and of course the couple of obligatory 7-11’s with which Thailand seems to have an odd affection. The process of choosing a dive school can be a long one with so many to choose from and a minimum price enforced meaning many offer free accomadation or other benefits, so its a good idea to check out a few before making a decision.

We chose Big Blue Dive School http://www.bigbluediving.com/ as we loved the central position, onsite bar and restaurant as well as the relaxed atmosphere and friendly feel, we even managed to get 4 nights free accommodation while we completed our open water course.

Koh Tao itself couldn’t be better placed for learning to dive, our dive shop was 20 meters from the beach, meaning we loaded up easily and were out on the boat in no time to start diving, we whizzed through the theory and were soon out on the boat for our first morning of diving. The open water course requires 4 dives spread over 2 days, Alex and I were in a group with a French couple living in Singapore, a German guy and a Dutch guy living in Vietnam, topped of with our Swedish instructor Ludo; a truly cosmopolitan group!

Our group progressed well and we were rewarded with a sighting of a turtle on our third dive, which seemed completely oblivious to us watching, we also saw great barracuda, moray eels and sting rays. My favourite dives were those over the last two days in the advanced course, deep wreck diving to 30 meters was a mix of excitement and downright fear, especially given the poor 2 meter visibility meaning the wreck loomed out from the darkness rather eerily! My night dive was my overall favourite, not only for the incredible feeling of dropping down into pitch black darkness with only a torch but also due to the incredible life that comes out at night; we saw octopus, squid, great barracuda and Indian Walkmen (look like mini-dragons and walk along the seabed).

It was with a mix of satisfaction and  disappointment that I finished my course, satisfaction that I’m now qualified to dive anywhere in the world to 30meters and disappointment that my diving adventure is over, for now at least.

I’m also now adjusting to life as a solo traveller, Alex flew home today with plans for her own adventure in south America and thus I find myself with just my backpack and the open road, with 6 months ahead to have what promises to be  an adventure, keep posted for tales from the road.

Backpacking Jack

3 Responses to “Koh Tao”
  1. Richard Gatenby says:

    Great photos Jack. Have a lovely time – thanks for looking after Alex!

  2. Jill Firman says:

    Looks fantastic. The night dive sounds amazing but I would have been looking over my shoulder wondering what else was there!! Sounds like you have made some lovely friends as well. Keep on enjoying yourself. Love Mum x x

  3. Max Firman says:

    Great stuff, pleasure to read…night dive sounds awesome!

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