We had never planned to go scuba diving in Koh Tao, but after meeting many people on our trip who said it was amazing, we decided to give it a shot. It is the cheapest place in the world to get certified, and the island is full of various schools to get trained. We were waiting for the ferry to Koh Tao, and as per usual, were approached by several scuba schools, wanting our business. There was a lady sitting next to us who lives in Bangkok and goes to Koh Tao often to dive… she told us that Coral Grand is her recommendation if we are first learning. We figured she seemed reliable enough, and were happy with our decision to get certified through Coral Grand.
The course takes 3.5 days to complete-the first half day is spent watching videos and filling out paperwork, the second day is spent doing theory in the morning and then practicing skills in the pool. We spent several hours, complete with all of our scuba gear, learning to become buoyant under water, practicing taking off our mask and putting it back on, blowing bubble rings, and getting used to the feeling of breathing under water. I ALWAYS plug my nose when I’m under water, so not being able to do that with no mask was the skill I found most stressful, but eventually I got used to it. The next day we did more theory in the morning then headed out to the ocean for 2 dives. We went to 12 meters and after doing one fun dive, practiced all of our skills on the second dive. It’s definitely a different experience when you are 12 meters deep because if you suddenly panic or inhale through your nose, you can’t just shoot up to the surface like you can do in the pool. We were both pretty proud of ourselves for not panicking and making it through our first dives. Our final day, we left at 6am sharp for 2 more dives-we went to 18 meters deep and other than being filmed by the videographer for our video, were able to complete 2 fun dives.
It is a completely different world under the ocean, and in general, the fish just go on living as per usual as these big humans swim past them. We saw so many brightly colored fish, crabs, a stingray and even a giant turtle! (Our videographer said that in 5 years of diving he has only now seen 5 turtles, so we were pretty lucky). It was also very cool being under the water and being able to control whether we went up or down. I don’t even fully understand how we were able to do it, but somehow we figured it out and then it’s just second nature. Our instructor Dave, from Ireland, was awesome and constantly checked in to make sure we were all doing all right. Talking to him made it very tempting to want to go back out to Koh Tao and become a scuba instructor!
Unfortunately, Katie got water stuck in her one ear, and after failing to get it out by hopping on one foot and her head tilted sideways, we made our first visit to the pharmacy for ear drops. We both figured flying with a plugged up ear might not be the most pleasant experience.
Scuba diving was certainly a major highlight of both of our trips and we are now certified to scuba dive in open-water up to 18 meters for the rest of our lives! We also will receive discounts at Coral Grand for the rest of our lives so we may have to plan a trip back in the near future…