28th, 29th, 30th & 31st May + 1st, 2nd & 3rd June 2016
After saying bye to Lauren and leaving Koh Samui on the 11am ferry we arrived in Koh Tao at around 1pm ready to start our open water diving license. We booked with a company called ‘Phoenix Divers’ (best dive place ever, but more on that later!)based down on Sairee Beach. It cost us 8500 bhat for our open water and it included 4 nights accommodation in either a dorm or private bungalow and breakfast.
We chose to start our course the day we arrived so at 5 we headed down to Phoenix to meet our instructor and get started! We instantly took a liking to our instructor F – he was so kind and friendly and explained everything really well (we soon found out he is literally the best instructor you could wish for!) We were in the classroom the first evening and watched three chapters of a DvD that helped us fill out our question sheet. We also met Lara, the other girl on our course who we got on really well with. It only took an hour or so to complete and then we headed out for dinner before getting an early night.
The next morning we were up early and down at Phoenix for 10. We started off by learning about all the different diving equipment and learnt how to assemble it all. After this we headed to the pool to start practicing. We spent about 90 minutes in the pool getting used to all the equipment and learning how to take our masks off and put them back on, remove our regulators and get them back and also playing around with our buoyancy. After this we went back into the classroom to complete chapter 4&5 of the DvD and question sheet and then we were free to go for the evening.
The next morning we met down at Phoenix at 11am ready for the 12 o clock boat. It was the first day we would be going out in the sea and we were all so excited. F talked us through a few things whilst we were waiting and by 12 we were all ready to go! We jumped in the longtail which took us out to the main boat we would be diving from. Once on the boat we set up all our equipment and then sat up on the top deck until we reached our first dive site ‘White Rock’. Me, Daniel and Lara went down with our instructor F and Bung who is training for his divemaster. It was such an amazing first dive, the number of fish we saw was incredible and all the corals are so beautiful. As it was our first dive we only went 12m deep but we did practice taking our masks off and regulators out.
After our first dive I couldn’t wait to get back in the water and this time we were going to a new dive site ‘Red Rock’. The second dive was just as amazing as the first and left me complete hooked. I couldn’t wait to get back in the water the next day. Once we were back at Phoenix we did our written test and all passed with 49/50 so went and celebrated with some beers and watched the sun set.
The next morning we were back on the boat and off to our first site ‘Twins’. This time is was me, Daniel, Lara, F, Bung and Sam – who is also doing her divemaster. It was another incredible dive and we even got to swim through a rock tunnel which was so cool. Our second dive was at ‘White Rock’ and again was incredible. This time we got to go down to 18m and also practiced taking our mask off and regulator out. We were now officially qualified open water divers and celebrated again with… beer!
So our original plan was to complete our open water divers license and then on Tuesday night get an overnight boat and bus to the west coast of Thailand and spend a few days on Phi Phi and Phuket before catching our flight on the Sunday to Bali. However, after loving diving so much we had already been toying with the idea of cutting out Phi Phi and Phuket and staying on in Koh Tao to do our advanced divers license with Phoenix which was only 7020 bhat (again including accommodation and breakfast). We asked in the office about it and found out our instructor F was free to do our advanced with us too so we thought ‘what the hell let’s just do it’. With Koh Tao being the cheapest place in the world to do it and knowing we would have such a good instructor we thought we may as well stay on and complete our advanced as we had nothing to loose, and it turns out to be the best decision I ever made!
Doing the advanced meant we would be able to dive to 30m, a shipwreck and at night – we couldn’t wait! The next morning we were back at Phoenix ready for our first dive. The group we were diving with was me, Daniel, Sam, Bung, F and another boy doing his advanced. Our first dive was at ‘Mango Bay’ and we learnt some basic navigation skills which wasn’t so easy – it’s so disorientating under the water! After that our second dive was at ‘White Rock’ again which was really fun. As we were getting back on the boat we were told our night dive would go ahead tonight!! We went back to Phoenix, grabbed some food and then went back out on the boat ready for the dive. We sat up on the deck and waited for the sun to set before jumping in. We took torches down this time too. We were down for about 35 minutes and saw a stingray and barracuda. At one point we turned off our torches and we could see all the plankton glowing. I thought I would be really scared diving in the dark but it was actually so much fun and one of my favourite dives. I loved our little group too, I felt so safe with F, Sam and Bung and had so much fun!
On Thursday it was the last day of our advanced course and we were going to be doing the 30m deep dive to the wreck – HTMS Sattakut. We set off early and got dropped off just over the wreck. We followed the buoy line down and then swam down to the sea bed. Once F had checked we were all okay we swam up to the top deck of the wreck and then in, through and out the otherside. It was the most amazing thing I have ever done! Our second and last dive at ‘Twins’ and ‘buoyancy world’ was really fun and probably the best visibility of all the dives. We went to buoyancy world last which is a load of big concrete hoops which you can swim through to practice and play around with your buoyancy. So that was it we were officially qualified advanced divers and to celebrate… yeah you guessed it, we went for some beer!
Friday morning we woke up, checked out of the AC Resort and went to book our overnight ferry and bus to Phuket for that evening (talk about leaving it until last minute I know!). Luckily we had no problems getting a ticket and we were due to leave at 9pm that evening, meaning we had the whole day to do nothing! Hmmm what could we possibly do?! Easily persuaded by Sam we decided to go out with her and two others on a fun dive to’Three Rocks’ and ‘Junkyard’. I’m so glad we decided to dive because the visibility that day was the best out of all our dives and at three rocks we saw a pufferfish and blue spotted stingray! Junkyard was also really fun, we got to see the mini Sydney harbour bridge, toilet, gym equipment and swim through some big tubes with loads of fish around us it was so cool and a really nice finish to our time on Koh Tao.
After dinner we said our goodbyes to everyone which was really sad as we didn’t want to leave and begrudenly got a taxi down to the pier to catch our overnight ferry to Surrathani.
4th & 5th June 2016
We arrived at Surrathani around 5am Saturday morning and got picked up and taken to the bus station. We had to wait around until 6.30am for our bus to arrive and then we were on our way to Phuket which only took about 4 hours. We were dropped off right outside our hotel and luckily we were able to check in straight away. We spent the afternoon doing washing and repacking our bags before our flight to Bali the following morning. For dinner we decided to walk down to the beach which took about half an hour and then when we finally got there we couldn’t find any restaurants we liked so we looped back round through a national park to a little restaurant near our hotel.
We checked out at 6.30am the next morning and crossed the road into the airport. Our flight was at 10.20 with Malaysian Airlines, with a stop over at Kuala Lumpur for 2 hours. Our flight to KL was only an hour and a half and our second one was three hours. Both flights were fine but I was really disappointed we didn’t have tv’s as I was looking forward to watching a film! We arrived at Denpasar airport around 6.30pm and got a taxi to our hotel ready for my mum and family to arrive!