Thailand: Koh Tao – SCUBA Certified!

I am a water baby – I love the pool… and the sea… and waterfalls… In short – any water body. We had had a glimpse of the underwater world while snorkelling at Maldives – there are more colours under water than those on land. Peeping into the enchanting aqua world had made its way on the bucket list and was very high on priority. This one wasn’t an easy one – preparation started almost an year in advance – Ankur had to learn to swim. And learn he did – he even practiced in the pool to ensure that he could swim for 250 meters at a stretch. We were one step closer to our Open Water Diver SCUBA certification.

Ever Heard of Koh Tao?

If diving does not interest you, I would not expect you to have ever heard of Koh Tao. It is a divers’ island. A little search on the internet and we figured out that it was amongst the cheapest places in the world to get the SCUBA certification. Who does not like to save some money? Koh Tao was the place for us!

The pristine island of Koh Tao

The pristine island of Koh Tao

By Air… Rail… and Boat

Considering that we were trying to save some money and yet get certified, we decided to take an over night train to Chumphon (from Bangkok) and then a boat to Koh Tao.

We had booked first class tickets on the train. When we embarked on our journey, we felt that we had boarded the first class train in India – similar infrastructure and sleeping arrangement. We did not have EuRail expectations from the railways in Thailand, and hence were not disappointed. It was worth saving the flight fare and hotel expense for a night.

The train reached Chumphon really early in the morning – about 5 am. I wanted to catch up on my sleep (as I sat on my suitcase), but the mosquitoes weren’t helping me much! In 30 mintues, we boarded a bus to the ferry terminal, plodded on the ramp and we were finally set to hit the coasts of Koh Tao.

Rocking at Koh Tao

Rocking boat at Koh Tao

Life by the Sea

We had booked a sea facing cottage in Koh Tao Cabana Resort. This was amongst the best resorts on the island and it surely did not disappoint us. It has the word ‘cabana’ in its name for a reason – the sea facing cabanas will stir the romance in your soul! It has the best stretch of the beach to itself – the blue green water lapped at our feet – ahhhh… the joys of being in Thailand… affordable luxury with perfect weather!

Lush green vegetation surrounds the cottages at Koh Tao Cabana Resort

Lush green vegetation surrounds the cottages at Koh Tao Cabana Resort

The resort was on Sairee beach, which was a ten min walk from the main hub of the island. While the hotel had all the facilities, there was a laundromat and a couple of restaurants around – easy ways to save some money!

Sairee Beach - Koh Tao Cabana Resort

Sairee Beach – Koh Tao Cabana Resort

Back to School?

We had booked ourself with Scuba Junction after reading reviews on Trip Advisor. We reached the dive center in the evening and got introduced to our instructor Gwydion (G) and our under training instructor Rachel. All good till now… we were asked to be in ‘school’ early in the morning.

Picking up a fresh fruit smoothie as we head to 'school'

Picking up a fresh fruit smoothie as we head to ‘school’

Any early morning activities do not excite Ankur. On a vacation, being up and about at 6 am does not catch my fancy either! However, I could not crib as it was an item on my bucket list and I had to don a smile and encourage Ankur to get ready for school.We reached the dive center in the morning, did a bit of theory and later in the day, were in the water. The water baby in me pranced like a happy mermaid all through the day! However, school does leave you tired and gives you homework as well – we were totally exhausted after a few hours.

Avec bags, after our first day... tired and ready to have a drink!

Avec bags, after our first day… tired and ready to have a drink!

We had a similar schedule for 4 days – trust me, it was like going back to high school. We would reach our room tired after the dives in the evening and sleep early, get up in the morning and realise that we had not done our homework and read the guide book as we brushed our teeth!

Sunset - to soothe your soul after a strenuous day!

Sunset – to soothe your soul after a strenuous day!

Even though it was a little hectic for a vacation, during the day, school was fun – G and Rachel was great and had a lot of patience with us. We met two boys from Singapore who were there for their certification as well. Obviously, highlight of the trip were creatures that we met under water!

Finally Certified!

4 days of school and we were certified divers.

Koh Tao - SCUBA Certified! Happy Campers!

Koh Tao – SCUBA Certified! Happy Campers!

There were some tense moments when we wondered how would we breathe under water…. some unexplainable moments – the first time we felt weightlessness under water…..moments when nature threw its colours at us and we did not want to blink lest we might miss the beauty…..moments when we ‘saw’ unity as a school of fish swam towards us….I can close my eyes and relive each of these moments and much more! And oh….we definitely need to thank Scuba Junction for the video….we can open our eyes, watch it online and relive every minute!

Ankur - blowing flying kisses underwater

Ankur – blowing flying kisses underwater

The You Tube link to our final two dives:


This was our second trip to Thailand and we were pretty sure that we would be eating only a few dishes during the entire week (pad thai, green/red curry, stir fried vegetable and steamed rice). While we continued to be vegetarian and did not eat any meat or sea food, we had stopped asking the waiters whether the food included fish sauce or oyster sauce. Ignorance is bliss …we chose not to know and continued to eat the no- meat ‘vegetarian’ food!

Vegetable Pad Thai... our lunch on each for the four days!

Vegetable Pad Thai… our lunch on each for the four days!

No alcohol while you dive... diving makes you feel high enough!

No alcohol while you dive… diving makes you feel high enough!

SCUBA Certification on your mind?

For those wanting to get certified in Koh Tao, here are a few links:


Trip Advisor – Koh Tao

As always… send me an e-mail if you need any further details. Glad to help!

Let the travellers’ tribe grow!

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5 Responses

  1. Tricia, Thailand is one of our favourite places …lovely people, blue seas full of marine life, great hospitality and easy on the pocket…not to forget, we can get plenty of vegetarian food there! We had gone to Phuket in 2011 – will put up a post for the same sometime next month.
    Have you been to Thailand?

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