Despite living in Byron bay for 6months with the national marine park of Julian rocks on my doorstep I never got round to actually getting under the water. It was a two pronged reason – firstly the surf always take priority and secondly (and I’m sure we’re all guilty of is at some point in our travels) a severe case of “I have plenty of time…I’ll do it next week”.
Unfortunately I never got round to “next week”!
So when I found myself on Koh Tao I was more than keen to get back on it. My oz buddy Linzi – who actually joined me for part of my liveaboard – was always ranting about the place where she’d spent the best part of 2months diving day in day out. She managed to rack up enough dives to qualify as a DM but only actually sorted out her rescue diver….another case of ” I’ll do it next week”!
The perfect venue
Tao is a diving paradise – an indeed that’s the first reason it became part of the backpacker trail.
With year round water temperatures in the 20’s and with numerous dive sites and an abundance of marine wildlife (including the illusive whale shark) its become a Mecca for diving in Asia and indeed the world.
But best of all diving in Tao comes cheap.
Like really cheap!
You can do a full open water course including accomodation for just over £200 – which is a massive bargain compared with its Aussie cousin!
Over my stay I clocked up 4 dives (I could have easily done more but time and money prevented me!) and I was stoked with the level word professionalism and fun they provided.
Not just for courses
Having already done my qualification I didn’t need a full package, however I did opt for a refresher course to make sure I was still up to scratch!
My instructor was brilliant – he let us lead the way and made sure me and the other guy joining us were comfortable and we dictated the pace – which was perfect as it turned out we were both still competent!
Following a few standard mask and reg removal exercises we still had heaps of air in our tanks so went out to explore.
The visibility and comfort of diving in such warm waters was brilliant, much better that what I’d experienced on the great barrier reef, shoals of barracuda cruised around and there we plenty of bombies to explore – a great re introduction to the underwater world!
Next up we got back into fun diving – and the first site was “twins”. Situated just off Nang Yuan Island the boat trip is an experience in itself!
The dive was a nice and relaxed affair and all about the smaller marine life and corals, a welcome change to the sharks and schooling fish Ive mainly experienced. There even one nemo who’s cordoned off in the seemingly middle of nowhere, apparently the anemome he lives in has been there for around 12years!
My third dive of the trip was a few days later with my Phangan buddy Rich. An early start at 6am (which always kills me!) and we headed out to dive HTMS Sattakut which was purposely sunk back in June 2011.
I was keen to try a wreck dive and make the most of my advanced ticket and heading down to 30m and although the site is fairly new it has already attracted heaps of wildlife including a huge box pufffer fish.
Watching it loom out of the murky depth and swimming around the gun turrets is a great experience and something I’d be keen to repeat in a few years once it’s more established.
My final dive focused on —— and was a great oppotunity for some swim throughs and large coral faces. For me this was the favourite site, there was some large trigger fish kicking around (notorious for having a pop at divers during mating season!) and it gave a good variation in depth and stuff to see.
For me if be happy to dive again with DJL – there equipment was in good working order and all their instructors and crew were chatty and happy to help. There were pretty young too which is always a nice change and clearly enjoyed their work!
Overall I was really impressed – especially considering the expectation I had about diving in Thailand and somewhere so cheap.
Many people who dive on Tao get hooked and find themselves in the Tao trap – working their way through dive courses, spending their days underwater and their nights partying on the beach….and to be honest I can’t blame them!
If I didn’t surf I can easily picture myself doing the same!
DJL offer a whole heap of dive packages – from try dives and pool training through to dive masters courses and even paid internships. If your looking to build on your course they also offer underwater videography courses too, something I may find myself doing in the future!
And what’s best is that they all included accomodation at KTB and a meal a deal…bargain!
Fancy even more value for money?! Then email them on firstname.lastname@example.org – simply quote the promo code;
BACKPACKER BANTER DIVE DEAL for 10% OFF!
So you can grab the following at a bargain price;
Full PADI Open Water certification – inc exams and booklets
4 nights accomodation at Koh Tao Backpackers
But even better they’re even throwing in an extra fun dive free of charge – happy days all round!
**I received discounted dives with Davey Jones Locker – but rest assured all opinions are honest and my own**