Let Scuba into your life...Time to tick it off the bucket list
Never tried diving? Sitting on the sofa at home reading this? Let this blog open your eyes to the pure beauty of scuba diving and will have you reaching for nearest flight booking app!My name is Luchia Stone and I once was you, reading this from a laptop screen in rainy England (yes it does rain all the time) and now 3 years later I am a head instructor at Scuba Junction Diving still slightly perplexed that I am still here and with no regrets!Scuba Junction Diving is a small friendly safety conscious PADI 5 star dive center located on the idyllic beach front in Sairee, Koh Tao. We offer a range of dive courses from PADI Discover Scuba Diving right through to PADI Dive Master. This blog is going to look at how to become a PADI Open diver and how you can achieve your dreams in just 3 and a half days. (yes just 3 and a half days!!)Let me first explain how the course runs and the most important things you need to know! Scuba Diving is relatively easy to learn, but do make sure you are trained by a reputable school with experienced staff. Proper training will also make you aware of the most common problems that you could encounter underwater.
Make sure that you are medically and physically fit to dive as certain medical conditions are not compatible with diving. Aside from physiological factors, it also helps to be physically fit. As you will need to swim 200metes and float for 10 minutes as part of your course, the fitter you are the easier diving is! Dust of those running shoes or brave the outdoor pool! We can send you a medical form prior to booking with us.Always double check that you don't need any vaccination jabs and you have travel insurance. You will be insured for all your scuba diving with Scuba Junction Diving.So you've arrived! for your 4pm start. You will be welcomed by one of our lovely staff members for your orientation. During your orientation you will fill in all your paper work and be shown around our lovely dive center. Its then into the classroom for the first 3 PADI videos. Finishing at around 6:30pm just in time for that all important selfie as the sun sets!
The next day starts at 8:00am with some theory, equipment set up and fitting you into our equipment. All our Scuba Pro equipment is fully serviced and maintained however you may want to purchase something of your own and your instructor will be more that happy to help you find that perfect mask. (I like mine all pink!) After a healthy lunch of local pad thai its out on to the boat to get down with the local aquatic life of Koh Tao. From taking those first underwater breaths you will realise how relaxing scuba diving is! We arrive back at the shop around 5pm to log our dives and plan the next day. At 8:00am we start the next day for some more videos, theory, diving and practicing being neutral buoyancy (feeling totally weightless whilst diving) and of course not forgetting cleaning our scuba gear after each day!
The final day is here and its a 06:45am start (dont worry we have coffee on the boat for those that are not early birds) and we are out to make our final open water dives too. We get back at 11am to finish that all important paper work for your final certification! Not forgetting sharing our experiences on facebook, instagram and making friends at home very jealous! Take the afternoon to relax and then we can all celebrate with our certification dinner with your new buddies at one of the many restaurants on Koh Tao and drink a well earnd beer (or maybe 3!) The PADI Open Water course certifies you to 18m and lasts for life, something that needs celebrating!So whats next...Seems logical that since you flew all the way out here, why stop diving? Continue with the PADI Advanced Open Water..5 dives in 2 days? How you may ask. Simplest answer..book a flight, pack a suitcase and come and see us! Turtles, Whale sharks and our famous Trigger fish are all waiting for you! It was the best decision I ever made and my life would not of been the same with out SCUBA J! Do one thing different today and you never know where it could lead you!
Let's take a moment and just be completely honest here: it can be quite scary to take your first breath underwater. You've never done anything like it before. Your brain is telling you it's wrong, it's yelling at you “get to the surface you fool before you hurt yourself”. But then you relax, you center yourself, you think about something happy to calm yourself down like your adorable animal at home or that delicious meal you stuffed your face with last night, and then you realize you're safe. You find your peace, you take a breath, and, lo and behold, you're okay. You're more than okay, you're in a whole new world.
I know first hand how nervous or anxious you may be about starting your new scuba adventure underwater. Remember we were all there, right where you are now, at one point in our lives. I too thought there was no way I could muster the strength to breathe through this crazy contraption my instructor assured me would keep me safe. I too had to tell my brain to quiet down while it screamed at me to head back up to the surface. But then I thought about how excited I was going to be once I over came it and how much I was going to brag about it to my friends once I got home. All through this, I had the ever constant support and encouragement from my Instructor. He was always there, making eye contact with me, asking me if I was okay, reminding me to breathe, and just his presence gave me the support I needed to take my first breaths underwater. I carry this same technique in my own teaching style, making sure each and every one of my students feel supported and safe while we explore the amazing underwater world together.
As Instructors we have double duty, not only do we teach you the appropriate techniques and skills you need to be a good scuba diver, but we also serve as a sort of underwater counsellor. We use all forms of tactics to help you feel safe and calm while diving, from making sure all skills are thoroughly briefed, adding little personal stories about our own experiences, and offering corny jokes to help relieve any tension. At Scuba Junction Diving, we also have a maximum of 4 students to 1 instructor. This means you get the added attention you need to help you feel safe and comfortable during the entire length of your course. No pressure, no rushing, just a slow relaxed atmosphere conducive to all learning types.
So jump in, take the plunge and face that fear. Truly, as an Instructor, the coolest thing about my job is getting to watch the pure joy you will feel when you accomplish this incredible goal. Let me be like Disney's Aladdin, let me show you a whole new world, shining, shimmering, splendid. A new fantastic point of view.
First of all you shouldn’t drink and dive but at the end of the diving day when your Koh Tao diving is completed then one or two beers while watching the sunset off Sairee beach will cause you no harm. If it is only one or two! The sunsets from the beach at Scuba Junction Diving can be quite spectacular and a just reward if you have just completed a Padi course or just finished fun diving.
Up and down the beach you will find many of Koh Tao divers doing the exact same thing, enjoying a cold drink on a beautiful tropical beach. There is no better way to end the diving day on Koh Tao. Most visitors to Koh Tao are here to scuba dive, as this is the diving mecca of Thailand if not the world. Koh Tao’s west coast is the place to be to enjoy these sunsets and Sairee beach is the best spot. Up and down the beach there are bars, restaurants all with sea views so you won’t miss this experience even if you are hungry or thirsty.
The Whale shark season is usually the months of March and October but this year already around the dive sites of Koh Tao there have been an abundance of sightings of this beautiful creature, especially during the month of May. The Whale shark is a filter feeder and feeds almost exclusively on plankton. They are of no threat to humans and the largest recorded specimen was just over 12mtrs in lengh making them the largest fish in the sea. Although many divers seem to of seen much larger ones.
They are rarely found in waters below 22c so the Gulf of Thailand is an ideal habitat for them. Whale sharks have very large mouths and are filter feeders, which is a feeding mode that occurs in only two other sharks, The Megamouth Shark and the Basking Shark. They are a gentle giant but you must respect that if you get the chance to dive with one, then you keep your distance and do not attempt to touch or ride them.
Did you know that the Whale shark can be identified by their unique spot pattering? If you have a camera with you when you meet one of these giants, then take photos of the spot patterning behind the gills. You can then submit your photos to Ecoceans online data base at https://www.whaleshark.org
Remember when you meet these magnificent creatures:
Stay 3 meters away from its body and 5 meters away from the tail.
Position yourself perpendicular to just behind its right or left hand side fin closest to the gills.
If the Whale shark has any noticeable scars, take photos of those too.
Then submit your photos to the Ecoceans website at https://www.whaleshark.org/submit.jsp You will receive emails back about the history of the Whale shark you saw if it has already been registered or if you are the first to register it.
Happy Diving from Scuba J