After the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, I found myself with some extra days before I had to head back to Bangkok. I headed to Koh Tao, famed diving spot of budget backpackers. I have been a snorkeler ever since I was little; my dad taught me how to breathe through the tube when I was about 7 years old in Hawaii. Ever since then I was hooked. I thought that was it-there was nothing better. Scuba intrigued me, but also, scared me since I didn't know much about it and you hear the horror stories of not being able to breathe or coming up too fast. I decided to book the Open Water certification mostly on a whim. My hostel had a dive shop inside, and since they offered a discount if you stayed there, I was in. I went with DPM Diving. Usually the Open Water certification was around $250 USD, but with the discount I got mine for $218 roughly and was so impressed with the dive shop and instructors. Small group sizes of 3-4 meant we all got individual attention, you looked out for everyone in your group, and you got to spend more time actually diving! We spent the first half day watching the safety videos which included "homework"-aka working in groups and looking up the answers in the dive handbook while drinking beers in the hostel cafe. I mean this is Thailand after all....I learned a lot that first day, especially about dive safety. What I can say is, a lot of it will be common sense, but it is still very important! If you are considering diving, pay attention to all this. I never once felt scared while diving, doing the training, or anything. My dive instructor was so helpful, knowledgeable and never let anything potentially dangerous happen to us. I felt well looked after the entire time and had a blast. She kept it very real with us-everything was according to handbook, but explained in a applicable way. The next 2 and a half days were filled with 4 dives total. Each one thrilled me and made me even more addicted to the underwater world.
I was not disappointed with my decision! After the first test dive, I was hooked! I can never go back to snorkeling on the surface, I have an unstoppable urge to go deeper and deeper. I wanted to stay down longer; time seems limitless down there, but also goes by so fast! An hour could feel like fifteen minutes-there's nothing quite like turning yourself over completely to getting lost in wonder. There's just so much life down there, so much to take in. I love that it feels like the fish are observing you as much as you are observing them.
Diving is a gift and a skill I can take with me wherever I go. Pushing myself outside of my original comfort zone has introduced me to one of my newest passions and hopefully a lifelong hobby. So far I have dived in Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. I want to dive in Iceland, Egypt, Fiji and the Phillipines next!
My fave dive spots have been off the coast of Gili T, Indonesia. Manta Dive is the nicest shop and the staff are so friendly and helpful. My very first day and dive there, I saw a massive shark, turtles, rays...everything! It was the clearest visibility I have ever experienced, and my dive master took me out every day and showed me everything. He pointed out every unique fish or creature I never would've seen by myself. I hope one day I get to that point where I can spot even the smaller or harder to see rare fish.