Advantages Cheap, brilliant dive sites
Disadvantages A bit of a pain to get to, but worth it
I first went to Thailand in early October 99 to visit a mate who was training to be a divemaster on the island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand. Whilst I was there I decided to learn to scuba dive - (this was mainly to protect my liver from all the partying that I was doing!).I did an PADI Open Water Diver (OWD) course which consisted of an introduction to the equipment, an explanation of the physics involved, the rules we must follow, the signals that are employed underwater (and all the other relevant bits for novice divers) and 4 dives in pairs with an instructor.
So. Koh Toa is the next island up from Koh Phangan - the site of the famous full moon parties - and is dedicated to divers. There are an almost embarassing number of dive schools there and as such the prices are cheap, but hurry, it is being developed rapidly. My dive course cost about 100 quid all in - instruction, kit hire, paperwork and even a room in the local huts for the duration of the 5 day course! The only thing not included was food but that didn't matter because there are so many brilliant little restaurants that the main problem was choosing which one to go to. Pure value for money. I also found the instructors to be of a high standard but casual and approachable - esp in the bar!There are somewhere in the region of 20 main dive sites around the island and more further offshore. Most are accesible to OWD's, being around the 18m depth mark. The water is warm enough in the summer to dive without even a shorty wetsuit and there's always the possiblity of seeing something really special,..... more about this later....
To get to Koh Tao you must make your way to Koh Phangan and get a ferry boat over. There's no other way in. The nearest airport is on Koh Samui and flights arrive daily from Phuket. This is the easiest way to get there but may still entail spending a night on Koh Phangan.
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