Koh Tao is known to be the Scuba diving mecca of Thailand, that’s why I decided I was going to continue my PADI education there. I chose Ban’s Diving as it was a 5 star PADi school and owned by a Thai family; it is actually the biggest scuba school in the world.
The Advanced Open Water course involves 5 dives: 1 navigation dive, 1 deep dive (30 m), 1 night dive and 2 elective dives that normally the student would choose from a long list including shipwreck, nitrox, underwater photography, etc… Ban’s didn’t really give me the option to choose my electives but fortunately it involved the shipwreck dive (the one I wanted) and the peak buoyancy dive (didn’t really care about that one) but it supposed to help improve my skills.
I asked to get the course in Spanish so I can get a more personalized and smaller class (otherwise you will be sharing your intstuctor with many more people). I got paired with my awesome instructor Pedro, he is one of those guys I’m jealous of their lifestyle as they do everyday what they love to do and have a very chill life. The other student was Andrea from Chile, very brave girl who was afraid of the night dive but loved it at the end!
Our first dive was the deep dive, with my previous license (Open Water) I was only allowed to dive up to 18 m (60 ft), so this dive will “unlock” the skill to go up to 30 m (100 ft). The dive felt no more different that any other dive but it has a higher risk that you die do to nitrogen narcosis. Our instructor tested our concentration and mental state at the bottom to see if we were still thinking and not acting strange (nitrogen narcosis looks the same as drunkenness). After we all passed we moved to shallow waters to get the most of our dive (the deeper you go the faster you empty your tank)
The second dive was the peak buoyancy one, here you learn some skills on how to remain neutrally buoyant, a very important skill to impove your air intake, not damage the coral bellow you and basically to not look like a dumbass swimming vertically. We tried a few things like fin surfing, backflips, and other stuff like that.
That night we had our night dive, this dive is optional as it might be scary for some. I didn’t enjoy my previous night dive at the great barrier reef as it was infested with sharks and my common sense was telling me I should be diving in their house while they eat. Here, no sharks were around so it made the dive an amazing experience. It looks like you are in another planet as you can only see other divers with their tiny flashlights. Corals come to life at night and the ocean and its animals and plants become very different than during the day, there is a certain calm that you cannot feel anywhere else. No photos here as I decided to enjoy it instead of worrying for the pictures.
The next morning we had our very anticipated ship wreck dive. The HTMS Sattakut was a U.S. navy ship from WWII that was then used by the Thai navy. It was sank (on purpose for the sake of tourism) in 2011 and it lies around 30 meters deep. The ship is around 50 m long and it has 2 awesome canons, one is the 70 mm at the bow and the other one is 50 mm at the stern. We had like 15 minutes exploring the ship, looking through the windows and I just kept thinking that I will definitely specialize in wreck diving inn the future as it was the most amazing dive I’ve done so far.
Shooting down some enemy sharks!
The last dive was the Navigation dive where we need to prove we know how to use the compass underwater, it was way more difficult that it looks as we where trying to find the ship anchor on our own while our instructor was chilling at the boat laughing at us!! I guess everybody gets better with experience but we ended about a hundred feet away from she ship when we reached the surface. Cool dive and definitely a necessary skill to have if diving is something I want to pursue.
Btw, the good pictures were taken by a professional photographer that dived with us. I bought a red filter (red light does not reach more than 10 ft deep so pictures look too blue) on ebay to get nice pictures but the quality was so bad it made all my pictures completely red so I removed it.
There were many turtles on our dives so we were really happy!
Until the next time!