Last year I spent quite a bit of time on Koh Phangan. Being so close to the “mecca for diving” I thought it was about time to overcome my fear of deep water and find out for myself what all the fuss is about this apparently absolutely fascinating underwater world and decided to head over to Koh Tao.
After completing my 4 day PADI open water certificate I finally know what all the fuss is about. Diving is one of the most amazing sports I have ever tried. As soon as you get into the water you just simply forget everything around you, the time seams to simply stop and you feel this incredible calmness surrounding you. It is only you, your breath and the abundance of beautiful creatures that move so effortless through the depth of the sea. It is impossible to put this feeling into words so I would highly recommend you to just try it and discover this amazing world for yourself.
With more than 50 dive schools on the small island it was a bit though to decide on who to go with, but after talking to a couple of people that also did their open water certificates on Koh Tao I opted for Phoenix Divers, which is one of the smaller dive schools on the island but with a team of absolutely funny and incredible awesome dive instructors.
We were a nice little group of 3 people, which was the perfect number in my opinion and our schedule looked like this:
Day 1: We meet in the afternoon in the dive school in order to meet each other and our lovely dive instructor Nui.
Day 2: Classroom work in the morning learning about basics skills, equipment, and the effects of diving on the body. Afternoon is spent in the pool or at shallow dive sites doing skills. To be honest during my first 5 minutes under water I was panicking like crazy, unable to breath probably, thinking “screw this shit I am not gonna continue”. But after those initial minutes I figured out how to breathe and everything was fine. Looking back I am just so happy that I did give myself a bit more time.
Day 3: Morning is spent in classroom finishing knowledge reviews and taking some quizzes. In the afternoon are open water dives 1 and 2. Some skills will be practiced during the dives. To my surprise when we returned from those dives our group had to take the final exam. Shocked at first due to the lack of preparation, we realized pretty quickly that the majority of questions is just common sense and we all passed easily. So there is no need to stress out.
Day 4: You’ll go out on a morning boat in order to complete open water dives 3 and 4. According to other divers I met on the island, you’ll usually take the final exam after returning from your dives.
After those four days it is time to celebrate as you will receive your certification card (if you have not completely messed up under water and believe me this is close to impossible) that allows you to dive deep sea baby – i.e. up to 18 meters of depth – anywhere in the world baby, as you long as you have a trustworthy buddy by your side.
For my 4 days I paid a total of 8,500 THB, including accommodation and breakfast. This was for certain one of the cheapest packages I came across on Koh Tao. I was extremely happy with my dive school, even though I have admittedly seen nicer rooms, but then again you are there to dive and not to sit in your room all day. All together I would do it all over again at Phoenix Divers and highly recommend this awesome dive school.