30 Aug Scuba Diving at Ban’s Diving Resort
Getting our PADI Open Water Diver License was always part of our Thailand plan. We wanted to be able to go diving elsewhere on our travels and Koh Tao offers this at a really good price. Not only that, the instructors are well respected around the world so it is also one of the best places to learn.
We did our training at Ban’s Diving Resort. It is the biggest on the island and probably one of the most well known PADI diving centres in the world. The resort is absolutely massive and Ban’s can almost be seen on every corner in Koh Tao. As we were doing the diving course at Ban’s we got a discount on our room and a further discount for doing the Advanced Open Water course too.
PADI Open Water Diver
The PADI Open Water Diver course has three main parts. This includes classroom sessions to understand basic principles of scuba diving, confined water dives (usually in a swimming pool) to practice basic scuba skills and finally open water dives to use these skills and explore.
We decided to start our PADI Open Water Diver course on our second day in Koh Tao. This kicked off with an evening introduction to scuba diving session. Here we met the others in our group and also our instructor Lianne. We watched some video tutorials and completes knowledge reviews on what we had learned.
The following morning we met up again and went over some of the main principles from the videos. We discussed setting up our tanks and important things to remember before heading to the pool. After a short break for lunch we met up and gathered our equipment to take to the pool. Here we spent the rest of the day at the pool learning all of the essential skills we would need to know before stepping foot in the sea. These included breathing exercises, buoyancy skills, what to do if we lost our masks or regulators and setting up our tanks and also how to descend and ascend safely.
On our third day we met in the morning and packed our bags for the day of diving. We went to two different locations including Mango Bay and Japanese Gardens. During these dives we practiced the skills we had learnt in the pool the previous day and got comfortable under the water.
In the afternoon, we went back to the classroom to complete the theory element of the course. This mainly consisted of navigation skills and using a diving computer.
On our final day of the course we once again met first thing in the morning, packed our bags and headed to the boat for our final two dives. This time we went to White Rock and Red Rock. To pinnacles under the sea with lots of coral and fish surrounding them. Again we practiced some of the skills we learned in the swimming pool. We found that we were more confident, and definitely more aware of our surroundings on these dives.
We wore computers and compasses this time around and tried to take more notice of the direction we were heading in, and the details provided by our computers such as no decent time and depth.
On return, we received our log books, filled them in and celebrated with a team dinner and some drinks. A great ending to a really long, but rewarding course.
PADI Advanced Open Water
We originally planned to only do the PADI Open Water Diver course but we were easily convinced to add on the PADI Advanced Open Water course too! Another couple in our group were doing it, and we really enjoyed diving with them and Lianne, so it made sense to continue on as a group.
This consisted of five adventure dives including a deep dive up to 30 metres, navigation, peak performance buoyancy, fish identification and another dive at night time. These span over two days and thankfully there were no classroom theory sessions!
Dive 1 – Deep Dive
Our first dive was a deep dive at a shipwreck, so technically we got an additional dive in! This was where we went to a maximum depth of 30 metres. It was a bit of a struggle, especially on Andrews ears to get down to the bottom, but we all made it!
At 30 metres there is the possibility of gas narcosis to occur in some individuals. Guess what? I am one of these lucky people! Basically the combination of nitrogen and oxygen in the air in the tank at this depth can cause you to feel a little drunk. I went loopy! My instructor was trying to offer me Andrews hand to hold and I wouldn’t take it and was acting like I didn’t know him. Looking back it was pretty funny but it can be pretty dangerous if you start to do stupid things under water.
The shipwreck was really fun, it was amazing to see something like that under water and be able to swim around and see the life that takes up home inside.
Dive 2 – Navigation
After a short break we headed on to our second dive of the day. This had a huge focus on improving our navigation skills. We each wore compasses, and had to complete a number of activities. We had to navigate in a square, head one direction and return in the opposite direction (reciprocal heading) and also practiced how many kick cycles we do over a 30 metre length. This was to help us estimate distance under water.
Dive 3 – Night Dive
After the second dive, we headed back to the shore and waited in a coffee shop for a short while before returning to complete our night dive. It was cold and wet and the conditions weren’t great but we still managed to make it out.
This time we each held torches and used them while navigating around under water. It was so calm under there at night time, but also FREEZING. I was so thankful I had a long wetsuit on. We saw different fish to those that we normally spotted during the day, and also so some fish sleeping.
Although I was a little nervy to begin with, I really enjoyed this dive.
Dive 4 – Peak Performance Buoyancy
The following day, we met a little later in the afternoon. We did a quick briefing before heading out on the boat for our final two dives. During the first dive, we headed back to Japanese Gardens. Here we carried out a number of activities to really try and improve our balance and buoyancy. The objective of this activity is to really hone your breathing skills. The focus was on using your lungs to pivot your body up and down.
We played a game where we had to try and kiss weights lined up in the sand using just our lungs to move us up or down. This was definitely the most helpful dive for me. I struggled with my weighting at the start but after a few minutes (and losing a weight!) I managed to find neutral buoyancy.
Dive 5 – Fish Identification
The last and final dive of the day and also the course was a fish identification dive. We sketched maps of the dive site and also images of fish we wanted to try and find. At this dive site it was possible to see anemone fish just like Nemo and we found him!
I really enjoyed this dive. We didn’t have any skills to complete so it was really nice just cruising around and finding things. During the dive we managed to see anemone fish, parrot fish, angel fish, cat fish, long fin, puffer fish, trigger fish and so many more!
We had the best time. Our instructor was amazing and so patient. She explained very simply what we had to do and was always on hand if we had any issues. If you are going diving at Ban’s ask for Lianne, and tell her I sent you or check out her facebook page here. She was so nice and an amazing teacher!
I imagine it won’t be too long before we are back in the water!