Blog about Underwater Life and Scuba Diving

Another Guide for Scuba Diving in Thailand

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Holidays are all about experiencing something different, being a little adventurous and trying something new, right? Thailand’s clear, warm, tropical waters offer an ideal place to try scuba diving for the first time. However to avoid disappointment, it’s best to be well prepared as you may find a little research may go a long way…

If you’ve never dived before, it’s a good idea to check out the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Medical Statement (here’s a link but there are many available) before you leave on your trip. If you answer ‘yes’ or are unsure about any part of the medical questionnaire, booking a diving medical before you leave is the safest way to determine if diving is suitable for your body. Thailand dive medicals often do leave a lot to be desired and you do not put yourself under any unnecessary risks.

Photo by Stefan Andrews

Unsurprisingly, sales are highly competitive in Thailand. The best ‘salesman’ may be the diving instructor that is able to convince you that this is THE time in your life to go scuba diving and you need to do it with my dive centre right now. However, they may not necessarily be the best instructor for you. Make a few inquiries and talk with a number of different instructors to find one that fits your personality best. Ask questions regarding the instructor’s knowledge of the local dive sites and teaching experience. Remember you want them to be fun too!

Do some research into where you may want to dive. Anyone who has a copy of Thailand’s Lonely Planet Guide will tell you that Koh Tao is THE place to go Scuba diving in Thailand. Yes, it may be one of the cheapest places in the world to do your Open Water Diver Course, but you tend to get what you pay for which may result in a rushed, sub-quality course. When learning to dive, you want to be taught safely and properly. Also, remember the group size of your course will make a big difference in how much time you will get to practice important things like your buoyancy skills and enjoy the dive sites instead of kneeling down and watching others practice skills the entire dive.

Okay, so maybe you’re a certified diver and thinking about diving in Thailand? If you’ve got a Licence… take it with you! If you’re having trouble finding your card, it may be worth getting in touch with your training agency prior to your travel as it may avoid complications at the dive centre. If you haven’t dived for a while, consider a Scuba Review Program to refresh your diving knowledge and skills to build up some confidence, but remember to make sure you are fit to dive especially if it has been some time between blowing bubbles.

Make the most out of your dive guide. Always listen carefully to the pre dive dive briefing and don’t be afraid to ask questions. When diving, watch your dive leader carefully, they tend to know the dive sites best and will make sure you spot all those hard to find critters. Remember when you’re diving with a new buddy, make sure you are both familiar with each other’s equipment, hand signals and follow the dive plan discussed in the briefing.

Dive with the right weights. Generally, you will be diving with a 3mm shortie wetsuit as the water temperature remains warm all year round. If you’re unsure how many weights you will need with this type of wetsuit, just ask your dive leader for some help conducting a weight check prior to the dive. Incorrect weighting or a foggy mask could easily ruin a good dive. I suggest always take your own personal mask and a dive computer.

If you’re travelling with your own equipment, protect it with the appropriate bags. Regulators work well in hand luggage for best protection (and weight allocation), keep your mask in a mask box, pack a spare battery for your dive computer and make sure you’ve got the right adapters for charging camera batteries. Make sure you don’t pack your dive knife in your hand luggage; it doesn’t go down to well with Airport Security, trust me.

Photographers, you are going to love Thailand. With an abundance of colorful marine life and crystal clear waters, you’re bound to get some top quality shots. Just remember, absorption sachets in your housings are essential the humidity and warm water has a high potential to moisture to make it into your housing and for it to fog up.

For experienced divers, I highly recommend taking the 90 minute speed boat trip from Phi Phi island to the must see dive sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Rated in Jacques Cousteau’s Top 10 world-wide dive sites, these are the favored spots in Thailand for Whale sharks, Manta rays and even Hammerheads.

Hin Muang or “Purple Rock” is totally submerged and is located just a few hundred meters north of Hin Daeng. This impressive dive site is almost completely covered with lush purple soft corals that it actually seems to glow. The reef is 200 meters long and less than 20 meters wide, there are three main pinnacles and several smaller ones. The reef starts at 12m, and there is often some current, so we use a line for descent, safety stops and ascent. The almost vertical walls are carpeted with anemones and colorful sea fans and the numerous caves, ledges, and rocky outcroppings which provide shelter for a vast variety of marine life. It is one of the best sites for viewing Manta Rays, and many species of sharks including the Grey Reef Shark which are commonly seen congregating in groups of a dozen or more.

Boasting a huge variety of fish life, healthy soft and hard corals with a high chance of spotting majestic Whale sharks and Manta Rays, Hin Daeng or “Red Rock” is considered a world class dive site which provides some of the most stunning diving in the area.

The pinnacle protrudes only 3 meters above the water, but below, it drops straight down to 70+ meters on the southern side. Throughout the dive you’re likely to encounter huge schools of jack tuna sometimes so thick they appear as a solid wall of silver. Large Barracudas sweep past the ridge as they stalk the feeding Needle-Fish and Long Toms.

Finally, don’t forget about considering diving insurance. Dive insurance isn’t compulsory, but is highly advisable especially when diving in Thailand. There are many companies providing insurance, however I have never heard a bad report about how The Divers Alert Network ( Oh, and one last thing. Make sure you never dive with a Changover! )

Happy traveling and happy diving. Sawadee Krab

Article by Stefan Andrews

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