Scuba Adventure in Koh Tao

Ruth, Stan & Myself pre dive

When The Panic arrived on day 4, it took me completely by surprise. I had, after all, come to koh Tao with the express purpose to scuba dive. I met Ruth & Stan in Bangkok & after a few days of sightseeing we made our way to Koh Tao, a quiet island in the gulf of Thailand known for diving and as a good place for newbies such as ourselves to learn how to dive.

We chose to dive with New Heaven Dive School in chalok baan kao bay because of their focus on small group sizes & marine conservation. Chalok Baan Kao Bay is also a bit removed from the more populated beaches & big dive schools, which was appealing.

View from New Heaven

The morning we met Lola I knew we had made the right decision. Lola is effervescent yet calm & capable. If ever you should learn how to scuba dive you should be so lucky to have Lola as your instructor. Our first day started with diving theory. No big classroom, no boring video. Just us 3 & Lola with her beautiful French accent explaining the principles behind diving, the equipment & what the openwater course entailed. She carefully explained the more salient points making sure we understood our safety was her number one priority and should be ours as well. Our first dive was in a shallow part of the bay with a sandy bottom. It was nice to be in the ocean & not a pool. Day 2: Kailee, a lovely girl & dive instructor in training, joined our little group. I was feeling more at ease under water but still had some issues maintaining neutral buoyancy. As long as I was moving I was ok. Staying in one place was another matter entirely. See you are only supposed to use your breath to move. Inhale. Up. Exhale. Down. But not too much up. Nor down. Juuuuust right. The goal is to hover. No legs. Definitely, no hands. By using only your breath you are more efficient under water & use less air which is why this is a particularly important skill to master. Yeah. Well. I bobbed like a cork and had very little control, which allowed Ruth & Stan the time to learn to new skill: laughing underwater. I could not keep myself upright. I fell over. I fell into Lola. I fell into Katie. I fell sideways. I fell forward. I popped up. I dropped to the ocean floor.  It was exhausting & frustrating. All the while Lola was encouraging & ever optimistic that soon I would master neutral buoyancy.Day 3: Two more dives. The visibility was unfortunately, in Lola’s words “sheeeeet”, but in spite of that we saw multicolored coral forests, angel fish, parrot fish, emperor fish & spotted rays. I was finally getting my sea legs & wanting more.

Miss Lola

Miss kailee

Ruth & I congratulating ourselves for not sinking straightaway


We decided that as long as we had the time, we might as well pursue the Advanced Open Water course. This course was a bit more, well, advanced. The exercises included a night dive, a deep water dive, and a few other things. Day 4: This was the final day. 3 dives total, including the night dive. Unfortunately, it was a stormy day, pouring rain & the boats were unable to leave the bay due to rough seas. Day dives were cancelled. The weather finally cleared & by 7 pm I was in the water ready for the night dive. I had a large flashlight in my right had, BCD in my left, all systems go & I began my descent on the line. The visibility was so poor that I could barely see my fins, even with the flashlight. I became a little disoriented & I knew then & there that I was in trouble and I had my self a little freak out. Now, I don’t think of myself as a “Freaker Outer” and I have never had a panic attack, and I probably could have forced myself to continue. But why? So I could tick a box off a list? So I could potentially really freak out in deep water? I knew that if I forced myself & had a miserable time, the likelihood of ever doing another night dive was slim to none. So, with Lola by my side I surfaced and waited for the group on the boat. (The captain, who had taken a shine to me over the past few days, hovered like a mother hen, forcefeeding me cookies & hot tea while I waited)

I have learned a lot about myself traveling these past few months: I am stronger & more capable than I thought, I really like solo travel, and I hate bus rides. Tonight I learned a couple of more things: I know when I’ve reached a limit & I have nothing to prove.

And tomorrow? I will be back under water. In daylight.

coral reef

blue spotted ray

anenome fish

parrot fis

trigger fish

School of Barracuda

my bungalow at Big Fish. Top Floor

View from the beach at Big Fish


About Miss Q

I am a travel obsessed foodie, with an inexplicable love of clamato, elvis costello & the unknown
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6 Responses to Scuba Adventure in Koh Tao

  1. Wendy says:

    You’re never gonna want to come home! Solo travel isn’t as scary as most people think is it. But I hope you still want to travel with friends sometimes too. your bungalow looks sweet – extra points for scoring the second level with a balcony – do they deliver drinks to you? Ditto your thoughts on learning about yourself. I thought I’d set off to see the World and learn about other people but at the same time I learned a lot of myself. Nice to see the water on Koh Tao still looks gorgeous – and you guys look pretty happy! As a side note, when Glenda and I learned to dive she didn’t make it out of the training pool after her “freak out”, so who cares if night diving wasn’t for you. I would NEVER cave dive so don’t put that your list to do with me.
    So glad you’re having a great time.

  2. Margaret Goff says:

    Finally got caught up on all my Suzanne reading today! Laris read too. We both (him especially) had tears in our eyes thinking of the places you’ve been and the things you have seen and done. We had an especially large tear remembering our time in Koh Tao, what a beautiful place. Enjoy the rest of your dives! Can’t wait to hear more! PS The food pics are making me STARVING for SEA cuisine!

  3. jodi duke says:

    I am happy to see that Ruth made it to your neck of the woods…It looks soooooo beautiful. I am green with envy! Love the blog!

  4. Lu Zoller says:

    It is very important to stay within your comfort zone. Good decision. Glad you got to experience diving and I wish I was that brave. Sure enjoying all the pics and blog!

  5. Steph says:

    The photos are beautiful, and I applaud your decision- that was like going from bunny ski slopes to an advanced run on the same day. Yeah, I want to SEE where I’m going in the water…Looking forward to the next blog entry!

  6. Steph says:

    Oh, and your scuba instructors: Hotty McHotties!

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