Thailand has become one of the top places in the world for scuba diving certifications. Scuba diving is increasingly on the bucket lists of travelers and holidaymakers in Thailand.
A land of gorgeous coral reefs and exotic fish, Thailand not only offers a visually stunning diving experience but it’s also incredibly budget-friendly. Regardless of the category, Thailand is an affordable country, and diving is no exception. It is unquestionably cheaper to get a scuba diving qualification here than in Australia or anywhere else, for that matter.
Many guidebooks recommend Koh Tao as the best island for diving. Since Koh Phangan, the neighboring island, has the same reefs, there isn’t much difference. So take into account what else you want to do besides diving and make your decision. I believe Koh Phangan has more dive companies and a better variety of activities than Koh Tao does.
Sail Rock is probably the best dive site in the Gulf of Thailand, which can be easily accessed from Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and Koh Samui. This rock looks completely unassuming from the surface, but underneath it is a treasure trove of marine life! Meter-long barracudas surround Trout schools, and even whale sharks rub shoulders.
For those of you who know me, you might be wondering why I wrote a piece about scuba diving when I have never dived? Well, let me tell you the story.
I chose scuba diving as my number one activity in Thailand during my first Round The World trip. That and going to a Full Moon Party, of course. Despite my nervousness, I suited up for a try-dive (what PADI calls a Discover Scuba Dive or DSD). The first thing I did was fill out a medical consent form. Upon returning it, I was taken aside. Asthma runs in my family. When I was a child, I had a severe case, but it has improved with age. I was asked to do a peak flow test (where you blow into a pressure gauge to determine how strong your lungs are) to decide whether or not I was fit to dive. I struggled with this and failed.
Rather than reject me altogether, they said that I could still do it, but I would need to fill out a form stating that I was doing it at my own risk. There is a relaxed attitude towards Health & Safety in Thailand, which can deter some. Thus I chose not to take the risk. In the end, I bowed out gutted, but I knew I did the right thing. Quite simply, if I had become asthmatic under the water and needed my inhaler right away, I would not have been able to surface quickly (for the risk of decompression sickness), which is why diving is too risky for me.
My arrival in Cairns, Australia, follows this day of disappointment. It was a bummer to miss out on scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef (voted the World’s Best Dive Site), but instead, I took a boat trip to the reef and snorkeled instead. Nearly five years ago, I met my boyfriend on this boat, living and working there as a Dive Master Trainee. The rules and regulations in Australia are more strict, and I could not dive here even sporadically if I used my inhaler. I was therefore forbidden to dive there. It made me feel better that I hadn’t taken the risk in Thailand, but I still hope someone will invent a regulator with an inhaler built-in one day.
Thailand Scuba Diving Certification Tips
Fill out the form honestly. Don’t forget anything. Your safety is paramount. If you do not report any problems, you put yourself and your diving instructor at risk if you have an accident while scuba diving; the situation can quickly turn grave.
Consult with people who have just completed the course to find out if their experience was good and if you are getting value for your money.
Look at the equipment to make sure it’s new and in good condition. Old and tattered equipment is not what you want.
Last but not least, have fun! Enjoy your dive. The experience of scuba diving as a couple during your Thailand vacation would undoubtedly be a highlight.