Doing My Open Water Dive Training in Thailand
My favorite Disney princess was Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I was obsessed with the movie, singing along to the songs as Ariel swam gracefully through the ocean. Despite all the ginger jokes throughout middle school, I desperately wished to have red hair just because Ariel did. She was also friends with fish and seagulls and could breathe underwater. There was nothing cooler. Anytime I went swimming as a kid, I would pretend I was Ariel, or just a mermaid in general.
One of the main reasons that I wanted to return to Thailand was to try out scuba diving, something that I couldn’t afford the last time. Not only did I think it would be an amazing experience to explore the underwater world but the kid inside me was begging me to try, since it would be the closest thing to ever being a mermaid. Koh Tao, Thailand is not only a beautiful place to dive but it is also one of the cheapest places in the world to complete your Open Water course. For about $290 Canadian, you can become an Open Water diver in about three and a half days.
I chose to do my course at the Big Blue Diving resort on Sairee Beach. I had heard mixed reviews about this place, being told that it was amazing by some people and that it just “spit out divers” by others. While everyone is bound to have their own experiences, I personally had a great time at Big Blue. The staff and instructors welcome you with open arms and smiling faces, making you feel immediately comfortable. My class size was six people with one instructor, which I felt was a pretty good size. Everyone got a lot of one on one time with our instructor and he was excellent at making my worries disappear.
I thought this would be more graceful, I remember saying to my new diving friends as we began to learn in the pool. I really did think it would be more graceful but there I was, floundering about with my fins going in odd directions, water getting into my mask and burning my eyes, and accidentally putting way too much air in my BC which caused it to inflate and send me to the surface of the pool like a rocket while everybody else stayed peacefully at the bottom of the pool.
I have never said I was graceful and I certainly wasn’t that day in the pool.
But only two days later and there I was, eighteen meters beneath the surface of the ocean. I had completed my training and was now an official open water diver, for the rest of my life.
*Unfortunately there are no photos from the actual dives, as cameras were not allowed since they would be a distraction.*
As soon as I did my first dive in the ocean, I remembered why I had wanted to scuba dive in the first place. Being beneath the water is an incredible feeling. You feel so free, breathing when normally you wouldn’t be able to, floating through the blue water, passing by enormous coral and the most beautiful fish. Rays of sunshine breaking through the surface of the water.
Snorkeling can’t even compare to the feeling of being down at their level, eye to eye with a little clown fish or just feet away from a school of barracuda. You are so unbelievably close to everything that you could just reach out and touch it with your bare hands… but don’t do that, that’s not allowed. You are just a visitor in their home and lucky to be so.
After four dives, it was only just a small taste of what diving is all about. I am by no means confident enough to go out, jump into the ocean with my equipment on and just begin diving. I mean, I could do it and know what I was doing but I wouldn’t have a clue how to find the boat again. That’s what the Advanced course is for, something that I would really love to do in the future.
For now, I will just daydream about Koh Tao, Sairee Beach, Big Blue and the beautiful world that is hidden under the ocean. I didn’t find any mermaids, but I did spot a stingray or two!