A very popular activity in Thailand is Scuba Diving and it not the reserve of those who already know how to scuba dive or even those wishing to take a scuba diving course in Thailand such as PADI.
As long as you are 10 (for PADI) or older and are in good physical health, anyone from seasoned scuba diving veterans to those wishing to experience it for a day, can enjoy the warm waters and great visibility that the waters of Thailand offer.
Almost all seaside resorts in Thailand have a number of scuba diving schools which can offer a range of scuba diving trips or courses - from a single day's "experience scuba", to 5 day - live aboard - trips on eco friendly boats in the Similan islands.
This is down to preference and what kind of scuba diving you like to do. If you like to swim with large fish and large shoals of fish then you'll be best off going to the Phuket side of Thailand, or the West coast, around the Andaman sea and the Similan islands. If you prefer to do more coral reef type diving then all areas will suffice but the waters are clearer in the Phi Phi, Krabi and Phuket areas.
All the scuba diving schools will have all the equipment needed to enjoy your trip. However, you might want to invest in your own mask and snorkel and even flippers as you can always use these for snorkeling in your own time and without the need to go on a special scuba diving trip.
We have done a number of scuba diving courses and each time we used the equipment supplied by the school but we always had a poor fitting mask. Water leaked into the sides and we were forever clearing our mask of water which spoils the experience. Buying your own mask will let you get one that fits you well and suits you best. Scuba schools also tend to supply the least expensive equipment and so flippers might not be as good as you'd like either. So, we suggest buying your own mask, snorkel and flippers - but you don't have to.
The standard equipment needed for Scuba Diving is:
|Snorkel, Mask and Flippers||BCD or Bouyancy Control Device|
1. Discover Scuba - half day intro - around 2,000 Baht
2. Open Water - 4 days - around 9,000 Baht
3. Advanced - 2 days - around 8,000 Baht
4. Rescue Diver - 4 days - around 12,000 Baht
5. Divemaster - 4 to 8 weeks - around 30,000 Baht
6. Dive Instructor - prices vary but between 25,000 and 70,000 Baht
The Discover Scuba course is just a basic introduction to scuba diving and you get to go under water for a very shallow dive just so you get the feel of what it's like and to see whether you like it enough to do the first course.
Open Water is the first PADI diving certification and provides you with a "license" to scuba dive to a depth of roughly 18 meters. The 4 day course is spent between a classroom, swimming pool and real dives. You will learn how to calculate the nitrogen in your blood which is important so that you avoid diving too soon after a previous dive. You'll also learn the importance of diving with a buddy, how to equalize the pressure in your ears, how to perform a buddy check on your friend's equipment, how to clear your mask of water (when under water), how to control your bouyancy under water and what to do if you lose your mask or run out of air.
At the end of the course, you'll be certified to scuba dive. Almost everyone passes (assuming their health is good enough but that'll be determined before they start the course) and you'll receive a credit card style diving license.
Advanced (Open Water) takes it to the next level and teaches you to be a more proficient diver. You will do a deeper dive, with a small test to see whether you get and how to react to Nitorgen Narcosis (a feeling of being drunk and confused without really recognising the signs - which is another good reason to dive with a buddy), a night dive and maybe another specialty dive. You will learn how to navigate with a compass and how to use "landmarks" to get around.
You can only do the Advanced Open Water if you have completed and passed the Open Water certification.
We highly recommend the Advanced course as you really feel like a more accomplished diver and you can enjoy what you see rather than concentrating on how to dive.
Rescue Diver is starting to get serious and it prepares you to be able to rescue other divers if they ever get into trouble. At the end of the course you should be able to rescue a person who is at the bottom of the ocean (only if that is a depth that is withn your dive scope - about 42 meters). The task is for you to be on a boat after having just completed your own dive and be told someone is in need of a rescue.
You will have to be able to calculate your own dive time capabilities due to your having finished your own dive (remember Nitrogen in your blood?), keep an eye on the location you were told the diver went missing, get kitted up with a buddy, get into the water, perform an area search based upon search criteria learned in the course and then, once found, you have to get that person to the surface, de-kitted in the water whilst keeping them afloat and potentially giving them mouth-to-mouth and then, single handedly, get them back onto the boat.
It is a tough course and very tiring but we were glad we did it because we came away feeling very confident in the water. The advanced course is a small step up from Open Water, but the rescue diver course is a major step up.
Dive Master and Instructor takes diving to the professional level and you learn how to take groups out, monitor their dives, run the dive boat and much more. Most people who do the Dive Master course so they can earn money doing what they like to do.
We've not done these courses but the duration is really aimed at those serious about their scuba diving and taking it to the professional level.
Being a Dive Master could see you getting free dives with a dive school that needs extra people to go out with their groups. You could even get paid for your trouble.
Being a Dive Master is a good way to spend a few months in Thailand. Not only are you learning your trade, but at the end of it, you can start earning money to cover the cost.
|Mermaids Scuba Diving Center|| Thappraya Road, Jomtien, Pattaya
Tel: 038 303 333
|Aquanauts Dive Centre|| Beach Road
|Pattaya Dive Centre||
219/3 Tipp Plaza Beach Road,
|Seafari Dive Centre|| Pattaya Soi 12
Tel. 038-429 060
|Seaduction Dive Centre|| Bali Hai Pier
Tel. 038-710 029
|Scuba Tek Dive Centre|| Pattaya Second Road
Tel. 038-361 616
|PJ Scuba|| Jomtien Beach Road
Tel: 038-232 219
|Private Scuba|| South Pattaya
|Neptune Dive Centre|| Pattaya 3rd Road
Tel. 038-720 603
|Dive South East Asia|| Nova Lodge Hotel
Tel. 038-362 300