Thursday, 18 June 2015

Thailand: Ocean Sound Dive and Yoga, Koh Tao

If you know anything about Koh Tao you will know that it is famous for scuba diving. As a result there are countless dive schools dotted all around the island which makes choosing one a challenge in itself. A week or so before arriving we took to TripAdvisor for a list of the best schools on the island and contacted the top 5 for more information. They all got back to us with similar information and prices which again we were none the wiser as to which one to choose. After reading reviews in more detail we decided that a smaller, more intimate school would be preferred so opted for Ocean Sound Dive and Yoga (which are currently number 1 on TripAdvisor, no doubt they deserve it!). We decided to take the plunge and book to do our PADI Open Water Qualifications which would allow us to dive up to 18m all around the world - providing we passed of course! 

On arrival at Ocean Sound we were greeted by Jesper and asked to fill out a health questionnaire and pretty much sign our lives away. After a quick introduction to the schedule we would be following and most importantly locating the free tea and coffee station, we were taken to our seaside cabins. Ocean Sound are located in Chalok Bay on the south of Koh Tao, away from the madness of Saree Beach where we had stayed previously. We stayed at Tropicana Resort where we were lucky enough to secure 2 beach front cabins just a few metres from the ocean! We had a few hours to spare before we needed to head back to the dive shop to begin our course, so we took a wander around the Bay to orientate ourselves and scope out the good looking bars and restaurants. 

Now it was officially time to begin dive school! We were introduced to our dive instructor Mariana - she was so friendly and easygoing it was clear we were going to have a good time. For the rest of the afternoon we watched a few sections of a DVD and were sent away with some homework. Being the star students that we are, we brushed that off, went for dinner and then all got together at around 10pm to go over our answers (sorry Mariana if you're reading this :P). Nevertheless going over our answers the next morning we had no problems, so it was time to go for our first try in the swimming pool!  

Now at the swimming pool we first had to prove that we could swim. Yes, believe it or not there are people who think they can scuba dive without having the ability to swim! We had to swim 500m and tread water for 10 minutes. Next we learned how to properly set up the equipment and carry out our buddy checks. Then it was time to take our first breaths underwater! Some of us found it more difficult that others to get used to this sensation, as you have to completely forget you even have a nose! Once Mariana was satisfied we were all comfortable it was time to begin our mask skills - filling it with water and learning how to get rid of it, taking the mask completely off and breathing without it for a full 2 minutes - all scenarios that could potentially happen underwater. Next we moved to the deeper pool and practised our buoyancy skills, taking our equipment on and off whilst in the water and around a thousand other things. We were all feeling much more confident now that we had had a few hours in the swimming pool, getting familiar with the equipment and perfecting skills we would have to demonstrate on our dives over the next couple of days. We loved that Ocean Sound carry out this session in a swimming pool rather than in open water as this reduced any anxiety we may have had. We all felt that going straight into the sea, which happens at many dive schools would have been very overwhelming. Mariana gave us even more homework to be completed that evening so we were ready to tackle the open waters early next morning. 

So the day was here - our first ever dive into the open water! We all had very mixed feelings, excited but also nervous as we were going into the unknown. Sophie wasn't doing any diving herself but she was allowed on the boat nonetheless which meant lots of pictures! The boat was amazing, not too crowded and we got free breakfast of eggs and toast and an endless supply of watermelon, pineapple, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. After our dive briefing and quick overview of hand signals of different type of fish we may see it was time to gear up and jump into the water. At Ocean Sound they keep the groups to a maximum of 4 students which increases safety but also makes for a better experience as we felt we really got to know Mariana. We found this first dive a little difficult as we felt like we had a million things to think about all at once. However, Mariana took it very slowly, always checking on us and it wasn't long before we were enjoying ourselves. 

From then on every dive we did got better and better. As we became more comfortable in the water we were able to focus more on the beauty that was around us rather than perfecting our buoyancy or controlling our breathing. We got to do a total of 4 dives for our PADI qualification, reaching a maximum depth of 18 metres. And within what felt like a blink of an eye we were officially qualified PADI Open Water divers! GO TEAM! We enjoyed our experience so much we were contemplating going ahead and doing our advanced course as well. However we thought we would save that for another location so we had diving experience in another part of the world. 

We all enjoyed every minute of our time with Mariana and Ocean Sound, they really are number one for a reason! 

Not a bad location

Sexy wetsuits
Learning our hand signals - awkward turtle! 

Checking we can breathe 
Nice tank ;)
All ready to go!

Heeeeey fishes! 
We survived! 

Officially PADI Open Water Qualified ! 

The Happy Wanderers


  1. What a lovely story of your lovely experience. Felt like I was there with you x x

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