Thursday, April 30, 2015
Open Water Course
The PADI Open Water Course is really the first level of diving license thats available to all and valid globally. Here in Phuket we are very lucky as we have a stunning location we can dive and teach in all year round.
The Open water course is a three day course which will cover theory, safety, skills and plenty of diving on the reefs around Phuket. Here at Thailand Divers we run the course over three days and offer it as a superior package giving you 6 dives taking in the islands of Racha Noi, Racha Yai, Phi Phi and Shark Point. Or the standard package which contains the 4 coral reef dives required to complete the course.
You are picked up from your hotel around 07:30am by mini bus and taken to the comfortable air conditioned classroom. Here you will meet your instructor for the next three days. In the morning you will be watching a DVD which will explain the theory, skills and safety aspects involved in diving. You will complete knowledge reviews in you Open Water Manual along with multiple choice questions on each chapter of the DVD. Then just before lunch there is the final exam which consists of the knowledge review questions and the multiple choice questions worded slightly differently. The Open Water Course is designed for people of 10 years and above so as you can imagine the exam is not very hard.
Then a spot of lunch before going to the swimming pool for the afternoon. In the pool you will become aquainted with your equipment and how to put it on and how it all works. Once in the pool the instructor will give you exercises to get you comfortable in the water and swimming with ease. You will then be taught all the skills you need to be a confident and a safe diver. You will have time to practice these skills so by the time you leave the pool you will be ready for the sea.
07:30am You are picked up from your hotel lobby again and this time its off to the boat. Once on the boat you can relax and have a nice cooked breakfast, tea, coffee and juice, croissants and toast. After breakfast its time to see what you remember from the day before. First we have to set up the equipment ready for when we arrive at the first spot. Now relax on the sun deck for a while and enjoy the stunning views.
Dive number 1
Today we are heading to the islands of Racha Noi and Racha Yai. This more about just getting relaxed in the water. We stay on the surface and swim in a warm shallow bay. On the way we practice a few surface skills from the day before. Cramp removal, tired diver tow, snorkel regulator exchange and other skills that are needed on the surface. Next we hold a bouy line and slowly release the air from our BCDs and descend into the beautiful tropical waters. Fish everywhere. Remember to equalize, dont let go of the rope and breath. Once on the bottom the instructor gets us to add a tiny bit of air to the BCD so we are neutrally bouyant and off we go. All we are doing now is getting used to swimming and keeping an even depth.
As before down the rope and this time when we are on the bottom we have to do several skills that we practiced in the pool the day before. Mask clearing and regulator recovery in case we loose it underwater and regulator clearing so we can breath. Next off for another "fundive" doing the odd skill as we go.
Now back on the boat for some lunch. the lunch is huge. it is a buffet cooked on the boat while we were underwater. It consists of a selection of Thai and Western dishes along with excellent soup, rice, noodles and vegetables. There is also a vegetarian option.
As this is the superior course of 6 dives rather than just the 4 required for the license it can be a "fun dive" no skills but as we are off to Phi Phi tomorrow and the instructor says these will be much better dive sites it will be better to do skills this dive and give us more free time tomorrow. This is fine by me. What we are doing this dive is practicing using a compass on the surface and underwater. We also do a CESA and alternate air skills.
Back on the boat and again the chef has been busy. pancakes with banana or mango, chocolate sauce or maple syrup. Nice relax in the sun on the way back. Almost done as far as the skills go for our Open Water License. We have seen so much today already. Lion fish, parrot fish, Nemo, sting ray, barracuda, Morae eels, Cuttle fish, Damsel fish, sea snake and Harliquin shrimp but to name a few.
Day number 3
Today is the last day of the course and I am already a pro and totally addicted. As yesterday a huge breakfast, set up gear (now I am professional) and know the routine and off to the sun deck. Today we are off to Phi Phi for 2 dives then off to Shark point for the last dive. Phi Phi is quite a long way so time for a nap in the sun. Phi Phi is stunning. Huge cliffs just rise up from the sea with lots of tiny coves and bays.
This is the last training dive. Just a couple of skills left. The instructor was right. There were millions of fish all around us. Amazing. So clear as well and so much color. Until you dive here you will never believe what is was like. After about half an hour we come up shallower over some rocks. my instructor points to the side of us and my god. There were 2 sharks just meters from me. As I look there were more and more just swimming up and down. They were not minding us at all just swimming. I can not tell you how amazing that was, just too exciting.
Back on the boat for lunch and this time we were in the bay called Maya bay. This is where the filmed the movie The Beach, stunning
Now I am a certified diver. My course is finished so no more mask on and off, no more equipment off and on. Now just diving. This place was named Turtle rock but the first thing we see is another Black Tip Reef Shark. Here there is a little bit of current so we dont need to swim. Just relax and drift along. As we drift over the reef we do find a turtle and again they see so many divers they just look up at you then carry on eating. One even stops to look at us when the instructor points the camera at it. They are so beautiful.
Shark point. This dive site is stunning. So much color everywhere. Corals, anemones fish and huge sea fans. We see 2 Sea horses on different sea fans, Ghost pipe fish. These are so pretty. A huge Barracuda, more sting ray and harliquin shrimps. Then around a corner lying on the sand was a Leopard shark. It looked like a leopard. Gold with black spots. It just lay there looking at us. Our instructor told us 1 at a time to come slowly forward and lie next to it. I was so close to it I could have touched it. This 3 days has been the best 3 days of my life.
I will always be in debt to Thailand Divers as not only did they get me my license but they organized it so well that I had the chance to see things that others will never dream of. Ok I was lucky as well but by going to Phi Phi for the second day and doing 3 training dives on the first day ment I can enjoy it so much more. I can not recommend getting your open water license when you are in Phuket enough and Thailand divers was amazing, the food, the boat, the diving and the staff. best holiday of my life. I will be back to do my Advanced Open Water License for sure as I am now totally hooked on Scuba Diving.