Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Diving On Koh Tao In Thailand

Diving On Koh Tao In Thailand by: Andy Perrin

Scuba diving is by far the biggest attraction on Ko Tao, and it is easy, fun, and you will see a lot of fish, perhaps even turtles, stingrays, barracuda, reef sharks, and even a whale shark if you get lucky You will get good diving weather on Koh Tao apart from November, when the sea is choppy, and visibility is poorer than normal. The visibility can be over 40 metres during the rest of the year. You will find a lot of dive operators on the island, and some of them offer accommodation. Just beware that when you read the accommodation is free, it’s not really, because they will offer discounts if you stay somewhere else. In 2006 you will pay in the region of 10,000 bht for a PADI open water certificate, and this should include the new PADI training manual, proper professional instruction, rental equipment, boat dives etc. This may include insurance and basic accommodation, but shop around, and remember the methods of instruction may differ enormously. A few hints include avoiding shops that use swimming pools to teach you in. You’ll find it cold, boring, and unhygienic, bearing in mind this is a very popular diving island, and they will have literally hundreds of students . Choose one that will take you to a private beach so you will see fish and coral right away, it is a lot more interesting, and you will probably get more dives!! It’s also a good idea to find a dive shop that has its own private pier, so you won’t have to climb over other boats at the pier, although you won’t be carrying your dive gear, that should be carried by a Dive Master Trainee. In addition you ought to ask how many students there will be in your group, because there should not be more than a small handful, if they tell you there will be more than ten then look elsewhere. You want personal tuition for something as important as this, and you want your course to be really enjoyable. If you are looking for specific dive shops, this list whilst by no means exhaustive, is at least a starting point. 1. Coral Grand . Located in a much quieter area than the other dive shops, at the far end of the beach, the hotel is more upmarket than most on the island although the 'free' rooms are still basic. Operates 2 dive boats plus a speed boat. 2. Divepoint . Located in Mae Haad on the waterfront. Divepoint has probably the nicest dive boat on the island, big enough that you won't have to carry your gear to and from it. PADI and SSI. 3. Easy Divers. Fantastic Dive Shop with really experienced instructors. Professional and fun with great accommodation. Based right in the heart of Ko Tao. 4. IDC Ko Tao. Instructor development courses (IDC's) run every month by English PADI Course Director Matt Bolton. 5. Phoenix Divers. Right on Sairee Beach, has good boats, new gear and multilingual often western staff. 6. Stingray Divers. Very modern dive resort overlooking Chalok Ban Khao Bay. Hope this information helps you to have great diving experience on Koh Tao.
About The Author
Andy Perrin feels you don't need five star to have a great vacation, and if you want to check out what he means try

the Five Reasons that Make Koh Phangan the Perfect Choice

Thailand islands - the Five Reasons that Make Koh Phangan the Perfect Choice by Ella Evans

The islands of southern Thailand are widely known as "Island Paradise". Their picturesque beaches, moderate tropical climate and unique, extremely relaxing lifestyle account for this reputation. Travelers from all over the world come to these southern Thailand islands to experience the famous transition to another dimension, as they gradually absorb the overwhelming serenity and ephemeral separation from the dynamic and straining modern life style.
In the eyes of the inexperienced traveler at the very first stages of planning his or her trip to Thailand, all "paradise islands" may look exactly the same: all the islands are tropical (in the classic sense and climate wise), picturesque and serene. But in fact, a more thorough perspective would reveal that each island, just like every individual traveler, has its own set of unique qualities. The cost of stay in some islands can turn out to be a surprisingly expensive experience, while visiting other islands can be quite a bargain; some islands are dramatically peaceful while others are loaded with exciting nightlife activities; some islands provide the perfect conditions for divers while others are ideal for backpackers.
After years of intensive research, and after exploring every dark corner on every island in southern Thailand, my final conclusion is that Koh Phangan is no doubt and by far the perfect choice for the perfect vacation. Koh Phangan is the perfect choice because it has this unique ability to adopt itself to the likes and needs of every individual traveler in the limits of being an island (except from providing the ultimate urban environment. But nobody visits the Thai islands to relive his urban daily lifestyle). Here are the five elements that make Koh Phangan the ultimate vacation choice:
1. The best value for your money. Until recently, Koh Phangan had a strong reputation of a backpackers' island. As a result, the island's costs of living had been adjusted to the target audience. Food and accommodation on the island cost surprisingly low, so that even a backpacker with a budget of 30$ per day can provide himself or herself with a reasonable, almost western life standard on the island, which includes air conditioned rooms and delicious cuisine. During the last several years, when more spoiled tourists discovered this island, local entrepreneurs began to invest in luxury accommodation. Nevertheless, the best quality accommodation in Koh Phangan is still cheaper, on average, compared to the same standard accommodation offered on other islands. 2. The rare opportunity to experience the "old school" island paradise. Even the sworn lovers of Thailand will agree, that the days when the "paradise islands" were the place in which one can sit on a lonely beach and share his or her thoughts with a single coconut tree, are a thing of the past. Still, in Koh Phangan one can find some "reservations" of remote picturesque beaches with only a limited choice of accommodation, such as Haad Thong Reng, Haad Yao and Haad Sadet. Some of these forgotten venues feature about three dozens bungalows hidden in the midst of the jungle. These "old school" beaches make you fell like merging with a "real" paradise, created by true nature and not by wise and experienced tourism industry entrepreneurs. 3. Breathtaking diving sites. The Gulf of Thailand is considered to be an excellent diving area, due to its clear lucid water and the huge variety of underwater life. Until recently, the consensual opinion stated that the only place for "real" scuba divers in the Gulf of Thailand is Koh Tao Island, next to Koh Phangan. Nowadays, more and more divers are choosing Koh Phangan as a launching ground for their preferable diving sites: a small island Koh Ma, connected to Koh Phangan by a sand bar; the neighboring beaches Haad Salad, Haad Yao & Haad Chaophao, offering a hugevariety of tropical fish and coral reefs; and Ang Thong National Marine Park - a group of 42 islands, protected as a National Park. 4. The Full Moon Party. The full moon party, held in Koh Phangan since 1989, attracts thousands of travelers every month coming from all corners of the globe. Even if you are not the classic partygoer - the full moon party could be a unique and unforgettable opportunity to join thousands of joyful, exhilarated people dancing together in the most beautiful place in the world to the sounds of the best music.5. To experience radically unique travel activities. Koh Phangan is quite a small sized island (about 170 km2), but it offers a widest variety of activities. You can come on a Sunday, as a backpacker to Sunrise Beach, become a professional diver on Monday in Koh Ma and turn into a seasoned partygoer on Tuesday as you take part in the exhilarating full moon party. If you're able to wake up on Wednesday morning, you can meet local people in the fishermen's village Chaloklum learn and experience their traditional way of life. Additionally, you can join forces with your sportsperson alter ego and go trekking on Thursday; and on Friday you'll have the unique opportunity to pretend being a Mowgli riding an elephant's back in Phangan Safari. On Saturday, you can try living as a sheikh in a luxury resort with a spa...and maybe get the chance to write a novel on the seven most unforgettable days of your life.
About the Author
Independent researcher, MA in anthropology, and travel enthusiast Ella Evans has spend more than a decade exploring Thailand focusing on the Southern Islands. The fruits of her labor can be found in the Koh Phangan Experience Website: a comprehensive travel guide to Koh Phangan, Thailand, which includes information articles, tips, advice and a message board. Visit Koh Phangan Experience Guide.

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