Koh Tao’s Underwater Paradise: Deep Sea Diving on The Island.
“Diving down into the depths of the ocean may seem terrifying for all its unknown and unexplored profundity; and yet, it was one of the most tranquil experiences I have ever had.”
I have always wanted to experience the depth of the ocean. It is with this desire that I enrolled in an open water diving course in Koh Tao in June. Although I grew up with a familiarity of the diving industry, as my father works for a company called Planet Scuba in Thailand, on the first two days of my open water diving course I remember feeling a certain level of nervousness and anxiety. My instructor knew my father quite well and rather than offering comfort it seemed to have heightened my nerves. Amongst learning how to handle the equipment and how to operate once underwater, one of the hardest feats for me was learning new words. It seemed like learning a whole new language almost, reserved for deep-sea divers alone. Most of which were acronyms such as S.P.G (Submersible Pressure Gauge) or B.C (Buoyancy Control) even the word ‘scuba’ (Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) was an acronym. At times the underwater training drills which tested my ability to do menial but important tasks, such as how to clean my mask or what to do when the oxygen tank runs out, intimidated me; but I soon came to grips with the underwater language and the world of diving.
Diving down into the depths of the ocean may seem terrifying for all its unknown and unexplored profundity; and yet, it was one of the most tranquil experiences I have ever had. My sense of tranquility was inspired by the exquisiteness of the marine life that surrounded me. Names such as parrot, trigger, clown and puffer did not do the fish justice; they were remarkable in their allure. I even got the opportunity to explore the depths of a cave where I encountered a sea turtle. One can’t help but marvel at the wonderful diversity of life down there.
Not only did I get to know the complexities of the ocean, but I also had the opportunity to explore Koh Tao the island itself. Although Koh Tao is a well-known tourist destination, there were glimmers of beauty and authenticity beyond the tourist track that radiated from the island.
With small buildings by the beach, hills and trees, it was a definite contrast to the fast paced urban lifestyle I was used to in Bangkok. Though many would brand it as a party destination for young adults, I saw it as a place of tranquility. Sitting by the beach helped to clear my mind. Despite the mass of people you just can’t help but just take in the beauty of the ocean and the nature.
The local people and the workers I encountered also gave me an insight into a different perspective of the island. Many of them were migrant workers who had come from Myanmar to escape the poverty and unemployment in their own country. One such encounter was with my waiter when I was at a beachside restaurant one night. Though our communication was broken due to some language barriers, we got to chatting about where we were from and how long we had both lived in Thailand for. He even taught me how to say thank you in Burmese. Amongst other locals of the island I also got to know the instructors who worked at the dive shop. They taught me many things from traveling to living life in the water. Though some of them had only been on Koh Tao for a year or less, they all had their own stories to share about how they got there and their passion for scuba diving.
If you do decide to go to Koh Tao, definitely go scuba diving. You’ll find yourself immersed in a whole other world of marine life and sea. You might even be lucky enough to find a whale shark.
The best thing about Koh Tao is that you are never alone. Whether it’s a scuba diving instructor, a bar tender, or other travelers you’ll always find someone to keep you company and have fun with you.