Ko Tao is located near the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand, and there is a ferry service from the mainland city Chumphon that takes less than two hours. The island has an area of only 21 square kilometers (8 sq mi), is less developed than its neighbors, and the 1,300 inhabitants live almost exclusively from tourism. People (mostly backpackers) visit the island particularly for scuba diving and snorkeling. There is not much else to do except hitting the bars and restaurants after a day in the water. However, the island is beautiful and time flies by pretty quickly. Most of the dive instructors came for vacation to Ko Tao and just stayed there.
I chose the school Big Blue to learn diving. Great choice! Everything was perfect. Good people, well organized, and a lot of fun. Before you get the real deal in the ocean, one starts in the pool and has to learn theory as well. There is even an exam; I definitely didn't expect to study on this trip. ;) Once all this foreplay is over, it is finally time to enter another world. It is amazing! Spending time in the underwater world was a fantastic new experience, and I can highly recommend it. One also recognizes how fragile this ecosystem actually is, and divers are only guests who need to treat the environment with great respect (something we should also do on land). In the advanced course, we did a few extras such as navigation, deep water (30 meters), wreck and night diving. So, I am now prepared for other dive spots in the world. Can't wait!
If you have the time (25 minutes) and motivation, watch this video from our last dive for the open water license. Includes some great underwater pictures among others (turn on the sound). Oh by the way, my dive buddy was Sam, she took the same dive course. It is unbelievable that I met her and Liam again in Ko Tao. The last time we saw each other was when we partied at "Angkor What?" in Siem Reap, Cambodia.