Tuesday 7th June 2016isla event

Slightly different post today, yes we are a dive school and we want you to come a learn to dive and experience our underwater world, but the big thing that makes us Big Blue is the island and the community that is part of it. And I have to say I have never been so proud to be part of the Koh Tao community. I have never met a more generous and giving and loving group of people anywhere I have worked. Let me explain..

Big blue diving held a fundraiser event for a cause which is very very close to our ours hearts, the theme was pink for Isla Diver and we had 15 incredible prize bundles to be given away. The average cost per bundle was around 30,000 baht. The prizes and the evening was organised by Matt Waters and it went off with a humongous bang. The bar and restaurant was decorated with pink ribbons, we had prizes for the best pink princess (which of course turned out to be male). The night kicked off with a very moving video which was compiled by our Big Blue Movies Boss Wayne, there was not a dry eye in sight. Simon Garrity was our compare for the evening and he managed to keep his jokes in check for the younger children that were present.

All of our staff had come dressed in pink outfits and one particular male dive master who we thought was missing from the night had genuinely been ignored by us because we thought he was a lady that we didn't know, even Erin complimented him/ her on his/her handbag being nicer than hers without realising who it was!

We expected to have around 450 people to join in but were blown away when we counted 600 people from all over the island representing many other dive centres.

In total we have managed to raise an unbelievably staggering 1,500,000 baht, that's 1.5 million baht. For everyone who donated prizes ranging from Similan liveaboards to food and drink vouchers, dive courses, GoPros, clothing, framed prints, nights in luxury villas to say a few. More importantly thank you for everyone who bought raffle tickets, came wearing pink and stayed partying till the very end to make this an event we will never forget.

We all thank you from the bottom of our Big Blue Hearts.

Now if you want to be part of something special Koh Tao is the island to be and we can also teach you to dive.

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11th May 2016sj simon ruth

Sorry it’s been a long time overdue. I won’t make excuses even though there are some.

What has happened since I last wrote…?

Sawadee Pee Mai everyone, Happy Thai New Year. Traditionally celebrated as a water festival, over the years instead of a gentle sprinkle of water for luck and a paste put on your face, the day has become a mass of water pistols firing ice cold water at everyone you can see who is dry. Koh Tao is no exception. The day at Big Blue begins straight away for those not working. And those that are working come back in on the morning long tails to a full on assault from all and sundry. This year we had attacks from evil super soakers who came to the boats to start the carnage, but we were ready....armed with our own water guns and ice water...mwahaha! We were lucky that the sun was out all day which melted most of the ice, unlike last year when it rained nonstop! And everyone was freezing...yes we can get cold in tropical Thailand.

This Songkran has seen the return of a few old Big Blue faces. Big Canadian Paul returned after being away for 6 years, Jo and Kelly have been back to join the festivities along with Deano and Tech Ian. As ever the conversations start as if they had never left in the first place. And a few sore heads the following morning.

We also have a few new SSI Instructors who have just started there internship, we congratulate Simon, Sjoerd (SJ) and Ruth. They passed with flying colours and a very happy Iain and Tim joined in with the celebrations. Now it’s time to go to work shadowing some of our experienced instructors on the logistics of teaching courses before they are unleashed into the diving world to start teach their own underwater babies.

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Sunday 20th March 2016poker

Some of our DMTs recently had 100th dive, which is a great achievement in such a short time during their training. To celebrate this dive they decided to have a game of underwater poker.  Complete with table, chair, cards and money they dropped down and posed for a few pictures, they also followed the typical dive community tradition of that 100th dive and the proof is in the picture. Welcome to the 100 club, keep going and let’s see what you can come up with for your 1000th.

Everyone who works here has decided that March would be the best month to go on their holibobs; they thought Europe would be lovely this time of year, so they  booked it, packed it and popped off the to the airport. Meanwhile, here on the beautiful tropical island paradise of Koh Toa the weather is sweltering. The water is clear and no sign of snow or rain to be seen. But with special goodies and treats being brought back they will be forgiven for leaving the rest us to pick up the slack.

Our shop has had another update with nice shiny windows and ac, no more wind blowing the papers everywhere and the dogs are all outside sunning on the beach. No more sleeping in the ice box room for Ernie Dog.  Along with this we have added an extensive retail section ranging from our infamous t-shirts and water coolers to dive masks, dive site maps and a whole plethora of diving nik- naks. Like sweets are to children and tank banger and reels are to divers….happy shopping.DMT's

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Thursday 25th February 2016BARACUDAS

People often ask why Koh Tao is so good for diving in the Gulf of Thailand. First of all Koh Panghan and Koh Samui have maybe 2 or 3 dive sites. The vast majority of centres travel to Koh Tao to dive. Divers who go to Koh Samui realise that after their 2 hour boat ride to dive around Koh Tao and then another 2 hour ride back again, it makes more sense just to come straight to Koh Tao where the diving is on our doorstep. Our limited depths and calm conditions make it perfect for training. From your first ever breath under water on a Try Dive in one of our shallow bays to exploring wrecks at 50 metres. We are lucky to have a wide range of sites suitable for beginners and the more experienced divers looking for macro life. Having dive sites located all around Koh Tao it is always possible to find a sheltered bay if the weather is windy or wavy.

Our house reef of Sairee is home to many Saddleback Clownfish, and the dive is like an underwater dot to dot to find the anemones they call home. The 'Nemos' here are much bigger than the ones we regularly see at Twins or Green Rock. Along with a wide variety of nudibranch and colourful reef fish is has everything a shallow site needs. A staff favourite is White Rock, this large spread out site is home to many blue spotted stingrays as well as a Jenkins Ray cleaning station just off the main site. We have seen Whalesharks and turtles there, huge Barracudas feeding at night and stalking their prey during the day. These sites of perfect for Open Water courses. Then we head slightly further away to Chumphon Pinnacle. This stunning location never fails to impress even the most experienced diver. Hughes schools of travelly, snapper and barracudas of all sizes. Another favourite spot of the the Whalshark with more sightings here than any other site around Koh Tao. This is a deeper dive site which allows you to complete the 30 metre dive of your Advanced course and even head off deeper to 40 metres for your Deep Specialty. You will also see our Technical divers here on sidemount or with multiple tanks hanging off them doing decompression dive training.

If scuba diving is not your thing but you still want to explore the ocean then we can leave the tanks behind and submerge below the surface on one single breath, being one with the ocean and surrendering to all which is around you and the silence of no bubbles. Freedivers are a rare breed who have the ability to retrain everything we thought we knew about the bodies abilities whilst underwater. This course will make you see your body and it's power in a whole new light, with relaxation and breathing techniques your journey underwater is on another level completely.

Once back on land and you have dried off, you will want to unwind watching the sun drip into the horizon, chilled music and cold drinks at the North end of Sairee and then getting busier and more of the party scene further towards the South end. Or if it's sport that your into most sporting events can been seen in a many of the sports bars. The island is full of some amazing restaurants. From cheap street stalls to beautifully located restaurants that will have you wanting more.

So what are you waiting for........

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Sunday 14th February 2016valentines auction

Last night saw our annual Valentines auction to raise money for Big Blue Conservation, the Noistar Animal Clinic and Sea Shepherd. It saw our desperate Instructors and Divemasters selling them-selves to the highest bidder just so they can have a social life away from Big Blue. This did back fire to a certain degree with both Liam and Erik being bought by Mini Ant, and Irish G being bought by Steve-o. The prize was that the winner had the Valentine for an hour to do whatever they wanted them to do. Steve-o is having Irish G try and not talk and stand still for one whole hour and try not to say the word sweetie or ears.  Mini is going to have his strapping young men do 100 press-ups then cover them in baby oil while dancing to Ginuwines “Pony” and then just stare at them till his hour is up. A strange buy last night was Rick who bought Boz, what he is planning on doing is anyone’s guess, maybe be his tank carrier or in charge of polishing his valves…who knows watch this space.

We also had a few guest appearances from other dive shops who wanted to muscle in on the act. Scuba Junction and Roctopus joined us in the money raising see scantily clad females offering body shots all for charity. Recently we have seen Andreas searching down the back of the couches and picking up spare coins whenever he saw them, at the time we just thought he was a cheapskate, but it all made sense last night when he went nuts and did body shots off just about everyone who lay down including Piglet and Panda, this is probably going to be the most action he will get all year so we won’t hold it against him this time. His was the biggest….. smile in the whole bar last night.

This whole night would not have been possible without our Eco Queen Rachel, who spent weeks organising the event and roping people into participating. The night was a great success and saw us raise a whopping 40,000 baht for the 3 charities. A massive thank you has to go for everyone who took part and were auctioned and humiliated by Simo on the microphone and also to the lucky people who bought their Valentines, please be gentle with them and give them back clean and in one piece once you have finished with them.

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Thursday 4th February 2016miss scuba uk

We were recently privileged to have Miss Scuba UK 2016 Sarah Winterbottom join us for her SSI Stress and Rescue course and some fun dives. She has been lucky enough to dive in various countries while being hopeful to win the title of Miss Scuba International. We have just finished a photo shoot with some of our better looking staff, unfortunately Jim and Steve-o were unavailable so we had to drag in Handsome Swedish Erik, Hot Aussie Steve, Tattooed Hunk Matt and the newest Blonde German Danny. Our resident photographer Andy was on call to take some stunning shots which will soon be in our new brochure. Thank you to Sarah and our wanna be models, we look forward to seeing the pictures soon.

We think Jim is having a slight mid-life crisis or at least after watching the photo-shoot he has regressed back to his pre-diving life when he was working in the porn industry... Oh yes, not many people know that our illustrious bigger than Steve-o leader used to be known as Hugh Hefner to his pals. Now just to be clear he was never in front of the camera or involved directly as a fluffer, it was just the advertising or marketing stuff (or so he tells us).
Where was I going with this? Oh yes, Jim has decided to make an Instructors / Divemaster Calender and he is trolling Facebook of all places to find the sexiest picture of us he can. Please do not get too excited as I can see it being along the lines of either The Full Monty or Dads Army rather than Magic Mike...

My job now is to ask his lovely wife if she has any hidden sexy photos that we can use, mwahaahhahaha! Maybe some when he had hair! (and I may be getting the sack now)

On a serious diving note which is why are all here at the end of the day, tomorrow sees the end of another SSI Instructor Exam with 4 new and sparkly candidates joining the flock. At the end of their exam and before they start teaching on their own they are shown the delights of recreational side-mount as well as spending a few weeks as interns with our full time instructors to learn the ropes and professionalism we expect at Big Blue. We are very proud that our standards exceed the required course standards set out by SSI and once they are off on their own they are certifying students who feel safe and comfortable in the water. Well Done guys the first round is on Mr Hefner.

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Saturday 30th January 2016january storm

We had a crazy few days when a tropical storm passed through the Gulf of Thailand last week. The waves were big, we had lots of rain and the ferries were cancelled from the main land. The tide was so high that it was all the way up in the restaurant. Then after 2 days it was all flat again and sunny as if nothing ever happened. Got to love this place. The diving was still good though despite the waves and rain.

We had rescue students doing an amazing job in some challenging conditions with waves and currents, once back on land they were physically and mentally exhausted but over a few we earned cold beers said that it was the funniest and hardest and most rewarding course they have ever done. Well done to all the rescue divers who finished in these conditions, not everywhere in the world is flat and easy when you dive. The ocean is strong and needs to be respected, but once you appreciate that it will also show you how spectacular it is and once under the waves the life aquatic is way better than on land. No fish shooting or bombing each other just nature at its finest.

Full Moon has been busy and all of our fabulous Instructors and Divemasters have been out every day, be sure to book your courses and accommodation online in advance (and please not the night before) to secure a spot. We start courses everyday but we do not have unlimited beds for sleeping in.... So book early to avoid disappointment. Remember as well, depending were you are in the world there may be a time difference and all of our staff need their beauty sleep, some of them a lot more than others, In fact some are constantly sleeping but are still just as ugly....we will respond to your requests as soon as we possibly can.

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Friday 22nd Januaryonebreathcover

We have been having some amazing diving conditions for this time of the year. Usually monsoon season means that the visibility drops and the water temperature goes down a few degrees, but not this year. This morning at Southwest Pinnacle we had over 30 metre visibility, the divers jumped in and could see all the way to the bottom. The water is lovely and flat which is perfect for everybody. When it's like this we are usually lucky enough to see Whalesharks so we all have our fingers and toes crossed for some big fish. Whalesharks seem to love the conditions over Full Moon and we get lots of sightings. So don’t bother the messy party in Koh Phangan and just stay and enjoy the diving and Koh Tao.

Our boat Big Blue is now back from its New Year paint and refurbishment which means the Tech boys can head out to their deep sites and wrecks and the free divers can go and play at depth, without the use of a tank and just holding their breath.

Speaking of free divers a very good friend of mine has recently published a book One Breath- about the crazy world of competitive freediving- a sport built on diving as deep as possible on a single breath—testing the limits of human ability in the most hostile environment on earth. The unique and eclectic breed of individuals who freedive at the highest level regularly dive hundreds of feet below the ocean’s surface, reaching such depths that their organs compress, light disappears, and one mistake could be lethal. Adam Skolnick has visited 45 countries and authored or co-authored over 25 Lonely Planet guidebooks as well as written for New York Times, Playboy, Outside, ESPN.com, BBC.com, Salon.com, Men’s Health, Wired, and Travel Leisure, among others. Big Blue Freediving teaches you how to dive safely up to 20m at Level 1 and all the way down to 40m at Level 3. Our Freediving staff have been doing this for 8 years and have national records for Brazil and Spain. If you want to do something different than just scuba diving this is a must. Contact out team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

 

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Friday 15th January 201625years

The New Year has come and with it came new sets of equipment, new TVs for our new classroom and new dorm rooms. Santa saw how good we were last year and has given us some stunning visibility for this time of year which has meant we have been able to go out on our full day trips to Sail Rock, which is the very best dive site we have in the Gulf of Thailand.

Big Blue Diving is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. 25 years ago a young Swedish boy called Michael came to Koh Tao and what he did has now changed our lives forever. That’s 25 years of certifying divers, 25 years of showing divers their first Whaleshark. 25 years of changing lives and seeing marriages and babies, 25 years of the Big Blue Staff coming and going and then coming back again for more. 25 years of Big Blue t-shirt designs that our now collector’s items for the guests who have been over the years. 25 years of boats including  Banzai, Phalap, Big Blue, Navakid, Aow Mong, Poponawa, Waverunner and Enzo. 25 years of thai beers being consumed in Deck Bar, Blue Bar and Higher Ground. 25 years of helping ginger instructors feel wanted. 25 years of riding to work on a scooter in bear feet in the sun passing coconut trees. 25 years of sunsets on Sairee. 25 years of the best dogs including Ugly, Yurie, BBD, Leo, Rocko, Schnitzel (RIP) Sausage, Moomoo, Panda, Piglet, Ernie. 25 years of being in the best job in the world and being surrounded by some of the best people you could ever dream of meeting (except some of the gingers)

I could go one but they would start to get a bit silly… to celebrate this huge birthday Robyn down at Drift has made some limited edition t shirts to celebrate this huge milestone. They will be on sale soon, so it’s time to book your holidays back to Koh Tao so you can get yourself one to add to your collection, and celebrate what already looks to be an awesome year.

Apart from the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman which just sucks!

 

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