October (25)

T-shirt giveaway
t-shirt-giveaway-andyJust a quick post today to get you involved in our latest give-away. It's really really easy- all you have to do is take a photo of yourself or your friend wearing a Big Blue t-shirt somewhere exotic, exciting or unusual in the world, and post it onto our facebook page. The ten best photos will win their owner a free t-shirt from our new range. The more inventive, the better; we've already given two away and the bar has been set high- ex Big Blue instructor Sonia was snapped wearing what looks like a witches hat surrounded by police at this years Oktoberfest in Munich, and divemaster Andy sent us a photo of himself posing with legendary All Black scrum half Justin Marshall, who had autographed it for the Big Blue boss Jim. So no pressure, but the next eight photos need to top that! If you manage to do a base jump whilst riding a unicycle and wearing one of our t-shirts, we may even throw in a keyring.. no expense spared! 

10 things you didn't know about the blue-spotted stingray
stingray1- The latin name is Neotrygon kuhlii. Utterly useless to your everyday life but it'll make you sound clever.
2- It is preyed on by the killer whale and hammer head shark.
3- Their bright colouration serves as a warning for its venomous spines.
4- Mothers give birth to up to seven pups per litter; these pups range from 6 inches (150 mm) to 13 inches (330 mm) long at birth.
5- The venom in its barb contains serotonin, 5' nucleotidase, and phosphodiesterase, which sounds very fancy.
6- They are very popular to buy for display in household aquariums, but people don't realise how big they can grow, until they outgrow the tank. So leave it in it's natural habitat people!
7- They feed on shrimp, small bony fish, mollusks, crabs and other worms... not exactly gourmet food.
8- They kill their prey by pinning them to the bottom of the seafloor with their fins. 
9- They don't have any teeth, and instead have food-crushing plates on the sides of their mouth.
10- We get them on every dive site on Koh Tao, so if you want to see one, come to the Gulf of Thailand and come diving with Big Blue!

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Halloween!
halloweenIs it really Halloween again? oh what to do.. You could stay indoors and refuse to answer the door to anyone, or embrace trick or treaters with open arms and poisoned sweets. Or you could get completely into the spirit of things and spend (in some cases) minutes, days or even weeks agonising over a suitable constume to wear at the bar. After all, it's not every day you can be a roller disco murder victim.
Halloween is one of the biggest nights of the year on Koh Tao, and considering we don't have any proper novelty shops, people have to be really inventive with their costumes. It all makes for a great night out, followed by a confusing morning wondering why you're wearing a wig and an eye patch that you're pretty sure you didn't have on when you went out. This year's party is going to be especially big. We have a celebratory send off organised for our new SSI instructors Sofia and Wolfgang, and we have a divemaster challenge for our newly qualified DMTs. All on the same night, at the same bar.. it's going to be messy! We expect most of our dive instructors, divemasters and DMTs to get dressed up, but it's always brilliant when our customers also get into the swing of things and come up with their own creations. How often can you say you've been stood in the bar, and looked over to see Batman & Robin having a chinwag with spongebob squarepants?
So if you're on Koh Tao, come down and have a look, or better still get involved and wow us with your costume, just please don't be offended if you get complimented on your outfit and then have to point out "but i'm not wearing one".. Now if you'll excuse me I have some shopping to do, I need to buy an orthopedic shoe, a monocle, and a one-piece tracksuit with yellow piping.. nothing to do with halloween, I just need a new look.

Parrotfish explorers
parrotfish300x169Researchers in Australia have been busy mapping the movements of parrotfish in order to find more about the size of their territory, and determine how far they wander throughout their lives. It turns out that they expand their range rapidly as juveniles, but this stops when they mature into adults. Researchers focussed on three species of parrotfish, and tracked 75 individual fish during the study. Generally, the diet of a species influences how rapidly its home range has to increase with its body size so that it can find enough food to meet metabolic demands. Yet with parrotfish the researchers found no evidence of a change in diet affecting the way their home range relates to their body size. So effectively, diet doesn't seem to be the driving force in them exploring new territory. The reason for the early wandering seems to stem from the need to find as much food as possible so that they grow quickly, which in turn reduces the amount of predators able to eat them- similar to reptiles.
The reason their territory stops expanding as adults is thought to be because they engage in complex social relations, and it makes sense to keep a potential mate as close as possible, something that would be much harder to achieve with a huge territory. Researchers conclude that "The fact that a fish's social environment can have such a dramatic affect on their home range size opens up endless possibilities for new research." Fascinating stuff, but clearly still a lot more research needs to be undertaken.

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The end is nigh!
SSI-instructor-courseWant to know what it takes to become a dive professional? Ask Sofia and Wolfgang. For the last two weeks they've been put through the mill by Big Blue SSI instructor trainer Simon Garrity, so that in two days time they will be fully prepared for their instructor exams. If they are successful, which they will be, they'll be qualified to teach people how to dive and certify them as open water divers, teach advanced adventurer, rescue and speciality courses, and take people out on try dives. Both are already dive professionals and have been working as SSI divemasters, but they decided to take their training one step further so that they can experience how satisfying it can be to train people to become competent fun divers.
But it doesn't end in two days, oh no. They'll be able to celebrate once qualified and relax for a few days, but then it's back to work for more training.
They have both wisely decided to undertake an internship programme with Big Blue- teaching a diving course is one thing, but teaching one with high regard to professional standards, whilst ensuring students' safety at all times is Big Blue's number one priority. Sofia and Wolfgang will shadow a Big Blue instructor and learn the ins and outs of each diving course. When and only when their instructor mentor feels they are 100% ready to teach a course to our standards, then they will be signed off and set free to teach on their own. Instructor training is challenging, but also good fun; i've yet to meet anyone that decided to come to Koh Tao, change their career, become a diving instructor and then decide that it wasn't a good move. In fact everyone that has done it will tell you it was the best decision they ever made. So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with Simon and look forward to going to work for the first time in your life! Contact Simon This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blink and you'll miss it
Anyone that's lived on Koh Tao for a while will tell you that time just seems to stand still. Hot sunny day after hot sunny day, going diving in the daytime, going out for dinner and a few drinks in the evening, you soon forget what day it is, and don't really care. But then you blink and suddenly three months have gone by.. how did that happen!? Well on a month by month basis, the Island seems the same infrastructure-wise, but then you suddenly notice that a new massage parlour has opened up in Mae Hadd, or a new restaurant is not only open for business in Sairee, but doing a roaring trade. I must have missed the memo. Big Blue is about to open up a new retail shop, and a full on, proper hospital is being built- we must have done something right in the eyes of the Thai Government.
A stones throw away, an airport is currently being built on Koh Phangan... hurrah! When completed sometime in 2014, it will make it even easier to get to Koh Tao from Bangkok. Koh Phangan is only a one hour ferry ride away from Koh Tao, so that's good for us long-term residents, but even better news for holiday makers. All we're missing now is a branston pickle factory and a 10-screen cinema!

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Sairee beach never had it so good!
beach-cleanupYesterday saw another monthly beach and underwater clean up with an even bigger turnout than last month- 15kg of rubbish was cleared from the beach alone! Organised by Big Blue Conservation's own Lizzie (I've just been on holiday diving in the Similan's and all Big Blue staff hate me for it) May, people clearly care a lot about preserving the dive sites that many of them have only just been introduced to. This is great news. Generally people that have been diving for a while love being underwater, and want to do their bit to keep dive sites pristine, no matter where they go on their fun diving holiday. But to have such a great turnout of people that have just completed their open water or advanced courses with us is really encouraging. It makes us here at Big Blue really proud that we've taught a good course and instilled in our customers the importance of marine conservation, to the point where we're confident that customers will take this knowledge away with them and pass it on wherever they go. So pat yourselves on the back people, you've done us, and yourselves proud. Don't let anyone tell you that you're just underwater bin men and women.. you're turtle preservation units and no mistake. If you're interested in finding out how you can help keep the underwater world in good condition, and would like to participate in future clean ups, contact Lizzie May This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Monsoon!
So, it's that time of year again, monsoon season. We haven't really had much of a monsoon on Koh Tao in the last three years, and who knows if we'll have a proper one this year. Regardless, the intructors and divemasters all over the Island are particularly thankful for a shop on the ladyboy road in Sairee (yes, it's really called that), that is selling knock-off, i mean genuine North Face jackets that will keep us all warm and dry over the next 3-4 weeks. Now I feel I need to make one thing clear. If you live in Europe or North America, or anywhere that is used to experiencing normal seasonal weather, and the temperature of the ocean is 16 degrees centigrade in the summer and zero in the winter, then you won't really see what the fuss is about. The Gulf of Thailand will be around 27-28 degrees centigrade, and you'll still feel like you're getting into a tepid bath. It's only people that live here, who have acclimatised that will be shivering at the end of their dive, and it'll be your job to tell them to take that cup of concrete and harden up! Yes, it's going to rain a lot, and it will be windy, so maybe a good idea to have a towel or something for between dives, but you're used to rain and wind back home anyway, and one does tend to get wet when one goes diving! 
Because of the weather we may be limited to the dive sites we can go to, and the visibility won't be as good as it normally is here. But if you really want to learn how to dive, these are actually good conditions to get you used to what diving might be like in the Atlantic ocean off the East coast of the US, the West coast of Canada or anywhere in the UK- minus the currents. Doing your open water or advanced course during monsson will quite simply make you into a very competent good diver. Anyway, if last year is anything to go by, we will have lots of instructors as busy as ever, moaning that they don't have the time to spend the entire month of November spending all their wages in the bar!

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Serious fun
dmt-specs300x225It's been a busy week for the boys at Big Blue Tech. Ian and James have been teaching our divemaster trainees (DMTs) their SSI deep, wreck, and nitrox specialities, and James is now teaching the TDI advanced wreck course with intern Blake. Great fun to teach, and be taught, the SSI specialities are really useful for recreational divers, and essential for anyone training to beccome a dive professional.. just like our DMTs! Being certified to dive to 40 metres will leave nowhere off-limits to you as a recreational diver. There are't many things more annoying to a fun diver than being told there's a lion fish that lives at 35m on a dive site, but you're unable to go because you are an advanced diver, certified to dive to 30m. The deep speciality provides you with knowledge and experience on diving deeper and staying safe, and goes into more detail on proper ascent practices.
Nitrox is a breathing gas that has a higher percentage of air compared with conventional air in a scuba tank. This also means that you can stay deeper for longer than on normal air, but you need to be trained how to use it safely. The wreck speciality is useful because wrecks are quite simply very cool.. do you need anything more than that!?
The SSI wreck speciality will teach you how to dive safely around a ship wreck and get the most out of any wreck dive. There's nothing like descending down the line and suddenly out of nowhere the HTMS Sattakut appears in front of you, covered in marine life, dying to be photographed!
 
advanced-wreckIf you get the bug for wreck diving, then technical diving may be the next step for you. As hinted in the name of the course, it gives you advanced techniques for navigating around and inside wrecks, and teaches you how do deal with issues you may encounter such as zero visibility, entanglement and entrapment. Pretty serious stuff. You would need to have done some prior technical dive training, but we can provide that for you too!- Intro to tech, advanced nitrox, and decompression procedures. Of all the TDI courses though, advanced wreck is the most fun. Blake, our current intern is really testing himself, but also having a lot of fun along the way. At the end of the course he'll know all the dangers involved with diving wrecks, know how to avoid or minimise them, but crutually, also know how to deal with them. For more information about recreational specialities, contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information on technical dive training, including advanced wreck, contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Thailand-eshark-project300x188Shark monitoring project in Thailand
Shark Guardian is asking for help from all Thailand-based dive centres to get their staff and customers involved with a shark surveying roject. From November 2013 until 30th Aptil 2014, they are asking that people undertake the following easy steps:

Step 1: Dive, snorkel and explore the reefs of Thailand
Step 2: Report your shark observations to the eShark database, even if no sharks were observed!
Step 3: If possible, report all your past Thailand dive logs into the eShark database including your shark observations
PLEASE NOTE: No shark sightings is also very important to record!

The information will then be collated and used to raise awareness of declining shark populations in Thailand, to the general public, Thai government and the Department of Marine Coastal Resources (DMCR) of Thailand. Additionally, to help improve protected marine parks with the aim of creating shark sanctuaries. The identification of shark species and areas is also an important step in determining the best method for recovery and protection.
So it would be great if all dive resorts in Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan could get involved and make it easy for their fun divers to record what they do or don't see. For more information have a look at the Thailand eshark project's website here.

 

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Good internet karma
trip-advisorLiving in the modern world can be a pretty complicated affair and travel is no different- so much choice, with reliable information being hard to come by. Whether you're planning on going away for a holiday or are travelling to multiple destinations with all your worldly goods in your backpack, it's really handy to be able to consult the internet about where to go and what to do. Although there are numerous travel review websites, people seem to consult Trip adviser way more than any other. Trip advisor can give you a really good feel for whether you think you might have a fantastic or terrible time at a restaurant, hotel, or (especially for Koh Tao) a dive resort. Here at Big Blue we are very proud of our reputation on trip adviser and more people that come to dive with us tell us that they did so because they read about us on there. We also get a lot of people coming here through word of mouth. Khao San road in Bangkok is a melting pot of travellers, and large groups of strangers getting together over a few beers seem to pass on their recommendations of having dived with us all the time.
There's also another way of finding out about us before you get here, it's a website called scubatribe and we're getting great reviews on there too. Similar to trip advisor, scubatribe contact customers and invite them to review their experience of a dive resort. It then ranks them in terms of terrible, average, good, or amazing. We're in the amazing section of course!

scubatribeThe reason for our good reputation is quite simple. We hire good people with a strong work ethic that not only care about teaching a safe and thorough diving course, but who also care that you're enjoying your time with us. Too many dive resorts treat you as a commodity and want to get you in and out ready for the next group, or cut corners in ways you wouldn't always be aware of to try and claw back money. We really like diving and want you to like it to, and teaching you properly or making sure you get the best fun diving possible is central to that. Time and time again we get reviews saying how our instructors and divemasters were happy to sit with their students and fun divers after a days diving, simply because they enjoyed teaching them and showing them cool stuff underwater. It clearly counts for a lot.
So once you've been to Big Blue and had a whale of a time, we would be really grateful if you could spend a few minutes writing a review on trip advisor or scuba tribe, or tell anyone and everyone wherever you are about us once you've left, or by going on facebook, liking us, and writing a short review about us in places.. whatever that is. Doing all four would make you a bit of a stalker, but we'd still love you- and we didn't even mention following us on twitter or adding us to google .... oops.

Having said all that, it's still really nice when we receive old fashioned emails from customers, thanking us for the great time they had. Such as this one from Maggie:

"Hi Wibeke,
I just want to say thanks to you and to the rest of the Big Blue team (especially instructors big Ant and Tim and DMT Molly) for an amazing time in Koh Tao. Everyone was incredibly friendly and welcomed me into the Big Blue community, starting with your emails before I had even arrived. The Open Water course itself was well organised and the small class size created an effective learning environment. I loved every second of my stay with you guys and I will DEFINITELY come back to Big Blue soon to dive again.
Cheers!
Maggie"

Thanks Maggie, we're glad you had a great time and hope to see you again soon!

Triggerfish facts
The nemesis of many a diver, triggerfish have a reputation for being a little grumpy on Koh Tao, especially when they are nesting. But their barck is worse than their bit. Many a divemaster trainee has found themselves being "attacked by one" and gotten in a bit of a flutter, when in reality they are just defending their territory and will only headbutt your fins.

1- Unusually, they have the ability to learn from previous experiences.
2- The latin name for the Titan triggerfish is Balistoides viridescens.
3- When mating, they engage in polygyny- males will mate with more than one female, or as many that enters their nesting territory.
4- They eat slow-moving, bottom dwelling crustaceans, mollusks, sea urchins and other echinoderms, generally creatures with protective shells and spines.
5- Spawning is timed around the lunar cycle, with eggs being formed 2-6 days before a full moon, and 3-5 days before a new moon.
6- Titan triggerfish are ciguatoxic, meaning their flesh is contaminated with toxins and should not be eaten!
7- Females will blow water onto their eggs to oxygenate them- bet you can't do that!
8- Females guard their eggs after spawning and males swim above guarding the females! Green rock!
9- They have a field of vision extending up towards the surface.
10- They have a trigger dorsal fin that becomes erect when they feel threatened- hence the name!

 

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Shop staff Wednesday!
Yesterday you met the best boat captains in all of Thailand, and now you're obviously wondering "how can you possibly top that?" Well, wonder no more.. today it's the Big Blue shop girls' five minutes of infamy!

Big Blue 1 office- JessThe epicentre of Big Blue operations, this is where the divemasters and shop girls live. Headed up by Vera Duckworth sound-alike and fluent Thai speaker Jess, we also have A1 and A2, Thai staff with names so complicated we had to reduce them to map co-ordinates. Armed With big smiles (and tasers), the girls will help you settle your bill, make sure your room is ready, book your Lomprayah ferry ticket, sell you dry bags and dive accessories, and handle accommodation for online bookings.
Make no mistake, this is Jess's domain; many a time a stray instructor has wandered in off the street, asking how many advanced adventurer students they have when it's clearly written on the board. If they're still undeterred by the divemaster scolding technique (patent pending), Jess will intervene and apply her tried and tested (and fully patented) Bet Lynch thousand-yard stare, which is enough to make them run straight into the sea. Jess loves technology, and you'll never see her far from her pink ipad, updating her website about cats in bomber jackets. She once appeared on mastermind, with her specialist subject being "Frocks of Hilda Ogden" (big coronation street fan this one). She got through to the second round but was disqualified for drinking on set and offering Magnus Magnusson outside for an arm wrestle- which she won.
A1's main responsibilities include hiding her dog underneath the counter, and beating A2 at farmville. A2's main responsibilities include hiding behind the rash vests in the corner, completely undeterred by her legs being visible, beating A1 at farmville, and shouting "divemaster!!!" at 600 decibells whenever the phone rings.

Big Blue 2- GuunAltogether a more civilised area to call your workplace, we have lots of accommodation here for our diving guests, and it's where you will be taught open water academics and go into the pool to learn all the skills you need to know to be able to dive safely. The reception is manned by two lovely Thai ladies without map co-ordinates for names; Guun and Nam. They will check you in and ensure your room is ready for you, let you pay for your course in cash, and generally help out as much as they can. Their English is very good, well, better than Jess's, and they must have the patience of a saint to have to deal with all those instructors cluttering up the place.  
As far as we know, Guun and Nam have yet to discover farmville, so please don't mention it to them when you check in. They do however have an obsession with Thai soap operas on youtube. If you've never seen one they will change your life in ways you can't currently comprehend. To the point where you'll think sorcery is an everyday part of Thai life, in between domestic neighbourly disputes over garden furniture and teenage children.

So when you come here, say hi to the shop girls and give them a big smile. They do all the work and the instructors take all the credit!

Exciting dive school opportunity
A new, high end dive school is looking for a number of enthusiastic, motivated, and experienced PADI IDC Staff Instructors, MSDT’s, Specialty Instructors, and Dive Masters to form a new team for a PADI 5 star Dive Center located on a luxury resort in Shark Bay, which will be opening in December of this year. This is an ideal opportunity for long-term and short-term positions at a high-end facility to help further your dive career!
The ability to speak in English plus German, Spanish, French, or Chinese would be an asset. Experience of working with affluent customers, and having 100 certifications or 500 dives required. Must have experience with dive sites around Koh Tao, full set own equipment, proof of valid dive insurance, and basic knowledge of iPad technology. Great incentives for both full and part time positions being offered- please send your complete CV including, photograph, and cover letter detailing additional professional/background experience and education to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Big Blue behind the scenes
Here's a few of the Big Blue staff that work behind the scenes to ensure you have a fantastic time whilst you're with us. You may not even see some of them during your stay here, but without them things would very quickly grind to a halt. So let’s start with some of our boat captains.

big-blue-boatsP'Dum, Captain of Big Blue- The smallest vessel in our fleet captained by the biggest man.. figure that one out. P'Dum (pronouned Dam) has been piloting vessels for Big Blue since he was 17 years old, and we think he may be somewhere between 35 and 85 years old now.. very hard to tell. In that time, he's probably only said about 12 words to anyone other than other captains over the radio and the tech boys, who are believed to have incriminating files on him locked away in a safe somewhere. P'Dum is a keen diver and will go off as often as he can, sporting his stylish skin-tight rash guard to marvel in the underwater world and get a bit of exercise to keep the back fat away. He's also the captain with the least comfy chair- lets call it a plank of wood because that's what it is! He'll sit cross-legged quite happy, whether it's all day on an exploration trip to Ang Thong marine park or just a short trip over to the HTMS Sattakut with the freedivers.

P'Choy, Captain of Waverunner- Very little is known about this man apart from the fact that he looks like a pirate. But as far as we can tell he's never been to Somalia so big sighs of relief all round! Sporting his bandana and "I love Thailand" singlet, he'll chat to you all day long. Unfortunately for you it will only be in Thai! He probably has the most challenging job out of all our captains as Waverunner is not what you would call a small boat. It takes some skill to moor it up on a dive site without any wing mirrors. Personally I think he speaks perfect English but just enjoys baffling people as a hobby!

P'Piak, Captain of Banzai- You can't miss this one. Though he isn't, nor never has been a pirate, he does only have one leg. Like P'Dum he also likes to go diving, but in his own unique way. With a tank under his arm and one fin on, you'll probably get quite a shock if you see him underwater. He only tends to go when there's a whaleshark about nowadays. For the rest of the time you'll find him at the back of the boat, gently encouraging you to take your fins off and get up the ladder. Sometimes smiley, sometimes grumpy, definitely a unique character.
captain-nittipongNittiPong, Captain of Ao Muang- As soon as you climb aboard Ao Muang, you'll recognise him instantly as, apart from being the person driving the thing, he'll be the smiliest person on board. He's only 26 years old, which shows how smart he is to become a captain at such a young age. In Thai society, boat captains are very well respected, in which case you'd expected there to be a few heirs and graces when in their company. Not Nittpong though, he's a dude, chatty, friendly, helpful and very capable. I think we struck gold with that one. If you get the chance, ask him how he came to spend a few days in the UK. I'll leave it at that! We've been trying to pursuade him to let one of our instructors teach him how to dive, but considering he spends most of his time on the water, he has absolutely no interest in going beneath it! The only captain that might let you sit in his cabin and move the steering wheel as if you know what you're doing, he's quite simply a legend- except for this taste in music. If you've ever seen or heard Thai Kareoke you'll know exactly what I mean by that. If you have knowledge of how to disable stero systems on boats, please contact us urgently!

Captain of Porponawa- I think he used to be a spy as no-one seems to know his real name! A fun captain for the fun diver boat. This man single handedly brought stay-press action slacks back into fashion, and is far too relaxed to be driving the fastest dive boat probably the world has ever seen. He navigates the Gulf of Thailand far and wide, as Porponawa is the only boat on Koh Tao that is fast enough to allow us to run full day trips to Chumphon Marine park. Be warned though, if you need to borrow a cigarette lighter, don't ask him- he'll happily give you one then laugh his head off as you get a mild electric shock.. charming!

Quick tips on how to get the most out of your time on Koh Tao
1- When travelling down from Bangkok or anywhere else, relax! Trains and buses are often late and there's nothing you can do about it. Blowing your top contradicts the very reason you went on holiday in the first place!
2- English is widely spoken on Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, and the travel companies will make things easy for you, so don't panic that you haven't become fluent in Thai in the last few days before your holiday!
3- Travel light. Do you really need the hair dryer, curling tongs and 8 pairs of tights for a tropical country, especially as you are a man!?
4- In busy season it's highly recommended that you book ahead, but in low season you'll have no problems finding accommodation here.
5- Eat the local food! Why did you come to Thailand to eat McDonalds? Koh Tao has incredible local food everywhere, and don't be afraid to try the street food, it's amazing.
6- Ice is made in factories from filtered water, but don't drink tap water.. ever.
7- Banana pancakes and vodka redbull buckets are not really part of a balanced diet. The latter also really does not go well with diving.
8- Laughing gas baloons are actually illegal here, and even if that doesn't stop you, it's a really really really bad idea to do it after diving.
9- Be respectful of Thai culture. You're a visitor remember, so please take off your shoes in shops, and cover up when asked to. Speedos are not considered acceptable in Europe, so why Asia!?
10- Don't bother renting a motorbike. Even taking pictures of it before renting is no guarantee that they won't try and charge you silly money for damage you didn't do, and there's nothing like a good bike crash to completely ruin your holiday. Everything is walkable, and if you do want to explore other parts of the Island, take a taxi or hire a kayak.
11- Go diving! Why else are you here!? Learning to dive is amazingly satisfying and fun. If you don't have the time, do a try-dive. If you're already qualified, you can see the best dive sites we have such as Chumphon pinnacle and sail rock.

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Great diving deals for British forces personell and dependents
british-army-300x169Here's an amazing deal for you, If you are currently in the British armed forces, have previously served, or you are a dependent of someone currently serving, then Big Blue are offering a 10% discount on our courses and fun diving! Even better than that, if you are arranging a group trip for military personell and their families to come diving with us, send us an email with your requirements and we'll offer an even greater discount to the person organising it.
Maybe you are about to leave the armed forces and get back into civvy street, but haven't yet decided on what you want to do once you've left. We can help you to start a new career as a dive professional. We offer PADI, SSI and BSAC divemaster courses, and can train you all the way to become a SSI and BSAC diving instructor. We can offer discounts on this too! One of our instructors recently left the RAF after years of service, and is now happily working as a dive instructor. That could be you, waking up to sea views, having a 5 minute commute to work, and having tropical coral reefs as your new office. Lets face it, after years of having your meals cooked and washing done, why change the habit of a lifetime? On Koh Tao it's no different, just without being shouted at! You eat out all the time as it's so cheap, and laundry costs 40 Thai Baht per kilo! You won't need to polish your shoes either, as no one here would notice your shiny flip flops. For more information on any of the above, contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dive site Mooring line installations
buoy-linesOver the last few weeks a number of dive sites on Koh Tao have had new mooring lines installed. Organised by the Save Koh Tao Marine Branch in conjunction with the Thai Government, these lines are attached to concrete blocks on adjacent sand instead of being tied directly to rocks on the dive site. This has a number of benefits for preserving these beautiful diving spots; When boats are tied up and under strain from currents, they won't impact on any marine life that has attached itself to rocks where the rope is tied through abrasive moevement of the rope. Additionally, divers that descend from the surface down towards the dive site will not be able to accidentally kick any anemone or coral when they get to the bottom. This has previously been an issue when people undertake try dives or on dives one and two of their open water course, where they are still getting to grips with buoyancy control.
Sites were the concrete blocks are been deployed so far include Twins, Buyoancy world, No Name, Ao Leuk, and the wreck (HTMS Sattakut). Although there has been initial confusion from divers descending down some of these lines as to where the dive site is, they are just teething problems. It's great news for Koh Tao and will really help tp keep these pristine dive sites in healthy condition, so that divers can experience the incredible marine life that the Gulf of Thailand has to offer, now and in the future.

 

 

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Out with the old, in with the slightly older
Good news and bad news today. The good news is that full time divemaster Darren is leaving us, the bad news is that Nick has been employed to replace him. I think that's how it works.

darren-milsonDarren has been with Big Blue for almost two years, and in that time no other human being in history has had to endure as many PC plod jokes as he has. He used to be a police woman you see. That, or he was once an extra on the bill. He came to Big Blue to do his divemaster training and fully intended on going home, but like 99.99999% of all humans that come to Koh Tao, he fell in love with the place and we couldn't get rid of him. He's been a valuable asset in that time, keeping the boats running, showing fun divers the best marine life in the Gulf of Thailand, ensuring that all boats have the right amount of tanks, regulators, masks, weights etc, and generally babysitting dive instructors on a daily basis! nick-tringham-225x300He's moving on to start a new life in New Zealand. He was offered a job as a boner, but didn't take it as it required previous boning experience.. chicken and fish of course.
Always smiling and making time to chat to anyone, he will be sorely missed. We wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life as long as he promises to keep in touch and send care packages of chocolate every week.
Nick- the new Darren, is an ex banker who, legend has it once spent £4,000 on a couch.. ouch.. In spite of his preference for wearing pin-striped suites and taste for Moet Champagne, he managed an effortless transition from the high-flying life of a professional gambler to become an SSI dive professional. It's certainly paid off as we don't just employ anyone you know! He's been working as a divemaster for a while, and the competition for the job was pretty fierce, but he particularly impressed us with his knowledge, professional approach and enthusiasm for diving. 
Congratulations Nick and welcome to the team. Now, get that compressor fixed and order the lunch for the full day trip, double time man step to it!

Why is the Gulf of Thailand so renowned for diving?
gulf-of-thailandJust to make Darren even more regretful of leaving us, it's a great time to ask exactly why it is that Koh Tao is such a great place to go scuba diving. The amazing diving that we get here is partly because of our proximity to the equator, which enables warm sea temperatures, but also because of the nature of the Gulf of Thailand itself. Bordered by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, it extends roughly from the Bay of Bangkok to an imaginary line running from the bottom tip of Vietnam to the Malaysian city of Kota Bharu, covering a total area of 320,000 square kilometres.
The Gulf is pretty shallow, with a mean depth of 45 metres- perfect for recreational scuba diving. The maximum depth is 80 metres- perfect for technical diving! Because of the shallow depth, water exchange is relatively slow. The Gulf formed as the last ice age receded, which raised sea levels. This allowed coral reefs to form, building upwards as the sea level gradually rose. Because of the shallow depths of the Gulf and warm temperatures of the ocean, coral reefs exist in abundance, especially in the waters around Koh Tao, but also to a lesser degree Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Coral reefs harbour 90% of all marine life in the oceans, so diving in koh Tao will not dissapoint. The bays around the Island are perfect for learning to dive- shallow and sandy but still with loads of marine life. For qualified fun divers the diving is even better; dives sites like Chumphon pinnacle are bursting with coral, which bring in all kinds of different species of schooling fish such as scad and fusiliers. Where there are shoals of fish, you'll also find predators, queenfish, trevally, barracuda.. amazing, but then add whalesharks into the mix and you'll never tire of diving here.

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