17/18 Moo 1, Koh Tao Suratthani, 84360 Thailand         Info @ Big Blue Diving        +66 (0) 77 456 050

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For those wishing to learn how to dive, the SSI or PADI Open Water course is a great choice here at Big Blue. We’re often asked why the Open Water course takes so long to complete, so this blog will hopefully explain just how the course works, and why taking four days to complete it is the best way to become certified whilst not rushing through it too much – after all why hurry something that’ll give you memories that’ll last a lifetime!

 

learntodive

 

When researching which dive centre to dive with, you’ll often hear the expression ‘getting certified’. This means taking and passing a scuba diving course given by one of the 120 accredited scuba certification agencies such as PADI, SSI and NAUI, the most commonly seen here in Thailand. When you’ve become certified you are now able to fill your own tanks and go diving without a dive professional (of course you’ll need to show a certification card before they will fill a tank) or, alternatively, they can now go diving with any dive shop worldwide without further training.

The training for the Open Water license consists of four parts, spread over four days: 

  • Theory work
  • Written exams
  • Pool training
  • Four Open water dives

OWPOOL

So why do we need four days – it doesn’t seem like that’s a lot to do?

When learning to dive for the first time, our students need time to let all the new information from the theory-side of the course sink in. With the average attention span of students nowadays being an embarrassing 10 minutes maximum (according to educational research) the teacher will have to structure the class sessions in a way that ensures the student is kept engaged and also interested in all the cool new information being introduced. This means spreading the classroom sessions out, with a typical theory schedule looking something like this:

Day 1: 17.00 – 19.00

Just over an hour of videos, and a quick chat with the instructor.

 

Day 2: 08.30 – 17.00

A half hour of videos, and about an hour and a half of class time with the instructor followed by a break for lunch then the pool session.

 

Day 3: 08.30 – 17.00

 An hour and a half of classtime with the instructor, lunch break then two shallow dives in the afternoon.

 

Day 4: 06.30 – 11.30

The final two deep dives of the course, no theory today!

OW

 

This spacing of the theory is, in our opinion, the best possible way to teach our Open Water students precisely what they need without running the risk of them being distracted or losing interest. If it’s all done in one go even a student with the best intentions will struggle to stay stimulated during the theory work, and will certainly not be able to recall all that’s being taught. Also, by spacing the Open Water over four days it really helps with the camaraderie of the group, as learning together always quickly leads to firm friendships amongst the group, which in turn aids learning due to the positive atmosphere that pervades.

 

On the second day, usually after a little instruction from you dive-pro, you will head to the pool (or pool-like environment). You will practice the basic scuba skills you will need to complete your open water training, including such things as putting on your gear, taking off your mask, sharing air, and so on. This shallow water session (known as ‘confined skills’) tends to take about 3-4 hours, but in some situations we will take longer if we feel the students need it to really learn all that is necessary to get maximum enjoyment out of the first ocean dives the following day.

Next comes the four ocean dives. During these dives you will demonstrate the skills you learned in the pool portion of the course, whilst also learning how to control your movements underwater – known as ‘buoyancy control’.

OW2

 

So we can do all four in one day easily, right?

Wrong! There are many safety standards the instructors MUST stick to, dictated by the Gods of diving the World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) who tell every dive organization (PADI, SSI et al) precisely what needs to be done to become an Open Water diver. In regards to the ocean dives they say this:

“No more than three open water scuba dives may be conducted on a given day.”

And hereby is the reason for the fourth day! Personally, I think to do it in a shorter time period can be a little daunting, as to really get comfortable with everything takes time, and to rush through would serve no benefit to either student or instructor – our new divers often call their Open Water experience ‘one of the best times of their lives’, so why hurry?

Sign up for your SSI or PADI Open Water course here at Big Blue’s resort, or through our website at

www.bigbluediving.com

Courses starting every day of the year, at 5pm.

 

OWSS    PADI

 

 

 

As anyone who loves to dive knows, planning the next trip away is always very exciting, with so many options for world class diving now in easy reach reasonably cheaply. Pouring over old diving magazines and websites may well be heaven for the scuba addict, but what if you've got a non-diver (boo!) in tow who also needs something to do as you're having the time of your life underwater?

Hopefully this blog is exactly what you'll need in this situation, with my list of the best dive spots where non-divers can also have a whale of a time, just without whales!

 

The Galapagos                                                           

 

 

Very often found at the top of every divers bucket list, Galapagos is THE place to visit if your budget allows. The 'cradle of evolution' is not only a top dive destination, but also a great place to view wildlife in general. The Galapagos' various islands are quite different - while some have picture-perfect beaches and remote wildlife reserves, other are volacanic and rock covered.
Many plants and animals are endemic (native to the area), so you won’t see them anywhere else in the world and the opportunities for wildlife viewing are arguably unmatched anywhere in the world. Above water, it's a must to see the massive Galapagos tortoise which lives over 100 years and is of varying sizes and shapes, depending on which island you visit. You can also hike up the Sierra Negra volcano on Isabela Island or explore the underground lava tubes of Santa Cruz, formed when cooler, outer parts of lava flows hardened into thick rock walls, providing insulation to keep a flow going inside. Remember to bring your torch!
Although most divers dream of a liveaboard trip to the Galapagos, with non-divers in your party it's often not an option. However, there are plenty of shore or day-trip dives available as well. Divers and snorkelers should see turtles, the amazing marine iguana, hammerheads, rays, whale sharks, penguins or sea lions.

 

 

Egypt                                                                           

 

Booking a scuba diving vacation in Egypt is high on most divers hit-list, and if your non-diving partner loves history and culture then you’re both in for a treat with what Egypt can offer you! Stunning Egyptian cultural and historic sites (no need to mention them here I imagine) are within reach of many of Egypt’s scuba diving hot spots. Divers should in particular check out 'Big Brother' with its oceanic white-tip sharks, hammerhead sharks, silver-tip and even the very rare thresher shark on occasion. Another popular site is Daedalus (known for it's abundance of large fish and the dozens of hammerhead sharks that can be seen on a good day), and of course the SS Thistlegorm, which is often rated as one of the best wreck dives in the world. Its deepest point is sitting at approximately 37 metres, making the majority of the ship accessible to those holding a SSI/PADI Advanced Open Water certification!

 

                                                                                          

Belize                                                                           


Well known for its boat, shore and live-aboard diving opportunities along the Belize Barrier Reef and, of course the Blue Hole which can be seen from space! Divers can expect to see lots of sharks, turtles and reef fish no matter where they choose to dive; however, Belize also offers the more active family lots of options when it comes to activities like cave tubing, horseback riding, ziplining and rafting.
There are Mayan temples and rainforests to explore, and families can visit Placencia where it's an absolute paradise for manatee lovers, due to its protected lagoon where three rivers merge. It’s home to about 1,000 manatees, and the population is stable so it should be possible to see these bizarre creatures all year round. Ambergris Cay, Belize’s largest island, is also a great base for a vacation. There are lots of restaurants, snorkeling, windsurfing and kiteboarding, as well as access to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve where you can snorkel or dive with sharks and huge stingrays. For those who love the beach or relaxing on a hammock whilst waiting for the divers to return Belize is ideal, with some of the best beaches on Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Placencia, Hopkins and in southern Belize.

Oh, don't forget English is their first language too, so it's easy to plan all this when you get there!

 

 

Cairns, Australia                                                           


Unfortunately a lot harder to be understood as the locals speak an English dialect called 'Straylian', Cairns is a mecca for scuba diving due it's close vicinity to the phenomenal Great Barrier Reef. Day trips to the Outer Great Barrier Reef are a great choice for the diver or snorkeller who is short on time, and there are a huge variety of trips on offer that will keep everyone happy, diver or not!
Most day trips focus on the 'Inter Reef Gardens', heading off to places like Green Island, Michaelmas Cay, Fitzroy Island, and reefs in close proximity to these places. It's also worth checking for day trips on the faster boats, which make it possible to get out to the Outer Reefs in one day - the corals are much better here. For marine life, cross your fingers for one of the thirty species of whales, dolphins and porpoises that have been recorded in the Great Barrier Reef, including the dwarf minke whale, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and the humpback whale.
Back on dry land, The Cairns Botanic Gardens is worth a view, and there's also the opportunity for white water rafting, bungee jumping and my personal favourite the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway with it's incredible views, stunning colours and terrifying heights - pay the extra for the glass-botttomed 'Diamond Car' for your chance to watch the wildlife frolicking in the tree tops.

 

                                                                                         

                                                                                                               

Koh Tao, Thailand


Biased? Never!
An easy ferry ride from our bigger brother Koh samui, Koh Tao really is a great place to spend some time either above or below the surface, with a lot to do for all different types of visitor. With over 20 dive sites within a one hour radius of the island it's a piece of cake to get a couple of dives at our best sites and be back and finished by 11am, leaving the rest of the day free for some family time and island exploring. With some incredible viewpoints, mouth-watering cooking classes,, trapeze lessons, climbing spots, Muay Thai training, parties every night and beautiful snorkelling on fantastic beaches during the day...well it's certainly somewhere where even the laziest of souls can keep entertained. More information on some of the fabulous dive sites can be found right here on last weeks blog!

 

So, as you can see even if your group may not all be diving there are plenty of excellent options around the world where everyone can be kept happy whilst the divers can try to convince the others to take the plunge and finally take that Open Water license - did I mention that Koh Tao is the cheapest place in the world to do this?

Bon Voyage, and keep on diving!

 

 

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