Big Blue Diving - Koh Tao - Thailand - News
Tuesday, 20 November 2018 14:46

Divemaster Training on Koh Tao

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Koh Tao is a very popular choice for those wishing to undertake their Divemaster training or ‘DMT’, and with over 90 dive centers to choose from finding the one most suitable for you has never been harder, and that's not even thinking about the dive centers on our neigboring islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan!
 
Here we will look at my Top 10 reasons why there’s no one better than Big Blue if you want to do your Divemaster training here in SE Asia:
 
1.    Take as long as you like – The DMT can be done in just 4 weeks if you’re in a hurry, but when time isn’t an issue then it’s no problem to spend as long as you like getting to know the dive sites before getting signed off as one of our new Divemasters – after all, with over 25 sites to learn why hurry when you can dive as much as you like during your training!
2.    Large, comfortable boats made for divers – With two large diving boats (rather than the usual small ex-fishing boats favoured by most of our rivals) you can really enjoy the travel time before and between dives with over 90% of the boat covered – essential in the heat (and rains) of Thailand. Also their size and weight makes them a lot more stable in rough seas – take note those of you who get seasick…
3.    More dive sites to learn – With no restrictions on where we can send our boats and regular trips to Sail Rock and Samran Pinnacle when conditions allow us, you’ll get more dive sites than those diving at the smaller dive centres – the bonus of diving at a well-established dive centre with 27 years of experience in these waters.
4.    Separate boats for the certified divers – In my opinion absolutely THE most important factor to consider when committing to at least a month of diving around Koh Tao is whether you’ll have to go to the same beginner dive sites every day, after all Koh Tao has a lot more first time divers than those already certified. If we had just one boat it would mean precisely that, and we do feel sorry for those out there missing out on so many excellent but challenging dive sites around the island. What’s that, Big Blue have three boats and can go wherever we want, regardless of how unsuitable it is for new divers? Where do I sign up!
5.    Make yourself very employable on Koh Tao – directly linked to the previous reason, if you’re planning to look for Divemaster work after your training has finished then do you want to know just a handful of dive sites, or do you want to know them all? Our fresh new DMs generally know more of underwater Koh Tao than 90% of the other DMs on the island that have trained elsewhere!
6.    Learn from the best – Divemasters don’t often stay in the job for too long, as the pull of earning lots as an instructor usually kicks in after a few months of long hours and little pay. At Big Blue however we have a team of DMs with thousands of Koh Tao dives between them (DM Steph alone has over 3000) so when you want to know what that obscure nudibranch is, what to expect when exploring off-site or just how to organize a boat as efficiently as possible then experience wins out every time.
7.    Beachfront location = great atmosphere – With limited space on the beaches, not all of the dive centres on Koh Tao are blessed with what we’re enjoying every single day – sunset facing beachfront classrooms, dorms, bar, restaurant, coffee shop and training pool. We defy anyone to not instantly relax when they see what we’re so lucky to have available to us, and of course the atmosphere around the resort reflects this. Come join us one evening for a sunset drink and see for yourself, you may never leave!
8.    Diving 365 – High season? Diving. Monsoon season? Diving. Christmas Day? Diving. Martin Luther King Day? You get the idea! As one of Koh Tao’s only dive centres that are diving every single day of the year, rain or shine, you can be sure that if you want to really get as many dives as possible during your DMT experience then Big Blue is the place for you.
9.    Fill the tanks on the boat – Now this is one that a lot of potential DMTs don’t think about when shopping around for the dive centre most suitable for them, but it’s something that can really suck when diving every day – moving full and empty tanks to and from the dive boats. Tanks are heavy, so inevitably who gets the job of moving all the cylinders needed for the dive trip: that’s right, it’s the lucky DMTs. At Big Blue however we have our compressors on the boats, so all the tanks we need are sitting there filled and waiting for us when we get there – no need to move them back and forward every day!
10.    Try something else too! –  Big Blue Diving is the only Dive center on Koh Tao offering Tech Diving, Freediving & Photography & VDOgraphy courses in addition to its recreational & professional diver training programme. With Big Blue Pro, Conservation, Tech & Freediving Big Blue Diving is the leader in Diver education and if you are interested in becomming a serious diving professional then why wouldn't you learn from the best!

Tuesday, 20 November 2018 10:11

How to get make the most out of Koh Tao

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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.

Saturday, 17 November 2018 16:09

BSAC Marine Conservation course

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Whether you're just beginning your new hobby as a scuba diver, or you've been fun diving for a long time, how do you fancy learning more about the underwater realm that you love exploring? Big Blue Conservation is about to begin another BSAC marine conservation course on the 8th October. This amazing 3 day course educates divers in marine biology and ecology, and provides an excellent background to the dangers currently facing coral reefs, such as the effects of overfishing, shark finning, climate change and bad diving techniques. You'll understand how individual processes such as ocean chemistry and plate tectonics interact to shape the oceans and enable life to thrive. You'll gain practical experience on how to improve your buoyancy and air consumption (read Big Blue Instructor training's blog from yesterday to read why this is important), and learn practical conservation skills so that you can contribute to reef conservation projects. The course only costs 7,000 Thai Baht (4,000 for Divemaster trainees). Sign up in the Big Blue shop, or drop Rachel an email at Big Blue Conservation to secure your place.

Friday, 07 December 2018 15:00

Demand for SSI Instructors increases

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Just been looking at our Instructor Training stats for 2018. Due to the increased demand for SSI Instructors all over the world, and that we have the leading SSI Instructor Trainer actually in charge of Big Blue Pro itself we've really boomed this year. Might have something to do with our SSI Instructor Trainer Simon Garrity refraining from wearing ladies clothes as much or it might have something to do with the SSI Training program developing faster & and better than the competition! Recently, SSI changed their Diver Master program making it more dynamic and focusing on dive safety, customer service including sales training while still keeping its high standards requiring the highest pass mark of any dive agency. This has clearly helped push the Instructor Training programs with the highest Crossovers, Instructor Training Courses and Instructor Upgrade programs ever run at Big Blue. The ITC also changed focusing more on the dive business and the dive industry as a whole. Once again SSI has set itself apart from other agencies by keeping the high passing grade of 90% or more. With all the above kept in mind we have had such a high demand for instructors coming though the ITCs. Dive centers all around the world are asking for SSI instructors due to the fact they are more aware of the dive business and what it takes to make a profit. Since the changes made to SSI pro levels we have 100% success rate at finding our new instructors work straight after they finish there internship. And we start Divemaster courses everyday so if you are serious about looking at scuba diving as a career then jump in! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Saturday, 17 November 2018 15:57

Divesite focus on Green Rock

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One of the three dive sites randomly named after the colours of the Italian flag, this is a fantastic dive site. It has those swim through things that you're not supposed to go through as a recreational diver, more trigger pits than the rest of the Gulf of Thailand combined, and a huge range of marine life that even whalesharks come to see. Situated to the West of Nang Yuan Island, it's a big dollop of rock sitting at depths between 5m and 30m, and it caters perfectly for fun diving. There are occasionally strong currents, but they are not usually too bad and can be used to ferry you around the dive site. One of the best things to do is just watch the shoals of yellowtail and chevron barracuda as they ride the current. On calmer days, if you stay still you may get a huge shoal of barracuda to circle you. Having hundreds of eyes all looking at you is an amazing experience, unless you suffer from Ommetaphobia- fear of eyes, in which case it'll probably be the single most horrific experience of your life. Other marine life to be seen include blue spotted Stingrays, groupers, Hawksbill and Green Turtles, Banded Sea Snakes, and baby yellow box fish- the smart car of the ocean. It's not that big a dive site compared with White Rock for instance, but the rock formations are varied enough to make you think you've never seen any of it before, even on your third lap round. We go to Green Rock fairly regularly on our fun diving boat, so put it on your to do list if you're heading out to dive with us- there's always a chance of seeing a whaleshark too!

Wednesday, 05 December 2018 09:05

Where are they now- Deano Jenkins

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In an industry full to bursting with enormous ego’s and Vaseline, where rare breeds of both man & fish become one entity, there comes along every couple of hours or so, someone so ordinary we bring them under our fold, and nurture them and polish them into being the most perfect specimens of Scuba Instructors. Improved and renewed and updated overtime these polished pieces leave the comfort of their homes to carry on their dreams of travelling the world & encountering marvels few will ever experience. But have these Top Guns continued on their road to Scuba Stardom or are we about to find out that perhaps an unannounced enema with the Thai Bum Gun might just what they need to get them back on track!
It’s time to play Top Gun or Bum Gun!
Deano Jenkins-
When poor Mr & Mrs Jenkins realized they’d brought a Ginger into the world they must have felt then that it was time to get the bum gun out, but credit where credits due, the young Welsh couple stuck with their Orangutan Taff and gave him the confidence to go out into the big wide world and cover people in phlegm during a normal conversation, count up to 12 on his fingers, clothe sheep & teach people to dive!
Deano worked at Big Blue Diving as an Instructor from about 2006 to about 2014 earning himself a very stand up reputation both within PADI & SSI and was awarded Instructor with the most SSI certs in the world in around 2012. Such were the dizzying heights to which Deano soared it was only ever going to go one way once this Top Gun left the nurturing loving care of his colleagues hairy, tattooed arms here at Big Blue.
Deano spent his next few years exploring the incredible dive sites of the Sipadans & the Similans, living the life the majority of the world’s population can only dream about. Cruising out on overnight liveaboards diving with mantas & whalesharks, through crystal clear waters and past deserted islands the life of a this Scuba Diver wasn’t all sun drenched plums and Brazilian bikinis. Deano was after more.
Then along comes the Philisi, one of the most talked about of Thailand Liveaboards to ever cruise the Similan & Surin Islands. Operated & owned by legendary Diving Dutchie Steve Wessel, who also owns and operates the Junk Liveaboard, the MV Philisi is something so big and glamourous that even celebrities have to think twice about whether they’re worthy enough. So WTF is up when Deano gets given the honor of managing, delegating, steering, diving & entertaining, as Cruise Director of this way over the top glamour show!
What do you reckon guys? Is Deano going to Top Gun the Philisi sky high, into another dimension of time and space or, do you reckon we need to get the bum gun out and spray water up his spacial dimension for some time? 

Saturday, 17 November 2018 15:37

The Daftest Stuff We've Been Asked ...

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As Koh Tao is an island filled with fresh new scuba divers, most of whom are diving for the first time in their lives, we're constantly being quizzed about the oceans and the marine life that can be seen underwater.  As you can imagine, most questions are inevitably along the lines of "Where is Nemo? Can I find Nemo? Can I Kiss Nemo? Does Dory live here? and other stuff related to that legendary Disney documentary..
However, every so often we're asked something that surprises even the most experienced Koh Tao dive professionals, and here's a collection of my favourites from over the years:
 
- Where's the beach? Is the sea next to it?
- How long does an hour massage last?
- How does Koh Tao not float away, is it chained to the floor?
- How do I know when to breathe?
- If it's high tide on this side of the island, then it's low tide on the other side right?
- How many fish will I see?
- If it rains too much will the fish die?
- I have a phobia of boats, the open ocean and fish. Do you think diving's a good idea for me?
- How deep do you have to go to dive under the island?
- If I run out of air can I not just blow into the tank to refill it?
- Where's my Darth Vader thing? (looking for his regulator)
- Does it rain underwater?
- Is this waterproof? (after giving them a dive computer to use)
- What island is this? (after driving just 5 minutes from Koh Tao)
 
And my favourite, which I've actually been asked on more than one occasion...
- How come the freediving isn't free? You should change the name.
 
 
Big Blue Diving, giving idiots the chance to open their mouths without thinking for 26 years and counting. Never stop guys!

Saturday, 17 November 2018 15:29

Choosing a Dive Center on Koh Tao?

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When you look at an area for a scuba diving holiday or arrive near the beach where you plan to dive take a scuba diving lesson, the pull towards the ocean and the need to get under the waves as quick as possible can be overwhelming! Whether you are a seasoned scuba diver or a scuba diving novice, you may not be sure how to choose a good dive center? Therefore it’s important to find out how to judge the quality of a dive center or dive school in Thailand.
    “You need to know how to choose a good dive center before you randomly pick a beachfront dive shop”
Thousands of holiday makers and expats travel to Thailand to enjoy scuba diving trips and snorkeling. There are plenty of scuba diving courses available and scuba day trips to experience, especially here in Koh Tao. The Land of Smiles is one of the top places in the world to try scuba diving, join a guided dive trip or go snorkeling, all of which, are available for professionals and advanced levels as well as amateurs including complete beginners. Here Are a Few Need To Know Advice Tips When You Choose a Good Dive Center .
Choose a good dive center or dive school on experience, quality and professionalism, not only on the price. Scuba diver facilities cost a lot of money to maintain to high standards. If the dive center you choose opts to be the cheapest in price perhaps they also opt for the cheapest in equipment and boats? A little more money spent usually mean you can expect a better quality of equipment and service in reward.
Check Out a Dive Centers Reputation.
The longer the dive center has been in business the more reviews and reputation comments you will find available. Don’t just follow trip advisors words, its not the ultimate and only resource on the internet you know!? Check Facebook Reviews, Google Reviews, Youtube & Twitter. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and if a dive center is taking care of its customers you will see this across all platforms of the web. Don’t get stuck on the odd bad review. Everyone has off days but if many people report good work from different sources, that dive center is doing something right.
Check Out a Dive Centers Credentials
Make sure the dive school has the relevant registration and safety certificates, for instance, certified SSI or PADI Center or higher, Current SSI or PADI instructor or PADI dive master professional ratings.
Other aspects may apply such as in Thailand, upstanding legitimate businesses hold a TAT license as a registered Business for Tourism.
Check Out a Dive Centers Approach to Safety
Sometimes you dont get to see how a dive center approaches safety until you take a day out with them. If you not convinced and assured of a dive centers ability to uphold, follow and most importantly reinforce diver safety practices then I would suggest continue looking around.
Sometimes a single day trip to see a dive center in action is a good way to gauge if what a dive center proclaims to offer is true or not.
You can always ask about safety training and equipment available such as CPR first aid trained staff, emergency oxygen and emergency communication available? Check to see if there is also a certified CPR/ first aid provider certificate.  If you are going out on a scuba diving boat trip, are there plenty of throw rings and life vests on board? Does this safety equipment look in reasonable quality also?
Check If Dive Center Offers Insurance?
Does your dive center offer insurance? It is a divers responsibility to like any traveler to ensure they are covered in the events of a accident. Specialized dive insurance is not as standard, included with any dive trip, a good center however may offer the option for specialized scuba diving insurance. Your travel insurance often gives you a separate option or simply does not cover this. Special scuba diving travel insurance is in expensive and offer way more coverage vs a standard travel insurance. It is well worth spending a few extra $ to be safe and relax knowing your totally covered.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS
If in doubt ask. If you are in any doubt about choosing a choose a good dive center or dive school, it’s better to be safe than sorry by asking the right kind of questions such as:-
How long have the instructors been diving?
Instructors should have plenty of experience with people of all levels of diving. They also need to have good local knowledge of particular diving sites so they are aware of any dangers.
Where will you take me?
Make enquiries about specific diving sites when going out on a reef or ship wreck dive. How will the dive be structured? Find out about what’s in store on a open water training course before parting with your hard-earned cash. It’s essential for beginners and even experienced divers, that diving instructors remain with you throughout your dive.
What about training materials learn to dive facilities?
Will you benefit from up-to-date training materials and methods?
Is everything safe and clean to provide a good learning environment?
MAKE YOUR OWN INSPECTION
You do not have to be a professional when it comes to knowing how to choose a good dive center. You need to trust your eyes and your ears and listen to your instincts.
    Look at the standard of equipment out on display
    Read the certificates on the walls and check the dates on them – are they up to date?
    Are the instructor’s certificates available to be inspected?
    Does the equipment look well maintained on close inspection?
    Do you trust the person you spoke with?
When All Is Said And Done…
You generally get what you pay for when it comes to dive centers. If you do intend to try scuba diving in Thailand, shop around and remember, cheapest is not always the best option. If you are considering a Thailand Dive Trip or scuba diving holiday, and you’re looking for quality, consider Big Blue Diving when you are looking for the Best Dive Center in Thailand.

Saturday, 17 November 2018 15:20

The anatomy of the Open Water Course

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If you're planning on coming to Big Blue to learn how to dive, how do we teach you? What do you do on what days? Here's a brief overview of how it all works. When you arrive at Big Blue, hopefully you will have made a booking online through our website, especially when the Island is at it's busiest (after Full moon parties on Koh Phangan, or December- March and July- October).

 If you haven't, don't worry we'll do everything we can to accommodate you whilst you dive with us. Stepping off the ferry in Mae Hadd you'll find the Big Blue taxi waiting for you to give you a free lift to the resort on Sairee beach- a 5 minute drive away. One of the instructors will meet you, ply you with free orange juice, sit you down and give you a brief outline of the course. Once you've filled in a checking in form, you can wander off to your accommodation and relax until 5pm. Then you'll do a short orientation session, which involves filling out the course paperwork, getting started watching some the videos and being told more about the course- only takes about 2 hours. Then you can wander off, eat, sleep, get a massage, or whatever it is people do to relax on a tropical Island. Hopefully you'll be fresh as a daisy for the next morning.
Day one- You'll meet at 8:30am and be introduced to your instructor and the rest of the group you will be learning with. You'll be shown all the diving equipment you will be using, taught how it works and is set up, and we'll give you a little bit of dive theory. Then you'll do a pool session. This is designed to teach you the skills you need to learn to be able to dive safely, and it's all very gradual and done at your pace, designed to build up your familiarity and confidence. We start in the shallow end, then when your ready move on to the deep end. The length of day one varies but you should be finished by 5pm at the latest. Then you can relax again for the evening.
Day two- Begins by meeting your instructor at 8:30am to go through some more dive theory and get you ready to do your exam. Great, you come on holiday to do an exam... it's 50 questions multiple choice, and aimed at a 10 year old. I think you'll be fine! Once you've passed with flying colours (and you will), you break for lunch and meet your instructor at 12pm to get the equipment you'll be using. You'll then get onto one of our taxi boats at 12:30 and head out onto one of our big dive boats for your first two open water dives. We'll take you to a shallow, sheltered bay somewhere on the Island that will be flat calm and hopefully bright sunshine. You'll be given a dive briefing, get into your equipment, and be shown how to get into the water. Ready for dive one? Good, way better than the pool, you can really get to grips with your buoyancy and the feeling of being underwater in the sheltered ocean for the first time. Still reeling in disbelief about how amazing dive one was, and also annoyed at yourself for not doing this ages ago, you can stuff your face with fruit and biscuits that we provide, and chill out for a bit, hopefully minus a wetsuit tan. The boat will then move to a different dive site, ready for dive two. Dive two gives you the chance gain more confidence with your buoyancy and become more streamlined in the water as you learn to kick nice and slowly. You'll also recap on some of the skills that you practiced in the pool. When you get back to land it's important that you learn how to rinse your equipment properly- you may own your own someday, then you can sit in the restaurant with your instructor and log the dives. You'll be back on land around 5pm.
Day three- Early start... eek! We'll take you to some of the best dive sites for dives three and four. By dive three you will feel more confident and know what your doing more, so we'll take you a little bit deeper than you went on dives one and two. We'll also show you some of the incredible marine life that Koh Tao has to offer. Again you'll have an hour on the boat and then get straight back in the water at a different dive site for your fourth and final dive of the course. After recapping another couple of skills from the pool, you can spend the rest of your dive practising what you learnt on the course and enjoying what you see down there. When you get back to the surface- congratulations, you're an open water diver; qualified to dive to a depth of 18 metres for the rest of your life! Back on land at around 11am, After washing your equipment and logging your dives, your instructor will debrief you on the course, give you your certification card, and tell you what comes next if you want to gain any additional diving qualifications. Now you can relax and celebrate!
After the open water course, the advanced course is the next natural step. No theory, just five dives with a different theme to each one, run over one and a half days. It introduces you to things like underwater navigation, how to dive at night, tips for fine-tuning your buoyancy, and depth experience. You'll end up being certified to dive to 30 metres, which opens up a lot more dive sites around the world to you, and be a much more confident and competent diver. It also gives you another chance to celebrate in the bar! So, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, 17 November 2018 15:01

Things that kill more people than sharks every year:

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Vending machines- Topple over onto 13 stupid, I mean unlucky people every year.
Falling out of bed- 450 per year in the US alone. Ban bunk beds?
Electrocution by toaster- 791 bright sparks per year.. see what I did there? Probably not a good idea to put a knife inside to get the toast out.
Having a bath- 340 people per year- though it's unclear how- presumably drowning, or slipping. Don't think eating the enamel would be too good for you either.
Mosquitos- kill 655,000 people per year!
Obesity- Figures range from 30,000 to 100,000 people per year- put the cake down!
Deer- 130 people meet one of these up close and personal on the bonnet/hood of their car each year!
Sharks kill 5 people per year on average, with most events believed to be a case of mistaken identity.

Our perceptions of sharks are changing fast. Previously thought of as mindless killers, they are actually now known to be curious but cautious of humans, and pretty tolerant of us when in their domain. Key point there, it's their domain, not ours. It's always good to have a healthy respect for sharks, but there are videos on YouTube of people free-diving with great white sharks, which debunks a few myths about them! The more we understand about sharks, the more we realise that we are far more of a threat to them than the other way round, through shark finning, longline fishing and our previous attitudes towards them. If you want to get involved in shark conservation and do your bit to help preserve these beautiful animals, then contact us at Big Blue Conservation.

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