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Big Blue Diving Resort - Koh Tao - Thailand

January 2013

Wednesday 31st January 2013- 

 

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Saw this & thought how true! " A Dive Center  Posted On padi yesturday at 11.30 pm ish,...5 ads for padi pros in 5 differant locations...Ok good I thought 5 chances at a job in one go..... So I answered with CV straight away......Guess what I got back this morning...... Divers Club International Topic: No dive master/AI opening available. From: Human Resources Department - Hello Chris J, Thank you for your interest in our dive master/AI job opportunities! I regret to inform that all dive master/AI positions have been filled by our instructor course interns. In the hope that you might consider joining one of our PADI diving instructor courses or internships with inhouse job objective and priority as an alternative to Divemaster employment, I have sent you our GO PRO ACADEMY information. Not Good........IF YOU HAVE NO JOBS DON'T POST JOBS ON PADI.....If I wanted to pay for the AI/IE I would not waste my time answering ...JOB!!!!. Adverts. Sorry !!!!......RANT OVER....." Stop wasting time! Do your SSI Instructor Training & get a job Eezy Peezy lemon Squeezy! www.bigblueinstructortraining.com

“100% recommend this place” -5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 28, 2013 - 3 of us just finished our advanced open water with big blue last week. It came highly recommended and we'll be sure to send our mates to the same spot. Great food accommodation etc and the staff are really cool. Massive thanks to Petra! (Best instructor on the island) Defiantly go to big blue!


Sharks are kinda scary. In the water they're faster than us, can appear from what seems like out of nowhere in an instant, and pack a pretty solid bite. It's easy to get nervous when you're in the dark ocean and unsure of who is swimming by with a toothy grin. But sharks aren't the animals you should be most afraid of. Here are some that are much more likely to cause your demise. Mosquitoes-  655,000 people killed each year, primarily in Africa, through the little buggers spreading malaria. Hippos- 2,900 people are killed by these moody mammals annually in Africa. That roly-poly exterior is just to lure you in. Deer- 130 people killed across the U.S. by deer, almost exclusively because drivers hit the deers with their cars. That saying "a deer in the headlights" came about for a reason.  Bees- 53 people die each year in the U.S. because of an allergic reaction from being stung. Dogs- 30-35 people are killed each year in the U.S. Fido isn't always your best friend. Ants- 20-50 people are killed each year in Africa from ants. They may be small but dozens, hundreds, even thousands of stinging ants can really add up. Jellyfish- 20-40 people per year die in the Philippines alone from the anaphylaxis caused by the stings. Cows- 22 people are killed in the U.S. every year from these seemingly docile creatures. They're fun to pet, but getting kicked in the head by one ... not as fun. Horses- 20 people die each year thanks to our equine friends. Spiders- 6.5 people die in the U.S. every year from spider bites. Rattlesnakes- 5.5 people die from rattlesnake bites each year in the U.S., which isn't a whole lot considering how common they are in popular hiking and camping areas. Sharks-1 person is killed each year in the U.S. and fewer than six worldwide are killed by sharks. From 2006 to 2010, there were just three fatalities from shark attacks in the U.S.  So if you find yourself harboring feelings of fear or even hatred of sharks, you might want to take a step back and gain a little perspective. They aren't nearly as deadly as you might think. 

 

Saturday 26th January 2013-

26Congratulations Emiko one of our many Japanese Instructors who can now bat for the other side having completed her SSI Crossover with flying colours. SSI (Scuba Schools International) is one of the oldest dive organizations in the world and still growing each day. The SSI Instructor Crossover program is designed to orient Instructors who were trained by other certification agencies to the teaching and business philosophy of SSI. At the end you will be allowed to teach and certify divers through SSI. Since you already have done your instructor training with another agency, you already know how to teach divers. Therefore our main goal during the course will be to make you knowledgeable and comfortable with SSI Programs, products and services, so that you may confidently teach SSI courses and attract members of the opposite sex!

Another busy Full Day Trip to Sail Rock today. The Gulf of Thailands number 1 Dive site according to Lonely Planets Diving & snorkeling Guide to Thailand & there aint many people who are going to sit there & disagree with that. Sail Rock is a 15m above and 35m below surface pinnacle that lies between Koh Tao and Koh Pha-ngan. Its famous for its natural underwater vertical swimthrough or chimney which divers can enter at 6 metres and exit at 18. It is also the visiting site of many larger pelagics including chevron barracuda, big schools of mackerel, jacks, trevally and tuna & apparently Saturdays are an excellent day to encounter a seasonal whale shark or manta ray here as well!

“big blue and koh tao”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 20, 2013 - Absolutely amazing !! The staff, especially AMI my open water instructor...she was incredibly calm, funny, knowledgable and averall fantastic.We had only small groups, just 3 in ours, I felt confortable, completely safe and at ease( and I was really nervous!!) and Ami made the whole 'learning to dive' experience completly awsome!! They even filmed us on the last dive, (the one where we all qualified as open water divers) edited so well that it will make me smile always , a treasured memory. definitely hooked now though, will be back for more.Cant rate it higher....the best dive school in Koh Tao, staff, accommadation, beaches, boats and dive sites ALL Fantastic.

Friday 25th January 2013-

 

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Calling out all old school Koh Taoians! Remember when Koh Tao was a little get away from it all unexplored island hideaway that no one had ever heard of. When you had to sit on a bag of coconuts to get here from the mainland on one of those once a week delivery boats. A little island with awesome weather, white sandy palm fringed bays & beaches, fabulous sunsets, unspoilt, undeveloped, virgin divesites & a place with a real close friendly bonding between the locals & us 'Farang? How when we opened Big Blue Diving, only the 2nd Diveshop on Koh Tao, people thought what pioneers we were! & now look at us! Who would have guessed that we could go from there to now - one of the largest Dive centers in the world! Well we've been offered something amazing! Anyone fancy repeating what we've just done here on Koh Tao in another undiscovered tropical island paradise with unbelievable diving right on our doorstep! Whalesharks, pygmy seahorses, turtles & dolphins A Resort, a bar, a restaurant & a diveshop in another part of Asia? The opportunity of a lifetime! A golden opportunity to partner up with one of the worlds leading Dive centers and open up Big Blue Diving....(TBA)....! Interested parties must be willing to input capital & whose aim is to supply their customers, holidaymakers divers, with an enjoyable and safe experience & memories that will last a lifetime. The business of making people happy! Serious applicants please send email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“More than I ever imagined”-5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 20, 2013 - I came to Koh Tao after traveling through southern Thailand. Big blue was highly recommended by many of the travelers I had met. When I arrived at the island, I found them and the resort was very professional. Super kind people gave me the run down for the course and I was hooked. I booked for the open water dive course, which consists of 4 open water dives and a pool day (learning). I loved every minute of it. I was lucky enough to have the best instructor I could asked for, her name is Petra. She is a rock star... So knowledgeable, safe and funny. When I was given my open water card, I decided to stay for the advanced diver course, which Petra was also teaching. I can tell you that 4 dives just doesn't cut it, you will want to stay there for much longer. The ascended course took the group to a wreck from WWII, chumphon pinnacle and other areas to navigate. I would not have traded this experience for anything. Thank you Big Blue diving and most of all THANK YOU PETRA!!! .... For you are the best. Can't wait to come back for more diving next year. 
 

 An awful lot of lost looking Cobias at Southwest Pinnacle right now which doesn't bode well considering there was a Whaleshark there full of these lost looking Cobias on it just the other day. Do hope that doesn't mean what I have a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach tells me it means. Please let us know if you see a Whaleshark in the Southwest Pinnacle, Sail Rock, Samran Pinnacle or Shark Island divesites. Also let us know if you see a fishing boat with a Whaleshark! :-(

Thursday 24th January 2013-

24Did you know that absolutely every instructor candidate we've had over the last year is working. From NZ to Caymans but mostly in Thailand. To give you an idea, we have crossed over 20 instructors on Koh Phi Phi this year. They are all working at dive shops now on Phi Phi apart from one who got sacked for being crap and breaking standards. We have taught around 20 SSI ITC's on Koh Tao and over 20 Crossovers this year & every one is working apart from 2 who now live in Bangkok working for Microsoft. Right now we have a 2 person ITC & a 1 person crossover with a polish guy today & then a japanese lady tomorrow & we'll tell you when they get their first paid jobs. I should think it will be a few days after they get there SSI number. Unless they have a negative attitude and think the world owes them a living, which is covered in the X over or ITC, so they should come out of it being realistic. ie Just because you go to UNI doesn't mean you get a 100,000 pound a year job. You still have to work your way up and work hard. Same Same in diving. Some people become instructor and think that's it. These are normally the people who can't make a living in the "real" world and think dive instructing is an easy job. Sitting on beaches, drinking cocktails and diving once a day and getting paid loads of money. You need to pick where you do your instructor course. Just saw this post from a dive center . "Congrats to all our candidates who passed the PADI IE. The first batch of 2013 is a really good one. Best of success to all in your career as diving instructors" That sounds like thanks for your money good bye and good luck. Pick one that will help you find work. www.bigblueinstructortraining.com They might even help you with the ladies! 

“Awesome experience!” Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 23, 2013 - Couldn't recommend this diving school highly enough especially if you have never dived before. Me and my girlfriend were both excited to try this but also a bit nervous. We had Rick as our instructor for our open water course. If you get him you are in our opinion very lucky. He made all 3 days of the course good fun but was also very professional and put us at ease as he is so calm under the water. Though we have heard from other travellers good things about all of the instructors. Also have to mention Andreas who assisted our dives and is a dive master in training. We have no doubt he will go on to become just as good. Overall great fun and made to feel safe at all times. If we ever return to Koh Tao will definately be diving with big blue again. Accomadation also excellent and all staff very helpful at all times. Thanks guys! Neil and Toni - Farnborough, UK.
 

So it looks like the the Dive prices on Koh Tao for the Open Water Course might well be changing this year! Finally Dive centers are beginning to realize that selling the PADI Open Water course at 9000 Bt is just not covering the costs. So it looks like the PADI Open Water Course might be taking on a price increase of 1000 Bt by most shops & that doesn't even include the E-manual which will cost an additional 800 Bt. But its not all doom & gloom. Luckily the SSI Open Water Course is still staying the same price. So it looks like its going to be 9000 Bt for your SSI Open Water Course or 10800 Bt for your PADI Course! Know which one I'd be recommending to our year off undergraduate backpackers!

Tuesday 22nd January 2013-

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Whaleshark! Again. They just keep on coming! This one was a very friendly one too & decided to hang around during our surface interval & spent the majority of the time at the surface so we could all go snorkeling with it! Not a bad start to the week. and everyone on the trip got to see it underwater scuba diving with it & snorkelling on the surface with it aswell! Memory of a lifetime for just 1600 Bt! How's that for a bargain!

“Highlight of my trip!” 5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor -January 20, 2013- I was in Thailand for 3 weeks in December 2012. I spent a week in Koh Tao at Big Blue over Christmas. It was the best experience. I completed the SSI Open Water Course and the Advanced Adventurer course. Having never dived before, this was the best place to be introduced to it! Daisy was my instructor and she was amazing. She is so knowledgeable, patient and fun! I heard that all of the other diving instructors were amazing, but I still believe my group had the best one ;-). (Sorry to everyone else! ) Big Blue Resort was so great to stay at as well. The accommodation was clean and well maintained. I met so many people and ended up hanging out with them for most of my time there. It was so fun to be there over Christmas with so many beach parties happening. Definitely the best place to learn to dive and to have a great time!! I hope I can go back again for some more diving!
 


HONOLULU —An amazing video was captured last Friday of a dolphin reaching out to a human for help. It happened during a manta ray dive experience off the Big Island's Kona International Airport. The group of snorkelers and divers heard a loud squeal and a bottlenose dolphin swam right into the dive spot. As it approached, diver Keller Laros saw it had a fishing line wrapped around its pectoral fin. The amazing part of this video -- to watch as this dolphin simply rolls over and patiently lets Laros get to work. "i was trying to unwrap it, I got the line fishing hook out of the pectoral fin.  There was a line coming out of his mouth.  But, the line wrapped around his pectoral fin.  Was so tight and he had cuts both front and aft," said Laros.  "I was worried if I tugged on it, it might hurt him more.  I was able to cut the fishing line and unwrap it." Laros got the fishing hook out and snipped the fishing line by the dolphin's mouth. Others tried to get more fishing line out but the dolphin swam away and the group never saw the dolphin again. "I've had bottlenose dolphins approach me a lot of times and they are really smart animals," said Laros.  "They way he came right up and pushed himself into me there was no question this dolphin was there for help."

Monday 14th January 2013-

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This photo was taken by Peri Paleracio, in the Philippines. The whale shark was found by a scuba diver, still alive and trying to swim. Its pectoral and ventral fins were cut off by poachers who sell shark fins at a premium for the Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup. Locals, with the help of local government, pulled the still-struggling shark to shore where it died the next day. Here a local woman mourns its miserable fate. This photo was named "most compelling image" of 2010 in honor of the UN's International Year of Biodiversity.
This is not just something caused by Chinese fishermen, it is a global problem. Shark Fin soup is sold all over the world, even in the UK. Please support the fight against shark finning.
* Spread the word.
* Share photos and stories such as this.
* Sign petitions. This one is petitioning the UN for a worldwide ban on shark finning: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/532/581/725/?cid=FB_TAF
* Write to local restaurants serving the dish: Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation have a celebrity-signed template letter and map listing restaurants in the UK selling shark fin soup. Find them here: http://www.bite-back.com/shark-sightings-map/
Most of these things can be done with such minimal effort, just a few seconds, or few minutes, of your time. Collectively our voices DO make a difference. Countries and cities have successfully implemented bans on the sale of shark fin products as a result of individuals coming together to make a stink about it.

“Learning to dive”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 9, 2013 - I came to Big Blue after doing quite a bit of research because there are so many dive schools to choose from. I was not disappointed. I was lucky to get Guy as my instructor, he took a group with no knowledge of diving and within days we felt like pro's. I've extended my stay on Koh Tao to go further with Guy and diving in the advance diving course. As for the resort, it's right on the beach. Many schools are farther into the town. They have good food and a bar for a few beers during happy hour after diving. I stayed in the free accommodation that you get with the courses but they have all types if you aren't on a budget like I was.

First Full day trip to Sail Rock has gone off without a hitch, as is always the case. The boat is full. everyone on it is an experienced diver so not a single course on it which is rare so its going to be an awesome day out. Cooked breakfast on the way out then first dive at Sail Rock. Morning tea & crumpets during the surface interval followed by a second dive at Sail Rock. Then its a Thai buffet banquet for lunch while we head back to Koh Tao to do one of our lesser known dive sites but a very popular spot for the fishermen Samran Pinnacle then its chocolate cake & back to Big Blue by 5pm for a couple of refreshing beers at the bar just in time for sunset! What a day!

Saturday 12th January 2013-

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If you are dreaming of life changing adventures...are you ready for the life changing consequences? If you are, then get out there and live your dream! So many unhappy people out there living a hum drum existence prostituting themselves for some big corporation or even small company doing something they just don't want to be doing. Why? Make 2013 the year you change your life & do something you want to do! Get a job on the beach! Save an endangered species like the whale or shark! Photograph mind blowing creatures & historical wrecks & artifacts. See with your own eyes things you never believed possible. Educate people. But for gods sake do something life changing this year. This is your life. Your one shot at it. You owe it to yourself. Live your dream & start by sending me an email! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. I promise you this. You will not regret one minute of it!

“Big Blue was incredible!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 9, 2013 - Doing my Open Water Course (and the upgrade to an Advanced Adventurer the day after OW finished) at Big Blue was one of the best experiences of my life and certainly of my 3 months travel! Even though we were out of season, we spotted both whale shark and turtle twice - I went straight in and booked my next course. Ben was the best instructor anyone could ask for and he got our team down to 30 meters like a dream, despite of whatever concern one might have had. I had quite a struggle with equalizing in the beginning, but Ben gave me all the time I needed and got me safely down independently from my group - I was truly grateful! I think that I can speak for anyone in our 6 man group when I say that we all loved having Ben as our instructor and that we would recommend him very much! 
 

Going to be launching into fashion this year! Big Blue fashion! And I don't mean dressing up to look like smurfs but going to get some real cool fashionable clothing. Beach style! Looking at extending our huge range of T-shirts and singlets, short sleeve shirts, polo shirts, sweat shirts & hoodies too. On top of that we're going to have a range of hot ladies bikinis, & guys & gals board shorts. Want to make some boat coats & beanies, anoraks, baseball caps & sun hats. Some bags & briefcases, rashies & wetsuits too. We're going to be making people look so cool this year Quicksilver & Billabong will be quaking in their jandals! Just need someone to help me launch it all & get it all into action! Anyone fancy a very cool fashion challenge? Drop me your CV This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . This is an amazing opportunity. Who's up for it?

Friday 11th January 2013-

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Without question I think one of the best things about Big Blue Diving is the fact that it has 2 resorts within a couple of hundred meters of each other! Big Blue 1 is unquestionably the whole heartbeat & pulse of the operation. Its been there since the year dot & offers rooms- AC dorms, fan rooms, beach bungalows & AC rooms on site. It has an awesome Bar & Restaurant with a great atmosphere especially at sunset & at night & is the center of operations when it comes to the diving. You arrive here & you leave from here. Big Blue 2 is now 1 year old. Has a 3 storey building with 21 rooms offerring AC dorms fan rooms & AC rooms as well as bungalows Fan & AC, & a purpose built Divers swimming pool. The restaurant & Bar are also located on the beach & it also has a spa. With this kind of set up the place has a lot of appeal but its the staff that make it the legendary place that it is & when you put all 3 together the Staff, Big Blue 1 & Big Blue 2 you've got one of the best places in the world. Certainly the best place on Koh Tao. Lots of love, Jim Donaldson. General Manager, Partner, Scuba Instructor & one of the luckiest people in the world!

“Best time of my trip in Asia”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 5, 2013 - I found myself constantly saying almost everyday that it was the best day of my life. There are loads of dive shops in Koh Tao and it is a little overwhelming when deciding which to choose from... So just take my advice and dive with big blue! I went around the island and visited a few different shops that had this kind of "we could care less" if you dive with us or not attitude. Being the high season and around Xmas all the shops have tons of new clients coming in everyday with questions & at big blue they seemed to be the only place that was actually happy to have me and wanted me there. I signed up for the open water corse totally pumped but when it came to actually getting in the water I was quite freaked. It felt so unnatural I was really apprehensive about just breathing underwater. BUT since I had the best dive instructor EVER daisy was there to help me every step of the way. She had so much knowledge and experience and really made me feel relaxed and at ease underwater. I ended up totally having a blast during every dive we went on and I went on to take the advanced open water course. Everything about big blue felt just right. Kinda a summer camp vibe around the whole place. It was a great way to meet new friends and an awesome place to learn how to dive. Daisy was so patient and understanding and answered every question we had (and we had a lot). In a place like Koh Tao you can feel like you might just get rushed through the course and spit back out but daisy & big blue made me feel like I actually learned a bit about diving and the world underneath me. I def recommend it to anyone interested in diving while in SE Asia :) thank you so much Daisy I miss you xoxo !!! Can't wait to take my knowledge and dive in Bali and all over the world! 
 

 So I've managed to fill the receptionist vacancy I had at Big Blue 2 a few days ago. In fact I got a little overwhelmed with all the applications & ended up not being able to make a choice between the top 2 candidates so ended up hiring them both! So congratulations to our 2 new members of staff Joe & Sofia who will join Caz at Big Blue 2 beating the place back into shape. I might still be in the market for a new opening if there is anyone else interested in living on a little tropical island paradise. Know anything about running a restaurant & drawing in a crowd. If so drop me a line This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I might just be the answer to your dreams!

Wednesday 9th January 2013-

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Enjoying just the most tremendous sunsets here in Koh Tao right now. The beach is completely full of people with their cameras snapping away under a blood red sky! And while the weather is this good there's a big demand for Night Dives right now too, so we're pretty much night diving every night right now. And who wouldn't want to go out on a boat with this sunset to enjoy just before you arrive at your divesite for your night dive. Awesome sunsets, calm seas, warm tropical waters, great company & an hours dive checking out the teeming marine life Koh Tao has to offer at night.

“My most memorable week ever :)”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 4, 2013 - I planned on spending a few days on koh tao to do my open water course but ended up staying for 10 and this was largely down to big blue diving. koh tao has a unique vibe unlike anywhere i have been whilst traveling and big blue diving made my time here even better. i originally signed up to just do the open water course which was both cheap, recommended and came with free accommodation in very decent dorms (although upgrades are also available). My instructor daisy was absolutely brilliant, both in her teaching manner and helping me out personally with sorting out a room which i initially had a problem with and she went out of her way to sort this out despite it not being her job at all. She was very patient with all of us and we all felt like we had learned loads in our group, both in the lessons and the dives, we couldnt have asked for a better instructor.  The accommodation, bar and restaurant is right on the beach which is perfect. As to the diving itself, the dives were great and the service and quality provided by big blue for each dive was excellent. I had such a great time that I decided to progress onto my advanced course, again with daisy which did not disappoint and daisy was equally fantastic on this course despite working long hours and teaching us 6 days in a row right up to christmas eve. the night dive and the wreck dive on this course were worth the money alone and you get a discount for the advanced course if you did the open water with them which makes it dirt cheap. i had the most amazing week and would immediately return to big blue if i ever get the chance to go back to koh tao. thanks to daisy and everyone else at big blue that made my christmas and the rest of our groups so special we won't forget it! 
 

Role up role up! PADI Open Water Course on Koh Tao is about to be increased by 1000 Bt making the price 10800 Bt for your PADI Open Water Course where as the SSI Open Water Course is still just 9000 Bt! Prices are going to be changing over the coming weeks so if you are insistent on taking your PADI license and want to save a few pennies then you're best off getting in here quick smart. However if you have any common sense you'll take your SSI Open Water Course which is cheaper than PADI anyway, you get your certification immediately as opposed to having to wait 3 months for your card and most importantly you don't have to sit through the most boring embarrassing educational vdo I've ever had the misfortune to watch. NB... all dive cards are interchangeable & recognised at 100% of all diving destinations in the world! Why would you spend an extra 1800 Bt when you can get the better more enjoyable version for less!

Tuesday 8th January 2013-

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Starting another SSI Instructor Training Course on the 15th January with world renowned SSI Instructor Trainers Simon Garrity, South East Asia's leading Instructor Trainer & Paul 'Tosh' Tanner South East Asia's second leading Instructor trainer! Course price will set you back just over 60000 Bt and includes 2-3 weeks of Instructor theory, skills, exams & lectures. Employment opportunities at the end are very high too. In fact of the 12 SSI Instructors on our last 2 ITC's 11 of them are gainfully employed and living a new life on the beach teaching people to scuba dive & showiing them Whalesharks! Fancy a change in lifestyle yourself? Well maybe 2013 might just be the perfect time to do it! Live the dream, sign up for your Scuba Diving Course www.bigblueinstructortraining.com SS Aiiiiii!

“Big Blue Rocks!!!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 4, 2013 - I went to Koh Tao to dive and randomly ended up at Big Blue when I was shafted by another motel/resort there. In short, I was so glad I went there. I wanted to complete my open water licence, which I did. The instructors are awesome. I had an instructor called "Irish G". Irish had been diving and instructing for over 16 years. She was cool, calm and totally a pro at her job. I always felt safe and she is MAJOR FUN! We only had 4 people in our dive crew which was awesome to have such a small crew. "Irish G" - totally made our crew feel confident and we all decided that we would then do our advanced if we could do the course with her. We completed our Advanced diving with a night dive, navigation, and a wreck dive as well as two other dives to just over 30m. I now am fully already planning my next dive trip - I am thinking Big Blue may be hard to beat as far as friendly service and beauriful surroundings go? I met loads of great crew and everyone was so friendly. There was time for divinga and also time for a party, which Koh Tao does well. It was really hard to leave. Thanks big Blue and Thanks "Irish G" for such an awesome time!! Will be back for sure!! Reece From Australia 
 

Whalesharks still being spotted with quite some regularity! Had one seen at Chumphon Pinnacle two days ago followed in the afternoon by another seen at Twins "in the sand' amazingly enough! Never seen one that shallow & then yesterday afternoon... get this... we actually had a Whaleshark in Japanese Gardens! Now that would have been a sight! So lots of Whalesharks still around Koh Tao right now. Are you?

Monday 7th January 2013-

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Employment Opportunity in Paradise! Big Blue Diving is looking for a Full Time receptionist at Big Blue 2 to start ASAP! Duties include check ins & check outs, cashier, & can talk diving. Perks office on the beach, free diving on your days off 20% food & drinks discounts at the Restaurant. Thai or Westerner. Must speak English! Great place to work. Great location. Awesome team & really handsome Boss!

“Advanced adventurer course”-5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 3, 2013 - This was my second time diving with Big Blue and they have lost none of the quality that I experienced the first time around. The accommodation was remarkable for the price you pay and I was right in the beach so could take advantage of the excellent nightlife. The dives were excellent and the instructor, Petra, was very patient with our course where you could see her obvious frustration with some of our course members. She maintained an air of positivity and enthusiasm that was quite infectious and all that attended the course thoroughly enjoyed the dives, especially the night dive and the dive onto a wreck. All in all, I have had a wonderful time and will not hesitate to dive with Big Blue in the future. A big thanks to all that made this trip so memorable. 

As is so often the case in Thailand major decisions are not so much announced as allowed to escape into the public domain. For most of the residents of Koh Phangan it was when they saw the following sign dotted around the island that they began to think that the rumors about Koh Phangan getting an airport were not just empty rumors. The announcement surprised lots of people. Those who are familiar with the island know that it is an island covered in mountains in the center and along the east and west coasts. There are, of course, flat areas suitable for an airport but for years it seemed that nearby Koh Samui Airport would suffice to service Koh Phangan. The island was somewhat defined as Koh Samui’s ‘little brother’ that was not as developed and that drew many backpackers and low-end tourists looking for more pristine nature as well as cheaper prices. This perception has changed over the last 10 years with the boom in the Full Moon Party industry. The Full Moon Party in Haad Rin as well as the other parties in Ban Tai and Haad Rin draw thousands of visitors to Koh Phangan every month. Another change is the creation of an up-market enclave in Thong Nai Pan Noi that has 4 luxury hotels to choose from. It seemed time that Koh Phangan stepped out of the shadow of its big brother and demanded its own independence. Kan Air with its successful bid to gain permission to build Koh Phangan Airport has judged the situation carefully. Moreover, at the same time the government has identified 100 tourist locations in Thailand that should be developed. Koh Phangan is among the first 29 locations to receive funding. The projects for Koh Phangan include building a reservoir near Thong Nai Pan , further improving the roads on the island and laying underwater electric and telecommunication wires between Koh Phangan and the mainland. This will greatly improve the electricity supply and internet speeds as currently both are routed through Koh Samui.It really is time for Koh Phangan to come out from Koh Samui’s shadow. The announcement of an airport for Koh Phangan should be seen in such a context. Whether the consequences of this action prove good or bad for the inhabitants of the island we will have to wait and see.

 

Sunday 6th January 2013- 

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 Been a heck of a start to the New Year! Every single member of staff is diving back to back courses meaning they're finishing their PADI Open Water Course in the morning & going straight out in the afternoon to start the new PADI Advanced Course then completing 2 dives of the Advanced the following morning then jumping into the pool to start Confined water with their new SSI Open Water Course & then completing the Advanced Cousrse after with a Night Dive. My injured Instructors who have cuts & scrapes & ear issues are all doing the Academics & the Meeting & Greeting of new customers & we've just employed Becky for this busy period to be here to make sure all our accommodation issues are managed efficiently. Busy busy busy! And on top of that we still got Whalesharks at 3 Divesites around Koh Tao at the moment so the DM's are flat out  & because we don't want to have the boatys rammed to the rafters I've rented another boat to see us through this busy spell. Loving it! Flat out but heaps of space! Could that be why we are Koh Tao's most popular Dive Center! or might it have something to do with the hoardes of topless sunbathers lieing out the front of the resort right now! 

“Loved it all!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor December 31, 2012 - I knew that diving was one thing I was going to do on my trip, but I had no idea I would love diving and Koh Tao so much! I chose big blue as it came highly recommended in my guide book, and I am so glad I did. As soon as I arrived I got a warm greeting by the staff and my instructor, and got settled in at Big Blue 2, in one of the dorms. Nice yet pretty basic, but a great deal as it is free on the days that you dive! And steps from a quiet area of the beach. I started my SSI Open Water that night with Steve, a seasoned professional. He was a great teacher, made sure that everyone was always very comfortable with all the drills, and got us excited for our open water dives. There were a lot of people on the boat other than our group, but despite being a bit crowded there was a great atmosphere. I decided that since I was there, I might as well do the advanced course, and that is when I really got hooked. We had 5 amazing dives with Skui, with the night dive definitely being a highlight! Still not wanting to leave, I did an afternoon of fun dives at 2 great dive sites with divemaster Chris, who was super excited to show us cool aquatic wildlife. Amazing dives, awesome instructors, and all around incredibly friendly people made Big Blue one of my favourite places visited! 

Japan bluefin tuna fetches record $1.7m. A single bluefin tuna has sold in Japan for 155m yen ($1.7m; £1.05m), almost triple the record price set last year. High bids traditionally mark the year's first auction at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. Even the buyer, sushi chain owner Kiyoshi Kimura, who also paid out the record price last year, said the cost was "a bit high". The sale came amid continued warnings from environmentalists that tuna stocks are dwindling and overfished. This year's record-breaking fish was caught off north-eastern Japan and weighed in at 222kg (489lbs), some 47kg lighter than last year's prize-winner, which fetched 56m yen. The auction at the market - which trades millions of dollars of products daily and is a popular tourist destination - began at 05:00 local time. Mr Kimura immediately carted his purchase off to a nearby branch of his Sushi Zanmai chain. He said he wanted to "encourage Japan" with his bid. The price works out at about $7,600 per kg ($3,500/lb). Japan consumes more than half of the world's bluefin catch.... and clearly has the worlds stupidest man living there!

 

Friday 4th January 2013- 

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We decided as its a new year why not start this year off with our very own TECHTASTIC JANUARY SALE. For January only anyone who books an INTRO TO TECH Course we will give you a massive 30% Discount taking the price from 10,000 Baht down to 7,000 Baht. This will still be a 3 day course and will teach you all the foundation skills needed to progress in Tech whilst still looking cool as a cucumber. All you need is to be Advanced Open Water Diver. So grab a bargain whilst its hot off the press. The Tech Shack x www.bigbluetech.net

“Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, A Standing Ovation...Big Blue Deserves It!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor December 31, 2012 Here's another A+ review to add to the masses: I thought that I would maybe dive once or twice while on Koh Tao. I ended up diving 12 times in 5 days. I already had my open water when I arrived at Big Blue, but got a refresher with James (who was great!), and couldn't pull myself away from the water after that. I had the pleasure of diving with several different Dive masters, all of them were wonderful. Pal told us tons of great diving stories on the boat on the way out to the dive site; Danny was extremely nice and conscientious; Carly was awesome and realized I was using less air than the rest of the group so she switched me mid-dive to another group so I could have more time- Thank you Carly! Marc was wonderful; Chupa and Andre (sorry if I misspelled your names) were very patient and so much fun to dive with. Last but not least, Phil was spectacular. He makes an effort to really show you the dive site. We were always looking under rocks and crevices to check out the animals that he spotted. One of the dive spots we went on got a little hairy at one point because of the current, but Phil handled it very well and made sure we all got on the boat safe. The great thing about any of these guys is that at the end of the day, they are more than likely to sit down and have a beer with you and tell you diving stories no matter what your level of diving is. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and while I wasn't able to get my advanced with them due to time constraints, they have inspired me to continue with my dive training here in the states. The atmosphere on the boats and at their restaurant lends itself easily to making new friends and meeting new people. I walked in to the resort alone, but came out knowing much of the staff and people that I had been diving with consistently. Thank you guys! I genuinely had a great time with all of you and hope to be back some day soon. TLDR: Big Blue is awesome and you should go diving with them. 
 

Well you'll be pleased to know especially if you are on your way to Koh Tao this week that things have calmed down a little & that more beds & rooms are becomming available. We ourselves even have 6 Dorm beds available today which came out of nowhere. I also have a couple of beach bungalows as well. So drop in if you are planning on doing some diving here. You won't be disappointed!

Thursday 3rd January 2013-

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Ok ... welll... blimey crikey... Its been a little busy. Not just us but the whole of Koh Tao! In fact there's been so many arrivals here in Koh Tao over the last few days especially from Koh Phangan that I do believe this island has been slightly submerged underwater a little more than usual! There was still people walking around looking for rooms at 10 o'clock last night which must have been slightly unnerving for them. Tis a little less stressful today I'm pleased to inform you & there are a few more rooms coming available even as we speak but I do highly recommend booking yourselves in before you arrive on Koh Tao in future. I'd also recommend booking your boats too! A lot of our bookings weren't able to get to Koh Tao cos the ferries here were full. Book online www.lomprayah.com or www.seatrandiscovery.com once you've made your booking with us & then let us know which boat you are on & I'll organise a free taxi to pick you up at the pier when you get here! That should clear a few headaches for you.

“Loved it all!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor December 31, 2012 - I knew that diving was one thing I was going to do on my trip, but I had no idea I would love diving and Koh Tao so much! I chose big blue as it came highly recommended in my guide book, and I am so glad I did. As soon as I arrived I got a warm greeting by the staff and my instructor, and got settled in at Big Blue 2, in one of the dorms. Nice yet pretty basic, but a great deal as it is free on the days that you dive! And steps from a quiet area of the beach. I started my SSI Open Water that night with Steve, a seasoned professional. He was a great teacher, made sure that everyone was always very comfortable with all the drills, and got us excited for our open water dives. There were a lot of people on the boat other than our group, but despite being a bit crowded there was a great atmosphere. I decided that since I was there, I might as well do the advanced course, and that is when I really got hooked. We had 5 amazing dives with Skui, with the night dive definitely being a highlight! Still not wanting to leave, I did an afternoon of fun dives at 2 great dive sites with divemaster Chris, who was super excited to show us cool aquatic wildlife. Amazing dives, awesome instructors, and all around incredibly friendly people made Big Blue one of my favourite places visited! 
 

Three days into the New Year & I'm afraid we've only seen 1 Whaleshark so far! Just a little disappointing considering we saw over 20 last month but you know... mustn't grumble. Plenty more fish in the sea! & still not an entirely bad batting average all things considered. 33.3% to be exact. If we can keep up these averages then we will end up with over 100 Whalesharks throughout the whole year! Almost as many as we dived with in 2012! 

February 2013

Thursday 28th February 2013-

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 Team Big Blue went out to fix some of the mooring lines around Koh Tao last week, including deploying a new line at King Kong and fixing one of the mooring lines at Japanese Gardens from an old polystyrene box to a proper buoy as supplied by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. But why do we make buoy lines on Koh Tao? Well, dropping anchors can cause massive structural damage ot the reefs around Koh Tao, and so to reduce this damage, The Save Koh Tao Group and the Thai Navy began a marine zoning and mooring line project in March 2009. Since the start of this project, nearly every dive site has the appropriate mooring lines and buoys. Snorkelling areas, small boats tie offs, boat lanes, and ‘no boat’ areas also have their own particular markers, such as yellow buoy lines for snorkelling areas, as part of the island zoning project. It is hoped that by working with the local community for the installation, maintenance, and repair of these buoys that we can increase the amount of education and awareness about human impacts on coral reefs and reduce those impacts for Koh Tao. At Big Blue, we use these buoys everyday at the dive sites. By replacing and maintaining the existing lines, we help ensure this project's success. A big thanks to the nine Big Blue DMTs and Marine Conservation Interns who joined the project and thanks to Save Koh Tao for putting on the fantastic mooring line workshops last week.

“Best Dive Shop in Koh Tao”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 24, 2013 - Would highly recommend Big Blue to all travellers, whether you are back-packing or looking for a more family oriented hotel. They make scuba diving as easy, fun and comfortable as can be. The best place to start or further your dive experience in Koh Tao. Would definitely recommend the instructor I had for my Open Water and Advanced course, Ben. He was helpful every step of the way! 
 
 Right peoples! As long as the boats back up and running we're organizing another Sattakut night dive tonight. Last time we saw crazy crabs and mental cuttle fish but most importantly, the wreck at night, by torch light, is a sight to behold! Peoples who are interested need to have Nitrox and wreck specialties. Staff members will also be asked to make a small donation to Pidams and Zaws booze fund. For more information come to the Tech shack and have a chat with Bryan or James. Happy Friday!

Tuesday 19th February 2013- 

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Meet some of our newer staff- Anke Moors.Completely fluent in over 700 languages Anke has a birds nest growing out the back of her head. Hails from a small town in France called Belgium, famous for little Private Investigators, Martial Arts & Chocolate porn! She has an incredible way of making sure everyone remembers her name- "My name is 'Wanker' without the 'W'!  We employed her straight away! Anke is a very accomplished Tech Diver, as well as a PADI Instructor, BSAC Instructor & SSI Instructor. Started off at Big Blue working in our Beach bar but has come a long way since those days of drunken debauchery and now teaches all our courses in English, French, German, Dutch & Belgiumese. Always laughing, awesome character, reliable, patient & friendly everyone just loves our Wanker!

“Into the blue!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 16, 2013 - During my 6 days on Koh Tao I did 10 dives with the guys from Big Blue Diving and had a kick-ass time. I have my Advanced OW and had many dives in several other spots in South East Asia and Mexico. Well, Koh Tao may not have the best dive spots in the world concerning what you can see there, but the Big Blue´s dive guides make up for this big time. I have been diving with Darren and Christine and it is amazing how passionate they are about their jobs and how much effort they put into lighting the same fire in their customers. Seeing your dive master cheering and screaming underwater because she/he just found a scorpion fish (which is pretty hard to spot) or a tiny nudibranch is just inspiring and adds so much to your dive experience. Darren and Christine were both mad about the tiny things, you normally don´t spot easily in Koh Tao. For me this makes both of them great underwater guides, because everyone can point to a whaleshark (if you are lucky enough to meet one), but finding that piece of rock that actually is a scorpion fish or a colorful 1cm nudibranch requires a lot of love for your job and lots and lots of dedication. And this commitment doesn´t stop on the boat or on land. They are always up for a joke and create just good vibes. Thanks to Darren and Christine and to the whole Big Blue team. 
 
Not quite sure what just happened but its suddenly gotten really busy here on Koh Tao! We are pretty much out of rooms to walk in & are only just managing to honor our bookings as well. Its unbeleivable. So if you are heading this way over the next few weeks I would highly recommend booking your accommodation before you get here to avoid missing out on all the fun & games. I wouldn't rely on walking in & being able to get yourself a budget room as they are all gone! & next week is going to be even worse as it is the Full Moon party in Koh Phangan. Drop as an email. I highly recommend it! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Monday 18th February 2013-

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Updating our Meet the Team profiles- Carly Marsh- A whiteSouth African, so obviously completely racist, corrupt & filthy rich! A Gold Smith by trade! Obviously not a very good one or she wouldn't be working here! Nicknamed Prawn- something to do with that terrible South African Sci fi movie, nothing to do with a chick that has a mad body, but a bad face, you know like when you eat a prawn, you eat the body and throw away the head! Prawn is the hottest of our Divemaster team. She's also the smallest, ah maybe that's where the name came from! Absolutely crap at soccer Carly is our first employed Seffrican who can speak English or at least thinks she can which results in a completely effective failure to communicate. We usually just wait for her to break into tribal dance and sing/dance/unnecessary shouting/boobies! 

“Great time at Big Blue” -5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 16,- I did the open water diving course at Big Blue and overall this was a very good experience. Arriving at 4pm, I started the course right away at 5pm. Next day we were already training in the pool and the following days we did 4 dives in total. We completed the whole course and certification by day 4. The atmosphere and the general level of expertise makes you feel at ease as ease. The free accomodation during the duration of the course ( dorm room) was a nice extra touch. Special thanks to/ mentioning of our instructor Tim. His excellent teaching skills made this a great experience:
* focus on the essence: I never dived before nor did I do any kind of snorkelling. Therefore the first days were quite overwhelming. Tim makes you focus on the essence and keeps on repeating and stressing the core things you need to know and do to master the skill of diving.
* focus on the students: Tim has his full attention on the students at all time. He is not trying to be mister popular nor is he in love with the sound of his own voice. Instead he focuses on the students' questions and needs. Our group very much appreciated this straightforward approach.
* individual approach: Tim does not believe in a 'one size fits all' teaching approach and tailors his way of teaching according to your needs and demands.
As a result, by the end of the course our whole group was at ease in the water, had the basic about diving and we all had a great time. In a nutshell, when going to Koh Tao, going diving with Big Blue and ask for Tim as an instructor, you will not regret it.

Eco Jen has laid on a Marine Buoyline project today for all our DMT's. THis morning she finally got delivered the 3 mooring lines we ordered & showed our guys how to tie a knot to secure the big bright floaty thing at the surface & this afternoon she's taken a boat to the other side of the island to install the big bright floaty things on 3 Divesites. Tanote Bay, King Kong, & Hin Wong Pinnacle. Its an awesome experience for our team of soon to be professional Divemasters and I think its what sets us apart from every other dive school on the island which is why if you are going to become a Dive Professional you need to know more than just how to lead divers & how to assist Instructors. You need to know about Big bright floaty things too!

Saturday 16th February 2013-  

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 Due to the enormous shortage of rooms on Koh Tao & the excessive demand for cheap accommodation we have been forced to adjust our pricing a little! So as of today we are happy to announce that we have 3 types of budget dormitories available now. First off we offer for FREE a bed in our 6 bed AC dorms which in all honesty have seen better days. Please note you can only book these rooms online if you book them alongside your Open Water & Advanced Courses, otherwise you'll have to take a chance to see if they're available upon walk in whihc in all honesty is going to be pretty slim. These dorms are almost always full! Then we offer 100 Bt dorms in our 4 bed fan rooms at Big Blue 2. Nice. First floor with a balcony overlooking the pool. Definitely a good bargain. & then we offer 200 Bt AC dorms also at Big Blue 2 also with 4 beds to a dorm but this is on the ground floor. However still very much a bargain & also nice! Then we offer 300 Baht private fan rooms, 400 Bt beach bungalows, & so on & so on. Hopefully this will free up the accommodation problems we've been experiencing over the last few months for all you cheap skates out there! ;-)

“Highlight of my Thailand vacation at Big Blue.”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 12, 2013- Heading to Thailand my boyfriend and I knew we definitely wanted to get our open water in Koh Tao. There are so many choices. After reading reviews and lonely planet we decided to go with big blue and it did not disappoint. Everything was easy with big blue from the moment we booked. We were picked up from the ferry and driven to the resort. Checked in within minutes and received great accomadations. We decided to upgrade to a private room rather than the free accommodation. Our open water course was great. Student to inscturctor ratio was the perfect number. One instructor and dive master trainee for 6 students. Our instructor was Tosh who was a blast and always had a joke to tell. He was incredibly experienced and passionate about diving. I had a bit of an issue with taking my mask off while diving and panicked but Tosh was able to calm me down and help me get through it. Our entire open water class signed up to do our advanced. We got to stay together as a group and keep Tosh as our insctructor. My boyfriend and I left Big Blue to move onto other parts of Thailand only to return 3 days later to continue diving. We didn't have enough time to do any specialty courses so we did a few fun dives. We did a full day dive which is worth every penny. 3 dives, breakfast, lunch, drinks and snacks for a great price with a knowledgeable dive master. I highly recommend big blue. If you want a place with knowledgeable, passionate people, great location and great atmosphere it will not disappoint!
 

Here is an awesome story of a 3 fishermen miles off the coast of Australia who encounter a Whaleshark. The big fish swims straight up to the boat & just hangs out there at the surface. One of the fisherman jumps into the water with their mask & snorkel to get a closer look (as you would) and realizes the Whaleshark is there because it needs their help. Tied around its fins is a rope. A noose! The Fisherman grabs a knife & then for the next 20 minutes proceeds to free the Whaleshark from the rope while the whaleshark hovers just below the surface so the fisherman can snorkel while he cuts away at the rope. Then after its been freed the Whaleshark sticks a fin out the water as if to say thanks & swims away! A truly magical tale and an excellent example to prove that these creatures are very intelligent, way more so than we realize, and not something we should be fishing & sticking into a bowl of soup!

Thursday 14th February 2013-

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Lonely Planets write up on Koh Tao. "Scuba virgins from all over flock to Ko Tao to learn how to dive. Not only is this lush, pistachio-coloured island blessed with crystal clear water and trippy coral reefs shallow enough for beginners to explore; it’s also is one of the world’s cheapest and most popular places to get your open-water dive certification. Diving is definitely the island’s mainstay, and on its busiest areas you can’t walk 100m without tripping over a shop. Once you choose an outfitter, there are dozens of spectacular reefs with plentiful marine life to swim through. Once considered exclusively a dive destination, these days Ko Tao is nearly as popular with nondivers as it is with scuba enthusiasts. Small (it measures just 21 sq km) and laid-back, it’s become a haven for those seeking the beauty found on big sisters Ko Samui and Ko Pha-Ngan without the chaos. Fast and frequent ferries make travel to Ko Tao easy, and once you arrive there’s plenty of entertainment – from lounging on pristine beaches to mountain biking through the lush and rugged interior. All in all Ko Tao is a romantic place, where nights are casual affairs, usually involving a quiet drink by candlelight on a cushion near the edge of the sea. Even though Ko Tao has become more hip with each season, it hasn’t let this celebrity status go to its head. Although there are pockets of frenetic activity in the main tourist ghettos of Ban Hat Sai Ri and Ban Mae Hat, much of the island retains an easy-going pace. Infrastructure on Ko Tao is still pretty basic, with much of the east coast only accessible by 4WD or boat, and 24-hour electricity blanketing only about 75% of the island."
 
“Great Place to Stay, Dive, Drink & Eat!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 13, 2013 - Arrived at Big Blue for 3 nights and ended up staying 3 weeks we loved it so much. Did the open water with mini Ant. If you're a nervous diver, he's great, really patient and we all felt really safe diving with him. Couldn't recommend him more. Accommodation is clean & perfectly located on the beach. The food is really good to top it all off!

There are lots of Dive instructors and dive masters on Koh Tao, what sets you apart? Volunteering and getting involved with local conservation projects is a great way to get ahead in the industry, add to your knowledge and skills base, and improve your student training and satisfactions; all while helping to preserve the environment we depend on. See the schedule of upcoming events below, hope to see you there! Feb. 17th –Zoning & Mooring Workshop, 7pm Feb. 18th – Mooring Buoy Maintenance

Feb 21st – Clean-up Planning & Project Aware Grant mtg, 7pm, Moov
Feb 23rd – Land and Underwater Clean-up
March 5th – SKT Meeting and After party
March 30th- clean-up
April 22nd- Earth Day Film Festival
Late April -Koh Tao Festival (Turtle release, Giant Clam nursery, etc)

Wednesday 13th February 2013-

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Pilot Whale! Yesterday! Mid afternoon. at White Rock! Not seen by anyone other than Bryan from the Tech Shack & you know how little these techie types know about fish Identification! So guess it could have been anything! But Bryan does quite categorically insist it was a pilot whale. No body else on the whole dive site saw one except bryan! And Pilot Whales are pretty big so it is a little suspicious that on a dive site heaving with divers our Bryan was the only one to see it. Still he beleives what he's saying & even managed to draw a picture of it which is a fairly accurate portrayal of a Pilot Whale so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt! Pilot Whale! Yesterday! Mid afternoon. at White Rock!

“Great Time Fun Diving with Big Blue!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 11, 2013 - I arrived in Thailand with one thing on my mind: Go scuba diving!! I hadn't picked out any location but heard that Koh Tao was a must for diving in Thailand. So I got to Koh Tao, opened up my lonely planet guide and went directly to Big Blue Diving and I was not disapointed! I was initially supposed to stay for 3-4 days and ended up staying for 1.5 weeks! Diving: diving with big blue is a really fun and safe experience. Every fun diver is assigned to a divemaster that knows the area and guides the divers through the dives. For each dive, the divemaster gives a breefing that goes through the diving signals, safety rules, map of divesite and what is interesting to see at each divesite. The divemasters are very professionnal, make sure that fun divers feel safe and all that while making sure that the experience is both relax and fun! The diving schedules are very flexible with morning, afternoon and night sessions. The prices for fun diving are really good and they also add a discount incremental to the number of dives done. Going to the full day trip to Sail Rock is also a must! Accommodation: I stayed at big blue 1 in a 6 bedroom dorm and I honestly could not complain. The room was clean and decent for the price charged (which was 0 for days that I was diving)! The Big Blue Diving Resort also has a nice restaurant and bar after diving with a relaxed and cool atmosphere!! Big blue is centrally located in Sairee Beach (with a beachfront), making it a very good location to lodge on Koh Tao!Staff: As I previously said, the staff was very welcoming, professional and making sure that I had a good experience. At my arrival, a divemaster welcomed me at the resort, made the time to talk to me about what were my needs and expectations for my stay. So, despite the fact that there is a lot of person that do dive and stay at big blue, I was pleasantly surprised at how the service is personalized! They were very helpful whenever I had a question. So overall, an excellent experience at Big Blue Diving! I will recommend Big Blue to all my friends that are planning to go diving in Koh Tao! I will definitely go back when I'm in the area! A special thanks to the DMs that made my diving at Big Blue a memorable experience: Steven, Darren, Carly, Sophia, Christine, Angel, Bobby and all the staff at Big Blue!
 

So restricting a business to one supplier, then making them look the same as there nearest rivals, whilst feeding them misinformation and charging the earth for it helps the industry how exactly ?......SSI has always been the Business Support Agency for over 40 years! They are confident enough to use their Brand to stand behind ours, and support us where they can as a true partner should. How else are you going to get noticed in a competitive market? ....Think out of the bubble and STAND OUT from your competitors. Choose SSI an agency that respects YOUR business is worth shouting about.Wake up Dive Centers, get out of your little boxes and look around.

Tuesday 12th February 2013-

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 'I wrote a message on the sea bed' - Daniel Kurk, 30, proposed to Zoe Church, 35, on the bottom of the ocean. The couple, from Watford in Hertfordshire, are planning a beach wedding this year… Daniel said: I planned to pop the question in Thailand on our second joint holiday there. I'd spent over a month on the island of Koh Tao when I'd been travelling a few years back. It is where I qualified for my open water and advanced diving licenses and I had become firm friends with one of the dive shop owners. (Big Blue!) When I returned to Koh Tao with Zoe I arranged for my friend to supply us with snorkel gear and a dive bag and I told him my plans. I booked a night's stay on the tiny island of Koh Nang Yuan about a mile off shore and the following morning I got up at sunrise and snuck off into the bay while Zoe slept. I collected a dive bag full of dead coral that had washed up at the foot of the beach and then swam out into the bay to write a message on the sea bed. I managed to get back to our villa just as Zoe was waking up. I tempted Zoe into the water by pretending to have seen a turtle. We swam into the bay and I kept making her swim further and further out. When she finally saw the message she did a double take and started laughing bubbles. She thought someone else had left the message. Then she looked at me, looked back at the message, more bubbles and then nearly drowned as she forgot to breath! We made it back to shore after a few happy tears on her part. The message itself is very silly.  Zoe's favourite TV show is Come Dine With Me and during a WAG special, the wives talked about their proposals. Emile Hesky's wife said Emile had proposed via a text message and the narrator, Dave Lamb, screamed, 'What did it say, Wife Me LOL?'. It turned into one of Zoe’s favourite jokes for about the next six months, so I didn’t really have much choice but to write that as my proposal. Our ring needed to be just as special as the proposal so Harriet's team designed one around the themes of water and the ocean. The ring was designed to look like the crest of a wave and the central stone is blue topaz, to reflect the colour of the ocean. A perfect symbol of our future lives together.

“Great diving school, instructors, lodging, restaurant, location, beach, had a blast!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 9, 2013 - A fellow traveler recommended Big Blue and I'm so glad I went here for scuba school! Chris Cherry and Iain were excellent instructors. Very clear, patient and knowledgeable. Serious about diving and safety while striking a balance with fun and humor. After the Open Water course, I stayed for 5 more dives and the advanced certification with Felix, also excellent. We did deep dives, one through a chimney-shaped rock, and one at a shipwreck. On one dive, we swam for a long time with a turtle! I loved learning to dive and will certainly continue diving into the future. I'm so glad I was introduced to scuba properly by the terrific folks at Big Blue! Great place to sleep and eat, good vibe. Everyone here is learning to scuba dive! 
 

Listen up all you techies and wannabes! Tomorrow afternoon we have a Re-Breather try dives running from lunch time, there are still a couple of spaces left, so get busy & get in touch! As we said before the cost is 1000bht but this will be refunded if you book onto a course. Tell your friends then apply here, walk ins will be accepted on the day :-)

Sunday 10th February 2013-

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Just been looking at our Instructor Training stats for 2012. Due to the increased demand for SSI Instructors in South East Asia we've really boomed. Over the last year SSI have changed their Diver Master program  which makes it more dynamic 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 last year 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. Just to mention a few: Jo, Anke, Billie, Rick, Donny, Big Ant, Little Ant, Ami, Ben, Daisy, Bobby, James, Nat, Tim, Rafa, all found work at Big Blue! Billie, Mia, Ne Tun, Serge, Cindy, Felix, Mark, Sara, Fin, Aj and many many more have found work outside of Big Blue, all the way around the world from New Zealand to the Caymans. Would also like to add a congratulations to Donny, Rick, Ludo, Big Ant, & Rick who all upgraded to Dive Control Specialty Instructor last year as well. Also a massive big up to Ne Tun for being the first Burmese SSI instructor and has now open the first SSI dive school in Burma. This year we have more of the same Planned. We have Dive Master courses starting everyday and we have Instructor Training Course starting every month on the 15th. If you want to join in send us an email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“BiG Blue”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 4, 2013 - My husband and I were absolutely stoked on our Big Blue Experience. We completed our Open Water diving course & enjoyed it so much we came back for our Advanced Course! Rick was our instructor for both courses and we loved him, he was professional, fun and still made you feel safe and confident as a diver. Learning to dive in Koh Tao at Big Blue was definitely the highlight of our month trip through Thailand. We highly recommend it!

Calling all Freelance Dive Instructors looking for work! Here is the new way to get yourself employed in Thailand. It’s a smart phone App with the goal to find instructors work. Down load the app to your phone. (it free for the next 3 month after that 50Bt per month). Then there will be a questionnaire for instructors to fill out Name, Area, Age, Languages, PADI, SSI, Spec, Dives, OW Certs, AOW Certs, Rescues Certs, Spec Certs, Etc etc etc, ie a diving CV. The dive shop then uses this questionnaire to find the instructors they need. They then click to call them. Once hired for that job they then are taken out of the Apps search engine. After they do the job the dive shop can fill in a review on the instructor. The better the review the high up the ranking that instructor will go and in the end show up 1st on the search. New sign ups to the App get put on top of the list for a couple of weeks to help them start out and get good reviews. Out on android NOW for Koh Tao. This will also be used for dive shops looking for full time staff. Pick the best instructor. This will be pushed for next high season in Phuket/Phi Phi and Khao Lak. This app will be out on Iphone in 3 months time. Definitely recommended!

Saturday 9th February 2012-

9

Look who's back! Sporting a nice tan & a new trim on top with short back sides & all scrubbed up with spit & polish!  Our oldest boat in our fleet Big Blue boat, now named Big Blue Tech Boat! Dedicated to our team of hardened explorers this boat is for the Tech Diving team who while away their hours at extreme depths for excessive periods of time exploring the bottom of the ocean in search of Wrecks. Shame the boat is back without their Illustrious leader James who's hopped it for a week of R& R in the Khao Sok National Park doing some Cave diving! Cool stuff these boys get into. Wreck, tech & caves, & with their very own boat! Interested in joining the team? Give us a holler This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Calling all aspiring marine conservationists! A very rare job opportunity has presented itself as we are looking to expand our marine conservation department. We are looking for a marine project scientist for a year minimum, in-country PAID position, to start ASAP. Essential requirements are: BSc in a relevant field (Masters preferred), Tropical marine fieldwork experience (previous experience in volunteer supervision preferred), Divemaster qualification or higher (any agency is fine, SSI preferred) with own equipment. Can show dedication to conservation and highly motivated. Duties will include: Volunteer supervision and training through our expedition conservation skill development program. Organising events and conservation activities such as artificial reef construction and beach and underwater clean-ups. Assist other Big Blue conservation staff and act as a role model and advocate for conservation. Assisting with reporting project updates and research. Maintenance of science equipment inventories and requesting re-supplies. Regular meetings with local stakeholders at the Save Koh Tao meetings. General training site maintenance and promotion. Personal benefits include: Author and co-author Big Blue Conservation publications and reports. Enhance research experience. Live on our beautiful tropical island as part of the Big Blue family. Diving opportunities and enhance your dive training. Liaise with local communities. If you think you have all this then please send a CV with a short explanation of yourself and career goals to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Great!!!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 4, 2013- I was in Koh Tao in November. I have to say it was more then definitely one of my favorite places in Thailand to go. its laid back but still is a good time. Big Blue was one of the reasons i loved Koh Tao. I had Billy as a instructor and he was awsome looked after our well being and made sure to point out all the good stuff. he was constantly checking up on us and assisting us in maintaining buoyancy. just an awesome guy. Really wish i got a Big Blue Shirt.

Friday 8th February 2013-

8 

What a fantastic day! We had 12 local school children come to Big Blue today to learn all about protecting the coral and fish, and about shark conservation too. When the kids arrived, we taught them some of the do's and don'ts of the ocean, and they even contributed some themselves, such as don't touch the coral, don't feed the fish and always wait an hour before going into the water after applying sunscreen. Then we had the chance to show them some mushroom coral specimens and for some of the kids, this was their first time seeing them! We also had a sea cucumber in our new classroom tanks, which made quite an impression when it nearly climbed out of the tank. Next, the kids helped us support shark conservation by colouring in their own Stanley Shark (www.sharkdefenders.com) and we took them down to the beach to have a photograph which we will now send to officials who decide which shark species to protect from international trade. All the kids had a fantastic day and I'm pleased to say I could see some budding marine biologists in the group! See you soon kids, and remember - save the seas!!

“The Best”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advsior February 6, 2013 - We stayed at Big Blue when we were getting SCUBA certified for 3 days. We stayed in a private room with two beds and it was wonderful. It was simple, clean, and had a shower. It was a few steps to the restaurant and bar and a few more steps to the beach. It was perfect! They also offer dorm type rooms and everyone we talked to said they were clean, safe, and had a bathroom. Our diving experience was also great! Our instructor Tim was awesome! Our class time didn't feel like a chore and our dive time was amazing. I always felt safe and taken care of, all the diving staff loves what they do and they really know there stuff. The only bummer was that we didn't get to see a whale shark:( Nothing we could do about that though... The restaurant had wonderful food (the best pad thai I had in Thailand) and was decently priced for the area. The staff was amazing and the facility was first rate. They made all of us feel welcome and always took care of our needs. I want to go back now! 
 
 Manta rays are in serious trouble. Both manta ray species are classified by the IUCN as Vulnerable to extinction, and their populations are rapidly declining due to the growing international trade in the gill rakers mantas use to filter food from water. We need to stop the gill raker trade before it's too late for mantas,
and this year we have a very special opportunity. In early March - one month from now - manta rays will be considered for trade protections under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is  imperative that we get this vote passed. If we miss this chance, thousands more mantas will be lost to the international gill raker trade before the next CITES vote in 2016. Mantas can't afford to wait another three years for the next CITES meeting, and neither can we. Please donate today and your gift will be DOUBLED to better help protect these beautiful animals from extinction.

Thursday 7th February 2013-

7

Sail Rock. The Gulf of Thailands best Divesite. Max depth: 40m- A real open water site, Sail Rock can be found equidistant between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Not suitable for complete beginners, Sail Rock is considered to be one of the best sites in the Gulf of Thailand. Comprising one large granite rock pinnacle, which stands 15m above sea level and drops off to a max depth of 30m and outer lying smaller pinnacles, it thoroughly deserves the 2 dives we make at the site every Full Day trip we do. The famous feature of Sail Rock is ‘The Chimney’ - a large vertical swim through which can be accessed at 5m, 12m and 18m. Inside you will find wonderful clam and coral formations, dancing shrimp and much more. A full circuit of the whole rock takes approx 35 - 40 minutes & en route you will encounter mountain ranges, cascading coral gardens, vertical walls and delightful gullies. The marine life at Sail Rock abounds, with the smaller coral fish - Blue Ringed Angel Fish, Banner Fish and Butterfly Fish to name a few, found closer to the rock. The larger pelagics - Chevron Barracuda, Whale Shark and Sail Fish - can be found cruising the deep blue, just out from the rock. When conditions permit a whole dive can be made at The Secret Pinnacle which lies east of the main rock and delights with Giant Grouper, huge schools of Spanish Mackerel and Big Eyed Trevally. The favourite site of all our dive team, Sail Rock deservedly maintains its position as the No 1 dive site from Koh Tao. A Full Day Trip to Sail Rock is a must!

“Unbelievable Experience!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 1, 2013- I never expected to become so addicted and hooked so quick!I just finished my SSI course a day two days ago, and already want to go back and dive more. If you're going to Koh Tao and diving, Big Blue is the place, and DAISY is the instructor you want! She not only made the academics fun, she made the whole experience exciting and more than fun! Daisy made sure we were all comfortable and showed us not only the technical side of diving but the fun, and out of this world side. All of the staff at Big Blue are friendly and helpful, making the whole experience an unforgettable one. The instructor to student ratio is low, and its an all around awesome experience. I highly recommend Big Blue Diving (and Daisy), you wont regret it! This experience is going to be tough to impossible to top! Thanks Daisy!

Start your SSI Advanced Diver Program the easy way. Have you ever been out on a boat dive with friends exploring a new dive site and upon surfacing discovered that the boat wasn’t quite where you thought it was? Perhaps you’ve been interacting with schools of fish but never really known what type of fish they were … or what they did at night? Maybe you’ve been to dive sites that go deeper than you’re allowed to go and wondered what it’d be like to dive a little deeper? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then you’d definitely find our SSI Advanced Adventurer program an enjoyable and educational experience. SSI Advanced Adventurer program is designed to give you an insight into 5 areas of scuba diving and best of all there is no theory or exams to worry about – just a pre-dive safety brief by your SSI Instructor and then you’re off and diving! SSI Advanced Adventurer program will improve your skills & introduce you to: Buoyancy control : Diving at night : Diving from a boat : Navigation : Diving in low visibility :  Wreck Diving & Deeper diving. The program is divided up into 5 dives over one weekend costs just 8500 Bt & for an additional 60 baht you can even buy your Instructor a beer for having had such an awesome time!

Tuesday 5th February 2013-

5

 

 As predicted by the self proclaimed " Worlds Best Divemaster" DM Steven there was a Whaleshark at Twins this morning! And swimming really shallow in about just 5 meters of water.About time too. We haven't had a whaleshark round here for at least a week! One of the biggest fish in the sea lives off the smallest fish in the sea. And seeing a creature thats at least 5 meters in size in just a depth of 5 meters as well makes this particular encounter with the whaleshark today one of our most memorable yet! See Divemaster Steven to book your next Whaleshark dive!

“Completely Addictive!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor  January 30, 2013 - I was diving with Big Blue a couple of weeks ago and it is by far the best place to learn. My instructor was Daisy and she was amazing. She made everything fun and exciting, even the academics! and without her I don't think the experience would have been anywhere near as good. I was there with my boyfriend and although we only intended to stay and do the open water course we got hooked and stayed on to do the advanced and were lucky enough to get Daisy for that as well. The groups are small, no more than 6 people, ours was 5 and then 4 and it is ran without fault. I would recommend big blue in a heart beat and can't wait to go back!! Best thing about my trip in Thailand by miles! x

Another massive net again on Chumphon Pinnacles here on Koh Tao. Our best divesite! This is becoming an all to regular sight on protected reefs. Thai Fisheries Dept should pay massive fines and a clearance fee if they themselves can not control these individual fishing boats. The buck has to stop somewhere!! Hearing too many stories of officials in the pockets of the big fishing fleets & witnessing ourselves the masses of fishing boats around Koh Tao which supposedly has a 12.5 kilometer no fishing zone. Its just not on & we feel like there's nothing we can do as the people we are supposed to notify of this kind of thing are the same people that let this kind of thing happen in the first place! Mother fathers! Rant over but still pissed!

Monday 4th February 2013-

4

Well looks like we might have just found the perfect couple to spearhead our new 2013 goal of launching Big Blue Freediving (again!) This time we've pushed the boat out a little & gone & found ourselves 2 World Freediving Champions! Flavia Eberhard from Brazil, their national record holder who's been as deep as 70meters & can last 6 minutes on just one breath. Pepe Arcos from Spain has won numerous Gold medals and has been as deep as 90 meters, can swim 179 meters in a pool & can last just over 6 minutes on 1 breath. They are also AIDA International Judges so will be organising Koh Tao's 1st Freediving competitions once we get the ball rolling! Looking good guys. Just got to decide on the name- Big Blue FreeDiving or Big Blue Breathold. Oh the agony of choice.

“Excellent teachers, great experience”  Reviewed on Trip Advisor January 31, 2013 - Came here to get certified and could not have had a better experience. *Endless* thanks to my Open Water instructor, Guy. Anyone thinking about learning to dive - I highly recommend coming to Big Blue and doing your Open Water course with him. Before I started his class I expected to find diving somewhat daunting, but I quickly forgot that because he made it all so fun and easy. He manages to point out your mistakes in a way that ensures you'll never make them again, but he does so without making you feel like a complete idiot. Really appreciated that! He's also just a fun person to hang out with. Our group tried to find him before we left but sadly we couldn't, so Guy, if this gets back to you, thank you again! I'm so glad I finally got certified, I love diving, and I know I'll be doing much more of it in the future. I also did the Advanced course and with Rick as my instructor, and he was great too. Very cool and knowledgeable and led our group on a night dive, which was a truly amazing experience. 
 

Still looking for a couple with experience in the Dive Industry to run our new venture that I'm not allowed to talk about yet cos officially it aint happening but between me & you & anyone else reading this post is happening! Our plan is to take over an existing resort in one of ASAI's undiscovered Diving jewels! The succesful candidates will be totally in charge of the Dive resort the accommodation the restaurant & the bar. They need knowledge of the Dive industry & need to be extremely self motivated & hard working. This won't be an easy job but it will be a rewarding one! Management couple sought for position in paradise! Reckon you fit the bill? email me your CV's & any questions you might have- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

March 1, 2013

2013-03-01

 Congratulations to our new breed of SSI Instructors Thelma, Christine, Alex & Sofia who have passed their Instructor Exam with flying colors and also to SSI Instructor Trainers Simon Garrity & Paul 'Tosh' Tanner who continue their 100% pass rate. So now its into the big wide world they go looking for new & exciting destinations & opportunities to show their stuff! & with so many opportunities out there right now for SSI Instructors the world is their lobster! We got job offers in Hurghada in Egypt, Malapasca in the Philipines, the Oman, Lombok & Gili T in Indonesia, the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia & heaps more. So if you fancy a change in lifestyle, career & location then don't you think its about time you signed up for your Scuba Diving Instructor license! email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. & you too could look pretty in pink!

“Funsies in the Sunsies”-5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 24, 2013 - I think I'm having severe physical withdrawal after leaving Big Blue and Koh Tao. Don't be alarmed, I will (probably) be alright, but I did find myself scouring the Big Blue website like a lost puppy earlier. I also apologize for the title of my review. I thought I could pull off the word "funsies."I came to Big Blue at the end of January to do my open water course and found myself in a carefully selected group with our instructor, mini Ant. Although he had a gimp pinky finger, we were able to look past it on account of his superior dive-language. (That's like sign language for divers, but I just Bradgelina'd it) His knowledge of diving is apparent and I appreciated his uncanny ability to put up with 5 blondes who couldn't figure out how to zip up a wetsuit. Thanks to mini Ant, I am now not only a pro diver, but know that when it comes to defogging a mask, "the greener the cleaner." Knowledge is truly power. I went on to do my advanced course with Marty where I learned to navigate and become a modern day Lewis and Clark. I was also able to do fun dives with the self proclaimed "best dive master in all of Koh Tao...no wait, the world," Darren. Darren may be one of the most profound dive masters there are, so pay him a visit. He also gets overwhelmingly excited about finding razor fish, crocodile fish, and other minuscule things that I can't recall but know are undoubtably important to him. So you should all probably come to Big Blue. The water is waiting for you. And the bar, lets not forget about the bar. That's pretty important too... 
 
Bit of a shift in Dive staff here with the unfortunate news that DM Mentor & Big Blue Dive Medic Steve is having to hand in his notice as he's gone and done his back in & might need to have a couple of discs unherniated! Excruciatingly painful poor old Steve has resigned himself to the fact he won't be able to continue this Diving malarky as a career any longer. He will still however be staying on Koh Tao & working at the Chalok Physicians Clinic where we'll still be able to bother him with some of our more mundane humdrum type of Dive medical questions such as if it rains will that increase the pressure on my air spaces? So looking to fill the gap in our Divemaster training program now with another member of our existing staff. Any ideas?

March 3, 2013

2013-03-03

Thanks to everyone at Big Blue who helped with the clean up on Saturday, we had 35 people and collected 14 kgs of rubbish from north Sairee beach, and 28 people and 25 kgs of rubbish and a big metal pole when we cleaned South Mae Haad. Cheers everyone! Such a great spirit of camaraderie among everyone who helped out. Amazing how much fun can be had picking up rubbish. Imagine if the rest of the world could feel the same experience!

“Big love for big blue!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 24, 2013 - So your thinking of diving with big blue ey? As an experienced traveler and self appointed expert level explorer, this place is at the top of my favorite things of all times list. Which is quite a high honor. Our diving instructor Mini Ant was extremely knowledgeable in all things diving, but also threw in some humor when he sensed our fading attention spans. In fact he was such a diving extraordinaire we were (pretty easily) compelled to continue on in our diving studies and partake in the advanced course as well. I highly suggest staying to complete both your open water and advanced courses, as they both go hand in hand and you will receive an even more spectacular diving experience. I mean who would say no to diving an old ship wreck? Or at night! Just don't drop your flashlight on that one.. But if you do, you are sure to have a always prepared dive master such as Alex Henk to find it for you before you even realize you have lost it. We also did some fun dives with dive master Darren, whose high energy level and witty comments helped stimulate my growingly groggy "island brain" and made for a hilarious day of diving. My biggest piece of advice is to allow plenty of time there. The courses themselves may only take a few days to complete, but seeing as you aren't supposed to drink during these seemingly long periods of time, you should allow for alcohol consumption buffer days between courses. That's what any responsible drinker/diver such as myself would do. 
 

Here's a question we get asked a lot: Is PADI the best training organisation? Well I will not attempt to compare PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) to other agencies such as SSI, BSAC, CMAS or NAUI (the big 5) as each has its own standards equal to or above the minimum established. I believe that the individual instructor has a big influence on the training received. I have seen many great instructors from all agencies and several bad instructors in all agencies. Each agency puts out their own guidelines to teach by. It’s what the instructor puts into it that makes all the difference. Good job we at Big Blue Diving have some of the best, most experienced Instructors in the world!

March 4, 2013

 2013-03-04

A dream job opportunity! Calling all aspiring marine conservationists! A very rare job opportunity has presented itself as we are looking to expand our marine conservation department. We are looking for a marine project scientist for a year minimum, in-country PAID position, to start ASAP.

Essential requirements are:

  • BSc in a relevant field (Masters preferred)
  • Tropical marine fieldwork experience (previous experience in volunteer supervision preferred)
  • Divemaster qualification or higher (any agency is fine, SSI preferred) with own equipment
  • Can show dedication to conservation and highly motivated

Duties will include:

  • Volunteer supervision and training through our expedition conservation skill development program
  • Organising events and conservation activities such as artificial reef construction and beach and underwater clean-ups
  • Assist other Big Blue conservation staff and act as a role model and advocate for conservation
  • Assisting with reporting project updates and research
  • Maintenance of science equipment inventories and requesting re-supplies
  • Regular meetings with local stakeholders at the Save Koh Tao meetings
  • General training site maintenance and promotion
Personal benefits include
  • Author and co-author Big Blue Conservation publications and reports
  • Enhance research experience
  • Live on our beautiful tropical island as part of the Big Blue family
  • Diving opportunities and enhance your dive training
  • Liaise with local communities

If you think you have all this then please send a CV with a short explanation of yourself and career goals to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Awesome service”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor February 27, 2013- We completed our open water and advance dive courses with big blue in feb 2013. We were very impressed with the organisation of the company as well as the laid back, enthusiastic yet highly professional approach of the instructors. Our instructor, Rick was absolutely terrific and can't be commended enough for his superb teaching and infinite patience. He is a real asset to the company and I can't recommend him highly enough. The diving was really varied as well and Koh Tao proved an excellent introduction to the world of diving.
 


"DIVERS WANTED" Anyone looking for work on Koh Tao or Khao Lak can now use this app on any android. "divers wanted". If you are a dive center who wants to use this to find freelancers or full time employees please mesage or e mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can change your app to shop mode. If you don't have a Smart phone or you have an Iphone you can email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. & we will add you! This is FREE and 25 dive schools on Koh Tao are now using it. Two schools have even bought a samsung phone just to use the app.

March 5, 2013

2013-03-05Last night was a very special night on Koh Tao. One night a year, if the conditions are right, the corals spawn. Here are Eco Koh Tao's Nathan & his son Kailash collecting the eggs just as they are released from a Symphillia coral colony. These eggs are ready for fertilisation in water tanks waiting on board the dive boat and will hopefully attach to pre-made substrate ready to be returned to the waters around Koh Tao. Awesome work guys. Photo courtesy of Alex Tyrrell - Dive4Photos

“Great value and experience”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on trip Advisor March 2, 2013 - I did my open water diving at big blue, had a really nice instructor called luke and had fun learning to dive. perfect location on the beach and 4 nights free accommodation and half price after that. I was in a group of 3 and we were given a private room which was really nice but my friend had a bad experience in the dorm which she said was full of mould. The instructors there are easy going and make your time there enjoyable. 

Thursday marks the start of our monthly wreck trips with our Techies from big Blue Tech. These trips were cancelled before Christmas as the conditions have not been favorable on the sites. I'm sure you can imagine we are all a little bit excited about heading out later this week! First on the schedule is our old favorite The Unicorn. This large freight ship was scuttled in an attempt to defraud an insurance company, sadly for the owners the fraud was discovered so they didn't get a sausage, but we got a dive site! Next on the schedule is the Torpedo. She is an old Japanese transport vessel sitting upright in 55m of water. No ones been to this site in three years which is why we are keen to get out there again. Anyone interested in joining us please drop us a message This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call at the tech shack.

March 6, 2013

2013-03-06

All hail to our brand new boat the M.V.Porponawa. Our newest addition to the Big Blue fleet. Our fastest boat too. This litttle baby will get you to Chumphon Pinnacle in 20 minutes, Sail Rock in 45 minutes & we're hoping we'll be able to get to the Angthong Marine Park & the Chumphon Marine Park in less than 90 minutes. This baby is our latest attempt to attract the serious divers among you who want to experience the Dive Sites here in the Gulf of Thailand without the masses. The plan is to take her out for Full Day Trips 6 days per week! Fun Divers only! No courses! Its going to be Sail Rock three times a week, the wrecks once a week, Chumphon Marine Park once a week & the Angthong Marine Park once a week. Breakfast lunch & chocolate cake 6 days a week! Installing the compressors tomorrow & then its off we go! Koh Tao's best choice for certified Divers. Anyone fancy a trip to Sail Rock this Friday? We got cake!

“Choose Big Blue!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 2, 2013 - I will be forever grateful to big blue for allowing me to join a fun dive at the last minute. I arrived late in the evening to Koh Tao and only managed to walk into Big Blue at 7:30 pm, to inquire about the dive schedule the next day. There was a dive first thing in the morning to Chumpon, the site where whale sharks frequently visit. As a person whose dream it was to see a whale shark, i would have done anything to get on that boat. the thing was, I had gotten there too late and the dive briefing had closed, and for that reason I could obviously not come in at the last second. However, I begged them and they were kind enough to call their head instructor who was off shift, and ask him. He was good enough to allow me to join, even though he didnt have to. I appreciated that big time. And fate would have it that on that dive the next morning I did see a whale shark, which was an amazing moment, something i'll never forget. So yeah, big blue has all the generic things which you hear on dive reviews: professionalism, good equipment, great staff etc. but above all else they saw me as a person who really wanted to get on that dive, and not another client who represented only money for them. For that, dive with big blue. They deserve it 

In preparation for the meeting of leaders at the Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) on March 14th in Bangkok, The Koh Tao Shark Project is having a shark day! We will be unveiling our new shark nursery, where we intend to raise sharks and tag them before releasing them back into the Koh Tao waters, along with our new shark education centre at the Save Koh Tao office. We will also be conducting our next shark survey at Shark bay, but this month with a twist - we will have the usual snorkellers identifying and recording Blacktip and other reef shark populations at Shark Bay, but we will also have a team of divers looking for Bamboo Shark eggs to put into our new nursery! The nursery has now been constructed outside the Big Blue Conservation Ecolab, where they get constant protection and maintenance. Eggs and juveniles Bamboo sharks will be raised to a healthy size, tagged, and we will record the sex, size, health and any distinguishing features, then release these beauties back into our waters. This is all in a hope to protect and preserve our shark populations on Koh Tao, now that marine zoning laws mean they are more protected from fishing than before. Come down and visit our nursery, our join in our shark-tastic day later this month!! (Exact date TBC.)

March 7, 2013

2013-03-07

 Just getting so many enquiries now for Sidemount courses. Its only been a few months since this has become popular among recreational divers but WOW. This is quite possibly Scuba Diving's Newest & Biggest buzz! Sidemount is a scuba diving equipment configuration which has diving cylinders mounted alongside the diver, below the shoulders and along the hips, instead of on the back of the diver. It began as a configuration popular with advanced cave divers, as smaller sections of cave can be penetrated and tanks can be changed with greater ease. The same benefits for operating in confined spaces were also recognized by divers who conducted technical wreck diving penetrations. Sidemount diving is now growing in popularity within the technical diving community for general decompression diving, and as I said is becoming an increasingly popular specialty training for recreational diving, with several diver certification agencies offering recreational and technical level sidemount training programs. Offerring it here at Big Blue Tech now! Sign up, sign in & lets sidemount!

“AWESOME!!! A big school with a family feeling”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 4, 2013 - After having compared with other schools on Koh Tao, you just can't get more for your money than at Big Blue. I did my open water diving course + advanced open water with Petra Bauer an amazing instructor and probably the best at Big Blue. She was very patient and answered every single one of my questions and she knows I had many! We had a lot of fun and laughed a great deal. Finally I ended doing my advanced open water as well because I just did not want to leave. Gorgeous setup right by the beach with a nice restaurant (pizza to die for) and small cozy bar. Almost all the people working there used to be backpackers that fell in love with the place and just stayed. This gives you a idea how lovely all the people at Big Blue are. I loved it so much that I am thinking about moving there an do my dive master course!!! 

Dear Khun Wimol Jantrarotai, (Thailand Representative at the CITES Convention). I am taking the time to write to you having read in the papers that Thailand will be opposing the listing of sharks and rays as endangered species. I am a Business partner in a Dive Center here in Thailand with Dive centers on both sides of the country & having been diving in Thailand for over 10 years now I have seen the enormous reduction in sharks & mantas here in the Gulf of Thailand aswell as on the West coast of Thailand. There were days when we would encounter while scuba diving upto 20 Bull sharks, black tip reef sharks & grey nurse sharks. I haven't seen any of these for the past 3 years. Before 2000 when I dived in Koh Tao I would see many Leopard sharks at several of their most popular divesites. Leopard sharks have not been seen on any divesite around Koh Tao for more than 10 years now. In the similans prior to the tsunami we would regularly see upto 10 manta rays at various Divesites around the Similans & Surin Islands. Last year we saw 3 Mantas all season. This year, we have not even had 1 reported Manta ray sighting from anyone who has dived either the Similans or Surin Islands all season! To watch a species that was so rife on Divesites around Thailand literally disappear before our very eyes is extremely disconcerting, not only for the state of these magnificent creatures but for the state of the Scuba Diving industry as a whole here in Thailand. The revenue generated from diving with a Whaleshark or a Manta Ray has been quoted as being in excess of over 1 million dollars per year per creature! Surely the economic value in keeping these creatures alive & a valid attraction for coming to Thailand for tourism is a far better thing to do than to bring these creatures to the brink of extinction for the sake of an expensive bowl of soup! Do hope you will reconsider your position for the sake of all the sharks & mantas you have in your waters & for the sake of the Scuba Diving Industry in Thailand.

Yours sincerely,

Big Blue Diving, Koh Tao, Thailand.

March 10, 2013

2013-03-10

 Follow Leo's example: "Experiencing the unique beauty of the underwater world as a diver inspires me to do what I can to protect our ocean and its inhabitants, particularly magnificent species like sharks and rays. Sharks and rays are being pulled out of the ocean at unprecedented levels. Each year tens of millions of sharks are killed to meet growing demand from Asia for “shark fin soup” often used in weddings and other special occasions. The meat of sharks and rays is also prized in Europe and, increasingly, the gills of manta rays are sought for a traditional Chinese health tonic. Believe it or not, this lucrative international trade remains virtually unregulated. Please join me and Project AWARE in our efforts to secure limits on shark and ray trade. We have an opportunity to turn the tide as officials from countries around the world convene in Bangkok for a conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). There, they can decide to protect a record number of shark and ray species – including oceanic white-tips, hammerheads, and mantas – from the unsustainable international trade that threatens their survival. Sharks and rays are simply not cut out for intense fishing pressure. Most species grow slowly and produce just a few young. The resulting population declines are widespread and in many cases severe. Depletion of these critical species threatens ecosystems, livelihoods, and eco-tourism. Take Action: Tell governments to vote ‘yes’ on proposals to control trade for these vulnerable species. Through Project AWARE’s petition, I’m calling on country delegates to list sharks and rays under CITES and hold international trade to sustainable levels. Join this growing voice of concerned citizens acting to protect these species before it’s too late. Thanks for your support. Leonardo DiCaprio"The vote to get protections for sharks and rays is tomorrow Monday the 11th of March 2013 Bangkok time!!! Not too late to still get the word out to those delegates that YOU want sharks and rays to get protected.

“Whaleshark!” -4 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 7, 2013 - It's all about this mystical big fish at Big Blue diving in Koh Tao. Luckily we saw one diving the pinnacles on dive 3. Not well aware of how lucky we were, we still enjoyed very much floating around under water just looking what this big fish is up to... We did our Open Water SSI certificate here and I can highly recommend anyone to do the same. There is not a lot of places on the world where you will get this quality of diving experience for that kind of money. Our diving instructor Ant2 was very good and patient with us. Speaking off the diving instructors, they are all living their dream on Koh Tao and everyone who's worried about their "qualification because it is Thailand", I can assure you that I've not had a second of doubts trusting any of them. Our dives 3 and 4 (so incluing the whaleshark experience) was filmed by Billy from ACE Marine and we bought the DVD of him. What a great peace of memory. I was thinking about doing my PADI in Cairns for roughly 900AUD, now I'm very happy I did it in Koh Tao for somewhat nearly a third of that price! Highly recommended. 
 

So the compressors have both been installed on Por Ponawa our new Full Day trip boat & we've also gone & installed a Nitrox panel as well! So its FREE nitrox to all our Fun divers on the Full Day Trip now. Obviously you must be a certified Nitrox diver which of course we offer as well. Tomorrow will be our maiden voyage. Breakfast Lunch & Chocolate Cake all the way to the Gulf of Thailands Number One Dive Site, Sail Rock, then wits Samran Pinnacle & Southwest Pinnacle after that! 3 Dives, 2 meals, 1 slice of chocolate cake & Free Nitrox all for just 3800 Bt. Absolute bargain! No wonder Big Blue Diving is referred to as Koh Tao's Best Dive Center.

March 11, 2013

2013-03-11

Do you love Sharks? Do you want to show your support on the last. most important day of the Conference of CITES in Bangkok? Do you want to be involved with the Koh Tao Shark Project? Join us on MARCH 14th, when we will be launching the Koh Tao Shark Project! We will have a morning of information on how to monitor our sharks, about our shark nursery, about the education centre and tagging scheme for Koh Tao Reef Sharks, and also a chance to learn about the protocol for surveying our sharks on Koh Tao. The morning activities start at 9.30, come when ever you'd like, and if you want to join us on a shark survey expedition and shark egg hunt, then sign up with Big Blue before the day to secure your spot on the boat. The boat will leave around 1pm, and both snorkellers and divers are welcome. After this day, we will all have the same survey techniques available so you know how to survey the sharks at another time using identical protocols, and upload this data onto out Koh Tao Shark Survey public database!

“Incredible Experience”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor- March 3, 2013- I did my open water course with Big Blue not too long ago and cannot stop thinking about diving! Not only did Big Blue teach you everything you need to know to be comfortable under water but they took the time to make it an unforgettable experience! The instructors are hilarious and actually take the time to show you amazing things and make you fall in love with diving. Ask for little Ant- by far the best instructor there :D 
 

A word from Norway- "Gulfens tre "paradisøyer" I den thailandske gulfen ligger de vakre og veletablerte turistøyene Koh Samui, Koh Phangan og Koh Tao, alle med hvert sitt distinkte preg og karakter. Men én ting har de felles: fantastiske strender og fine bademuligheter. Båter går regelmessig mellom øyene, slik at man rekker over alle tre. De beste aktivitetene: Spennende fisk. På Koh Samui finnes et fint akvarium med en imponerende samling av fisker og sjøliv. Et besøk hit er moro for hele familien. Fest på skikkelig vis. På Koh Phangans sørlige odde arrangeres de beryktede fullmånefestene – som er mer beskjedne enn du kanskje tror. Fest i vei og dans til techno hele natten og til tidlig morgen, sammen med mange tusen andre. En morsom opplevelse. Ta dykkersertifikat. Koselige Koh Tao – skilpaddeøya - er blitt et eldorado for dykkerskoler. Hit kommer turister fra hele verden for å ta dykkersertifikat i løpet av tre til fem morsomme, men intense dager. Undervisningen foregår på flere språk – også norsk. Det finnes mange dykkerskoler, for eksempel Big Blue Diving!"

March 12, 2013

2013-03-12

 Today is an incredible day! Manta rays have gained approval for placement under Appendix II of CITES!!!  96 votes in favor vs. 23 against. Only 7 abstains. We're over the moon! Thank you to everyone that has shown their support for the cause! Today is a historical day for not only manta ray conservation, but the conservation of our oceans in general. However this is not the end. The decision could still be overturned at the plenary stage, so a final decision will have to wait until Thursday. In the mean time, please like, share, tweet, retweet to keep letting delegates know that you want sharks and mantas to be protected under CITES.

“Best dive school in Thailand”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 10, 2013 - Out of the 52 dive schools in Koh Tao choose Big Blue. It is by far the best experience you'll get with fantastic staff, a 'part of the family' feel on site and it's a company with excellent morals and values - for the environment, it's staff and customers. We completed our SSI Open Water and our SSI Advanced courses there and stayed on site for almost a week. We stayed in a twin room, which was clean and quiet. Rooms are basic - but there's so much to do you'll hardly be in them! Our instructor for the Open Water course was the wonderful Chloe, a funny, kind and very patient French lady. I was nervous to begin with but Chloe was excellent in helping to get over my fear and build my confidence, so much so that we went on to do the Advanced course and never looked back. You can request different instructors and I'd recommend Chloe to everyone! Staff at Big Blue are extremely welcoming, creating a relaxed, fun environment. There's a bar and restaurant overlooking the sea, with great views at sunset. The courses are extremely affordable, the equipment you need is included in the price and good quality and the teaching is top-rate. Lonely Planet describe it as the 'Goldilocks' of diving schools - not too big, not too small - and they're spot on. 
 
JOB OPPORTUNITY- Big Blue Diving Koh Tao is looking for a qualified Divemaster to join their Marine Conservation team. We are offering a full-time, Divemaster position, with a primary role in coordinating the scientific training of the Marine Conservation Interns and daily conservation activities on Big Blue Conservation projects. Basic salary with commission. Minimum contract 6 months.
Candidates must have:
• Divemaster qualification
• Own full scuba equipment
• Plans to stay on Koh Tao for at least a year
• Passion for marine biology and conservation
Preferred candidates will have:
• Background experience in marine biology or conservation
• Relevant degree in biology, marine biology or something similar
• Experience working as a Divemaster
For more information on duties, responsibilities, or to apply please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

March 14, 2013

 

2013-03-14Coming into low season in a couple of months so to celebrate we're offering a huge discount on our Villa & Studios for the months of May & June! Grab yourself either a 500 Bt discount PER NIGHT off our Double Bed Studios & Villas with swimming pool! Or take the lot 3 bedrooms with ensuite & 1 kitchen & swimming pool sleeps 7 for not 7000Bt per night but only 5500Bt throughout the months of May & June! Book now for you awesome accommodation discount!

“Best staff in the world”  Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 12, 2013 - Came to koh Tao to do an open water dive course as I had a mild interest, was met on the boat by Tor who was friendly an informative, he was the most professional of all the dive school touts looking for your business he knew lot about the school an sports as well as empathising with my terrific hangover an not pushing the hard sale.They gave us a free lift to the school where they gave us a in depth view to what they offer they also looked after our bags and gave us time to walk around and look at the competition, we ended up coming back quite quickly after realising the value and resources big blue had to offer far out stripped competition. After being settled in to our free private room and given the tour we were taken in to fill out paperwork and meet our instructors. Again all of the were friendly and professional and made sure everyone was at ease and knew what they were getting into. Accommodation was of a good quality and perfect location for bars restaurants the beach and most importantly diving! The one site bar an restaurant were great opening early and closing late to suit the timetable diving requires. We had two instructors both of which were amazing. Petra an Thelma were a great team made the experience fun ensured you felt safe at all times. They both had a knack for knowing when you needed encouragement and extra help and were more than happy to go out of there way to help, Thelma went out of her way for over an hour after work to enduldge my love of science and explain how it applied to scuba her knowledge was outstanding. She was just finishing her internship as an instructor but seemed fit perfectly in the crowd of experienced instructors an I was surprised to find out we were her first course as fully qualified instructor. She was confident and skilled with all aspects of the courses. I would be a mistake for big blue not to keep her when her internship ends. Petra our head instructor was amazing she was funny to be around and removed any sense of nervousness anyone felt, her constant feed back was exactly what I needed as someone new to the sport and made the impression that she genuinely intrested in your progression and love of the sport again going out of her way after work to explain aspects that we had questions about. Could not have asked for more from her. We ended up staying a lot longer than planned and doing our advanced course as the first few days were amazing, we did almost cause trouble as we refuse to have any other instructors teach us. They unsighted a love of the sport and I'm sure to come back again soon.


So we've made an executive decision & will be offering FREE NITROX on board our new Ponpanawa Full Day Trip boat every day it goes to Sail Rock. What an awesome deal this trip is. Targeted specifically at the Koh Tao certified diver market this boat will be diving 6 Full Day Trips every week. Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays its Sail Rock. Tuesdays we're off to the Angthong Marine Park & Thursdays its the very much unchartered Chumphon Marine Park. Saturdays its Tech Day with some very cool Deep Wrecks & then Sunday we're all off to Church! 3 dives, free Nitrox, breakfast, lunch & chocolate cake all for just 3800 Bt. Big Blue Diving. Thailands premier Dive Center.

March 15, 2013

2013-03-15

And its with great sadness that we bid farewell to one of Koh Tao's longest serving Dive Instructors, a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, an SSI Dive Control Specialist Trainer, an EFR Instructor Trainer & a DAN Oxygen Instructor Trainer Steve Read who very sadly herniated a disc in his spine last month & has now been told he cannot dive anymore. So sadly Steve has had to quit our team of Instructors & Divemaster Mentors and will be found still on Koh Tao working at one of the islands leading medical clinics. So tonight we will be holding a small party for Steve & hopefully raise a bit of cash to help Steve out with his astronomical medical bill coming his way. Tonights theme is a medical one so expect lots of girls in skimpy nurses outfits, lots of guys in skimpy nurses outfits, a few buckets & an awful lot of hangovers tomorrow. Cheers Steve for all your hard work over the years & don't forget to pop by & buy us a round next time you find yourself here at Big Blue. All the best mate.

“Good diving - Excellent atmosphere”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 13, 2013 - We Just finished a week on Ko Tao , staying at Big Blue 2 which is a bit more quiet than big blue 1 and dived nearly every day. You get a discount on accommodation when diving. Corinna did her Open Water with instructor Anke and was more than happy about the profund training and good instructor - you feel very well looked after which is extremely important when diving first time. It did lots of fun dives and enjoyed the good group atmosphere. Big Blue managed to grow big but still keep that familiar feeling you need among divers. Look out for John - crazy but lovely DJ-dive-master. For sure you will have fun and great dives! Thanks! 
 
The self proclaimed 'Best Divemaster in the World' was interviewed yesterday by ASEAN Tripper Magazine, an English magazine published & distributed in Bangkok with a readership of over 200,000 readers traveling the country every month. Celebrity stardom has gone straight to Stevens' head now so we've been left with no choice but to bring him down a peg or two by pointing out how much more rotund Steven has become in the last few weeks. In fact that when his girlfriend sent him a care package from England last month he couldn't even fit into his new Doraemon Boxer shorts! Luckily though Steven isn't able to eat chocolate anymore cos his false teeth keep coming out! Apparently when the magazine comes out next month they're going to have to print his article over a double page spread in order to fit his photo on! Eyes out for the April issue of ASEAN Tripper Magazine. The truth is out there! The world's Best Divemaster is a toothless chocolate addicted Asian equivalent of Mr. Blobby!

March 17, 2013

2013-03-17

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the launch of the Koh Tao Shark Project yesterday! This project is designed to understand more about our populations of sharks on Koh Tao and raise education and awareness to divers and visitors to Koh Tao on sharks biology, their importance, and the problems they face. Koh Tao has a variety of shark residents, from Whale sharks, Black tip reef Sharks and diminishing (almost to non-existence!) populations of Leopard and Bamboo sharks. A total of 58 divers joined the trip to Shark Island to hunt for Bamboo shark eggs for our new nursery tagging scheme, and Shark Bay for the first of many community led research trips to gather more information on our reef sharks. 16 divers were awarded with an SSI Shark Diver Certification too, which helped to raise more money to support this project and other shark protection schemes on Koh Tao and in Thailand. This project launch was on the same day the 7 species of sharks, including manta rays, were newly listed on CITES Appendix II for protection from international trade. This is great news, as now shark and ray populations around the world will receive the protection they deserve. Thanks everyone for joining, and if you would like a copy of the research tools or some slates to undertake your own shark snorkel survey trips, just ask!

 

“Great diving school” 5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 11, 2013 - We got her after a recommendation from a friend and the school was everything he told! Great, friendly staff. Small classes and very good material. The bar and restaurant are good fun and the rooms are cheap if you're diving! If you want to dive on Koh Tao, go to Big Blue!!
 

 Sail Rock Full Day Trip last Friday was an awesome day out. Thanks to all of you that made it such a massive success! Music, great food, great company, and three amazing dives, including a very special night dive at Shark Island, with cold beers waiting for you afterwards?! Yes please, I think we'll be doing more of these!

March 18, 2013

2013-03-18SSI Instructor Daisy Wicheloe, also known as Harriet but doesn't actually answer to that name, will be conducting the much in demand Digital Photography specialty course this week. Freeze time with an underwater camera and you tell a story that even nondivers can understand. Not only that, but you have a record and log of your adventures – more than the memories. Reliving a dive is as simple as looking at a photograph. Whether you’re a casual holiday snapper or a consummate photo pro, the SSI Underwater Photographer course teaches you the basics as they apply to taking photos underwater, with a special emphasis on practical techniques. And with a Professional photographer & Instructor of Daisy's calibre who can take this kind of shot you're in good hands!

 “Big Blue Dive was a dream come true”-  Reviewed on Trip Advisor- March 10, 2013- Big Blue Dive Center on Koh Tao island was a dive center that exceeded my expectations. I was highly impressed with their knowledgable staff and the hip and friendly atmosphere. I was looking for a dive center that very much empowered their divers to keep learning and that is exactly how I felt after completing my Adv Open Water with Jen, she was a fantastic and knowledgable dive instructor. I worked on a underwater clean up project for both the beach and the ocean. I also purchased my first shark skin which I treasure!! I was a solo traveler and really felt comfortable and found the dive center to be helpful in all aspects of my adventure. I can't wait to return to Koh Tao for my Deep Sea and Ship Wreck courses in the near future! Best of luck to them on all of their projects they have going on with cleaning up the waters and restoring the diving areas! Always the Best, Alexandra Petrin. 

Thanks to everyone who dressed up & came to Steve Read's Charity do. Together we raised over 50000 Bt in the bar with auctions, fancy dress & of course the fin slapping competition, & the bar gave a tremendous 15000 Bt on top so all in all Steve now has a very healthy deposit to put towards his back op! Well at least he might be able to pay for half a replacement disc! A very memorable night with lots of but slapping & of course who can for get the sight of SSI Instructor Trainer Simon Garrity dancing up on stage in nothing but his mankini & a wig!  And Jess & jens tremendous wipeout from the stage landing on top of an unsuspecting couple in full pash! Great night. lets do it again! What are we all doing next Friday?

March 19, 2013

2013-03-19

 We have a celebrity in our midst without even knowing about it. John Huntington, known worldwide for his many brands. Some of the brands John has created either by himself or with partners are, Pimp n Ho, Rubber, Summer of Love, One night stand, Levi's Mammoth Mountain Concert Series, World fighting alliance, Hart and Huntington, Huntington ink, Inked on A and E and more. He has thrown 6 of the largest 21 and over parties in the HISTORY of the US. He has sold out the Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas 4 times, and the Orleans Arena twice. His shows have been featured on the TV show Wild on E! Locking down the number 3 spot on E's "Wildest Parties" edition, ranking 3rd in the world behind Mardi gras in New Orleans and Carnival in Rio. Channel 11 news did a story on John at this time and is was quickly nominated for a prized Emmy Award. Very cool, very humble, awesome character John is handling the transition to international stardom, big breasted groupies & financial riches here at Big Blue very respectably!

“Great people, great diving, and a great time!” -5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 9, 2013 - I had an amazing time diving with big blue. It's priced really well. I got certified in open water diving and the instructors were amazing and I learned alot and feel immensely comfortable in the water now! The accommodations were fantastic and well worth the extra 200 baht a night. Couldn't recommend Big Blue Diving enough it was a fantastic time! 
 

The staff are all putting on their make up, spraying on their fake tans, combing their side partings & adorning their finest T-shirt & shorts clobber they have hanging in their wardrobes for this years Dive Staff photo. Jim likes us to get all dolled up at least once a year in our Dive Crew T-shirts & strike a pose whenever we have Professional photographers around & this year we are using New York Cinematic Director yet to make a name for himself but on the brink of Stardom & ex Big Blue Instructor Tim Klein at the lens! So smile everyone! Just picture that image you have of SSI Instructor SSImon Garrity dancing on the bar in his Mankini last Friday! Say Cheeses.

March 20, 2013

2013-03-20

 Another year & another staff photo. Thanks to all our crew at Big Blue Diving who make Big Blue such a great place to work. We often hear how the atmosphere at Big Blue is so great and its true. We have an awesome location right on the beach with a bar & restaurant offering some of the best views & dining on the island. We have 4 large boats so space to spread out. We let our Fundivers choose where they want to dive so they get exactly what they want. We have dorms, private rooms, bungalows fan & Aircon: everything on the beach & we have 2 resorts to spread everyone out in so we always have a lively crowd. But the best thing we have here at Big Blue & the biggest reason for the great atmosphere is the Team. & here they are. Have you ever seen a bigger bunch of reprobates!

“Great people, great diving, and a great time!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 9, 2013 - I had an amazing time diving with big blue. It's priced really well. I got certified in open water diving and the instructors were amazing and I learned alot and feel immensely comfortable in the water now! The accommodations were fantastic and well worth the extra 200 baht a night. Couldn't recommend Big Blue Diving enough it was a fantastic time!


Great to see Koh Tao is back to Number One position on Lonely Planets guide for things to do in Thailand. "Scuba virgins from all over flock to Ko Tao to learn how to dive. Not only is this lush, pistachio-coloured island blessed with crystal clear water and trippy coral reefs shallow enough for beginners to explore; it’s also is one of the world’s cheapest and most popular places to get your open-water dive certification." & then if you click through to Things to do on Koh Tao Big Blue Diving still ranks as Number One! The Number One thing to do at the Number One place to go in Thailand! Nice. Thanks very much for the plug Lonely Planet!

March 21, 2013

2013-03-21

 Big Blue's big blue boats! Closest boat to you is Aow Muang. tucked in behind her is our Techies & Freediving Boat imaginatively called Big Blue Boat. third in line is our Mothership, Banzai, & last one in line is our new boat for Full Day Trips to Sail Rock, Angthong Marine Park & Chumphon Marine Park. Four boats offerring boats specifically designed & targeted at Students, Fundivers, Techies & Free Divers. No wonder Lonely Planet refer to us as the Number 1 place to go on Koh Tao.

“Excellent staff...excellent course!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 2, 2013- 5 of us completed our 3day open water diving course last week and we loved every bit of it....was very interesting and we had such a laugh too...ask for Ian Jordan as we could not have asked for a better instructor and also Billy the videographer did a GREAT job on our dvd!! Big Blue was definately one of our best experiences of Thailand!!
 


John Huntington is a nightclub promoter whose credits include producing Pimp n Ho, Rubber, Summer of Love, One night stand, Levi's Mammoth Mountain Concert Series, World fighting alliance, Hart and Huntington, Huntington ink, Inked on A and E and Big Blue Divemaster. He has thrown 6 of the largest 21 and over parties in the HISTORY of the US. He has sold out the Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas 4 times, and the Orleans Arena twice. His shows have been featured on the TV show Wild on E! Locking down the number 3 spot on E's "Wildest Parties" edition, ranking 3rd in the world behind Mardi gras in New Orleans and Carnival in Rio. Channel 11 news did a story on John and it was quickly nominated for a prized Emmy Award. John will be playing at the Big Blue Bar tomorrow night. Don't miss your chance to listen to this Superstar DJ. Big Blue Beach Bar 9pm tomorrow night! Bring your dancing shoes!

March 23, 2013

2013-03-23

The Koh Tao Shark & Ray Survey enjoyed it's first nursery success today - we were so excited to receive a call from the local fishermen we are working with early this morning telling us they had accidentally caught 3 blue spotted rays last night. We went over there to collect them and brought them back to our nursery tanks. Next, we made sure they were healthy and not damaged from the fishing nets, then we took measurements and data from the rays (2 males and one very small female!) and took photographs of the spot pattern on their upper body, which is specific to each individual ray and can be used to identify them. We can now use this data to track the ray populations, especially if they are re-sighted. A few hours after they were originally caught, they were released back into the water, where they happily swam straight under some rocks. Just when we thought the day couldn't have been better, late on during a dive at our adopted reef, we saw the small female hiding underneath our coral nursery! The rays had been caught by the fishermen and would have suffered a BBQ death if it had not been for this project and the fishermen who support it. It's great to see the project working, with locals getting involved and some happy rays as a result. Stay tuned for more updates on our Koh Tao Shark & Ray Survey efforts.

“Best decision we ever made!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 20, 2013 - The fact that we chose big blue, is the best decision we have made in a very long time. Our instructor, Simon Garrity, made us feel very comfortable, and made this course a real joy! I would recommend big blue to everyone, not only for diving, but also if you are staying in koh tao. So thank you Chris cherry, Simon Garrity and Ben Hall, for being the best instructors in the world - and thank you Big blue for an amazing experience! Love team Norway! 
 
 Ladies and gentlemen, may we proudly announce, on the 24th of this month (March), tomorrow, the lovely boys at Big Blue Tech will be offering an afternoon of technical try dives in the swimming pool. Currently on the list of techie stuff for you to try is: Twinsets (woooooop), Side-mount (yaaaaay), Full face masks with coms (wooaaaah). For the whole afternoon the Tech Shack staff will be available to answer any (not any, just tech diving) questions you may have about the wonderful world of technical diving! There will also be a couple of dry displays and maybe even a beer available at the end of the day, so keep your ears peeled for the location and time! Don't you worry, if you think you will miss this one, we will be running these monthly around the same date, but still, if you can, come and check it out! Be there or be square...

March 24, 2013

2013-03-24

 So sorry to hear how cold its been in most of Europe over the last few days. Must be very depressing to wake up in the month of March & find its been snowing all night & that its colder than a polar bears undercarriage! meanwhile we 're waking up every morning to beautiful sunny days, bright blue skies, flat seas, crystal clear waters, tremendous viz, beautiful girls in bikinis & hunks in trunks. Poor you. Lucky us! :-)

“Incredible experience!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 21, - Absolutely loved doing the 3 day open water diving course. Our instructor Iain made all the difference. He was the perfect balance of patient, professional and fun, I couldn't praise him enough. 5 million stars!! The videographer Billy also did a fantastic job on our DVD, what a gem. The atmosphere in the resort is exceptional and I will definitely be returning to complete the advanced diving course and to polish off the yummy big blue menu with a few changs!! Thanks from team Ireland :) 
 

Its going to be an extremely busy period coming up now as we brace ourselves for the post Full Moon Party rush that descends on us from Koh Tao & then the biggest Thai party of the year Songkran! The Thai New Year where the Thai people traditionally celebrate by covering you in water & talc and everyone gets very, very... very drunk! Its an awesome time of year & as I said the island does get really really busy so if you are planning on coming over to visit in the next few weeks then please don't leave your accommodation bookings till the last minute as you'll be paying ten times what you budgeted for that is only if you are lucky enough to find a room! Book your room ahead! www.bigbluediving.com

March 25, 2013

2013-03-25

Another SSI Instructor Training Course coming up on the 15th April, with SSI Instructor Trainers Paul 'Tosh' Tanner & SSImon Garrity, for those looking to turn that dream into reality. Sooo many jobs out there for SSI Instructors right now. We're getting emails from Dive centers with job offers in Egypt, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, the Caymans & the Middle East. SSI Instructors are in demand all over the world. Who would have thought it. Just a few years ago it was PADI everywhere. The Microsoft of the Diving Industry. Who would have thought that their nearest rival organisation SSI, would be as big as they are today. The Apple of the Diving Industry. Become an SSI Instructor & live the dream. Steve Jobs did... well apart from the diving malarky!

“Awesome diving experience (Safety always in mind!)”  Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 21- Did our research on several diving schools and emailed them. My friend and I were attracted to the friendly response we got from Big Blue and decided to do our 4 day Open Water course there. Our instructors, Petra and Thelma were awesome *insert hand gesture*. Petra, who is the mentor is very experienced. She constantly checked that we adhere to the instructions and would always advise us on what we've done wrong and how better to improve. Thelma would also be on the site and provide the fun element by introducing us to the different kinds of marine life available in various sites. She would ensure each of us managed to at least catch a glimpse of a rare marine life when we had our dives. At the same time, Thelma offered some of us chance to repractise certain skills that we were unsure of after the pool sessions. I did my mask removal skill multiple times and she corrected the minor faults as she observed. Petra and Thelma were very patient and fun instructors to have and that was one of the main reasons why my friend and I decided to move on and take up the Advance Adventurer course after the OWC. Plus most of my course mates also took it up together as well, so the atmosphere was very comfortable and family-like. I would definitely recommend others to come to Big Blue to learn scuba diving, as the waters are really clean and one might get to see a turtle underwater! And of course, the instructors (other than Petra and Thelma) were really friendly and professional in their teaching. No doubt, I'll be back to dive once again. Maybe DMT?

SSI DIGITAL UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY SPECIALTY. Interested in photography? Ever wondered about how to take photos underwater? For beginners, experts and anyone keen to just have a go! This specialty course will help build your confidence, improve your buoyancy and teach you the ins and outs of underwater photography. Learn how to capture some of the awesome life you see underwater, get tips on composition, lighting and editing your photos to turn great memories in beautiful images! 2 DAYS, 4 DIVES, 6000 B (15%off for DMTs) Not including camera rental. Camera rental can be organised at Big Blue Diving.

March 26, 2013

2013-03-26Big Blue Techies had a day at the pool yesterday offering free try outs to anyone interested in Rebreathers, diving with Sidemounted tanks & diving on twin tanks. We had an overwhelming amount of interest which was great to see & with the success of it all have managed to sign up numerous adventurous individuals for all sorts of technical fun & games proving that you don't have to be a fat bloke to be a Tech Diver! For your insight into the future of diving contact our tech diving department This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Perfect !”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 22, 2013 - I stayed at big blue for 7 nights in the 6 bed dorm and it was very nice ! I also did the open water and the advanced course andit was very great ! My instructors were thelma and petra and they did a pretty good job. They explained everything very good and both of them were very funny and easy going persons so i really liked the courses and if you wanna learn diving go big blue, you won't regret ! I surly will go back to koh tao to make some fundives at big blue!
 

19-year-old Boyan Slat has unveiled plans to create an Ocean Cleanup Array that could remove 7,2500,000 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans. The device consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Instead of moving through the ocean, the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from plankton, filtered and stored for recycling. Thereby cleaning up the mess us humans are littering the sea with, & saving the lives of millions of sea creatures every year! Amazing. Check out  http://www.boyanslat.com/plastic5 for more info & get involved!

March 28, 2013

2013-03-28

Introducing our newest rooms! The dorms at Big Blue Guesthouse also known as Preewa! These are without doubt our nicest option for a dorm if thats what you are looking for & they are only going to set you back 100 Bt per bed on the days you dive or 400 Bt per bed on the days you don't dive. Each room has 4 beds, TV, with BBC news, a couple of movie channels & a sports channel, a fridge, fan, hot water & Air con! An absolute bargain & will be selling like hot cakes as soon as I get a minute to put them up on line!

“Go here!”4 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 23, 2013 - Went to koh Tao with the intention of finding somewhere to complete my open water diving course and then moving on, but loved it so much I stayed for 2 weeks, in part because big blue was such a nice place. I had an instructor called rich for my open water who was excellent,very competent while still maintaining a relaxed, go at your own pace atmosphere. Upon completion of that course I decided to do my advanced open water certificate which was very enjoyable and the instructor I had, daisy, was again extremely good and made it a highly fun activity while at the safe time very safe. Accommodation was fairly decent for free, broiler leaked a little but it's Thailand so oh well! Atmosphere at the bar/restaurant area was amazing and good was fairly decent. If you are considering starting diving I would definitely recommend you do it here! 
 

Now I know some of you in Europe & the US are having a terrible spring & for that I truely am sorry but you got to know something. Here... its hotter than balls! Hotter than that even. Hotter than a pair of balls... in thermals... in Africa... during a heatwave! It really is. In fact its even hotter than that right now. You could fry an egg on an ice cube! Its so freaking hot I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking! What I wouldn't give to walk around the island naked right now. Coming to Koh Tao this summer? Come naked!

March 29, 2013

2013-03-29

 So not only was Koh Tao voted as the number 1 destination to visit in Thailand on this years Lonely Planet it now emerges that  according to Trip Advisor & their Travellers Choice survey Koh Tao has also been voted as the 8th best island in their list of Top 10 Islands in the world, 1 ahead of Easter Island! Wow! Haven't we come along way! "Drifting serenely in the Gulf of Thailand, the palm-fringed island of Ko Tao takes its name from the abundant sea turtles that reside on its shores. White sand beaches sheltered by steep hills – some only accessible with four-wheel drive vehicles – and 300 days of sun per year invite long afternoons of lounging. " Nice.

“Awesome diving school!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 24, 2013 - I came alone to Koh Tao and decided to do my Open Water here - and can't be more glad I did. Awesome school, really professional, made me feel they're teaching me everything I need to know and I get to have great fun while learning. Donnie was a great instructor!!Coming to the Island alone this was a great place to meet new people! Made some really good friends in the course and in the bar (:**DON'T listen to the useless masks review, don't know anyone that happened to, and didn't feel like they're trying force me buying them or to get my money in sneaky ways....**In short - great place!! Go there. You will not regret it.
 


Ex Big Blue student & former ESPN Sports Center anchor Thai Neave has decided that his real passion is travel, adventure and storytelling so has quit the world of celebrity stardom to concentrate on being a global traveller so Thai has entered a competition called the Biggest Baddest Bucketlist & needs our help in order to win! Six Months, Six Continents all expenses Paid! His choice of destinations Oh & when he gets back he'll get a $50000 cash prize! Pretty damn cool! Help Thai win! Vote here http://www.mydestination.com/users/thaineave/bbb#.UVUFl1eDm_y

March 30, 2013

2013-03-30

So its finally here! Big Blue Freediving. This isn't the first time we've launched BBFreediving but this will be the last! And thats because now we really have a team who know exactly what it is they're doing! Pepe Arcos from Spain is a Gold Medal holder & held the National record at the indoor Freediving World championships with a distance of 179 Meters & also holds a personal Record at Constant weight with a depth of 80 meters. Flavia Eberhard holds the National record in Brazil with a depth of 69 meters & holds 8 static apnea records including her 6 minutes on a single breath. Both Pepe & Flavia are the only AIDA International Judges on Koh Tao. With these 2 as your Big Blue Freediving Instructors  we're ready to show you how you too can be as cool as them! Contact us immediately at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for your chance to Freedive like a champion.

“Great value and such friendly people.”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 26, 2013- Definitely the friendliest place I've been. Feel like you are with people you've known for years. The dorm rooms are clean and safe and everything you need a dorm room to be. And the diving is amazing. Such friendly instructors and other divers. I did lots of fun dives and every one lived up to its name. Would go back in an instant if i could.
 


Whaleshark seen yesterday at Southwest Pinnacle. Which was nice! Its actually been ages since we last saw a Whaleshark despite having seen over 100 last year. But thinking back a bit before we really only ever had one time of year where you could quite literally promise whalesharks and that was in April! So... guess its the beginning of Whaleshark season. And if this is going to be a good whaleshark season then lets hope we beat the most amount of Whalesharks we've seen at one time. Four! Lets see if we can't beat the record. Five whalesharks on 1 dive... or you're a ponce!

April 1, 2013

1At last the decision has been made & those in authority have finally given the go ahead to start building the long awaited Train station to Koh Tao that will run from Surat Thani on the mainland to Koh Samui then on to Koh Phangan, then Koh Tao & all the way back to the mainland at Chumphon. Its been a while in the pipeline but finally its been approved. Cough, cough... splutter splutter!

 

Read more ...

April 3, 2013

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Twas a super successful Full day Trip to Chumphon Marine Park last Sunday with the biggest turtle any of us have ever seen, a 2 meter big Marble Ray, a Shipwreck & more marine life than we've seen on any one dive site on Koh Tao for years! Everyone had such an amazing day on our first Full Day Trip to the Chumphon Marine Park that everyone signed up again for todays Full Day Trip to the Angthong Marine Park as well. Big Blue Diving. Koh Tao's Number One Choice for Certified Divers.

“Amazing...just do it!” -5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 30, 2013 - Diving in Koh Tao has been one of the major highlights of my trip so far and I can't recommend Big Blue enough! I did both my open water and advanced courses and can't wait to continue diving elsewhere (and hopefully back in Koh Tao some day). The instructors I had (G and Iain) were really professional but also made sure it was relaxed and fun. The full day trip to Chumpon was amazing, definitely give it a try if you're around when it's on. Top marks all round for Big Blue!! Oh, and make sure you have the BBQ food at the restaurant, it's delicious and great value!

BIG BLUE FREEDIVING is the new Freediving facility on Koh Tao! We are part of Big Blue Diving, the best & biggest SSI training  facility in the whole of Asia! We have high standards! :-) We offer SSI and AIDA freediving courses, besides specialties, coaching sessions and fun activities. Freediving for us is not only a sport, but is fun fun fun!  Learn to freedive with skilled freedivers with over 8 years of experience and various Records between them. We will be working very closely alongside Big Blue Tech one of Koh Tao's largest & most successful Tech Diving Centers & are off this Saturday to the Torpedo wreck which lies at 54 meters. Come and join us in this underwater adventure! :-)

April 4, 2013

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So our Full Day trip to the Angthong National Marine Park went down as a big success! Such an amazingly beautiful area actually listed as one of the Top 10 places to go in Thailand. Its actually where the setting of Alex Garlands book The Beach was based. And because of our new super powered fastest boat on Koh Tao "Ponpanawa" we are the only dive center on Koh Tao able to offer this trip as a 3 dive Full Day experience. & just in case you've been missing out on our other Full day Trips we also offer the Chumphon Marine Park & Sail Rock as well. 3 Awesome Full Day Trips departing every week! Massively in demand these trips so make sure you book ahead! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Best Place to dive :)”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor March 31, 2013 - We decided to do SSI Open Water Diving here are Big Blue. It was the best decision we made! We got accommodation with our diving. The rooms were basic and simple but very clean. There is a restaurant there, which serves a mixtures of food and is reasonably priced. They do an amazing BBQ in the evenings on the beach. The diving instructors were so helpful and friendly and really made us feel at ease. We had an instructor who is named Eco Jen! :) She was lovely and so nice. And even took us out to a lovely restaurant in the mountains one evening. There is very good nightlife and restaurants on Koh Tao. If you are going to dive... You must do it at big blue

 

Drupella Snails can be responsible for extensive coral reef damage, once an outbreak occurs removal must take place for the balance to be restored. On Koh Tao in 2010 following a bleaching event we lost a significant amount of the Drupellas favourite dish - Acropora (staghorn) coral. As a result, the Drupella population well exceeds the Acropora cover, meaning goodbye to even more acropora colonies as they eat the remainders. Drupella snails use a special mouth 'radula' and feed off of living coral tissue, particular favourites being stag horn and plate coral colonies here on Koh Tao. The snails leave white tissue scars on affected coral and can usually be found congregated at the base or deep down in-between the coral branches. Adults have a robust looking shell, 2 to 3cm long, are covered in small cones/ spikes and are deep purple in colour due to their shells being cover in calcereous algae. Juveniles are usually 0.5 to 1cm long and are white in colour. In an attempt to reestablish the balance between durpella and Ancropora populations, we must remove excess Drupella snails from the reef. It is important to make sure removal is of the snail's only and not the common hermit crab which also takes up residence in an empty Drupella snail's shell, some easy clues for checking are waving the shell (if they drop off immediately, they are hermit crabs), and also the hermit crab will re-emerge from its shell relatively quickly once removed and in your hand. On our last trip we collected 313 snails! We saw 31 aggregations, and then the odd snail or two on its own. All in all a good trip (well...maybe not for the Drupella victims...).

April 6, 2013

The techies & our Freedivers have set off to day to dive the Torpedo & Unicorn wrecks today . The Torpedo is a 70 meter Japanese cargo vessel sitting upright in around 55 meters of water an hour north of Koh Tao, she sank in the mid 1970's. Due to the depths involved this has been classified a technical dive for experienced divers only.  Lying around 12km off Mango Bay and in 50 metres of water the Unicorn Wreck is also a technical dive. Still mostly intact with the majority of the obtrusive fishing nets now removed some penetration is possible. The wreck is now home to some big red snappers and patrolling groupers.   The techies are going to spend upto 2 hours doing their deco dives while our Free Divers will spend probably about 4 minutes in total per dive. & you thought Tech Divers were hardcore! Just you try holding your breath & descending to a depth of about 60 meters! These FreeDivers are truely HARD...CORE!

“Great diving, staff, and atmosphere”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor April 1, 2013- I stayed here for 10 days in March. Initially, I wasn't sure if I should do any diving - but now I am soooo glad I did! With the great instructors Anke and Ernesto I completed both my SSI O pen Water certificate and my SSI Advanced Diving. The instructors made it so fun, and I always felt safe and well taken care of. I am now looking to do some more diving in Indonesia and the Philippines. Thanks for initiating my love of a new sport! The hotel was also great. I would recommend getting an Air conditioned room, though. It's worth the etra 100 baht. Also, the resort has two hotels - Big Blue 'one' and 'two'. I would recommend hanging out and Big Blue 'one' in the evenings, but BB 'two' is fine for the day time. I was travelling solo and I found it very easy to meet people. 
 

So our Full Day Trips are selling like hot cakes! The plan is to have a Full Day trip to either Sail Rock, Chumphon Marine Park or the Angthong Marine Park at least 6 times a week & we're doing well leading upto that number with 4 Full Day Trips scheduled already for next week. Sunday we're off to Sail Rock, Tuesday it the Chumphon Marine Park including our new wreck! Then Thursday its back to AngThong & Saturday its Sail Rock again! The week after we hope to incorporate a 3 Dive Wreck day with our Techies & Free Divers & the week after we'll throw in the best 3 dives around Koh Tao putting a Full Day Trip to Chumphon Pinnacle, Southwest Pinnacle & HinWong Pinnacle! 6 Full Day Trips a week! Big Blue Diving. The number One Choice for Certified Divers!

April 8, 2013

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 Chumphon National Park remains one of Thailand’s best kept scuba diving secrets and offers an opportunity to get away from the crowds and see more marine life. A formation of 40+ small islands sits just off the mainland coast, offering endless opportunities for scuba diving exploration and stunning scenery both above and below the water. Already mapped are a wide variety of dive sites ranging from shallow bays to coral walls, rocky caves and even deep sunken pinnacles for the more advanced diver. The Chumphon National Park dive sites are rarely visited so there are fish galore. You can see an enormous range of aquatic life with everything ranging from barracuda and trevally to shrimps, morays, sea-snakes, stingrays, turtles, scorpion-fish and even whale sharks visible around the Chumphon dive sites (and much more). Proximity to the coast, nearby river estuaries and shallow depths mean that visibility at the nearest Chumphon dive sites can be a bit inconsistent. But even when visibility does drop, exploring at a relaxed slow pace means you’ll appreciate the high density of diverse marine life and corals and enjoy great dives. (And on the clear days and more distant dive sites the diving can be unbeatable with visibility in excess of 30M). We’re out diving there tomorrow on our much in demand Full Day Trip. Full English Breakfast, Thai Buffet lunch, 3 dives, & chocolate cake for everyone!

“Awesome diving!”4 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor April 3, 2013 - Summary: I did my open water and advanced course at big blue diving, Koh Tao. The place is amazing and relaxed and the instructors are helpful and well educated. Thelma Clarke is an amazing instructor giving you all the information and tips to become a safe diver! She was also one of the reasons 3 guys from my open water group went directly to the advanced course requesting Thelma as the instructor!

The courses and big blue: I did both my courses in groups not bigger then 6 persons and found it really easy to get help if something was unclear. The lectures are given at a different location from where you go diving. It's only a 4 min walk on the beach between the two so its not really a big problem. At big blue they have 4 diving boats which makes it possible for several groups to go to different dive sites preventing your group from going to the same site all the time. This is a big advantage that really lifts your experience! At night all the divers and instructors gathers at big blue in the bar to relax and talk about the dives and maybe have a beer. They also have great food. The atmosphere is relaxed and everyone at big blue are super friendly so just go and have a chat with anyone!
The instructor: The person responsible for teaching me in both courses was Thelma Clarke. Thelma did a great job in both courses and she made sure that everyone understood what was happening and how to do it. It was safe learning! Thelma also made the dives to a great experience making sure that the group stayed together and showed us all fun fish and interesting marine life at the dive sites. Before and after all our dives she would give us a briefing/de-briefing making sure that everything (skills, fish, dive site, etc.) was crystal clear and if something was unclear she had an answer to your question.
Accommodation: When going to Big Blue for taking a dive course they will offer you accommodation. I stayed at a hotel called Praewa in a brand new 4-bed dorm. The dorm was equipped with AC, TV, fan, fridge, closets and a clean bathroom and I payed 100 baht every day I stayed at the course. This accommodation is the best I had since going to Thailand!

Yesterday was an exciting and awesome day out for Big Blue Tech, not only did five of our resident techies get the chance to dive the 70m long Japanese vessel known as the Torpedo which on its own is impressive. But along came the newest addition to Big Blue which is Big Blue Free Diving. We have to admit there was a real buzz on the boat as none of us had been in the water with these guys especially on the deep sites 50m+. First impression of the wreck was WOW 10m visibility and lots of marine life around, even a very large NUDIBRANCH, as Phil,Big Blue Dive Master pointed out (which he was promptly slapped for, you can't take him anywhere without him looking for the small stuff ). Heading up for our first deco stops was when we started to see Pepe and Flavia in turns coming down to see us. Followed by at 5m the sight of bad ass Bryan doing what can only be described as the tech version of free diving ( not quite as elegant as he can be in a twinset). After this we packed up and headed South to our second deco dive of the day on the Unicorn, a cargo vessel that sits around 50m and can be a very hazardous wreck to dive with strong current and hit and miss visability. The last few dives on this wreck we have had 10m+ visibility and no currents we were looking forward to this one. First part of the decent was looking good, hardly any current and a thermocline at around 26m then it got dark or as Maxime ( our half French,half German ex student known as freman) pointed out " whoa that was black". Even so the guys enjoyed the whole challenge and yet again the crazies(freedivers) were there to greet them on their deco stops. All in all a massive success of a day. Thanks to everyone that made it happen and also for Pepe and Flavia for making our deco hangs heaps more fun. Pictures will be coming soon or check us out on Facebook These trips will be happening once a month to different wrecks and sites. For any more information contact James or Bryan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

April 10, 2013

Whaleshark on Koh Tao

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 Well its been a slow start to the Whaleshark season especially compared to last year when we averaged a whaleshark siting throughout the year of 1 every 3 days but we did at least see a Whaleshark yesterday at Hin Wong Pinnacle. Amazing creatures the whaleshark. The biggest fish in the sea. Lives off the smallest fish in the sea. At this time of year with the water temperature averaging about 30 degrees & the krill & plankton blooms at their greatest & the visibility at its best now is quite definitely the best time of the year to be diving Koh Tao. Next trip out to Hin Wong to see the Whaleshark.... this afternoon! Jump on.

Best Place to do your Open Water Course

“best place to learn diving !” -5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor April 3, 2013 - my friend and i stayed there for 7 days for our open water and advanced course with SSI, and was the best decision we made to dive with big blue! The instructors we had were Donny and Christine , they were patient ,fun , friendly and so professional that i feel safe under the water even i had trouble in equalizing my ears ! The night diving was awesome too. If i am going to pursue another diving license , for sure i will join big blue again! 

Songkran

Only 3 more days to the biggest soaking of your life! The Songkran festival. An immense party here in Thailand to celebrate the Thai New Year. Traditionally, the custom was to pour water gently over other people but it has evolved into little more than a good excuse for an almighty water fight. Held in the peak of the hot season, Songkran is a literal chance for the country to cool off. Nobody is safe from a dousing. Water balloons are launched at suspecting and unsuspecting participants, hoses are turned on passers-by, and highpowered water guns are fired from bicycles, motorbikes and cars at pedestrians and other vehicles. Its going to be carnage! Can't freakin wait!

April 11, 2013

Hammerhead Shark seen on Koh Tao

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  Rumour has it that a hammerhead was seen by another dive center a few days ago! How exciting would that be. My initial reaction was one of skepticism but having read up a little on the environmental preferences of the Hammerhead there really seems to be absolutely no reason why we shouldn't have hammerheads here in the Gulf of Thailand. Hammerheads are found worldwide in warmer waters along coastlines and are frequent visitors to the Philipines & Micronesia, & if they get them then why the hell don't we! So keep your eyes peeled divers. We're looking for hammerheads. First one to photograph gets a free ice cream.

Excellent Open Water Instructor

“Amazing diving!”-  Reviewed April 4, 2013 - Had a great time at big blue doing my open water and advanced courses. All of the staff are helpful and friendly. Accomodation is free if you're completing these courses which is an extra bonus. I had a really good group and an excellent instructor, Rich! He's patient if anyone has a problem (not that we had many) and is a great laugh, in and out of the water. I can see why he won instructor of the year, and deserves it again hands down. I'm going back to koh tao over New Years and really hope to get to dive with rich again! OOOOOHHHHHH YEEEEEAAAAAAH!

Koh Tao Weather Forecast

Don't want to be putting you off your visit to Koh Tao but.... you might want to keep an eye on the weather over the next few days. Apparently its not going to be very nice! We're being warned of 47 knot gusts of winds, (that'd be called a Cyclone in the US), 90 mm of rain (flood) and 4meter waves ( surfs up!). Its only going to be here a couple of days apparently which will be Saturday through to Monday which is a huge shame as Saturday is the Thai New Year. We'll be battening down the hatches. After all we aint keen on taking in the derriere like we did in that storm a couple of years ago when we got completely washed out, our trees fell over & our bungalows got toppled! Nope. Kind of keen to avoid that one!

April 12, 2013

Celebrating Songkran on Koh Tao

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The man responsible for organising the third biggest party in the world is going to be playing on the wheels of steel here at Big Blue tomorrow for Songkran. From midday all afternoon Celebrity DJ John Huntington from Las Vegas will be putting on his mixing fingers & spinning those decks like its 1999! Party starts here at Big Blue from about 11am. Can't wait. Everyone loves Songkran. One of the best days of the year. Happy New Year Thailand!

Brilliant 5 weeks at Big Blue

“Stop the world, I want to get off” -5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor April 6, 2013 - Big blue is a little haven from the cold, miserable, economically depressing world that is outside Koh Tao! I have just spent a brilliant five weeks there, and can't wait to go back. Many many thanks to everyone but certain special mentions are deserved. To Jen, for changing my inner dive dialogue from "that's a pretty fish" to "ooooh, a batfish being cleaned by a wrasse, look how the colours change as it wriggles with pleasure, and what an interesting foliate coral that is in the background". Diving gets more and more interesting when you actually know what you're looking at! To Natalie, for getting me through a wreck, when that was the one thing I swore I'd never do! You turned a nervous diver into a bit of a deep/wreck/nitrox daredevil! To Daisy, for making a rescue course that was flipping hard work such fun too. I never thought a "hell dive"could make me laugh so much. My confidence in my skills increased yet again. To Becca, for being a great dive master, despite kicking me off the longtail to swim home on my last day :-). To the Tech Shack- Brian, James and Ian for a brilliant intro to technical diving and some awesome new Bond girl style photos for my dating profile! Finally, to everyone else who made my stay awesome. You know who you are. To quote Steven "you'll be back".....he's probably right. 

Helpful Tips for those with equalising problems

Ear woes are the No. 1 reason divers pull the plug on a dive, and in extreme cases, the sport itself. But with a few tricks and advanced techniques, almost anyone can make equalizing easier. In diving, the Valsalva maneuver is often used on descent to equalise the pressure in the middle ear to the ambient pressure. Performed properly — pinching your nose shut while exhaling — most divers can descend without any problems. But for some divers, the technique doesn't help. You should never continue with a descent if you are experiencing ear pain. But before you give up on a dive — or diving itself — try these tips. Listen for the "pop." Start early, Equalize at the surface, Descend feet first, Look up, Use a descent line, Stay ahead, Stop if it hurts, Avoid milk, Avoid tobacco and alcohol, & Keep your mask clear.

April 15, 2013

Second World War Wreck identified in Chumphon Marine Park

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Well we've done our homework & finally we are able to inform you on the history of the USS Prab which is the 2nd World War boat we came across while diving in the Chumphon Marine Park. Originally the  USS LCI 670, this boat was used as a landing craft for the invasion of Europe & in the photo above is seen as it unloads its troops off the coast of Italy in July 1944 just after the D-Day landings in June of the same year. After the war she was taken in by the Thai Navy and was recently put to rest off the Chumphon Coast about the same time as our own Sattakut wreck here in Koh Tao. She rests in about 26 meters depth & has heaps of marine life & coral growth on her. & according to our DM's one of the very best sites they've ever dived! Better do it more often then!

The Diving was Amazing

“Very professional and fun diving course at competitive price - highly recommend”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor April 8, 2013- I did the open water course with big blue in April 2013 and my instructor was James. Totally recommend the place and James it was awesome. Professional service whilst still fun and interesting and the diving was amazing. Had a great laugh with James as well, really made even the more boring stuff like the learning fun. I had trouble equalising my ears and backed out of the first dive because I couldn't get down, and honestly was ready to give in. But James made me go out on the second dive and promised he would get me down. It took him 21 minutes but he got me there, and he was genuinely happier than me. Dives were really good, boat was nice and just everything was top drawer, easily a 5 star rating and get James as your instructor, he was awesome and helped me do something I never thought I would be able to do after the first dive. Needless to say I went straight on to the advanced. 

 

7 Tips on Dive-Boat Etiquette

1. First, get permission. It’s common maritime courtesy when boarding any vessel (especially as a first-time guest) to ask permission before coming aboard. The boat might look like it’s ready, but the crew might still be making some last-minute preparations.
2. Know your limits. A dive boat, no matter the size, will have certain areas reserved for crew members only; you should not venture into those unless invited.
3. Wet and dry. Everyone on a dive boat expects to see some water on deck. However, most boats have strict limits as to where divers can roam while not totally dry.
4. Be gentle. There’s nothing more cantankerous than a marine toilet, or the “head.” And a stopped-up head is the quickest way to get everyone aboard feeling very unhappy in a hurry.
5. What not to do. These days, there’s little tolerance for cigarette (or other) smoking on many dive boats.
6. Know what H2O is what. Fresh water is usually scarce and should be used sparingly. Water in buckets on the deck is usually marked to indicate intended usage.
7. Keep it clean. This applies to your gear, your level of noise and your language. If you keep everything quiet and clean, you’ll offend no one.

April 17, 2013

Liveaboard to the Burma Banks

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 The bad news is that the weather has gone pretty crappy. Seas went from flat calm to at least a meter of frothy choppiness & from 20+ meters of visibility to approximately 5 meters! The good news is that its not expected to last & things should be back to normal in just a couple of days & that the 2 days of fairly heavy rain we just experienced has replenished our very depleted stocks of fresh water. The other piece of good news was that our team of techies managed to fill their 6 day Liveaboard trip to Burma with 12 seriously happy divers, 2 rebreathers and 2 twinset. Bad news is they left when the weather kicked in even worse than it is here! Still they're techies. They like it when things are cold, dark & dangerous!

Big Blue's Dive Instructors exceeding expectations

“Daisy diving instructor”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor April 9, 2013- We have just started our deep penetration specialist at big blue and where lucky enough to get Daisy as our instructor. We have dives with rich and Steven both AMAZING and daisy was no different. Got a wonderful new prespective and had such a good time we decided to do our rescue diver. If you want to dive COME you big blue you won't a be disappointed. Divers are skilled, friendly, relaxed and just over all outstanding. Special thx to Rich, Daisy and Steven you are all above the cut. 
 

New Freediving Courses keeping us busy

Big Blue Free Diving seems to be taking off with great success. Had heaps of people coming in to ask questions all about it & have been running at least 2 people per day on courses for over a week now. Starting the Level 1 Course down to 20 meters every which takes just 2 days, then its the Level 2 Course which will take you down to 30 meters in another extra day & then for the well endowed among you we offer the Level 3 course 4 weeks of pure Freediving & your chance to learn the advanced techniques needed to get down to some serious depths & times you never thought possible. Find out more www.bigbluefreediving.com

July 30th, 2013

World Ocean Clean-up 27th September

Dear Jim, Big Blue Diving & Ocean Ambassadors around the world! Welcome to the biggest ecological diving family in the World. My name is Kristijan Curavic, I am a diver and the president of GUWAA (Global Under Water Awareness Association). In September 2013 we are organizing the biggest sea, lakes and rivers clean up in History. This global clean up is being organized in memory of Legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau in Partnership with Prince Albert II Foundation of Monaco, Bernie Ecclestone Formula 1 CEO, GUWAA Patron Bianca Jagger and Francois Sarano a personal friend of Cousteau and former member and diver of Calypso. This clean up will be verified by Guinness Book of World Records and together with you we will make this officially the biggest water clean up in history with more than 80 countries participating. Become a part of history with us and make your diving centre an official GUWAA supporter, representative or an agent. Please join us on 27 September 2013 (time zone variations apply) in this incredible mission to preserve, protect and clean our most important life support element ”water” which is responsible for all life on Earth. This clean up will unite all countries, continents, people around the world to come together and fight for the same cause and same dream - Ocean preservation. As a diver you are also an ambassador - you speak for the sea and all life in it. Guwaa has started systematic clean up in the whole world during 2013 and this will continue for 3 years - at one point it will come to your country to organize clean up with your diving center. 

Great acccommodation, food, location & Scuba Instructors

“Absolutely amazing scuba diving, great price, location and people!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 23, 2013 - Had such a great time doing my advanced open water with big blue. My instructor Kyle Davis was so great he helped me so much with my two main issues, equalizing pressure and buoyancy. I feel like I am now a much improved diver! Big blue has great accommodation, food, location, and more, everything you would want from a scuba diving trip. 

Book accommodation before you get to Koh Tao

"Super duper busy" is how one person described it. Busier than a cop in a donut shop or Earls Court during a porn convention, its just gone mental here in Koh Tao & this is just the beginning of peak season. August actually gets busier though its hard to believe at this very moment. So I can't stress this enough if you are planning on visiting Koh Tao in August & you happen to be coinciding your visit either side of the Full Moon Party than you really must book something before you get here. Unless of course you fany sleeping on the beach or resting your head down in our mozzie ravaged classrooms! Use your head! Book a bed! Use your noggin, get your booking... in!

July 26, 2013

Sail Rock - Best Divesite in the Gulf of Thailand

Big Blue's going to Sail Rock TOMORROW! The weather has cleared up, and the sun is shining again! We are all excited to be heading out to this amazing dive site, and it's an opportunity you definitely don't want to miss out on! Come along and do 2 outstanding dives at Sail Rock & 1 dive at the beautiful Samran Pinnacle - one of Big Blue's best kept secrets. Experience diving with huge schools of bat fish, spanish mackerel, big-eyed trevally, colossal schools of barracuda...and maybe even a whaleshark! And don't even get me started on the sublime Thai cuisine - breakfast, lunch, unlimited soft drinks & just wait till you see the scrumptious chocolate brownies for dessert!

Our Scuba Diving Instructor was Incredible!

“Absolutely phenomenal!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 22, 2013 - My wife and I have just started our year sabbatical and had been advised by fellow colleagues not to bother with any other dive company, but to go straight to Big Blue Diving. This advice turned out to be 100% accurate. Our instructor, Rich, was incredible. As two teachers in one of Londons top private schools, we feel very qualified to state that Rich has a natural talent for teaching. His knowledge and delivery thereof was second to none. His patience and ability to adapt his teaching style to the individuals in our group reflected excellent skills in differentiation. He made the course so exciting that we changed plans and stayed to complete our Advanced. We were also most fortunate to have Jeff doing his Dive Instructor training and so under the supervision of Rich, we had excellent instruction. The price for the courses was good and fair and the entire package is something that will make us want to return and do other courses. We will of course be, asking for Rich.

Post Full Moon Party Rush

 

Right its going to be one heck of a busy day today so I've come in early to fill you in on the latest but I can't muck about it as time is of the essence so its one quick breath.... phooooooooooo &, Day after Full Moon party today, & its peak season so its officially the busiest day of the year next to the Full Moon Parties in August & New Year so maybe the 3rd busiest day of the year but still barmey busy so we got 4 Instructors meeting & greeting today, & they probably won't even get time to eat, & you thought being an Instructor was fun, & all our boats are full especially tomorrow as we have a Full Day trip planned to Sail Rock again & its sunny, hot & sunny, great viz, heaps of fish awesome diving, but no rooms, you should have booked but pop in here anyway & we'll see if there's anything we can do to help you out, which I'm sure there is as we are that helpful, & nice & professional, look forward to seeing you here soon!... and breathe!

July 25, 2013

Nang Yuan Island Swim for Sharks Appeal

 

Our Swim for Sharks a 3.4 km charity swim around the island of Nang Yuan to raise money & awareness for Shark protection is coming up in just a couple of weeks. Last year's winner, Big Blue Instructor Nick Bufton has been training for months and is looking forward to meeting the challengers for the 2013 title. He is feeling pretty confident about his swim this year too, and is hoping to win the title for most money raised for the charity as well. In fact he's so keen to win that he has promised to wear this fancy little number during the evening celebrations at Maya Beach bar. So calling all his old students, past Big Blue employees, or anyone who just wants to see him shake his stuff in this sexy one-piece, sponsor him for his swim!! To sponsor him contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will give you all the details.

A Qualtiy Dive Center in Koh Tao

 “Highlight of our trip to Thailand!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 20, 2013 - Had never gone diving before, but had heard good things about it from friends. We chose Big Blue based on reviews, and arrived to do the two day Open Water course. We had such a good time, that we extended our stay on Koh Tao by five days and completed the advanced course and did fun dives too. We learned with Phil and Rich as our instructors, who were immeasurably patient with me when I had trouble equalising on some dives. Granted the quality of the dive school was high, the greatest return factor was Phil and Rich, who were extremely friendly, knowledgable about diving, and such a pleasure to be around that we went out with them more than once after the dives :) We will be back!

Orcas at Seaworld

Those who think that Orcas have great lives in SeaWorld are naive. In the wild, these animals swim 80 -100 miles a day across the oceans. They enjoy lifelong relationships in tight, close- knit family groups. (males never leave Mum, except to mate) All this natural behaviour is denied in SeaWorld, where they live in concrete & glass pools where their amazingly sensitive sonar is useless. Even some of those whales actually born as captives in SeaWorld have been separated from their mothers when young and moved onto other centres, the equivalent of a human child being torn from its mother and placed with strangers. The stress caused by lack of stable family relationships and confinement is immense. Those who support keeping these animals in captivity should watch the documentary 'Fall from Freedom' to see the true 'backstage' story of this industry. It does not make easy watching, but you will never want to see a captive whale or dolphin used for human entertainment again.

July 24, 2013

SSI Platinum Scuba Instructors

 Lots of awards from SSI were sent out yesterday to some of our Instructors who have shone brightly over the last year or so & have been commendd for their services to Scub Diver Education, their professionalism & for the amount of students they've trained. Special mention goes to Instructors Felix, Guy, Petra, Luke, Neil, Iain, Tosh, Simon, G, Nick, Chloe who have all been awarded the very respectable Platinum  Instructor Card. One more rung of the ladder guys & you'll join the exclusive Platinum Pro Membership of which we have only 1 member of staff who's reached that particular echelon. Now I wonder who that was again?

One of the Best Experiences in South East Asia

“Great teaching from great instructors. Best place in Thailand” -5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 19, 2013- I arrived on Koh Tao not knowing which dive school to choose but from looking at the amazing reviews on trip advisor I chose this one and was not disappointed at all. I walked to the big blue 1 center which is right on the beach and was taken through the steps and plans by one of the instructors in the office. My instructor was Tim, who was amazing (even with the constant beer fines). He took everybody through the 4 open water course with a friendly but professional manner and is really brilliant at his job. The food at Big Blue 1 restaurant is excellent and around the same price as the other beach resorts. You will get cheaper meals further inland but they come without the awesome view. I was also lucky enough to have John Huntington on the boat with us teaching another student to dive, he was brilliant fun to talk to and also helped me a lot with snorkeling trips I was planning around the island. (I did get to see some Blacktips by the way John!). Even when you're not diving, the instructors will help you with any questions you may have about the island and seem happy to do so. Overall, one of the best experiences I've had in South East Asia and I'm just annoyed I didn't get to spend more time there. I will definitely be back to complete further diving qualifications though! Thanks guys! Especially Tim and John. 

Koh Phangan Full Moon Party rush... due... any... minute...NOW!

Its the calm before the storm what with the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party tonight so we've donned our rubber gloves & french maids outfits & are knee deep in soap suds & dettol water as we give the place a damn good spring cleaning! We've cleaned out the Poonama Canal, we've exploded the abandoned Bikes in the car park, & we've cleared out the equipment rooms of all the piles of debris & waste products that have been collecting there over the years & it looks like we're spot on ready & good to go again. All we need now is the Rush! 5... 4... 3... 2... ....

July 23, 2013

Your Divemasters are Magic!

 Dear Jim, My wife Jenny and myself had the privilege to dive with and stay at Big Blue from the 10-18th July 2013 whilst on holiday. We want to take this opportunity to thank your staff for making us feel welcome and receiving great service during our visit.  We will certainly recommend and promote Big Blue - Koh Tao to all our club members and future students as a "must dive and stay with" - destination!  I managed to do 12 dives and Jenny did 4.  7 Staff members we would like to especially thank and commend are: Wibeke - Jenny did our research and booking/travel arrangements and was so impressed by the quick response and detailed information from Wibeke and also great website and that sold us on choosing Big Blue. Peter - What a lovely guy, - he was most friendly from the moment we met him on the pier in Chumpon and always made the time to chat to us during our stay when we saw him.  He also went out of his way to try and assist us with a bag we lost in the train station in Bangkok. Phil, Carly, and Kim, - So very helpful and lovely to chat to, dived with them all once and really helped us with lots of info etc. on the island. - Lovely bunch! DARREN & STEVEN - Wow - now these two guys are magic!!!!!  Wow - if I could poach them as DM's for myself - I would do so in a heartbeat! Had most of our dives with both of them and they really went out of their way to assist us, made the dives super special and all round just excellent DM's and great guys!!! All your staff above are huge assets to your operation!!! All our gratitude and greetings from South Africa and we will surely be visiting Big Blue in future! Kind regards, 7th Heaven Scuba.

I travelled solo & met some awesome people at Big Blue

“Rip snorter off a time”5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2013 NEW - I chose big blue because off their fantastic reviews on trip advisor. I was NOT disappointed!!! When I first arrived in Koh Tao I was whisked away by the friendly big blue sangthew driver and taken to big blue 1. We were then greeted by a superb Irish instructor G and given the run through on what was going to happen next. She then arranged the sangthew driver to take us over to big blue 2 where we were to stay (very thoughtful as I had quite a load to carry). We gathered to go through the induction. G was very funny and I was hoping I was going to get here as my instructor....I did!! Yay!! Pool work and theory was informative the next day. G's enthusiasm for her job is infectious and makes you wan't to dive constantly :) dive 1 and 2 (aow leuk and hin ngam),on the third day were awesome and we all started getting more confidence in the water. Day four was fantastic, we had and early start but it was worth getting up for! Our destination was champhon this was by far one of the best dive spots I have been in the world. Visability was excellent and we had an extra buddy for the day (Barney, our camera man). We saw so many fish including a massive school of barracuda swimming along side us. Not the big one (the whale shark) like we were all hoping, but you have to be extremely lucky to get that chance.... Next time :) NR after that dive it was off to Japanese gardens (dive site 4) to have some fun with the camera and man did we have a blast!!! Brilliant instructor, excellent cinematographer, very helpful reception staff, polite and helpful bar and wait staff, food was lovely (though could have been slightly cheaper), housekeepers very kind. I travelled solo so I met some awesome people. 100% the best stay and great fun. Thank you all at big blue for the experience and memories, I WILL return :) :) Elaine

Full Moon Party- Koh Phangan

So we've had a hell of a week just gone which has completely caught us off guard. It does usually get a little busier around Full moon Party in Koh Phangan but this month has been absolutely unbeleivable. In 15 years or so On Koh Tao I've never seen it so busy. Its quieter now as the party is tomorrow night but then its all just going to completely kick off again. & will again be probably as busy as I'll ever have seen it then too! So word of warning people, if you are on your way then book ahead. Its going to be mental next week AND I can feel a Whaleshark coming on too! Full Moon Rush & Whalesharks. The ultimate recipe for success!

July 20, 2013

UK's SCUBApursuits leaving PADI to join SSI

So the overall UK Number One Certifying Center, Scuba Pursuits with over 50 Instructors & 18 years as the PADI top dog in the UK are defecting & joining SSI. This is huge news in the Scuba World. The reason for jumping ship & joining with SSI is... "We feel that as SSI focuses less on sales and more on enjoyment, experience and “cost free” reward and recognition for this, it is sure to be far more rewarding in the long run for everyone involved. We also feel that our students and divers will now get so much more out of this amazing and rewarding sport. After all there is absolutely no point learning to scuba dive unless you actually get the opportunities to get out there exploring and adventuring. It's about giving our divers every opportunity possible to go diving, to develop their skills and then, when they are good and ready for it, to buy equipment or complete further training. We believe the SSI system is the best way forward for SCUBApursuits, our centres, our staff, our students and in our opinion quite possibly scuba training in general." Adsolutely right Guys. & here at Big Blue we've known that for years already. SSI- definitely the future of scuba diving.

I would recommend Big Blue diving to everyone

“Freaking awesome!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 15, 2013 - Diving was the highlight of whole Thailand. It doesn't get any better. I would recommend Big Blue diving to everyone. Great atmosphere, nice food, but most important great instructors! Our instructor was Richard (rick) and he was a really good instructor. My girlfriend (lisa) was really nervous for the whole course and the deep dive (SSI open water diving 18m) but he got her all relaxed and she did everything. We liked it so much that we did the advanced adventurer course and that was even more amazing. Big blue diving is a good combination between fun, relax, profesional and experience. Big applause for Rick who was nice and got lisa to dive to 30m and a night dive! WE LOVED IT! 

Book before you get to Koh Tao or we might be full

Can't stress this enough. Its the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan next week & as July is one of the busiest of the years then I absolutely have to 100% totally hands down no holds barred have to recommend booking your accommodation here in Koh Tao before you even get here. Its going to be chaos next week. & even then we can't guarantee if you've left it this late already that we will even have the accommodation that you've booked but we will do our absolute utmost to do everything we can to help you. Its going to be soooo much harder to do for those who walk in without having made a booking. For you guys we'll probably offer you a cushion to sleep on either in the classroom or on the beach, so bring your sleeping bags! Look forward to seeing you all next week... with your bookings!

July 18, 2013

Big Blue Free Diving

Well the Freediving seems to be really taking off here at Big Blue. Both Pepe & Flavia, our national record holders & Koh Tao's only AIDA recognised International Freediving competition judges are puffing themselves into oblivion! Making a bit of a name for themselves as well and got the Koh Tao competition a little riled up! Well that's what you get when you're the best & everyone's jealous of your success! Congratulations Pape & Flav. Awesome job guys.

Go to Big Blue Diving if you go to Koh Tao

“Awesome Dive Experience”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 15- I had the best days of my Thailand trip here at Big Blue Diving. I did my Open Water Diver and Advanced Open Water here. All instructors are super friendly and helpfull, especially my instructors Kyle and Steve-O ! Thanks alot for the awesome experience and all the stuff you taught us, you did a great job !! I stayed in the included Accomodation (4bed dorm + Fan) at Big Blue 2 which was good, not to warm in this time and very clean! The food in the restaurants at BB1 and BB2 was really good but bit more expensive than in other restaurants in the "city". If you go to Koh Tao, go to Big Blue Diving!!

Book your Accommodation & Diving before you get here

 

So no kidding... its extremely busy in Koh Tao. We're taking bookings & if we can find somewhere else for you if you come in having not booked anything then we'll bend over backwards to help you out. But in all honesty you really should plan ahead & book your accommodation before you get here. & I'd advise you book it at least 2-3 days before you arrive! Its just that busy here right now with the lead up to the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. Look forward to hearing from you soon either on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to our website to book direct.

July 17, 2013

Koh Tao's Most Popular Dive Resort

 "Big Blue Diving is a PADI Dive Resort, an SSI Diamond Instructor Training Center & a BSAC Center of Excellence, Big Blue has 2 fantastic beachfront locations directly on Sairee Beach. Both Resorts offer a beach side bar and restaurant & Big Blue 2 also has a large purpose built swimming pool for confined water skills. With over 100 rooms this dive center offers all courses from beginner to instructor with Asia's leading certifying Instructor Trainers Simon Garrity and Paul Tanner. Big Blue Tech is the technical arm of this outfit offerring all things technical, including cave trips to Khao Sok National Park & Wreck trips throughout Thailand, Malaysia & Singapore. Big Blue Conservation offers eco-internships and has for the last 3 years won PADI's Project Aware Environmental Achievement Award & been awarded SSI most environmentally friendly Dive center in Thailand. Big Blue Freediving is run by 2 record holding Instructors who are also Koh Tao's only recognised AIDA judges.One of the longest-established dive centres on Koh Tao, Big Blue is also one of Koh Tao's most popular" Wikitravel!

Fantastic Facilities & Instructors

 “Incredible Instructor”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 14, 2013 - Back in the spring, a friend recommended for me to learn to dive at Big Blue and if I could go back, I would in a heartbeat! Not only were the facilities fantastic and easy access to everything you needed on the island, but my favorite part by far was the instructor. Ant Silwood is the best! He made our open water course an absolute blast! And when I stuck around to do my advanced, it ended up being just the two of us and it was fantastic to get to have that kind of one one one training. While diving with Big Blue, I was even able to swim with a whale shark! I would absolutely recommend Ant and Big Blue to anyone wanting to learn to dive and to have a great time as well!

Big Blue Retail Shop to open soon

Looks like we might have found a wholesaler who can help us in our next big venture. Big Blue Beachwear. Keep your eyes out for our new retail store which will be opening in the Sairee Village high street & will be the only official Dive Retail Store in Sairee. Not only will it ave the best collection of masks & snorkels, Regs & BCD's, Wetsuits & rashies, fins & booties we'll alos be stocking an awesome collection of divewear from Boardies & bikinis, t-shirts & singlets, hoodies & sweats, boat coats & anoraks,caps & beanies. All we need now is a good retail name. Write into This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your suggestion & if we use it we'll send you a free Hoodie!

July 15, 2013

Instructor Training Course starting today

 Starting another SSI ITC today. 7 more Scuba Diving Divemasters all ready to take the plunge & become fully trained Diving professionals so that they too can travel the world live in excotic locations & travel to & from their office in their boardies all day! Sound like a dream come true? Well then maybe you too should consider taking the plunge. Right now we have opportunities for SSI Scuba professionals in the Caribbean, the Meditteranean, The Red Sea & even here in Koh Tao. Oh yeah & while I'm about could really do with a Nanny too if anyone's interested in applying for that post as well!

Great Dive Facilities & Great Dive Sites

“Best dive school hands down”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 11, 2013 -Big blue diving was my best experience in Thailand. I originally planned to only get my open water dive certification however I was so impressed with the quality of my Instructors Rick and G, the great dive facilities and sites, that I stayed on to do my advanced open water course with Rick. Another way I know big blue diving is the best diving resort is, I became very ill due to a bug going around the island.I had to miss a day of diving but I was not charged for it nor was there any hassles with scheduling me in the next day. They also scheduled a night dive on an off day so I would have 24 hours between the end of my course and the time I started flying home. I would recommend big blue diving to anyone who goes to Thailand.

Burmese Advanced Course

 

Nick took out another 5 of our Burmese staff to complete their Advanced Divers Course yesterday with a Deep dive to 30 meters, a dive on the wreck & then top it all off with a Night dive followed by an aperitif down the bar! Working hard to get all our boys trained up to be proper divers. Nick took them for their Open Water too last year. To them Nick is God! To us he's still Sid the Sloth from the Ice Age movies!

July 13, 2013

Voted Best Island in Asia

Official! Koh Tao has now been voted Asia's very best Island! Known it all along but now its officially official! We've beaten all sorts of exotic spots teeming with islands throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, even other local hotspots here in Thailand! Sun soaked beaches, Golden Sands, crystal clear waters, Palm fringed bays,teeming marine life, bronzed bikini clad babes, Charles Atlas styled hunks, first class cuisine, awesome beach front bars, blood red sunsets, excellent vibe & Asia's Best Dive Shop- Big Blue Diving... on Asia's best Island.

Scuba Diving was the most amazing experience of my life

“Big blue is where it's at!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 11, 2013 - I was really anxious about diving but signed up for my open water anyway and I am so glad I did because it was the most amazing experience of my life!! I was nervous to go under and had problems with equalizing my ears which made me panic a bit however the instructors there Lisa and John were extremely patient and helped me throughout the dives. I would recommend this school to anyone visiting koh Tao as the trainers are really friendly and make the experience one to remember alot of fun stuff and u make friends with them!! Great stuff guys awesome job fully enjoyed it and look forward to diving again!! 

Big Blue Diving wheels in motion

So its all guns blazing! Big Blue Freedivers are Freediving with their students. Big Blue BSAC, Thailands largest BSAC Dive Center, has just finished another Ocean Diver Course. Big Blue Tech are out diving the deepest depths around Koh Tao. Big Blue Conservation are planning for our big event coming up next month the Swim for Sharks Charity Swim. Big Blue Pro is cleaning the boards & sweeping the floor in preparation for their next Instructor Training Course & Big Blues Best Divemaster in the World, Steven, is busy turning the cogs in the machine that makes Big Blue everyone's favourite Dive Center. Hope it stays like this till Monday, I'm having tomorrow off!

July 11, 2013

Swim For Sharks 2013

It's that time of year again! Time to show you dedication to Sharks and put your body to the test! The Swim for Sharks is a Koh Tao wide charity event to raise money and awareness for shark conservation in Thailand. Last year was so successful that we have made even bigger plans this year, with shark DNA sampling and tagging training, the big swim around Koh Nang Yuan, and the evening Big Bite Festival at Maya bar with some awesome live music and DJs. Come and join us for the shark conservation talk, the swim, shave your head like a shark fin, or just celebrate your love for sharks! Join us on August 10th! And here is the sponsor form for those of you doing the swim, bring it back with you on the day, with the sponsorship, in order to enter into the swim! Cheers and Save our Sharks!

Booked my Open Water & went on to do my Advanced aswell

“Diving”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 9, 2013 - I have nothing but good things to say about Big Blue. From being met at the boat, to made to feel welcome, to having Donny (assisted by John) teach me to dive. I booked to do just the Open Water but went on to do my Advanced. Donny was exceptional - experienced, knowledgeable, calm and made diving so enjoyable, fun and opened my eyes to a whole new world. He treated everyone individually and respected that people move along at different paces but kept us together as a group also. I doubt I could have had a better instructor as a total beginner and a nervous - but also excited- one at that! And he was also just a genuinely nice friendly guy on top of that - even if he is Aussie! Definitely recommend Big Blue - am hoping to get back and futher my diving and enjoy the island more.

Divemaster Internships

Just signed off a whole bunch of Divemasters in Training who are now fully certified Diving professionals all earning a crust in the underwater world. In fact signed off so many we've practically found ourselves with very few other Divemaster Interns remaining. So if you are looking to become a consummate diving professional or are having a Gap year & want to do something worthwhile before University then get in touch & ask us about our Divemaster Internship options with either PADI, SSI or BSAC. Courses start every day and take between 4-6 weeks to complete. Look forward to making you a professional beach bum soon!

July 10, 2013

Free Diving starting every day from 20m to 40m depth

Big Blue Freediving has just started their AIDA Level One Beginner Course today with 2 students who are looking to dive down to a depth of 20 meters on just 1 breath & learn to do it in just 2 days! No sweat. Then they'll be signing up for their Level 2 Course which takes a day longer & will get you down to a depth of 30 meters! Then... they'll be signing up for the Level 3 Course which takes 4 days total & by the end will be able to dive down to a maximum depth of 40 meters on just 1 breath! How Freaking cool is that! Courses start every day with our Breathold Instructors Flavia & Pepe both of whom are International Record Holders, National Champions & AIDA Competition Judges so these guys really know their stuff! For more info contact us or write to these guys directly on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Easy going Consummate Professionals

“Exceptional Experience at Big Blue!”-5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 8, 2013- I arrived at Big Blue the first week in July and wasn't quite sure what to expect. Immediately upon arrival myself and the other new arrivals received a warm welcome form Rick (who would later be my instructor for the Open Water course). He briefly explained how things worked at the resort, costs, options, accommodations, etc. and handed out necessary paperwork. From start to finish, every instructor I came into contact with at Big Blue was a consumate professional. I quickly realized that Rick was a stellar instructor: patient, outgoing, and exceptionally good at explaining the basic physiology of diving. At no point did I ever *not* feel comfortable in the water with any of the instructors; quite the opposite in fact. I found it to be an extremely relaxing, serene experience. The only thing stopping me from immediately signing up for the advanced course with Rick (which my entire group of 5 other individuals did) was my tight timeline and itinerary which had my leaving Koh Tao the day after completing the Open Water certification. All in all, Big Blue (1 & 2) was generally clean, staff friendly, service good. The word "easy-going" immediately comes to mind when I think of one word to summarize the atmosphere at Big Blue. The food at the restaurant was good, the beer cold, and the environment extremely warm and welcoming. I cannot speak to the accommodations specifically as I stayed elsewhere on Koh Tao but all of my group-mates had nothing but good things to say about the free-or-nearly-free lodging provided. The only thing to be conscientious about if you come to Koh Tao (as with any other small tropical island) is that 24hr bugs (i.e. stomach viruses) seem to go around quite frequently. However, such is the nature of the beast and this is in no way a reflection upon Big Blue...just remember to bring some traveler's meds and hand sanitizer! Regards and Happy Travels, Tom Bailli.

No BullSharks

No Bull sharks were spotted at Sail Rock yesterday I'm sorry to say despite all the hype. Shame but not to worry I'm sure they'll be there soon. However it was awesome conditions so everyone had a great day diving in 30+meter visibility. Our next Full Day Trip is in a couple of days off to the Chumphon Marine Park which is definitely one of the best places to go diving as there's no one else who dives there, just us, & last time we went got to dive with a Whaleshark & came across a brand new sunken Fishing boat which was cool. Come in or send us an email for more info on this & all our other Full Day Trips. English Breakfast, Thai Buffet Lunch, 3 dives & Chocolate brownies for everyone!

July 9, 2013

Bull Sharks at Sail Rock

So the rumour mill on Koh Tao is telling us that the Bull Sharks are back at Sail Rock. So like intrepid explorers & frontline journalists on the hunt for a story we've gone to Sail Rock today to check out the rumours for ourselves. Fingers crossed the rumours are true & they come from a  fairly reliable source & of course Bull Sharks at Sail Rock is where they are often do congregate & usually at this time of year so by adding it all up we're definitely hoping that that 2 + 2 = 4: Not 22! Watch this space & I'll tell you how maths is tomorrow!

Amazed how well we were treated

“Open water Dive course”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 6, 2013 - We made our booking online without knowing what to expect from Big Blue, and were amazed by how well we were treated. Free pick up from the ferry terminal on arrival was great, as the initial experience on the island can be a little over whelming. All the staff were very friendly and always willing to help out. We did our open water course with Chris Cherry, who is a very confident, relaxed instructor. My girlfriend was a little nervous going into the course, but was made to feel comfortable immediately. She enjoyed it so much, that we stayed and did the advanced course too :) I would recommend going to Big Blue no matter what experience level you are, as there is something on offer for everyone - no matter your age. Big Blue has made us re-think our future travel destinations just so we can dive. 

The Best Dive Center in Thailand

So we've been recommended by a big marketing guru to pull in all our brands and redesign the logos so they stay in synch with each other which is of course blindingly obvious but apparently being this close to the action we've kind of been a little blind to it. So we're undergoing a bit of a font stlye change for our different outfits within Big Blue. So of course our main get up is Big Blue Diving. Then our eco arm is called Big Blue Conservation. Our Apnea guys run Big Blue Freediving. SSI Instructor Trainers Tosh & Simo head up Big Blue Instructor Training. James & Ian organise our wreck, cave, tech & specialties through Big Blue Tech Thailand & also Big Blue BSAC. Then on the West Coast over in Khao Lak we also have Big Blue Diving Khao Lak of which our biggest business is Big Blue Liveaboards. So synching them all together... you've pretty much got the Best Dive Center in Thailand!

July 8, 2013

Whaleshark at Chumphon Marine Park

 There's a thousand reasons as to why one should learn to dive. The feeling of weightlessness, the exhilaration, the exploration, to visit wrecks, to quote PADI- Meet people, go places & do things, but of course the biggest reason to dive is to see up close & personal all the many sea creatures there are to see in their natural environment & see to them with your own eyes! We were lucky enough to see a Whaleshark at Chumphon Marine Park yesterday which of course is the dream of every diver but how about this photo taken off Western Australia of a Whaleshark & then off in the distance a Whale! Now that takes some beating! Imagine swimming & photographing the biggest fish in the sea then along comes the biggest animal in the world! Amazing! Awesome photo. Congratulations Australia, you lucky buggers!

Open Water was a great experience

“Great first diving experience with Chloe”5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2013 - I did my Open Water Diver at Big Blue with Chloe as an instructor who was really great at easily explaining things, especially for non-native English speakers. As she immediately sensed that I was pretty scared in the beginning, she took extra care of me and made me feel safe all the time! She prepared us very well for the adventure and great experience-she always payed attention to the specific problems everyone in our group had and made sure everyone felt comfortable! For me it was one of the greatest experiences and I would definitely recommend and go back to diving with Chloe at Big Blue! 

How to Become A PADI Divemaster

Anyone looking at changing their career direction I would highly recommend looking at becomming a PADI Divemaster. You will need to be a Rescue Diver to start your Divemaster training which of course means you will need to have done your Open Water & Advanced Courses too but having completed all them it can take you as little time as just 1 month to complete your Divemaster Training. And once you've done that then you can put your CV out & get work any exotic location in the world and lead people diving. If you did want to go further then the next step is your Instructor Course. Only another months worth of training & you're able to teach people how to dive. Truely can there be a more satisfying way to earn a living?

July 6, 2013

The Real Value of a Whaleshark

 Amazing how much business gets generated by just one Whaleshark. By advertising the fact we dived with a Whaleshark the increase in diver numbers is up about 20% the following day. And that's just with us alone. If every Dive center on Koh Tao experiences that increase in numbers then we're talking millions of baht for just 1 sighting! Thats over 30,000 USD. That's way more than the fisherman would get for slaughtering a Whaleshark & selling it off for chopped fins. & don't forget of course that the divers way as opposed to the fishermans way, the creature is still alive. So it can make another 30,000 USD the next day, & the next day & the next day, forever & ever & ever or at least till it croaks! Killing Whalesharks- obviously a stupid mans game!

The Open Water Diving Course was the Best Experience of my Trip

“Great Experience”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 4, - Just did my Open Water Diving course with Big Blue, it was the best experience of my trip. My instructor, G was really helpful, I had a lot of trouble with my ears (due to a bad cold), she was so patient and did everything she could to get me down and she did. Good value for money, didn't feel unsafe at any point would highly reccommend it here. 

New Longtail

We're just going boat crazy! Bought ourselves another boat! This one is just a longtail used to shuttle our divers to the boats from the beach. But wow what a beauty! She's bigger than a lot of dive boats here! She's the longtail equivalent of the Airbus 380. Licensed to carry 40 people with or without their clothes on. This should make waiting time alot less. Big Blue Diving- always looking for ways to maximise your Dive time!

July 5, 2013

Whaleshark!

Its like I speak Whaleshark! Yesterday predicted a Whaleshark. Today dive with a Whaleshark! The biggest fish in the sea! Not this one though. This one was just a baby. This was the smallest biggest fish in the sea! An awesome experience diving with Whalesharks & a regular occurrence here in Koh Tao. Most likely dive sites to see Whalesharks are Chumphon Pinnacle, Southwest Pinnacle, Sail Rock & lately we've seen a few around the island of Nang Yuan. If you want to know when our next whaleshark sighting will be then just ask Jim- the Whaleshark whisperer.

Good, Professional & Friendly Staff

“fun diving on koh tao”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 4, 2013 - Booked off the internet a fun dive package of 16 in total dives during an 8 day period in June for the sum of 11,000 baht (£234) Was duly picked up at the ferry terminal and taken to the beach front dive centre which was full of divers and many people chilling out .Greeted by very friendly staff and they gave me keys to various lodging options nearby I chose a seperate fan room with plenty of space and a hot shower which was 600 baht (£12)a night if I was diving .The whole period spent with Big Blue was so good and professional that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to friends. There were dive boats going out many times a day and night with different levels of diving skills so everyone was catered for There was an on site bar and restaurant and at night a scrumptious barbeque wwhich included Barracuda ,squid ,red snapper ,steaks and kebabs all for around 300-400 baht This is a PADI resort and the dive masters and instructors spoke many languages so many thanks for a good time to a very honest outfit who also are eco friendly 

New Website Coming

Redesigning our website at the moment to make it look more updated, funky & user friendly. Having a blast doing it all too but think we need a spot of help with some reviews that aren't just on Trip Advisor. Wink wink nudge nudge! Also going to be redesigning a few new T-shirts & are looking for a good catchy slogan if any of you creative people out there have got anything. We've been using Live & Let Dive & Scuba Nirvana since the yeat dot but just can't help feeling we can come up with something better. Anyone?

July 4, 2013

Job Opportunites coming up at Big Blue

In this time of hardship, global financial crisis & high unemployment isn't it nice to know that here in Koh Tao we're desperate for new recruits! We got so much work coming up for Scuba Diving Professionals. Not only is it high season any day now which will mean I'llbe ringing round every night for Freelance Instructors to start courses the following day I'm also going to be looking for a fixed German speaking Instructor. Know of anyone? On top of that our Big Blue Conservation team are looking for a new recruit so I need someone there who's passionate about the environment & wants to join us in saving the world, organising fund raising events, beach & coral clean ups & monitoring our artificial reefs. And I'm also looking for a retail store manager. Someone who knows all about diving, equipment has excellent administrative skills & creative sales ideas. If you think any of these jobs has your name written on it then I'd highly recommend getting in touch with me ASAP. I'll be advertising on the PADI & SSI websites soon so here's your chance to get in with your application & CV's before the crowds. Its a hard life but someones got to do it. Why not you? Please address all applications to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our Instructor was Incredible

“Best dives, best trip, best instructor!! Must do!!!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor June 28, 2013- I came to koh Tao with a friend as we'd heard all about the diving! On arrival we didn't really know which company was best! We had a couple of recommendations from people on the boat on the way for Big Blue and thought we'd go for it!! As we were both beginners we were a little nervous but there's no need!! Our instructor G was just incredible!! She taught us everything we needed to know and more and the diving experience we had was just top! If you're looking for an amazing diving experience I'd look no further than Big Blue and G!!! Amazing time, want to do it all again! TEAM G!!!! 

Whaleshark

Enjoying the diving at the moment. Not typical for this time of year either. We should be powering through 2 meter swells & visibility less than 10 meters & traipsing down to the pier in town for our daily departures. Instead we're experiencing 20+ viz, relatively flat seas, still leaving from the beach here & all sorts of awesome underwater creatures. Wouldn't be surprised if we bump into a Whaleshark within the next couple of days. Stay tuned. Watch this space!

July 3, 3013

New Big Blue Boat

A little while ago we had a few boat problems so ended up renting a boat for a couple of months. So impressed were we with it that we've now gone ahead & bought it outright! So ladies & gentlemen if you'd be kind enough to put your hands together & join us in welcoming MV Waverunner to the fleet of Big Blue boats. She's 28 meters long with an interior saloon, large upstairs outside shaded area, large dive deck, steel throughout & can manage a capacity of 35 divers no problem! She's got another Dive centers name written all over her for the moment but we'll get that rubbed out as soon as I can find the Tipex!

Koh Tao's Best Scuba Instructors

“Welcoming Dive Shop with Excellent Dive Instructors”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor June 29, 2013 - From the moment we wondered into Big Blue (on a word of mouth recommendation during the ferry from Koh Samui) we felt at home and at ease. The front desk accomadations worked hard to find us a room during a sold out weekend and got us into the open water diving course immediately. From the beginning, our instructor, Kyle, was easy going, insightful, knowledgeable, and willing to work with all comfort levels. Kyle guided us through the open water course from beginnng to end taking time to assist each group member as needed. The pace of the course was perfect, and we feel prepared to take on further dives in and outside of Koh Tao. All the instructers seemed great at Big Blue, but if you do choose to dive with them definitely request Kyle as your instructor! 

High Season Coming

So coming into high season here on Koh Tao now & by the look of things we could be in for quite a busy one. So I'm giving fair warning now for those who haven't yet booked anything to step it up & get something locked in. Its the time of year when we get people sleeping on the beaches cos there's no accommodation available! And according to the word on the Media street Bangkok is reckoned to be the most visited city in the world this year over taking London & Paris & the number of visitors expected on Koh Tao is going up 15% on last year! And last year was very busy so this year its going to go nuts! Like I said... better get something locked in!

July 2, 2013

Big Blue Babies

Tis the season to have babies tra la la la la la la la la!. Congratulations to Jim- Il Duce, Tor one of our touts, & Takeshi & Naomi, Owners of Big Blue Diving Khao Lak & Mihoko BB Diving Marketing Manager in Japan who have all over the last month been dropping sprogs like there's no tomorrow! 3 girls & a boy. Must have been something in the water 9 months ago! Either that or scuba diving makes you super fruity!

Amazing Instructor

“Amazing”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor June 26, 2013 - There are sooo many dive schools to choose from on Koh Toa we really struggled to pick without knowing anything about them really but as soon as we saw the trip advisor results we decided to stay here. It was a really good decision. We stayed in a 4 bed dorm which yes wasn't the most amazing 5* accom we have ever had but we are in Thailand and it was free?! Also our dive instructor Steveo was amazing he was so patient and was really proud of us when we mastered a skill under water which was really nice. He helped us whenever we needed it and stayed around on an evening for drinks and we all went out for a meal. The course made me feel really safe for when we did our first dive on the OW course and it was amazing! The sites that they take you too are absolutely spectacular and the fish and sealife is amazing. Sometimes the visability isnt amazing but they tried to change to the sites that were the best. We have nothing to complain about and we stayed on to do the advanced course too we enjoyed it that much. Big love to steveo he was amazing and really made me feel safe when I was nervous. Thankyou Big Blue!!

Home Sweet Home

So its been a while but its as if nothing has changed. The sun is still shining, the sea is still flat. The whalesharks are still frolicking. Simo & Tosh are still doing their Instructor Training courses. The Instructors are teaching the students & the Divemasters are leading the certified divers. The AC rooms, fan rooms bungalows & dorms are all pretty much full. The shop girls are still accepting payments and the bar & restaurant are still serving 5 star cuisine. Its as if I never went away for 2 months to Bangkok to have another baby... except for the sleepless nights, & baby bile down my shoulder! Thanks everyone for taking such great care of the place for me while I been away. Especially to Tosh, Guy & Jess who've done an awesome job. So good in fact that I think I might bugger off for another month or 2! See ya suckers!

August 31st 2013

Beach clean-up- Sunday 1st September

Beach clean up Sairee Beach

Calling all environmentally concious divers, snorkellers, sunbathers and dive professionals, we are looking for volunteers to help with a beach clean up that Jen & Lizzie of Big Blue Conservation have organised. At this time of year all sorts of rubbish gets washed ashore all the way along Sairee beach, carrier bags, everything and anything made out of plastic (really not good for marine life), wonderwoman costumes.. well not so far but it's only a matter of time! Big blue staff clean the beach every day as part of their job, but the more people we get to help out, the bigger an area we can cover. The clean up starts at 10am, and in the afternoon an underwater clean up dive will take place at a local dive site, which is FREE to anyone that participates! All you have to do is turn up at 10am for the beach clean. You can sign up for the underwater clean up in the Big Blue Shop, bin bags will be provided but bring your own marigolds!

“Fantastic instructors - great place to learn”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 27 August 2013- I first came to Big Blue to do some fun dives and do my rescue course. I had Carly as my Divemaster for my first fun dive and she was fantastic, she even took the time to take me to some of the dive shops and helped me pick out some equipment. I was really impressed by this and I appreciated her professional input and advice. I had a great experience with my rescue course and I truly feel that it made me a more competent and confident diver. Rod was my instructor and it was obvious that he cared about us learning the material and being successful in our course. He even took extra time to suit the course to the needs of the different people in our group. It really felt like he invested himself in teaching us and I always appreciate that in an instructor or teacher. After my rescue course I decided to stay on and do my dive masters. 


Whaleshark at Chumphon

So after an amazing 2 dives at sail rock on the recent full day trip, and with a fantastic atmosphere on the boat, Chumphon Pinnacle was chosed for the third dive of the day. For the first time in his bearded life, divemaster Phil must have been very popular (we love him really). His spidey sense must have been doing overtime, as it turned out to be a good choice and a whaleshark decided to join the fun divers! It kindly hung around for the entire dive, allowing plenty of time for customers to take their next facebook profile pictures. So, just to summarise, Huge shoals of big-eyed trevally, metre long pick handle barracuda, bat fish, scorpion fish, and a whaleshark. I bet you're glad you didn't get around to signing up now... !

August 28th 2013

 

Sail Rock Trip

 

 

Big Blue is off on another full day trip today, to the best dive site in the gulf of Thailand; Sail Rock. The seas are flat, the Sun is shining, and breakfast has already been wolfed down. The divemasters lucky enough to be guiding customers on this trip will be encouraging their fun divers to cross fingers, legs, toes, eyes, and anything else that can be crossed in the hope of sighting a big spotty fish we like to call a Whaleshark! Two dives at Sail Rock and one dive at Shark Island also includes lunch, chocolate cake, as much coke, water, sprite and fanta as you can manage, and THE most passionate,  knowledgeable, friendly (and just plain weird- Steven) divemasters in Koh Tao... ok Thailand..... ok Asia!. Pop into the Big Blue office on Sairee beach and sign up for the next one!

 

“Just perfect”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 26 August 2013- I was last week in koh tao with 2 friends and We just wanted to try diving once , at the end we spent one week and did the advanced (deep diving) licence , it was just amazing , The cool accommodation was included, everybody was young and the instructors were great . I spent 7 days with John Who Made us dive like real divers without any "nursing", best Time of my trip in Thaïland...

 

5 Things You Didn't Know Sharks Do For You

1. Sharks keep the food web in check- Being the top of the food chain, they weed out weak and sick animals to keep the overall population in top health. Declining shark numbers is having an effect on the entire ocean ecosystem.

2. Sharks could help us cure diseases- Sharks get sick far less than other species. Scientists are studying the anticoagulant and antibacterial properties of their tissue with the aim of finding treatments for a number of medical conditions, such as viruses, cystic fibrosis and some forms of cancer.

3. Sharks assist in keeping the carbon cycle in motion- Carbon is crucial to the cycle of life; Deep sea shark scavengers feed on dead matter at the bottom of the ocean. This helps to move carbon through the ocean.

4. Sharks inspire better design- By using biomimicry- imitating nature’s designs to solve human problems, designers have looked to sharks for improvements in the speed and efficiency of man made objects in the water. For example, Speedo has designed a range of swimsuits that imitate the grooves in shark skin to reduce friction drag, and a prototype device resembling a shark’s tail has been built to capture wave energy from the ocean and convert it into electric power!

5. Sharks boost local economies- Over the last several decades, public fascination with sharks has developed into a thriving ecotourism industry in places such as the Bahamas, South Africa and the Galápagos. According to a study recently published in the journal Oryx, shark tourism generates about US$ 314 million per year and is predicted to more than double in the next 20 years. These activities- which support businesses like boat rental and diving companies, are said to provide 10,000 jobs in 29 countries. Several studies have indicated that in these places, sharks are worth much more alive than dead.

August 25th 2013

 

 

The hunky Instructors at the Big Blue Tech shack went out yesterday for their yearly photoshoot all dressed up in their sidemounts & twin tanks. BSAC Instructor Trainer James modelled his brand new Poseidon Rebreather in a nice pair of kahki speedos while TDI Instructor Ian carried all James tanks around for him. The boys went to both the Sattakut Wreck & the Trident Wreck on the south side of Koh Tao for this awesome 2014 TEch Diving Calender photo spread. Can't wait to see the final results.

 

“A great place to learn diving” 5 of 5 stars. Reviewed on Trip Advisor -21 August 2013- Me and my friend booked an open water course with big blue and all we can say is that we've had a great time there. Instead of the free dorm they gave us a nice double room at 50 meters from the beautiful sairee beach. Our instructor Ernesto was an amazing guy and eventually we decided to do the advance course with him as well. In short I can just say that I can really recommend this place. Good diving school, nice and professional staff, and a decent restaurant/bar. The only negative thing we can say is that 6 persons in a group could be too much in some cases, but we didn't experience it in a bad way.

 

Poor old Big Blue Instructor Rick Rickety has been cooped up in his eagles nest for the last month after a nasty little incident resulting in a broken knee. Poor bloke has been watching all sorts of crap Koh Tao TV (Thanks Tosh) over recent days but luckily managed a trip to Koh Samui this weekend to the local bookshop to get himself some suitable reading material. So in addition to bringing back the latest issue of Asian Babes Rick also brought with him 'Deco for Divers, a Divers guide to Decompression Theory & physiology'! Top reading material for a Tech Instructor, BSAC Instructor, SSI Instructor, PADI Instructor & Sex Instructor! 

August 29th 2013

New Look Big Blue Website Now Live!

I warned you this would happen, and now it has, the new look and feel Big Blue website has arrived! Answering all your questions about who we are, what we do, information about our dive courses, conservation courses, tech diving courses, free diving courses, dive professional training, fun diving, live aboards, accommodation, bookings, latest news... I could go on but you get the idea! Feel free to have a look around and let us know if there are any gremlins still lurking. I have the speed dial to the IT police and i'm not afraid to use it!


swim for sharks

Swim for Sharks World Premiere

Last night the red carpet was rolled out and resident and passing barflies had the chance to relive the toil, sweat, pain, tears, and speedos in their full pink glory.. no it wasn't a divemaster challenge, it was the world premiere of the 2013 Koh Tao Swim for Sharks charity event, as filmed by Ace Marine Images. Hosted by Big Blue Conservation's very own Jen & Lizzie, it was all recorded on celluloid just how gruelling it can be to swim 3.4kms around Nang Yuan Island in pretty choppy conditions with no flippers on! The event is held every year to raise money for shark conservation projects here in Thailand, and this years event had a huge turnout of instructors, divemasters, divemasters in training, and crazy people on their holidays! Don't worry if you missed it though, DVDs can be bought for only 500 baht, half of which goes to the Sharks! When you get a copy cover your eyes whenever Simon Garrity is on screen.. that was a spoiler alert for your own benefit.

Can't recommend this company enough
“Big Blue is #1”-5 of 5 stars Reviewed 26 August 2013
After having a really bad experience with another dive school (they are in the top 10 here on trip advisor) me and my girlfriend almost decided to not bother learning to dive. How lucky we are that we found Big Blue. After a conversation with someone who was undertaking their open water, we were convinced we should try Big Blue, and we are so happy we did. We completed our open water certificate under the watchful eyes of Tosh and Martijn with 3 other students and at all times we felt we had a quality, personal experience. The dive tuution was
fantastic and following a pool session, the 4 open water dives were intresting, educational and fun and overall, we both had a great experience. So good in fact, that i went on and completed my advanced course with Big Blue and Martijn (who as an advanced instructor really stood out) and hope to one day return to Koh Tao and do more diving with them. I can't recommend this company enough, and to be honest, with so much choice on Koh Tao you would be hard pressed to find a really bad school, but their experience, attitude, proffesionalism, eco awareness, knowledge and freindliness really make Big Blue a good choice for diving. Thanks for the memories. :-)

Losing Nemo
Not the prequel to finding nemo, it's a 6 minute long animated film about industrial overfishing and was created by volunteers from all over the world. It's very thought provoking and highlights the power and political influence of the commercial fishing industry, and their frightening attempts to increase fishing quotas year on year, even at cost to the longevity of their business. The thought of a lifeless ocean is terrifying, and people need to know what's happening right now. On Koh Tao, the Thai Government works closely with Save Koh Tao- an organisation made up of all the dive schools, businesses and community groups, to educate local fishermen about conservation and sustainable fishing practises in and around the waters of Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Koh Panghan. There's lots of work to do, but the message is getting accross. Watch the animation here 

August 24th 2013

 

Teaching the Local Kids to Scuba Dive

Teach a kid to dive, and they will love the sea for life. That is the basic principle behind the work being carried out  by New Heaven Conservation this year to get more local kids involved with the diving and marine conservation work happening on what will eventually be their island. Marine Conservation for kids, Koh Tao. In August they kicked off a 5 month program alongside the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and SSI Thailand, teaching the students first how to SCUBA dive, then how to perform underwater research through the locally designed Ecological Monitoring Program. In the final months of the program the students will also be trained in coral restoration and protection through various locally designed methods. The program is completely free to all Thai or Burmese children 10-18 years old. The goal of this program is to increase local stakeholder capacity and involve the young generation on Koh Tao in the protection and restoration of their local marine environment. An excellent idea & an awesome job carried out by Chad Scott & his team at New Heaven Conservation & Save Koh Tao.

Highly recommend this place for Open Water certification

“Amazing experience, and great introduction to a new world” -5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor August 20, 2013 
Big Blue has a fantastic energy as soon as you get to the resort. All of the instructors have huge smiles on their faces, and signing in was painless and quick. We got a great 3-person room for free, which was clean (not so much after we trekked in sand) and comfortable. The dive sites for the SSI Open Water course were breathtaking, especially during the third and fourth dives when you're not as distracted by technique and can appreciate the coral and life around you. The best part were our instructors, Oli and Guy. Oli was new and in-training, but extremely relaxed and friendly without sacrificing professionalism. One of my friends freaked out underwater on the first dive and didn't want to continue but Guy was so good and patient that she fought through it; she was loving diving by the end! Highly recommend this place for Open Water certification. Diving can be quite frightening to a newbie and you want the best.

Koh Phangan Full Moon Party Rush

Well the weather hasn't been the best unfortunately & then all the ferries on their way to Koh Tao Fecked up resulting in one late night waiting up till 1 am for the boat to come here from the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. Consequently this months Full Moon rush hasn't been anywhere near as dramatic as last months. In fact its been quite orderly. So orderly in fact the Techies even managed to pop out for the afternoon for a photo shoot with professional Photographer Andy Campbell and we even managed to give Wave runner a bit of well earned Rest & relaxation. Keep this up I might even be able to pop out for a massage & a manicure with WPC DM Darren Milsom who's doing his usual weekly pampering session.

August 20th 2013-

Tuesday 20th August 2013-Full Moon On Koh Tao

The Full Moon party lasts but one night; Koh Tao is eternal

Koh Tao isn’t ‘just’ an island; it is a shared experience of 7-11s, Scuba diving, late night dancing in the ocean, buckets of alcohol, fire dancers, and balloons filled with laughing gas. On paper, the island of Koh Tao is an 8 square mile speck of land in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s now a bright spot on the South East Asia backpacker scene along with Koh Phi Phi, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Samui.  The island has become a Scuba mecca, second in the world only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia in certifying Open Water divers.  In reality, Koh Tao is something completely different.  The real Koh Tao is something like this… Hotel California.  The Bermuda Triangle.  Koh Tao.  All three of these places share a mystical property that mesmerizes people and suspends them in a state of trance similar to a snake charmer working their craft.  An article written on Travelfish by a long-term traveler neatly sums up this charm: When asked to write about life on Ko Tao from a longterm stayers point of view, all I could think about were the three biggest lies told on the island. I’ll leave you to ponder the other two but the biggest, without a doubt is, “I’m leaving tomorrow.” This phenomenon is actually so well documented that there isn’t actually anything new to say about Koh Tao, and so I am not going to try.  In fact, after three weeks on the island I’m convinced that a completely new and unique experience on the island is nearly impossible.  Anyone who comes to Koh Tao is going to experience one or more of the following phenomena and walk away with a set of experiences that be shared with anyone else who has ever spent a few nights on Koh Tao.  The Full Moon party lasts but one night; Koh Tao is eternal. Eventually you may find a way to escape Koh Tao – to get off the island and continue your backpacking through Thailand.  It will, without a doubt, be at a date later than you originally expected.  When you finally leave you’ll think of returning.  You’ll think of the Koh Tao Experience.  You close your eyes: The sky on fire.  Faces illuminated by kerosine.  Memories blurred by balloons of SangSom and buckets of laughing gas. Koh Tao.

The Divemaster's were even better than the Instructors

5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor August 17, 2013 - I must say that Big Blue is an absolutely great place with fantastic people. I know that Big Blue is a perfect place if you want to take your open water or advanced course or any other course for that matter, because they have some really great and professional instructors. And I know that because I took my open water and advanced with Big Blue last year. This time around I was back to do a lot of fundiving and I think that the Divemasters at Big Blue are truly fantastic and amazing. If it’s possible and I think it is the Divemasters are even better than the instructors or at least equally as good. I had the pleasure of diving with a couple of different Divemasters including Darren, Becca, Carly and Steven and they are all really good at what they do. I did most of my dives with Darren as a Divemaster and he is truly an amazing Divemaster and a great guy and I’m really happy that I got “stuck” with him for most of my dives. He definitely made me a better diver even though I was pretty good to begin with and he made everyday a new adventure. So if you want to dive with the best Divemaster in Thailand possibly in the whole world you have to go to Koh Tao now because Darren is leaving soon. If you are a crazy Nudibranch lover like me you have to dive with Steven. He is the absolutely best Nudibranch finder at Big Blue but I think Darren is pretty good as well. My two girls Becca and Carly are always smiling, laughing and so much fun to be around especially on the boat but they are also really great to dive with. I can honestly say that the Divemasters Darren, Becca, Carly and Phil made my diving and my stay at Koh Tao unforgettable, amazing and so must more fun than I ever expected. As I wrote earlier Big Blue is a great place with fantastic people. Everybody is always very friendly, helpful and willing to go an extra mile to make your stay pleasant. There is a special vibe and atmosphere around Big Blue that is really difficult to explain but it just makes you happy. The best regards from Stina Moellnitz, Denmark. 

Removing a net off Southwest Pinnacle

Thanks very much to everyone who came to help out last week when we set off for the Secret Pinnacle at Southwest to remove a large net that had become tangled in the coral. Always a sad sight but even worse when you see the immediate impact that net has when you struggle to free the trapped reef fish, & count those that didn't make it. After spending 45 minutes removing the net, only a small portion was cleared.In this day & age surely there is a better way to catch fish!

August 19th 2013

Pregnant WhalesharkPregnant Whaleshark seen at Southwest Pinnacle Whaleshark seen at Sothwest Pinnacle at the weekend. Not sure if it is the same one we saw at Sail Rock last week. Still waiting verification. But accrding to Eco jen our resident Marine Biologist she reckons this Whaelshark is actually pregnant. Now that woule be awesome. Apparently a pregnant Whaleshark was found dead in a net a little while ago & when it was brought out of the water they found inside 300 baby whaleshark embryos! So if this whaleshark we saw at the weekend carries on & delivers 300 Whaleshark pups to this area we might be in for some quite exciting diving in the near future.

I Did my Open Water, Advanced, Deep, Wreck and Nitrox “Superb Resort”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor August 15, 2013 - One of the best dive resorts you could possibly want to stay at. Great dive sites, professional and friendly instructors, fantastic on-site restaurant and good quality accommodation. I stayed at Big Blue for 3 weeks and in that time did my Open Water, Advanced Adventurer, Deep, Wreck and Nitrox diving certifications. Dave "Sqzy" was my instructor for all of them, and was a fantastic teacher - incredibly upbeat, entertaining and interesting whilst being professional and helpful at all times. After training I went out on a few fun dives and on a full day trip. The dive masters were always keen, helpful and easy to talk to and the dive sites are all superb. The layout of the resort is superb, with everything less than a minute's walk away; even the nearest corner shop is literally right outside the entrance. The on-site restaurant has a broad, well-priced menu with food from all over the world and opens very early to very late. Almost every diver, dive master and instructor can be found there at some point during the day so the whole place has a really relaxed, social atmosphere. On top of that, each evening DVDs from that day's final open water dives are shown which gives you something to look forward to if you're training and gives more experienced divers a look at the local dive sites. There are various different choices when it comes to accommodation. I chose to stay in a private room with a fan but there are also dormitories and private rooms with and without A/C available. The room was cleaned and made up every 2 days with clean sheets and towels. Despite absently-mindedly leaving valuables out a couple of times nothing ever went missing.

A Very God Reason to become a Scuba Diver Did you know.... 99% of all living space on the planet is in the ocean, and humans have explored less than 10% of that space. 90% of the ocean's volume constitutes the dark cold environment we call the 'deep sea', at an average depth of 3,700m (That's over 4 times greater than the average height of land). So, by learning to dive, you have gained access to 70% of our planet. And by attempting to conserve the marine ecosystem, you are helping to maintain 99% of Earth's living space!

August 12, 2013

Time Out Explorers- Asia's Top 50 Shorts Breaks

We just can't stop getting printed this month! Another article on Koh Tao this time in London Town's Time Out Magazine with a feature about Diving gadgets. Written when our own SSI Instructor Trainer Tosh was the writers Instructor, though unfortunately he was working at another shop at that time but as we all know he has seen the light since those days of immaturity & prepubescence & came & joined us at Big Blue & hasn't looked back since now spearheading Asia's largest SSI Instructor Training Center. Keep your eyes out for this issue of Time Out Explorer- Asia's Top 50 Short Breaks. 

A One-2-One Scuba Refresher at no extra Cost

“Happy to be in the water again”5 of 5 starsReviewed on Trip Advisor August 7, 2013-I had been to Koh Tao a number of times and had done my open water and advanced certification here as well, but not at Big Blue. As I had a bad experience diving elsewhere in the world I had gone back to my initial shop to see if they would be able to help me get over my fear for diving. Unfortunately they were short on dive-masters and could only offer me a refresher course with a group. We then went to Big Blue and told the same story again. In stead of the big group they offered a 1-on-1 refresher at no extra cost. I had all the time in the world to do my skills and get familiar with the diving again. The next day we did a fun dive, and since they had remembered my initial issues, they had made sure that me and my friend were the only two diving with one dive master, so in case I needed more time, that would not be a problem. I am happy to say that at the end of the 2 days I felt comfortable in the water again, thanks to the patience shown by the Big Blue staff! 

2013 Swim For Sharks raises 5000USD for shark conservation around Koh Tao

This years Swim for sharks was an even bigger success than we had even anticipated with an incredible 135000 Bt raised by our Eco arm Big Blue Conservation & most notably our very own Green Queen & in House Marine Biologist Jennifer Matthews. Jen started off the day with a very informative lecture on Sharks & their reproductive cycles & then almost 70 people came along for the extremely challenging 3.4 km swim (in bloody big waves ) around Nang Yuan Island. The winner this year was a stranger to us! A weary traveller who just happened to be here at the right time & whipped the favourites (Nick Bufton) ass by 3 minutes. After the exhausting & gruelling swim around Nang Yuan it was free Barbie & music from our very own DJ's Mix Masters DJ DM Dazza Milsom & legendary Las Vegas Inked celebrity Mr John Huntington. AN awesome night, & a lot of money raised. Thanks again to all those who contributed & especially Eco Jen. Those sharks owe you a debt of gratitude!

August 9, 2013

Swim for Sharks- Charity swim around Koh Nang Yuan

 So its the biggest day of the year for our Green Queens Eco Jen & her trusty Steed Lizzie May. Its our annual Swim for Sharks a 3.4 Kilometer swim around Nang Yuan Island all in the name of charity- to raise money for shark conservation projects here in Thailand & hopefully & especially here in Koh Tao. Last year we raised over 100000 Bt. This year we hope to double that as the main party will be held at Koh Tao's Number One Party Venue - Maya Bar. So bring your cheque books & heaps of cash & lets raise some money to help increase the awareness of shark conservation here in Koh Tao & increase the numbers of Black Tips, White Tips, Bull Sharks, Grey Reefs, Leopard Sharks & Whale Sharks that are all native to our Koh Tao waters.

Still the Best Dive Shop on Koh Tao

“Best Dive Centre on Koh Tao”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor August 6, 2013 - It's my second diving holiday with Big Blue and it equalled the first. What makes this diving company different from the rest is the staff. The are knowledgeable, friendly and their enthusiasm for diving is contagious. I completed 26 fun dives over the 10 days and the following staff need particular mention. 1. Steven- His direct observational commentary during briefings is spot on. He says what others wouldn't dare try to get away with but some how he does. He was very welcoming and his enthusiasm for tiny marine life is unequalled. He is also a moral mentor towards DMTs guiding them in their diving journey such as 2. Laura. Laura led me on the majority of dives and is a credit to her mentor and a fab dive master in the making. Give her a job.3. James-His in depth knowledge of wreck diving led to a lively and thought provoking discussion. The tech shack is definately worth checking out! 4. Nick- made me feel welcome from day 1 both in the shop and on the boats. Always free to offer advice and help. A credit to Big Blue. THANKS BB for another fab holiday! 

Man falls overboard on Nightboat to Koh Tao

"German Expat Rescued From 9-Hour Sea Drift"- (7 August) A German expat has been rescued after he was forced to spend 9 hours drifting in the sea off Koh Tao Island. The 47 year old German, identified simply by officials as ′Sasha′, is believed to have fallen off the ferry boat on his way to the island, which situated near the coast of Chumpon province in southern Thailand. The ferry crew told our correspondent they saw the German smoking on the side of the boat around 02.00 on the previous night. They could not locate him once the boat reached the island, they said, so they realised that he must have fallen overboard and immediately alerted the rescue teams. Mr. Sasha was eventually found 10 kilometres away from the shore, close to Koh Mattra and Koh Kalok islands. He said he had been swimming for around 9 hours as he waited for the help to arrive. Officials said Mr. Sasha was very exhausted but had sustained no injury. According to his friends, Mr. Sasha is originally from Berlin and has settled in Surat Thani province for 10 years now, where he has been running his hotel business. Mr. Sasha′s friends also told our correspondent that, fortunately, he has been a very talented swimmer. By Khaosod Online- Moral of this story- Stop Smoking!

August 8, 2013

Ex Big Blue Photographer Lia Barrett, hits the Big Time on CNN

Just awesome to see Lia Barrett being featured on CNN over some awesome photos shes taken over the years but specifically this very unique photo shoot of professional Free divers going about every day type of roles underwater, like sitting supping on a coffee or taking a stroll through the park with a background of reef sharks swimming round. Lia first came to us at Big Blue as a very talented photographer looking to make a name for herself by collating a portfolio of underwater shots & in exchange for some photos we could use ourselves we offerred her as much diving as she wanted. Since then she's done numerous liveaboards with our friends in Komodo, Indonesia Wicked Diving & has become quite a big Underwater Photographey celebrity. Congrats Lia. So happy to see you hit the big time. All the best from your friends at Big Blue.

Recommended by Practically Everyone

“CRACKING TIME”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor August 4, 2013 - Just left koh tao weeping, I would have loved to stay on and do an advanced but alas no time. Big blue was recommended by practically everyone and it lived up to expectations. My friend and i stayed in separate dorms due to it being so busy but what can ya do if you dont plan in advance. the fan rooms were actually fine temperature wise as there was a nice bit if sea breeze that would come rrrrolling through. Can I please fully endorse one special man by the name of GUY BANNISTER he is a top fella and was a great instructor. Our group had such a good time so thank you Guy and thank you big blue. I'll definitely be back. Terrraaaaah

Shark Survey Around Koh Tao

 

Volunteers joined forces with Big Blue Conservation to do a shark survey around Koh Tao this morning. The survey was conducted around Shark Bay. Volunteers from Big Blue and ACE Marine Images counted, photographed, and documented their findings with Jen and Lizzie of Big Blue Conservation. The information collected will be included with other surveys conducted around Koh Tao. Surveys and other shark programs have been made possible by donations from the annual Swim for Sharks with Big Blue Conservation and the kind efforts of volunteers. We hope our recordings and documentation will be helpful in the future efforts of shark conservation. Contact Big Blue Conservation for more information.

August 7, 2013

Big Blue BSAC & Big Blue Tech Feature

 

Another bit of shameless self promotion but hey when you're this good its hard not to blow your own trumpet! More editorial on Big Blue this time featuring our very own Big Blue Tech Manager James Foleherherereh. Big Blue Tech offers everything you can think of when it comes to Tech diving from the run of the mill Tech Courses with TDI, SDI, BSAC, PADI & SSI and Sidemount courses, Cave Diving, Wreck Diving & Tech Liveaboards as far afield as Singapore to dive some of the legendary World War 2 Sunken treasures in that area. In addition James is also our BSAC chap about to be BSAC Instructor Trainer & consequently one of the highest trained Diving Professionals in the world with an unpronounceable surname. James Forleherereh. James Folererereh. James Fohelererer. Oh Feck it! Tech James!

Fantastic Days on Koh Tao

“Big Blue Diving Open Water”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor August 1, 2013 - Came to Koh Tao back in April and couldn't have been more happy with my choice in Big Blue. It came with numerous recommendations from friends met along the way and I wasn't disappointed. The instructors were incredibly knowledgeable and a lot of fun, always there to help you and they help to create a fun and infectious atmosphere when on the course and dives. Our instructor was Iain who is a top bloke, pushed us through the skills and learning quickly efficiently - definitely ask for Iain if you can! look out for the Scottish accent - was great to hear about how he became an instructor and why he chooses to live & work on Koh Tao. was always up for a beer after the diving. Big Blue threw in free accommodation for my 4 day open water SSI course which was a great bonus and I was very happy with the dorm, 1 minute walk from the sea and the bar/restaurant. Thoroughly enjoyed the course and was very very close to staying on for the advanced course along with my group, however couldn't stretch the budget! Until next time. A definite highlight of my trip to south east asia and was made even better by the video that you have the chance to watch and buy after your 3rd and 4th dives on the final day. Will always be able to watch and remember those fantastic days on Koh Tao. 

Swim for Sharks Charity Event

The lead up to our big hosted event of the year the Round Nang Yuan Island Swim for Sharks is going like clock work, or should I say "Its going swimmingly!" Lots of people signing up with sponsorship forms to raise money to help save the sharks from the horrendous butchery of shark finning.Last year we raised over 100000 Bt this year we hope to double that! Its going to be an awesome day with a Shark Awareness lecture in the morning then its the 3.4 km swim around Nang Yuan then in the evening we're hosting a party at Koh Tao's liveliest Beach Venue Maya Bar, with a Free Bar-B-Q, International DJ's, & a sponsored Shave for Sharks. Its going to be an awesome night & we hope to see you there.

August 6, 2013

Editorial Feature in SCUBA- UK's Leading Dive Mag

Another day another magazine article on Big Blue Diving Koh Tao in another one of the worlds leading Dive Magazines. This time its the UK's largest circulating Scuba Diver Magazine with a nice article on Asia's largest BSAC Center Big Blue Diving, & a lot of talk about our Eco activities with our very own in house Marine Biologist Green Queen Dr. Jennifer Matthews PhD. One Eco activity she's very proud of organising is Koh Tao's extremely popular swim for sharks a 3.4 Km swim around the Island of Nang Yuan which coincidentally happens to be taking place this coming Saturday the 10th August. Want to get involved & raise money for Shark Awareness & protection then look no further. Come join in the Swim & help us save some sharks & then you can read all about it in our next big Magazine featured editorial.

The Best Dive School on Koh Tao

“Faceplanting Fantastic - Thanks Rich!!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 31, 2013 - No words to express our love for Big Blue! We came to Koh Tao undecided on whether to dive or not and we couldn't be more glad that we did, if you're looking for an unforgettable experience then choose BIG BLUE.. the best dive school on the island. The whole place and courses is absolutely faultless. We came to Ko Tao at the end of our travels and did both the Open Water Course and squeezed in the Advance with 2 days to spare to get home, we never wanted to leave!! Our instructor was Rich who was an absolutely amazing instructor... professional, patient, knows his stuff and at the same time such a laugh and made the whole experience unforgettable for us! Even after attempting a triple front off the top of the boat with a painful face plant he made me laugh!! - proudly its making the Christmas video haha!! We strongly suggest you request Rich if you want an unforgettable diving experience! It was definitely the highlight of our trip. THANKYOUUUU RICH AND BIG BLUE FOR AN AWESOME 6 DAYS!! WE WILL BE BACK! Mia & Craig x 

A Diving Vacation- The Holiday of a Lifetime

Have you met anyone lately who has said: “I just have so much time on my hands, and I get to relax whenever I want!” Not likely. It seems like everyone has a jam-packed schedule, a never-ending list of obligations and not much time to devote to themselves. It can feel nearly impossible to step away – but you should. And when you do, diving provides one of the best ways to not only escape the everyday grind, but to shake off the stresses of life. Psychologists and health care professionals frequently point out the possible benefits of simply taking time off. Studies have shown that a restful, relaxing break from daily stresses may enhance the body’s ability to heal, enhance creativity and may even increase motivation and productivity. Enjoying some of that free time in nature only enriches the effects – and what better way to enjoy nature than by diving? With every descent beneath the waves, you reap multiple benefits: Physical exercise, Natural light, Calming sounds, Close contact with nature. Diving provides an exceptional opportunity to really interact with and be immersed in the natural world. While there’s plenty to think about during a dive, it’s all directed toward the cause of an experience you love. A diving vacation could be just the thing you need to recharge your batteries. So if you fancy a holiday of a lifetime why don't you get in touch?

August 5, 2013

Book Your Accommodation before you get to Koh Tao

 

Happy to be picking up the phone & answering the question "Should I book before I get to Koh Tao?' The answer is of course yes! If August is anything like July then thats a 100% yes! Unless of course you want to spend your first night sleeping on the beach or on the cushions in some f the restaurants or classrooms of some of the Dive shops. Not a great way to spend the night unless of course you fancy being ravaged by mosquitoes all night! Use your head & Book a bed! Call us on 077456415 or better email us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

No Place Better on Koh Tao than Big Blue

“Counting down the days until I return!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 30, 2013 - No words can express my love for this place. I recently completed my dive master training after having done my open water, advanced, EFR and rescue courses all at big blue. I was fortunate enough to have Tim as my instructor earlier in the year for OW and AAOW…upon my return to the island, in May, I was so pleased to see he was my instructor for both EFR and rescue! Every instructor there is truly amazing at what they do and Tim instructed in the perfect way that worked for me. He introduced me to the other instructors and really helped to make me feel at home and welcome. During my DMT I had 6 brilliant mentors, all of whom would help in any way they could. The full time dive masters were also fantastic role models and really helped to show myself and all the other DMTs the ins and outs of being a good dive master. The tech boys are one in a million, and were good enough to put up with me sitting in the tech shack for many hours on many occasions, boring them with meaningless stories and terrible jokes. The genuine highlights of my time there were the assists! Seeing the DM’s and instructors deals with all manner of situations in relaxed, confident and professional manners is really inspirational. The DMT challenge really put me through my (drinking) paces and I have Simmo to thank for making it such a fun night! (from what I remember that is). Dive at this school and you will not regret it for a second. All the instructors and DMs take the time to get to know their students and customers personally and won’t give up ANYONE. Upon completion of open water, I can guarantee the thought of continuing onto advanced will be playing on your mind. DO IT. Everything is better below 18meters! Once you do the advanced, you will be hooked. And it is safe to say, there are far worse things to be obsessed with. Obviously diving is the main attraction of this beautiful place, but in the evenings the bar is always buzzing, great food in the restaurant and once a week beer pong is held. Get involved! it is a great way to meet other people- especially if you are backpackers! Living on this island for 3months simply wasn’t long enough, so I will be back next year for the entire summer. Sorry guys, not got rid of me that quickly. Just read all of the other reviews and it speaks for its self…there is no place better than Big Blue. Happy diving!! Missing you all like mad. Alice

Koh Tao Weather Forecast

 

Think you'll be happy to know that the weather has become beautiful & sunny again! All those English people wandering around the place in their jumpers & overcoats last week moaning about how cold wet & windy it was are now wandering round in the singlets & sunburnt sleeves moaning about how hot it is!. God Bless 'em! Forecast is good too so it looks like the bad weather is over now for a while & we'll be hearing heaps more posh people whinging about the heat! Pip Pip!

August 3, 2013

Swim For Sharks Round Nang Yuan Island

 Don't miss out on the event of the year!!Only one week left until the Swim for Sharks!! The whole Swim for Sharks event is centred on involving the local community in active shark conservation and awareness. We came up with the event 4 years ago, and we donated our proceeds to Project AWARE, whose shark conservation action included driving interest in the recent CITES meeting. Due to the success of our event, we have been able in subsequent years to fund local projects, including a release program in Pattaya by Dive Tribe last year. As part of this project, Dive Tribe visit local restaurants and hotels and buy any captive sharks, which they then tagged and released in March this year. And as for us on Koh Tao, we set out to investigate the shark trade in local areas, including Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Chumphon. In general, we found no real trade in shark products and although a small number of sharks were turning up in markets and in restaurants, these where thought to have been caught on the Andaman coast, instead of in Koh Tao's waters as we feared. That said, we actually have very little information about the health of our shark populations and so we began the which using volunteer snorkelers we survey our reef shark populations. After hearing about what we were doing, the local fishermen wanted to get involved, and now we have a program started with them where if they accidentally catch sharks or rays, they bring to us where we have a tank to record and photograph them safely, then release back to the reef they were taken from. The information gathering is where we hope to expand on next, using Rototags to tag individual sharks, collect DNA samples for a global DNA database coordinated by Johanne Mourier of French Polynesia University. As well we want to teach the tagging techniques to the fishermen, so that they can perform the tagging themselves, putting less stress on the sharks during transportation. We want to also help increase awareness and education on shark conservation among divers and tourists in general, in a hope that people will not buy shark products, especially whilst visiting Thailand. Our event entails a sponsored swim, which last year had 73 participants. The swim is approximately 3.4 km long, around the island of Koh Nang Yuan. As well as this, we have an evening festival with local bands and international DJs, where the fundraising continues and the head shaving starts (it seems we have begun a tradition in shaving for sharks - many people raise money to shave a fin-like Mohawk into their heads!). Last year we raised a fantastic 127,000 baht, and this year we hope to raise more. We have decided to contribute the money raised to various charities: 

15% to SSI Mission Deep Blue anti-finning campaign in Costa Rica
15% to ECOOCEAN Whaleshark Monitoring Programme
20% to Fin Free Thailand (www.finfree.org)
50% to the Koh Tao Shark Project.
If you would like to help us raise money for these very worthy charities, and support the shark conservation work they do then come along and help. If you would like to do the swim, you can get sponsored by your friends and family. You don’t have to be Michael Phelps to participate, you can even wear fins and a mask if you would like! But if you want to really go for the win, you can and we have a serious competitor race starting 5 minutes before the fun swim.
There are 4 prizes donated by Shark Skin as well this year, and these will go to:
• 1st back from the competitive race
• 1st back with fins
• Person who raises the most sponsorship
• Swimmer with the best fancy dress
If you just want to come and support then that’s fine too, come along to our evening event at Maya Beach Club from 6pm, wehere there is a free BBQ and International DJs playing until the early hours. The fundraising continues here too with the head shaving and drink promotions!
If you're reading this from somewhere other than Koh Tao, then don't fear, you can still get involved! Organis your own Swim for Sharks and get in contact with us how to transfer any money you raise. Or ifg you want to donate then fantastic!! Just go to our booking website here and enter how much you would like to donate, then in the comments section specify that it is for the Swim for Sharks.
Thanks and hopefully see you on August 10th!

August 1, 2013

7 Newly certified SSI Scuba Instructors

Congratulations to our in House Instructor Trainers Simon Garrity & Paul 'Tosh' Tanner for maintaining their 100% record when it comes to new Scuba Diving Instructors! 7 SSI Instructor candidates & 7 brand new fully certified SSI Instructors today! And apparently every single Instructor they have ever certified is actually still working in the Dive business which means that not only are these candidates happy with their career choices but that all of them have been able to get work in Diving! Says alot about SSI. The fastest growing Scuba organisation in the world with jobs available in almost every country you can imagine. Sun, sea, scuba, Best job in the World? You bet your ass!

One of the Best Experiences of my Life

“Best Diving Experience”5 of 5 stars Reviewed on Trip Advisor July 29, 2013 - A friend and I didn't have a diving course booked when we arrived in Koh Tao but we saw great reviews so we thought we'd give Big Blue a go. Arrived at 4pm and were signed up for the 5pm Open Water certification that day. I can say that this was one of the best experiences of my life. Our instructor Guy was FANTASTIC! After the four dives we had time to spare and were excited to take on the Advance certification over the next two days (5 specialised dives to be certified in). The Open Water was great but it was just a taste of what you can see & explore on the Advance course. I would recommend it to anyone if you have the time. Overall an awesome experience at Big Blue diving and very professional. 

Thailands Most Popular Tourist Island

A picture postcard beach on one of Thailand's most popular tourist islands is now the focus of frantic efforts to staunch a tide of oil sweeping ashore. Where pleasure seekers would normally relax on pristine white sand, sandwiched between two lush green headlands, now white-coated cleanup crew smeared with crude  oil from the shallow waters. Goblets of oil lie along the beach, a thin sheen covers much of the wet sand and oil-drenched booms lie like giant black snakes along the shoreline. The sea is a rust red color and the odor of fuel hangs heavy in the air. Not even a brisk onshore wind can keep the smell away. For the past four days crude has been washing up here and cleanup crews have been dealing with it the best way they can - pumping it into holding tanks, containing it with booms, even mopping it up with absorbent pads. Ao Prao beach on the island of Koh Samet is the main impact zone of the 50,000 liters of oil spilled during a faulty transfer operation between a tanker and a seabed pipeline on Saturday. About 600 soldiers, volunteers and workers from PTT Global Chemical, the partially state-owned oil giant that has claimed responsibility for the spill, are involved in the cleanup. A PTT spokesman says that 70% of the oil has been dealt with. The remaining crude will be "90% clear by Friday or Sunday at the latest.

October 30th 2013

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!

October 31st 2013

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.

October 29th 2013

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!

October 27th 2013

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!

October 26th 2013

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.

 

October 25th 2013

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!

 

October 23rd 2013

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.

October 22nd 2013

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.

October 21st 2013

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.

 

 

October 19th 2013

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.

October 18th 2013

Whalesharks- Everywhere!

Things seem to have gone a little bit crazy in the whaleshark department- that's an expression by the way; we don't have an actual whaleshark department at Big Blue, unless you count Lizzie at Big Blue Conservation, in which case, we have a whaleshark department.

whalesharkWe've had loads of sightings of whalesharks in the last week. Yesterday alone, one appeared at Green rock. Then in the afternoon the dive boat captain's radios were all a buzz with talk of one cruising around at King Kong of all places! The day before yesterday we had one at Chumphon pinnacle all day. So they're definitely around. I'd love to know how many times one swims past a dive site and no-one thinks to look out into the blue and misses it. Probably a lot. This is of course great news all round though, our SSI and PADI open water students have been lucky enough to see one on their third ever dive, and those that had the time to stay on an extra 2 days to undertake their advanced course managed to get a second sighting, and the ones that decided to rent an underwater camera for the course will now be taking home evidence of their close encounter with the biggest fish in the ocean.
So if you're coming to Koh Tao in the next few weeks, get yourself down to Big Blue. Why you say? We have a dive boat dedicated to fun divers only, which can quickly move to any dive site around the Island as soon as there's talk of a sighting over the captain's radio- they like a good gossip you see. If you're learning to dive, the SSI open water course gives instructors some flexibility compared with PADI. So if you're heading out to do your last couple of open water dives and a whaleshark is sighted, you can still go and see it (with PADI there is no flexibility in moving skills between dives), and lets face it there aren't many things worse than kneeling in the sand having to do your skills when you know a whaleshark is circling the rest of the dive site! Probably also time to start a petition to get Koh Tao renamed from turtle Island to Whaleshark Island!

Plane wreckage to become artificial reef in Koh Samui

Koh-Samui-plane-crashYou probably never heard about the Bangkok airways plane that crashed whilst landing at Koh Samui airport in 2009. The aircraft overshot the runway on landing and crashed into an unmanned air traffic control tower. A number of passengers were injured, and one person was sadly killed. The fuselage of the wreckage has been languishing by the side of a road in Koh Samui ever since, but is about to begin its new life as an artificial reef. It has recently been painted and moved to Nathon, where it will be sunk on the 20th October in Tong Krut. Hopefully it will be anchored sufficiently enough to prevent it being swept away by any strong currents. Definitely something for our fun diver boat Porponawa to check out on the next full day trip to AngThong Marine Park.

October 17th 2013

 


Meet Neil and Luke

Unable to enjoy a beer in the Big Blue bar without someone or other harassing me about instructors Luke and Neil not having their own staff profiles on the blog, I can’t take it any more. So let me introduce you to two members of staff that will make you wonder about the future of mankind, yet thankfully make you glad you decided to learn how to dive.


neil-draycottNeil Draycott-
 The best of boast worlds, Neil is literally “the most fun you can have while diving”. Having spent a number of years battling with toblerone addition, he once drove to Dundee in his bare feet, shouting “no way” into his rear view mirror whilst cutting up anyone that dared attempt to overtake him. But he’s bounced back from all that and now sports bare feet on purpose, even though they remind him of gammon. Back in the UK, Neil used to be a roadie for some kind of band with a brass section, which apparently did pretty well as long as it didn’t interfere with his anger management sessions. But he decided his future lay elsewhere, and ended up living in Koh Tao- drawn as he was by a deep seated urge to live in a static home. He probably sets the benchmark at Big Blue on how to teach a thorough PADI or SSI open water course, and is a sought out instructor for divemaster trainees to learn from. When the course is over, he’ll happily talk about diving for hour after hour, and I would encourage anyone that sees him in the bar to approach him and do exactly that, especially if you’d like to know how to save a choking cat.

 

luke-whiteLuke White- An absolute fitness fanatic this one, when he’s not teaching people how to dive you’ll find him in the gym destroying cereal with his bare hands. Obviously a people person, Luke was born to teach diving. His infectious smile and chiselled features win over anyone. Once the open water course is over they just can’t wait to sign up for their advanced course. Before he came to Koh Tao he was a bit of a celebrity in the UK, as he used to present promotional videos on boating holidays in the Norfolk Broads, and in no way whatsoever riled the local farming community to a point where he had to leave the Country. Outside of work his main hobby is organising his forthcoming wedding. So dedicated to ensuring it's the perfect day, he can often be heard saying “I can’t go to the bar tonight, I’ve got to go home and look at catalogues on fingerless gloves”.. pretty cutting edge stuff, wedding-wise. The highlight of the wedding will be the first dance, which is almost definitely going to be Cliff Richard- “wired for Sound”. Anyone that does a diving course with Luke automatically gets an invite. The only thing missing is a bride.

 

The future of diving?

Answer me this, how many times have you been diving along, happily navigating around the dive site, and then all of a sudden you've got absolutely no idea where you are? There are no rocks that you remember, the visibility is worse that terrible, and your brain recoils in horror every time you look at your compass and realise that you have absolutely no idea where you are. Happens a lot as a divemaster trainee, and the occasional divemaster or instructor gets caught out too. Now imagine that you descend anywhere on the dive site, and all you see is blue water with no reference point anywhere to be seen. But you're not stressed out because you look at your dive computer and not only do you have a map of the dive site on your display, but you have a little icon that tells you where you are.. underwater GPS! Science fiction? Laziness? Call it what you will but maybe one day in the future it will be the standard way of diving.

Researchers at Buffalo University in the US are developing an underwater wifi system that uses sound waves rather than radio waves to send and receive data. Technology often tries to imitate nature and this is no exception. Radio waves are more readily absorbed by water compared with air, but whales have no problem communicating over large distances via sound. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) already use acoustic buoys to send data from tsunami sensors on the sea floor to buoys on the surface. But the aim is to use a standardised system so that different agencies can communicate their data with each other, hence the research. The aim is to create more reliable tsunami warning systems, but these kinds of technologies always have offshoots- did you think diving would have become so popular if you still had to wear lead shoes and don helmets with surface supplied air!? After all, the amount of people that still rely on paper maps when driving compared with people using satnav is tiny. Luddites the lot of them!

 

October 15th 2013

Anatomy of an advanced course

Yesterday's blog gave a brief overview of how we run an open water course at Big Blue. Today it's the turn of the advanced course.

Big-Blue-advanced-course300x225-15-10-13If you just finished your open water course with us and signed up to do the advanced course, you'll be pleased to know that it starts at 10am, so you get a little bit of a lie in after celebrating becoming open water divers... hurrah! First off you'll meet your instructor, who'll go through the paperwork and give you the choice of dives you can do. The advanced course is five dives, and you'll need to do the deep dive and navigation dives, but then you can choose the other dives you want to do, such as a wreck dive, fish identification dive, buoyancy dive, night dive, or photography dive. Generally, weather permitting, we would recommend you choose the buoyancy, night and wreck dives to get the most out of the course. Once you've chosen, you'll be given a dive computer to be used on each dive, and a compass for the navigation dive. The instructor will show you how they both work, and then you'll spend some time walking on the beach like a zombie getting to grips with how to use different navigation techniques. If you haven't got any equipment we can get you set up with everything that you'll need, then it's lunchtime woo hoo.

 Afternoon, day one- You'll meet up again and go out on the boat at around 12:45pm to do the buoyancy and navigation dives. You already learned how to control your buoyancy on the open water course, but you'll be give lots of tips on how to fine tune it, with the whole dive being dedicated to allowing you to practice. Once you've had plenty of time to do this, the rest of the dive is spent seeing what's on the dive site. Remember, you can use what you learned on every subsequent dive you do. After an hour on the boat sunbathing, you'll head back into the water at a different dive site to do the navigation dive. You'll already have been taught how to use your compass on the beach, but underwater is a whole different kettle of fish, you have to keep track of where you're going, think about your buoyancy, think about your buddy, keep the same depth, avoid other divers, and any other obstacles you come across! We'll also show you how to use features of the dive site to help you with navigating, so called natural navigation. It's great fun and you'll probably never want to dive without a compass again!
Evening, day one- At Big Blue we run night dives every other night, but if you have to leave the next day, we can usually fit one in for you on the first day. The night dive is the closest you will come to being in space without being a billionaire able to hitch a ride on a Russian rocket. It's amazing! Not unsurprisingly, you'll need it to be dark, so we go out at around 6pm, and you'll begin the dive as it's still getting dark, just to let you get used to it before it goes completely dark. Oh yeah, and you'll be given a torch! The fish you see in the daytime tend to hide at night, and the fish that sleep in the day come out to hunt, such as barracuda. You may also see crabs, blue-spotted stingrays, and the occassional octopus. There's always a chance of seeing a sleeping turtle too! If you've seen the Leonardo Di Capprio film the Beach, you can also see the bioluminescent plankton- unforgettable- the plankton, not the film.
Day two, morning- Early start again (so soon after dives three and four of open water!?), but well worth it, this is the deep dive. Your instructor will take you down to as close to 30 metres as you're comfortable with, and teach you deeper diving and ascent procedures. Then as you shallow up, you'll use the rest of your air to fun dive around the dive site to see what amazing marine life is around. You'll end up much more confident in your own diving abilities, and with any luck be asking if anyone else saw that "massive whaleshark"! After an hour's surface interval on the boat, you'll head over to the wreck for the fifth and final dive of the course, the wreck dive. We're very lucky on Koh Tao, we have a wreck that was purposefully sunk as an artificial reef. It's an old US Navy landing craft infantry boat, bought by the Thai Navy and donated in 2011. Called the HTMS Sattakut, it sits at between 27 and 30 metres, and has a big gun at the bow (that's the front..), and a smaller gun on the stern (the rear..). A host of marine animals have made it their home, and it's an incredible experience seeing this huge rusting metal thing underwater that you're so used to seeing on the surface. A little bit of history too, Very cool.

So that's it, you'll finish at around 12pm on the second day. If no-one is in a hurry to go home the night dive may be at 6pm that night, but generally it takes a day and a half to complete. Given your card at the end of the course, you'll be certified to dive to 30 metres and certified to dive at night. You'll feel like you're starting to really get the hang of this diving malarky and be hungry for more, and more, and more. Did you know we do fun diving as well!? For any more information on the advanced course, contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How much do you know about Koh Tao? Some facts for your eyes

1. Koh Tao means Turtle Island. Not because it looks like a turtle from above, but from the shape of the land as seen from neighbouring Koh Phangan.
2. It’s pretty small- 21 square kilometres.
3. On June 18, 1899 King Chulalongkorn visited Koh Tao and left as evidence his monogram on a huge boulder at Jor Por Ror bay next to Sairee Beach.
4. Between 1933 and 1947 it was used as a political prison.
5. In 1947 Khun Uaem and his brother Khun Oh reached Koh Tao from Koh Phangan and started farming coconuts, fishing and growing vegetables.
6. In 1980 overseas travellers began visiting the Island, and thus beginning tourism on the Island. The population grew steadily from there.
7. It’s the cheapest place in the world to learn how to scuba dive.
8. It’s an important breeding ground for Hawkesbill and Green turtles.
9. Known for being a good place to learn how to dive, it also has some of the best dive sites in the world- Chumphon pinnacle and Sail rock.
10. If you come here, you’ll really be loathe to leave, probably cancel your flight and become a dive professional.. that’s what everybody else does!

 

October 14th 2013

Anatomy of an open water course

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 Panghan, or December- March and July- October).


Open-water-courseIf 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?

Things that kill more people than sharks every year:

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 freediving 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, talk to Lizzie at Big Blue Conservation. You can contact her This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

October 13th 2013

Smiling face all round- can only mean another amazing full day trip

Big Blue Diving sail rock trip

A fantastic day out was had by all yesterday on the full day trip to sail rock. Fun divers did two dives at sail rock, and then decided to head out to Chumphon pinnacle for the third dive of the day. That's a pretty significant statement to make, so let me explain a little further. If you were to go on a trip to sail rock with any other dive shop on Koh Tao, it would take at least two hours to get there, so you'd only get two dives in before having to head home. At Big Blue, we have the fastest boat on the Island, Porponawa- a boat used only for our fun divers. This means that we get to sail rock in only one hour- half the time! Because all the other dive schools in and around Koh Tao are so ridiculously slow, they only have time to fit in two dives at Sail rock before having to head home, or one dive at Sail rock, and a second dive at another dive site on the way back, usually Shark Island, which is very close to Koh Tao. Chumphon pinnacle would be way out of range to them. Not for us, because we have the super boat Porponawa, it's easy. So in one day you get to dive the two best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand, both of which are world class! Our divemasters came back from this trip buzzing that the atmosphere on board was amazing; hardly surprising considering where they went, and the fact that they were taken diving by the best divemasters in the business, AND they got breakfast and lunch on board, along with as many soft drinks as they could handle! We run regular full day trips, to sail rock, Ang Thong Marine Park, and Chumphon Marine Park- the only dive resort that goes there. If you want to get on the next one, or want to find out more, pop into the office on Sairee beach if you're already here, or email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Great diving and awesome DMs!”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 9 October 2013-I just returned from a two weeks vacation on Koh Tao, where I was diving with Big Blue. I didn't do any certifications but had 20+ fun dives with them. I had so much fun and awesome dives that I'm definitively coming back one day. The dive masters knew exactly what they were doing, showed us lots of great stuff and were awesome while doing it. I was never in a group of more than 4 divers, and we were matched by air consumption to get good and long dives... Two thumbs up!

Turtle Release!

We'd like to point your attention to a very beautiful and timely short animation documenting the miraculous journey of juvenile sea turtles, as they hatch from eggs on the beach, then make their initial dash to the sea, and basically spend the first few months of their lives trying not to be eaten by a host of predators in the ocean. It seems that flotsam is key, providing shelter until they become too large to be on the menu of most fish and seabirds. It's a remarkable story of survival against the odds, and is even more incredible when you include threats coming from humans, such as poaching, logline fishing, rubbish and noxious chemicals dumped into the ocean, and oil spills. This story is timely because as a dive Island, Koh Tao really wants people to be able to come here and see turtles now and for years to come. So yesterday Marine Conservation Koh Tao- a coalition of Thai Businesses, the Thai Government and local dive schools, released a number of turtles into the ocean to try and give them a fighting chance to keep their numbers up. Big Blue Conservation was involved as well and so far we have had a 100% survival rate... hurrah! You can watch the animation here.

October 11th 2013


SSI Instructor Training Course starts 15th October

 SSI ITC

For those of you in colder climes, it's another beautiful hot day here on Koh Tao. Perfect for our SSI instructor training candidates to begin their journey to become dive professionals, which will allow them to live and work here all year round. The instructor training course starts on the 15th October, and it's not too late to get on board, there are limited spaces still available but you'll need to be quick. For those of you that think it would be a brilliant idea to part exchange your drab, dreary lives for that of a professional scuba diver, all you need to do is get on a plane and come here! We can teach you how to dive from scratch, make you into an advanced and rescue diver, and then mentor you through your divemaster training programme. Then you'll be ready to become an SSI instructor, with the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand as your office. You know it makes sense, so go on, I dare you, do it. For information on instructor training, contact Simon This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For information on our divemaster training programme, contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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October 10th 2013

Big Blue DMT mentor team

Yesterday you were introduced to the Big Blue Tech team. Today it's the turn of Big Blue's team of mentors!  These guys are some of the best scuba diving instructors in the world, which is exactly why they are charged with turning people into dive professionals through Big Blue's Divemaster training (DMT) programme. In no particular order, meet:

Guy Bannister

Guy Bannister
PADI and SSI instructor, Guy comes from somewhere in Yorkshire, which is similar to Mordor, but with more rain. If we at Big Blue were to get our heads together to give him an appropriate nickname, it would have to be yoda- a little unfair on his ears but the weird robes and wise advice are spot on. Guy is one of our most experienced instructors, and the only person I’ve ever met that is able to incorporate Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle into his open water academics. During work hours, when not turning people into competent divers or providing useful advice to DMTs, you'll find him in the classroom talking about diving physiology or physics, out loud- to himself. Total geek and walking Wikipedia, he's a sci-fi and film buff to the extreme, and even reads books on finance for fun- weirdo. His favourite films are flashdance, showgirls, and Justin Beiber: never say never.

 

Iain Goodfellow

Iain Goodfellow- Iain with an I, 47, has the distinction of being our only Scottish instructor. So all the women swoon whenever they hear his accent, even though they've absolutely no idea what he just said. An SSI and PADI instructor, Iain is the professional's professional. Very relaxed and laid back when he's teaching, he even puts the fish at ease. In between teaching you'll find him coaching someone about dive theory, even though all they asked was whether he needed a straw with his purchased drink. He previously lived and worked in Japan- no-one knows what he did there but we suspect he was employed to scout for potential vending machine locations. This position was probably unpaid- he just really likes vending machines.

Simon Garrity

Simon Garrity- Simmo, 24, is a SSI and PADI instructor, and in between helping to run the DMT programme, he's also Big Blue's SSI instructor trainer, meaning he turns normal humans into enhanced human SSI instructors. He's been doing this a long time and is very very good at it. He's also an accomplished taxidermist, and spends his days off work scouring Koh Tao for geckos and frogs to stuff and hang on his walls. As you can imagine his house is a very weird place. Another thing Simmo excels at is compering. When the DMTs have finished their internship, they usually have a challenge night at the bar, which involves a heady mix of light-hearted humiliation via a series of games co-ordinated by Simmo on the microphone, all for the pleasure of the baying crowd. Think of it as a lie detector test gone in front of a live studio audience- gone horribly wrong. He was possibly born for this role more than David Icke was born to see Lizard people. His sharp wit (Simmo, not David Icke) has everyone in stitches, and the DMT victims always seem to want more- all good fun and a nice little send off to the newly graduated dive professionals. Despite being the instructor's instructor, he still likes to keep his hand in and regularly teaches open water and advanced courses. He always gets glowing reviews from his students, possibly because he threatens to introduce them to his "dead friends" until they promise to like him.

Irish-G

Germaine Maguire- Probably has the fewest nicknames of anyone at Big Blue, known as G, Irish G, or mama G, though even she gets in a muddle sometimes as she often signs her name as Irish G, just in case we confuse her with all the other Gs at Big Blue- that's none by the way! G has been on Koh Tao since sea levels dropped and the magma was cool enough to stand on, and probably worked as a warden in the political prison that was here in the 1930s.. I'm not saying she's old, she's just been here longer than most, arriving at age 18 in a raft made entirely from betting slips. She's a PADI and SSI instructor, and sees it as her mission in life to ensure that DMTs end up being the best dive professionals they can. With years of experience teaching open water students and dive professionals alike, she's also often the first point of call when new instructors need advice and guidance. How she finds the time only she knows, as she also runs one of the Island's grooviest bars; Moov in Mae Hadd.

Nick Bufton

Nick Bufton- Whilst previously working for another dive school on Koh Tao, we head hunted him to come and work at Big Blue. Though if you've ever seen his head you'll realise what a terrible mistake that was. He's a PADI and SSI instructor, and possesses an uncanny ability to make his students love him on every single course he teaches. He's also very popular as a DMT mentor, and is quite famous on the Island as a champion swimmer. Regularly competing in the annual Swim for Sharks charity event, in which around 70 masochists swim around Nang Yuan Island- all 3.4 kilometres of it! He won it last year and ever since has vowed to "end this inhumane treatment of swimmers". I think he was also a DJ in a past life, kind of in the Tony Blackburn style. But I may have misheard him, and he actually just once owned a dinner jacket. Professional, fun, knowledgeable and not bad at diving, we’re glad we poached his weird head.

“It's the dopest”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 7 October 2013- What an amazing place to learn how to dive or enhance your diving abilities. The staff is awesome and the whole vibe of the establishment suits its location. If you require assistance of any kind, Daisy is a beautiful mermaid who will teach you everything. Diving was a huge fear of mine and she made forget that I was even scared of what I was getting myself into.

Koh Tao dive site- Red Rock

The final installment in the cornetto trilogy of dive sites (though technically it's a quadrilogy if you include Blue Rock), Red Rock is a lovely little dive site. Located just off the coast of Nang Yuan Island a little further North from Japanese gardens, it's perfect for fun diving, and often used for the navigation dive on advanced courses. The rock begins at 2m depth and goes all the way down to 22m. Divers can circle red rock at the beginning of the descent to peer into all the little cracks and crevices to see white-eyed moray eels and banded boxer shrimps, and a variety of different corals. Then at the deepest point take a heading West back to the coast of Nang Yuan, where there are a whole load of swim throughs for people to not go through. Along with the usual inhabitants of Koh Tao; rabbit fish, longfin bannerfish, butterfly fish, trevally, fusiliers, scads, and blue-ringed angelfish, you're also likely to see polka-dot nudibranchs, the occassional sea snake, adult boxfish and of course the grumpy little titan triggerfish- sociopath od the seas. As we approach monsoon on Koh Tao the location of red rock comes in really handy, sheltered from winds and devoid of all but mild currents, it's perfect to dive at any time.

 

October 9th 2013

Meet the tech boys

As part of an ongoing character assassination thinly disguised as a way of introducing Big Blue staff to you, today it's the turn of the Big Blue Tech team. Enjoy!

James Foleher- Easily the man with the most unpronounceable surname in the world, James, Jim, Jimbo, beaker, tech James.. He’ll answer to any of these names and even a few unmentionable ones. A Yorkshire lad, James, 64, manages Big Blue Tech, and teaches all our TDI and BSAC technical diving courses and rebreather courses. He's also a BSAC instructor trainer, and a PADI, SSI and SDI instructor, though his instructor cards say "if lost, please return to Khao San road" on the back of them. Everyone likes James, well, everyone who needs their regulators or dive computers servicing likes him. Even captain Pi Dam on the Big Blue Tech boat likes him! When he's not teaching people how to tech dive, training new BSAC instructors, organising cave diving trips to Khao Sok national park & tech liveaboards to the wrecks on the South China Seas, or fixing compressors and servicing equipment, he likes to relax with a good pop up book. A good person to sit down and have a pint with, he has all the time in the world for anyone- until the first pint kicks in and he starts swaying with eyes glazed. He's an encyclopaedia of knowledge on all aspects of technical diving. Well respected at Big Blue, he knows exactly when the time is to be serious, and when to have a laugh whilst teaching a course. You'd be a fool not to want to be taught technical diving by him.   

Tech James

Ian Jordan- Tech James's right-hand man, "big Ian", 73, is universally known as the worst dancer in Asia, which is why he's Big Ant's dance wingman. He also teaches TDI and BSAC tech diving courses, and is a SSI, PADI and SDI instructor and cave diver. Ian (In the picture below with blonde hair) recently had a Morris dancing pole erected outside his house so he can give his dance repertoire a more rustic feel.. The good news for everyone else is they'll hear him coming with all those bells attached to his legs. Aside from teaching, Ian mans the tech shack to service dive computers and regulators, and is a bit of a blending wizard, filling nitrox for anyone that wants it. He's a very happy go lucky chap, which is amazing considering that when the tech shack closes for the day James chains him up in the dark with specific orders ""not to scratch the doors again". This may explain why he seems so happy in the mornings. Knowledgeable, patient, fun, and endlessly encouraging, He always gets rave reviews from every course he teaches.

Tech Ian

“Fun, relaxed diving!”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 6 October 2013- This is a great low-key dive resort. Accommodations are rustic but cheap. It's a fun place to hang out between dives and in the evening. We already had our open water certification so we just did fun dives at Big Blue. Our divemaster was wonderful and all the staff was attentive and enthusiastic. They keep groups to a max of 4 people per divemaster. Dive with Big Blue!  

Koh Tao dive site- Green Rock

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 Porponawa, 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!

October 8th 2013

Choosing a Dive Agency

SSI

Here at Big Blue, we teach people how to dive and certify them through a number of different diving agencies- The British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI), Scuba Schools International (SSI), Scuba Diving International (SDI) and Technical Diving International (TDI). For someone who has never dived before and is not familiar with the dive industry, it can all be a little confusing. So how do you choose which agency to do your open water course with for example? There are over 50 different agencies that are able to certify someone to dive as a recreational diver. They create and comply with strict professional standards laid out by the World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC), and their certifications are recognized worldwide. Each agency establishes its own agenda for diver training and issues certifications for all levels of scuba diving, from beginner to instructor. Courses vary slightly in their teaching methods for the beginner's level, but they all cover the same essential knowledge and practical skills development as set by the WRSTC.

The reason you have heard of some dive agencies and not others is mainly due to how well that company has marketed itself to the general public. PADI for instance has been around since 1966 and has spent a lot of time and money marketing itself. SSI has been around since 1970, but was more of a slow burner in terms of public recognition. This has changed a lot in recent years; Today, SSI is a Global company with more than 3700 Dive Centres, 31 Regional Offices around the world and materials in more than 27 languages, and in Australia more people are certified every year by SSI than PADI.

At Big Blue, most of the open water courses we teach are SSI. We are just as happy to teach PADI, but most people choose SSI after weighing up the differences, the main one being flexibility in how dive skills are taught that can make the course less stressful for the student.  SSI is also cheaper than PADI. Another reason is very Koh Tao specific- SSI has a Regional office here, and we are able to give students their certification cards at the end of the course, for PADI it has to be sent to Australia for processing, and can take over 90 days before the card is posted to the student’s home address- if you lose your temporary card during that period there is a danger you will not be allowed to go diving. Certifications by different agencies are recognised as valid licenses to dive no matter where you dive. You could do your SSI open water, PADI advanced, SSI rescue and divemaster and PADI instructor- they are all interchangeable. As a PADI open water diver you are qualified to dive to 18m. As an SSI open water diver you are qualified to dive to 18m. Each agency recognises the level of certification you have previously achieved, regardless of the agency you did it with.

Perhaps the biggest difference between PADI and SSI is that PADI instructors are able to operate independently, whereas SSI instructors must be affiliated with an SSI dive school to be able to teach. This means that standards and quality of teaching can be monitored regularly and directly on-site to ensure that the student is being taught correctly and safely at all times. Ultimately though, any course is only ever going to be as good as the instructor that is teaching it, and at Big Blue we take great pride in teaching new instructors how to do things properly, and only employ people who are able to demonstrate a professional attitude to teaching at all times. If you don't believe us, have a look at our trip adviser reviews.

Big Blue staff profiles

Ant Silwood- Wales... birthplace of the internationally renowned and critically acclaimed soap opera Pobol y Cwm. If you've never heard of it, then you need to stay in more, speak Welsh and live in Wales. If you're unable to do so, the spirit of Pobol Y Cwm has made its way to Koh Tao in the form of Ant Silwood, 53, the man with a million nicknames- Ant 1, big Ant, the other Ant, definitely not Ant 2, and, this isn't the Ant I was looking for.. A PADI and SSI instructor and TDI technical diver, Ant was trained at Big Blue and worked as one of our full time divemasters before taking the plunge to instructing. He's pretty good at both so our loss was our gain, hurrah! With some kind of background in IT or computers or sales, or possibly something completely different, he decided to leave the Sun-draped valleys one day and hot foot his way around the world, and only stopped by in Thailand to spread the word of a brilliant new soap opera he'd heard of. Very amiable, universally liked by his colleagues and students, Ant knows how to get the best out of anyone. His dancing on the other hand is a complete disgrace to all men his age. The only way he keeps his dignity is to do it with a wry smile on his face, and only ever to dance next to tech Ian when he's "making shapes". If you are lucky enough to be taught how to dive by him, treat him as a Mogwai from the film gremlins- instead of not getting him wet, just don't allow music to reach his ears at any point.

Ant-silwood

Carly Marsh- Smaller than Frodo Baggins, and sporting hairier toes, Carly, 64, is one of our full time divemasters. Her strengths are her obsession and ability to find anything and everything that moves underwater for her customers, her frankly suspicious strength when lugging tanks around, and her unceasing friendliness in spite of her hailing from South Africa. Her weaknesses are her unhealthy interest in necromancy and voodoo, and her inability to see over the counter in the Big Blue shop. Not something you can work on at her age- and no-one will lend her a stool due to the aforementioned hairy toes. Nicknamed prawn because of her uncanny likeness to the bad or good guys (Can't remember which) in the film district 9. If you ever want to know how Gulliver must have felt, come to Big Blue and seek out the prawn to take you diving, just don't pull off the head and throw away the shell until after your fun dive!

Carly

“Loved it!”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 5 October 2013- I chose Big Blue as my diving school because of the reviews on trip advisor. After signing up I could start the same day with my open water course. At first I was struggling with the breathing under water (lets be honest, breathing under water, that's just weird), but due to the patience and professionalism of our instructor Daisy I soon found the confidence to really enjoy the diving. I enjoyed the diving and the atmosphere at Big Blue after diving so much I also booked my advanced course and some fun dives after that. I highly recommended Big Blue to anyone who is eager to go diving. Either beginner or advanced. The staff are really good, they know what they are doing and are just fun to be around. The diving school and bar are great to hang out after diving which made my stay at Koh Tao the best part of my trip around Thailand. I will certainly come back on another holiday!

Koh Tao dive sites: Japanese Gardens

The Two Islands of Koh Nang Yuan are joined by a thin stretch of beach. On the seaward side lies the dive site Twins, and on the other, between Nang Yuan and Koh Tao lies Japanese Gardens. This is a perfect dive site for teaching beginner divers on their first open water dives, or for anyone undertaking a try dive. It’s named after a cargo ship carrying bonsai tree seeds sank there, which allowed the coral to grow. No wait, that’s that blurred line between fiction and reality that everyone’s talking about. It was actually named because of the ornate arrangement of coral covering most of the dive site. The reason it’s perfect for open water dives is because it is pretty shallow, and there are large areas of sand breaking up the coral, it’s also well sheltered from bigger waves and stronger currents. The shallowest point is zero metres on the beach- you look silly wearing scuba gear and the tan lines are not very attractive. Heading out East towards Koh Tao will get you 12-14 metres before you’re off the dive site.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only good for novice divers though, the wide range of different types of coral is reason enough to go fun diving there, and you can head North or South parallel with Nang Yuan for a nice little coast dive, and there’s loads of marine life to see. Nudibranchs galore, fusiliers, rabbit fish, a shoals of yellow tails barracuda, the occasional sea snake and porcupine fish, and triggerfish. There’s even lionfish and juvenile harlequin sweetlips to be sought out. You can certainly get your money’s worth there because your air will last longer as you don’t need to dive deep to see all the cool stuff. Definitely worth seeing.

 

October 7th 2013

Staff Profiles

What better time is there to introduce you to the best dive instructors, divemasters and land-based staff the dive industry has to offer than now I hear you ask, there isn't, obviously! So over the next few weeks i'll be humiliating, I mean highlighting our best asset; the people that work here. Maybe one, two or three per day, on top of any other news that pops up- I just love making work for myself, but get used to it, it's happening- I was talking directly to my colleagues there.

Alphabetically from the top, meet Ami Bignell, (pictured in the red t-shirt), she's from Bristol, or Brissle as they like to say. SSI instructor, consummate professional during work hours, Judo killer on high alert at all other times, she used to compete at a high level in her youth apparently- mention Austin Powers "Judo chop" and she'll hate you forever, mention Tai Otoshi- a deadly leg sweep and she'll love you forever, but be prepared to be bored to death by endless tales of how she "could have been a contender" as an expert in the "gentle way"- just make sure you yawn with your mouth closed, it'll make your nostrils flair, but no-one will ever admit to staring at another person's nostrils. Trained as a divemaster and instructor at Big Blue, Ami got all uppity and worked briefly for a different dive school. Luckily for us we realised that was a bad move and bribed, blackmailed, or threatened her to come back and work for us (depending on which version you hear). Wise decision, she's cool as a cucumber underwater, knows her stuff and is not afraid to use it to produce competent divers every time. Just don't ever mention why there are never any cats or dogs around whenever she talks, she has the highest pitch voice ever known by science, estimated to be 200 octaves above middle C. So much so that she moonlights for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), in order to be able to communicate with any space dolphins that may be roaming the solar system, should they decide to attempt to make contact.

Ami

Ant Edgely, 44 (pictured holding scissors), did his SSI divemaster at Big Blue with Ami, his instructor course at Big Blue with Ami, and the Judas that he is, defected to another dive school with Ami, before being equally bribed into coming back to work for us full time- with Ami. He now admits that he never really understood or learned from his previous restraining orders... Regardless, we know a good thing when we see it- that may have seemed like an endorsement of stalking, it wasn't really, if you follow.. In a previous life, Ant was the scourge of all carpenters, electricians and plumbers, as he was an architect, designing beautiful buildings that were impossible to build outside of legoland. He's one of the few dive professionals that really enjoyed what he was doing before he decided to become a dive instructor, and has never been able to justify to anyone what the hell he's doing here on Koh Tao! Regardless, he quickly became a top class SSI instructor, in spite of having the unenviable task of being nicknamed "Mini Ant", even though he's not particularly small. He's occasionally also called plimsoll for top secret reasons, and Ant 2- just because we already have an Ant 1. Well liked by anyone he teaches, his laid back approach to teaching is the perfect demeanour for students to feel at ease whilst they get to grips with diving. He's been recently recruited to re-design the interior of Big Blue's latest naval acquisition- Waverunner. I can't wait until it returns from it's refurbishment with massage chairs, Playstation 3s in each seat, and a hot tub. We had to save space by having no compressors, but that's a small price (for Ant) to pay!

Ant2

“Best experience ever”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 October 2013- Just finished my advanced open water at big blue, easily in the top ten life experiences! The people are awesome, the diving is fantastic, basically never wanted to leave! Donny our instructer is the man. Heading back next year for DMT training. Can't wait!

Koh Tao dive sites: White Rock
So named because many moons ago an Italian diver discovered three dive sites around Koh Tao and named them after the Italian flag, White Rock is a stunner of a dive site. Close to the Island of Nuang Yuan and Sairee Beach off the West coast of Koh Tao, it's larger than its sometimes given credit for, or smaller, depending on how far away from it you are, and whether you have any kind of underwater spatial awareness. It contains a stunnning diversity of marine life, and that's stunnning with 3 Ns. Split into two main pinnacles running North to South and separated by a patch of sand full of goby fish and prawns, it's a very popular site for open water dives 3 and 4, advanced courses, and fun diving. It ranges from 6 metres in the middle of the North, to just over 20 metres on the far South. You will see on any dive the usual suspects of butterfly fish, longfin bannerfish, rabbit fish, triggerfish and squirrelfish. But it's also home to a number of scribbled filefish, nudibranchs, porcupine fish, and chevron and yellowtail barracuda, along living in and amongst a wide variety of different corals.

white rock map

It’s the dive site of choice for night dives as it seems to be a school canteen for great barracuda, and diver’s torch lights appear to fulfil the role of dinner lady. I've briefed my SSI advanced adventurer and PADI advanced open water students about how they should keep an eye out for great barracuda as I hadn't seen them for a few dives preceding, only to look down and see one about half a metre below me matching my every turn like some kind of surrogate remora, or mini Ant in his pre-restraining order days- they're very intelligent and use diver's torch light to help them hunt, but they won't share their catch with you. You'll also see lots of blue spotted ribbon tail rays and blue spotted stingrays out on the hunt at night, which are always mesmerising. There's always a chance of seeing a turtle in the daytime on the Southern pinnacle or, somewhere on the NE portion of the Northern pinnacle. But at night there is a turtle that likes to sleep in a small cavern on the Northern Pinnacle, just be very careful not to shine your torch into its eyes so you don't wake it up and force it to head to the surface for air- what are you, some kind of heartless monster? Remember to wave your hand around like a maniac with your torch on your chest too, the bioluminescent plankton is amazing. But also be mindful that it only works at night, no-one is impressed by air traffic control signals in the middle of a dive.

Big Blue goes to White Rock regularly, and each divemaster has their own particular way of finding resident marine life. You can pop into the shop at Big Blue 1 or Big Blue 2 reception to sign up for fun dives, no later than 11am for the afternoon boat, and no later than 5:30pm the night before any morning boat.

October 6th 2013

Marine Conservation course- 8th October

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at Big Blue Conservation to secure your place.

BSAC marine conservation

“Made my holiday!”

4 of 5 stars Reviewed 29 September 2013- After doing ALOT of shopping around I went with big blue dive school. First day instructor G made us all feel very welcome and excited! First day of course I meet my instructor Thelma. She instantly made us all feel relaxed. To sum it all up these 3 days were just amazing. The element of fun these guys bring into the dives and the amount of passion they have for the sport shines through so bright. Thelma even took time to have dinner and beers with us a couple of times after dives which as a traveler on my own was so lovely. So thanks Big Blue and thanks so much Thelma for MAKING my holiday x

Koh Tao dive sites: Twins

Partially inspired by reading other dive resort's woeful descriptions of Koh Tao's amazing dive sites, Big Blue's middle name is "If we can't do it better than anyone else, why bother even trying".. absolute nightmare introducing yourself at dinner parties.. So lets have a go at describing all the dive sites that we regularly visit that go a little beyond an ordnance survey audiobook. Twins quite simply has everything. It's perfect for any kind of diving, shallow and tame enough for try dives and open water dives one and two, but also interesting enough to keep even the most attentive and obsessive fun diver very happy.

The geology of the dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand can be summed up in one word; granite. For any non-geologists that's a felsic igneous rock comprised of quartz, mica and feldspar. I apologise for the last sentence, it's been 11 years since my last geological confession. Bizarrley if you google "granite coral reef" you get a lot of hits on kitchen worktops. Ok, back to Twins... the dive site runs from East to West, with the shallow pinnacle nearest the beach at Nang Yuang Island ranging from 6 metres to around 11 metres in depth. A lovely but small slab of.. yes, granite, seperates the shallow and middle pinnacles at about 12 metres, and is worth mentioning as there may be the occassional scorpion fish residing on it. Heading westward 20 odd metres from the shallow pinnacle, the middle pinnacle is the largest part of the dive site, and ranges from 8 to 13-ish metres depending on whether you're diving around the edge of the westward side, or hovering above the middle bit. Just off this pinnacle to the Southeast is the nemo circle. Basically it's an area where anenome fish live, not surprisingly on some anemome, and divers have been kind enough to put a load of stones in a circle around it to ward off evil divers. Always worth a quick look, but also the closest you'll probably come to anthropomorphising a fish just because you've seen finding nemo.

A small pinnacle on the far West 10-15 metres further is the third pinnacle, known as the "deep" pinnacle; it sits at around 14-16 metres... Head West beyond this point and you are heading out into the blue, and a long swim back to the boat. You can find all sorts of marine life over the entire dive site, from the typical butterfly and banner fish, to the less common crocodile fish. There does seem to be a lot more batfish here than on most other dive sites, which is never a bad thing. You may be lucky enough to see puffer fish, moray eels, blue-spotted stingrays, 6 banded angel fish, pipe fish, scribbled filefish, nudibranchs, sea snakes, the odd turtle, and even the occassional whaleshark passing through.

One thing I love about twins is that just 20 metres to the north of it, lots of weird and wonderful items have been sunk with the intention of either aiding divers buoyancy, or providing artificial reefs for marine life to grow on. It's probably going to blow your mind to learn that this is known as buoyancy world. We have a concrete lizard, octopus and shark, a weird gallion ship like structure, and a forest-like area of poles for coral to grow onto, all sunk in 2010 as a Save Koh Tai project. Ask instructor Richard Todd about the concrete shark, he had an open water student burst into tears before a dive as they could see the shark from the surface because the visibility was so good. I think his name was butch and he was a shipyard welder from Glasgow, but that's another story. Buoyancy world is also perfect for teaching open water courses and advanced courses as there's no coral to accidentally bang into, it's all just sand. Of all the dive sites on Koh Tao I think it's fair to say that most Big Blue instructors and divemasters rate twins as being one of their favourites. I could go on but i'm pooped after all that, must be the virtual silent bubbles. One final but important point though- the Sergeant Major fish on the picture below are not to scale...

maps

Picture courtesy of Koh Tao Dive guide

October 5th 2013

The boss is back... eeek!
Big Blue staff are running around like maniacs today trying to get the place back into some semblence of order after trashing the joint whilst the boss Jim was away. He's been gone for a month visiting family in Europe, wherever that is. So, like teenagers that decide to have a house party when the parents are away, it's time to cover up the cigarette burns on the carpet, erase the moustaches drawn on the expensive paintings, and buy some new goldfish for the tank as the previous ones weren't fed and had to be flushed down the loo, i mean placed in the bin so the toilet doesn't block. At this rate, the place will be spick and span before the Sun sets and he'll suspect nothing, unless he reads this blog of course, but i'll just say we've been hacked by the NSA as part of their covert anti-scuba campaign (think they spelt Cuba wrong and just went with it). Time on Koh Tao does seem to move at a different pace compared with the normal world though, and it's actually quite difficult to think of what has actually happened in the last month! One of the Big Blue taxi boats has had a makeover and returned to service looking mighty fine, Flavia has become an SSI freediving instructor trainer, we've had a new influx of really enthusiastic and friendly divemaster trainees, we had another 100% pass rate for September's SSI instructor training course, Big Blue Tech is still supplying the rest of the Island with Nitrox and turning recreational divers into technical divers, Tosh has abandoned us, Steven just gets weirder, Rick's broken knee has gotten slightly better and his limp has gone from "leg definitely not working" to "leg almost working- when can I stop teaching EFRs". Emergency First Response courses have gone from strength to strength, ahem.  The new website is looking good, we're now on G+ and twitter, and Big Blue facebook is being more "liked" than ever. I think Jim can rest easy, good choice leaving Big Blue in Guy's capable hands (and HAL-like brain). We're still the most fun, friendly, professional dive resort in the Gulf of Thailand, and no goldfish were harmed during the making of this blog. Welcome back Jim!

Big Blue diving warning sign

“Thoroughly recommended”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 October 2013- I came to Koh Tao to see what all the fuss was about, and to do my open water diving course with Big Blue. I Ioved it so much that I stayed on four more days to do the Advanced course and then some more fun dives! The island is gorgeous, and the atmosphere at Big Blue is very welcoming and friendly. Dave was a great instructor and teacher. He made us feel very safe underwater and gave us confidence. Our group of 4 had not dived before and some were very nervous, but once we were out in the ocean we were absolutely fine. There is a lot of emphasis on teaching safety and the proper way to dive, so I now feel confident diving anywhere else. We got free accomodation on dive days, and the restaurant was very good. Sairee also has some great restaurants for alternative dinners. I also did a day-dive, when we went out on the boat for the whole day to a far-flung dive site closer to Koh Phagnan, and all food and drink was provided. Our instructors (Dave and Steve) made sure we made the most of this experience and showed us a lot of the interesting underwater creatures that I would have missed otherwise.

Underwater robots to repair coral reefs
Are there no limits to the amazing-ness of technology and it's ability to get us out of the jams we get ourselves into as a species? Boffins at Heriot-Watt University in the fair city of Edinburgh, Scotland are currently developing a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that is designed to work together in small groups (akin to ants apparently), to repair damaged coral! Known as "coralbots", these ingenious devices will be able to go much deeper than even the most crazy technical diver, beyond 200 metres, to repair coral in a matter of days and weeks instead of years. Currently, if coral is damaged, divers can sometimes re-cement the fragments together, which helps them to grow again, but it is a painfully slow and ineficient process. A quarter of all marine life inhabit corals, so it's pretty damn important to try and look after them! If they get the required funding, the scientists are hoping to put them into service within a year. Maybe we can get one for Koh Tao, then we can send our fun divers out to look for the famous "robot fish"! 

October 4th 2013

Big Blue Freediving becomes an SSI Instructor Training Facility

Congratulations to Big Blue Freediving's very own Flavia Eberhard on becoming an SSI freediving instructor trainer! Travelling all the way to the Phillipines to undertake the gruelling seven day course (she swam there underwater on one breath apparently), she passed with flying colours and is now able to teach freediving at all levels, from beginner to instructor. That's pretty amazing considering that Big Blue Freediving only opened for business this year! Flavia and Pepe have worked tirelessly to get it off the ground and it's worked-  a lot! People are coming from all over the world to train with them; they are highly respected within the freediving world, both holding records from their respective countries. They're also both involved in the judging side of AIDA freediving world record attempts, with their services being regularly called upon. I probably don't need to tell you that Flavia is the one pictured on the right, proudly displaying her new card; the modelling world's loss is definitely our gain. We did consider naming Big Blue Freediving "The Flavia Eberhard centre for kids that can't hold their breath good", but you know what those brand alignment people are like. Maybe it'll work now- "The Flavia Eberhard centre for people that want to teach people who can't hold their breath good to now hold their breath good"? If you've never seen the film Zoolander then I apologise for the last sentence being absolute gibberish! If you have, then you'll know how dazzlingly funny I am. If you're interested in trying free diving, gaining a freediving qualification, or even or becoming an SSI Freediving professional, contact Flavia and Pepe here.

Big blue freediving instructor trainer
“Highlight of my trip”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 October 2013- By far the highlight of my month long trip to Thailand was doing the Open Water diving course in Koh Tao with Big Blue. Diving itself is an incredible experience, and Koh Tao provides the perfect location for people to learn to dive. The water is so warm, there is no need to wear a wetsuit, and the water is crystal clear. Also, when not diving, Koh Tao itself is a beautiful island, with amazing beaches, perfect for relaxing when not diving, and enjoying a beer in the evening. I am very glad I chose to do the course with Big Blue as they are a very professional outfit with excellent instructors and equipment. Diving can be a dangerous hobby if not practised safely and sensibly, and therefore it is very important to go with a school like Big Blue. They also provided heavily discounted, clean, comfortable accommodation. I would also like to particular emphasise how great my instructor, Sophia Reuser was, and if you were to consider a diving course in Koh Tao, to definitely request her! She is really friendly and an excellent teacher. If I had the time, I would have come back straight away to do my Advanced diving course, like my 2 friends did after I had left Thailand.As soon as I have the opportunity, I am coming straight back!

Health of world's oceans in rapid decline

Pretty depressing reading, a report published by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), concludes that the world's oceans are in an even worse state than previously thought, due to a multitude of threats. They are being warmed by climate change, suffering from overfishing on a momumental scale, and increasing in acidity as they absorb greater quantities of CO2 produced by man-made emissions. The report also states that the number of so-called "dead zones", caused by fertiliser run-off are also increasing. The report continues: "We have been taking the ocean for granted. It has been shielding us from the worst effects of accelerating climate change by absorbing excess CO2 from the atmosphere", and that "public and policymakers are failing to recognise- or choosing to ignore- the severity of the situation". Just read that last sentence again.. it's astonishing that things have gone this far. For divers on Koh Tao and any Island in the Gulf of Thailand, this is going to have huge ramifications if something is not done soon. Coral reefs will suffer from higher ocean temperatures and the effects of acidification, which will have a knock-on effect on the eco systems that depend on the reef. In many areas over fishing and bad fishing practices, along with pollution also weakens reefs. There's not much point in going diving if there's nothing to see! Save Koh Tao, the Thai Government and Big Blue Conservation all work together with local fishermen to ensure that the oceans are not overfished and the dive sites are left alone, as well as educating divers and locals about climate change and its impact on the ocean. But we seriously need international action before it's too late. If this frustrates you as much as us, get involved; follow Big Blue Diving  and Big BlueConservation on facebook to find out what we're up to and see how you can help.

October 3rd 2013

DMT pub crawl
People will talk about last night for years to come.. ok days to come... The inaugural Big Blue divemaster trainee (DMT) pub crawl was fully expected to be a night of absolute alcohol induced carnage, and yet, until very late on it was actually a pretty civilised and hilarious affair with some very clever games that worked perfectly in breaking the ice with all the new DMTs, so that they got to know each other and the instructors and divemasters at Big Blue. Of course by the time they reached the last bar the DMTs had to be released back into the wild, as herding cats can be very time consuming! The evening began at Big Blue two, where almost immediately SSI instructor mini Ant managed to lose his keys through the slats of the decking not once, but twice in as many minutes! After the Rules of the night were read out, such as whoever's name was drawn out of a hat had to stand on a stool and sing a song chosen by a Big Blue mentor, or whoever was shown a particular playing card had to then spend the next ten minutes conversing only in mime, the evening commenced. Great fun. Everyone had a jolly marvellous time walking their merry way along Sairee beach until the last bar was reached (or not!). In the grey, corporate, office block world they call it a "team building exercise", but we just call it a good excuse to get to know the people we will be moulding into dive professionals.. Such a burden I know but it's a price we're willing to pay to forge the next generation of instructors and divemasters!

“Magic! ”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 October 2013- My boyfriend and I travelled to koh tao last month. I had been previously and done a try dive at a different resort and I was not looking forward to diving again. We turned up at big blue on a recomendation from our friends and it was excellent from the start. We were met by Steve, a big lovely northern bear of a man. Immediately we both felt in safe hands. We booked in to do our SSI open water course. The accomodation was basic, but it was clean and everything worked, it was quiet and just right for our needs. Steve was our instructor for the next few days, he was patient, attentive, thorough and a very good teacher. After the skills session in the pool our first reef dive was challenging but wonderful. At every sticking point steve was there with reassurance. By the final day we both got the diving bug and not only that we were lucky enough to swim with a whale shark! Big thanks to steve who really made our stay at big blue.

Save Mauis dolphins

Save Maui's Dolphins
Lizzie at Big Blue Conservation is getting people to sign a petition to highlight the issue of dolphins being caught in fishing nets. Maui dolphins are at the point of extinction, with only 50 thought to be left from a population of 1,800 forty years ago. They are the smallest and rarest marine dolphin species on earth, and are dying as a result of local fishing practices off New Zealand's coast. Fishing using gill nets and trawling are having a devastating effect on them. It's thought that they are only able to cope with one fatality as a result of human activity every 23 years, but the fishing is killing five of them every year. In the Gulf of Thailand we are lucky enough to get pilot whales and false killer whales, but they are not under the same threat as Maui dolphins. Please get the word out and sign the petition. Follow this link.

 

 

October 2nd 2013

Divemaster Whaleshark Training
It was a busy day yesterday for the new influx of divemaster trainees at Big Blue, up before the Sun for the morning boat so they could learn how the boats are readied logistically for the days diving, assisting customers with equipment, and helping to lug any tanks that were needed- and that's before they even got wet. The morning's training involved SSI instructor trainer and divemaster trainee (DMT) mentor Simon Garrity (Simo as we like to call him), going through a variety of rescue scenarios and then assessing the DMTs on what they learned. They are training to be dive professionals, so being able to deal with anything and everything is an essential part of the programme. A lot of people have started their DMT at the same time, so this week has been similar to freshers week, except that instead of sitting in a dingy pub with sticky floors, they spent most of their time on a dive boat in the Sun with the tropical Island of Koh Tao as their backdrop! The rescue assessments were all finished when word came over the captain's radio that a whaleshark was in the vicinity, at nearby divesite Green Rock, so everyone frantically got in their dive gear and jumped in the water for their first big spotted fish encounter- lucky buggers! It certainly gave them something to talk about in the bar later, as if they needed it! Lovely bunch of people that get on well with each other, they are embarking on an unforgettable experience at Big Blue. All part and parcel of becoming a professional divemaster or instructor. If you're reading this with a twinge of jealousy, maybe you should have a word with Simo. I promise the whaleshark is not animatronic! Contact Simo at SSI dive pro here

 DMTs

“Open Water Diving Course at Big Blue - the best experience throughout my trip”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 October 2013- I did the Open Water Diving Course at Big Blue Koh Tao. I was on my own and a bit nervous - it turned out to be the best experience throughout my trip. My Instructor Ant was very professional and did and amazing job. With his lovely sense of humor and smiling face he made me relax and feel very safe about the diving; breathing and do skills under water. They delivered great equipment and the diving sites were absolutely beautiful. I will definitely recommend Big Blue Diving!

Putting the warrior back into Eco

Bad news and good news- A recent full day trip to Chumphon Marine Park found fish cages; that's the bad news. This method of fishing captures not only the target fish species, but also bycatch including fish that are unsuitable to eat or sell. Use of fish cages is now prohibited in the protected areas of Koh Tao, and they are definitely prohibited in the waters in and around National Marine Parks such as Chumphon and Ang Thong! The good news is the divers that found the fish cage (full of rabbit fish) happened to be from Big Blue Conservation, and, being responsible divers they all carried a cutting device. So they set to work transforming the cage from a tomb to a sanctuary. Now the fish can use it for protection against predators, and leave whenever they feel like it! The incident was filmed and turned into a lovely little video. Watch it on the Big Blue Diving youtube channel here. 

November 29th 2013

Diving with Nitrox
Nitrox300x181Ever heard of Nitrox? Strange sounding name for a pretty simple product. When you go recreational diving, the cylinder you take with you contains the same air that you breathe on the surface; comprised of 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen, well, if you're a geek you'll know it's actually 78.08% nitrogen, 0.93% argon, 0.03% carbon dioxide, 0.0018% neon, 0.0005% helium, 0.0001% krypton 0.00005% hydrogen and 8.7 x 10-6 xenon, but in such low proportions they are considered inert, and bunched together with nitrogen. God you're weird for knowing that!
Nitrox is a gas that you can dive on that contains a higher percentage of oxygen- up to 40%. Why bother? Well, i'm glad you asked. Nitrox can have a number of benefits compared with using old fashioned air. It has the potential to provide longer no-decompression limits, shorter surface intervals, and enable longer repetitive dives. We can only dive for a certain amount of time at a given depth due to the nitrogen we are breathing under pressure. By increasing the oxygen content and reducing the amount of nitrogen we breathe, it allows us to stay longer at that depth. The fact that we will have breathed less nitrogen on our dive also means that there is less to come out of our system, hence the shorter surface interval- that's the time you have to spend on the boat between dives twiddling your thumbs and sunning yourself. The more diving we do, the more nitrogen we absorb cumulatively, so if you're diving more than one dive a day for a number of days, it will give you longer at depth than if you were doing the same dives on standard air- good if you're going on a Big Blue liveaboard trip on the West coast of Thailand. Some people also say that they feel less tired after diving on nitrox. There's no evidence to prove that, but hey, if it feels good, why not!
In order to be able to dive using Nitrox, you will have to do a speciality course.. guess what, we can teach you! For the SSI nitrox speciality, we can teach you in half a day, and you will have the option of just doing the course without going on any dives on it. As long as you understand the requirements for diving on it, you can use it on your dives to your heart's content. But you can also do the classroom session and then go for two dives with your instructor if you'd rather. Then you'll be a qualified nitrox diver for the rest of your life- another string to your diving bow. If you're interested in expanding your diving skills and are really switched on, you can combine the nitrox course with the deep and wreck specialities, which also works out much cheaper than doing each speciality on its own. We can also teach the nitrox course through PADI, TDI and BSAC.
If you're already a qualified diver you will hopefully have understood at least half of all this! If you're coming to Big Blue to do your open water course, don't worry, by the end of it you'll have a much better idea about why nitrox is useful to a diver.

Gaps in the market
Have you been to Koh Tao and noticed that there is a niche in the market for a certain product or service that would have made your time a little better or easier? Or have you been anywhere else in the world where a quirky extra something made a difference. Personally, I think if there was a shop or street vendor that sold pizza by the slice they would make an absolute killing. There's lots of different types of street food available already, be it Thai or western, but there's nothing quite like a slice of pizza after a few beers in the wee small hours of the morning. How about some of those bicycle taxis that 2 or more people can get in, like a tuk tuk but human powered? Or maybe an oxygen bar... nah!! Let us know anything that you think might be useful for long term residents or holiday makers. Maybe something diving resorts are missing a trick on in terms of their service to customers. Some things don't have to cost money but tweaking the way a business does this thing or that can work wonders for their customer's levels of satisfaction, and sometimes you can't see what's in front of your face and you need fresh eyes to show it to you. We are all ears. You can email us on our facebook page or just write a comment on the post for this blog. Just one thing, we won't be giving complimentary shoe shines!

November 28th 2013

Short back and sides
mv-porponawaThe first of our dive boats came back from Chumphon yesterday after it's annual service, and it looks brand new. Porponawa is our exclusive fun diver only boat, and we're really glad to have her back in service. We have a fun diver only boat because we want to be able to take our fun divers out to the best dive sites- sites that are out of reach of open water students on their first couple of dives in the ocean, or try divers, because they are too deep. The reason Porponawa was chosen as the fun diver boat is because it is probably the fastest dive boat in Thailand. It can get from Big Blue on Sairee beach to Chumphon pinnacle (11km offshore) in 23 minutes! It takes any normal dive boat between 45 and 55 minutes to get there! Hence it's unofficial nickname- the millenium falcon.
That kind of speed gives us incredible freedom. It's been known that after having two dives at Sail rock on the full day trip, if a whaleshark had been spotted at Chumphon, Porponawa would head there for the third dive of the day; a journey unthinkable on any other dive boat. So we're looking forward to getting her back in action to show our fun divers the best that the Gulf of Thailand has to offer, and once Monsoon is over (it feels like we're not really having one this year anyway) we will be running regular day trips on Porponawa to Sail rock, Ang Thong marine park and Chumphon marine park- the only dive resort to go there. Our Tech and freediving boat Big Blue went to Chumphon yeserday, Banzai has yet to depart, and Ao Meung went earlier this year and has been back for a couple of months. But we're hotly anticipating the return of waverunner, which is having a major refurbishment. We can't wait to see what it looks like when it comes back!

Things to do on a rainy day
Given that we are supposed to be in Monsoon season on Koh Tao, apart from a storm lasting a few days last week, the weather has been pretty good. However, writing this in the middle of a thunder storm has me wondering what you can do here when it rains and you're having a day off diving. People doing their open water course ask surprisingly often whether we they will be going diving when it rains.. the simple answer is yes, you will be getting wet anyway! But once your course is finished, if you don't fancy diving in the rain, then sitting in the room of your resort watching Thai tv is not an experience that is going to hold your attention for very long. One thing Koh Tao has in abundabce is cafes, lots of cafes. They are a great way to just sit and watch the world go by, and unlike in the West, they have two or three walls instead of four, so you can watch the rain and lightning up close and personal- effectively sitting outside, but stay nice and dry.
There are of course also plenty of bars in Koh Tao, so you may decide to start your evening's fun in the afternoon instead. Or you could be a little more productive and go to the gym, there are now two in Sairee alone, and an MMA centre has just opened up on the main road between Mae Hadd and Sairee. Apart from that, there's a bowling alley, and lots of massage parlours. Or, just get your wellies on and go and have a play in the puddles!

November 27th 2013

New t-shirts!
bb-tshirtWe're getting closer every day now to the grand opening of the Big Blue retail shop, and to whet your appetite we're showing off our new range of Big Blue t-shirts. These little beauties are available to purchase in our office or from our website for the cost of a round of drinks- that's a Thai round of drinks, not London prices! What better memento of your time at Big Blue could there be than to be sporting one of these down at your local pub/supermarket/domnioes club? You can be pretty much 100% guarrantee that no-one else will be wearing one! We are always open to suggestions for our t-shirt designs, so if you can think of anything funny and/or clever, and of course diving related, then let us know on our facebook page in the comments section for this blog. We may like it so much that we get some printed off- you'll get bugger all money for it but you'll be able to say that it was your work! You can view the entire t-shirt range on our facebook page in the photos section.
Yet don't be mistaken that this is all we will be selling in the new retail shop. They will of course be on display, but that's not even scratching the surface of what else will be available to buy, there will be all manner of different items of clothing, including our own range of designer beach wear. In terms of diving equipment, you'll be able to buy pretty much whatever you require. But more of that in the next few days when we open our doors properly. Until then, get your thinking caps on and get in touch with your genius t-shirt ideas.

What to expect with travelling to Koh Tao
I wrote in a recent blog about all the different ways you can get to Koh Tao from Bangkok- bus then ferry, night train then ferry, or flying to Koh Samui or Chumphon then ferry. But how do they compare in terms of service, comfort, cost etc?
The bus from Bangkok is the cheapest option. They call them VIP buses, but they're just normal coaches that you'd get back home. Surprisingly they have decent leg room, a toilet, air con, and tinted windows or a curtain to block out the sun. But the journey does take around 7-8 hours, and if they put on a Thai DVD you'll be cursing yourself for forgetting your ipod headphones! They do stop halfway for you to get some food at motorway services and stretch your legs though. Good for those on a budget. The night train is my favourite way to travel around Thailand. If you choose 2nd class (around £20) you'll get a seat that they turn into a bed, which is surprisingly comfortable. If you choose air con, have a jumper as it gets arctic cold! You can eat at your seat and order from a waiter, or you can go to the restaurant car and meet lots of random people over a beer or two. If you're lucky the staff will wheel out the kareoke machine! Then it's off to bed, and you'll be woken up shortly before arriving at Chumphon at a ridiculous hour in the morning. Try and avoid third class unless you're on a serious budget. You have been warned! The ticket you buy will include the ferry, so at the train station just ask where to go to get the bus transfer to the pier, then go to the ticket office to get your ferry ticket. You'll need to book ahead though, the night train gets full, fast.
Flying is pretty quick but very expensive, around £110 one-way. I've only ever done it once and that was a while ago, but I remember it being pretty painless. Good for getting from Bangkok to koh Tao in the same day. There are cheaper deals to be had if you fly into Chumphon, so shop around.
You will have to get a ferry to get to koh Tao and there are three options. The Lomprayah will be the busiest, but it's also the fastest. There's an VIP section that you can sit in air con for 200 baht, but the rest of the boat is fine if you can find a seat. It takes around 2 hours to get to Koh Tao from Koh Samui or Chumphon, so it's probably a good idea to bring some snacks and drinks- prices on the ferry are expensive. The Seatran is similar to the Lomprayah, but it takes a little longer, and the Songserm is for those on a budget.. takes a lot longer and can be uncomfortable. Whichever way you choose, if it's your first time in Thailand it'll be a bit of an adventure!

November 25th 2013

How's my diving?
dive-positionHow long can you stay underwater on a dive, 30, 40 minutes, or even an hour? Of course it depends on a number of factors such as how deep you go, how fit you are, how big you are and how bad the current is to name but a few. But the way you move in the water and the position you dive in also influence how long you can stay down for. Following on from yesterday's blog about buoyancy, there a few things you'll learn on the open water course to help you dive in the most efficient way.

When you walk, do you lean heavily forward and let your body's inertia propel you along so your legs have to catch up? Not unless you work for the ministry of funny walks. Diving is the same. When you first let go of the buoyline on dive one of the open water course, you need to be thinking about your position in the water. The aim is to be as horizontal as possible (tech divers call it good trim) for two reasons. The first is that you will be much more streamlined, so you won't have to kick as hard to move yourself through the water- water is dense. The second, is that if you're a little bit upright, as you kick it will make you move upwards slightly. Not the end of the world you'd think, but remember on dive one you're also getting to grips with your buoyancy, so kicking yourself upwards combined with having a little air in your BC that will expand as you ascend and make you go up quicker will ensure you are surface-bound before you've even realised what's going on.
Streamlining your equipment is also important. Having your air gauge hanging out whilst you're diving along will create drag, and if it's dragging on the dive site it may damage coral and cause wear and tear to your equipment, both big no nos. Another good tip is to never try and compare diving to swimming. You may be tempted to do the breast stroke with your arms whilst diving, but if you think about the weight of all that equipment, and compare the surface area of your hand to the fin you are wearing, it's doing pretty much nothing apart from make you look a bit crazy and wasting your energy. Put your arms away and let your fins do the work.
Finally, how should you kick when diving? Simple, flutter kicking as if you're doing the front crawl, or frog kicking as if you're doing the breast stroke are both good, as long as they are nice and slow, and the power is coming from your hips and thighs. Slow, slow, slow is the key. The worst thing you can do is to bicycle kick. It's extremely inefficient, you look stupid, and you are again helping to propel yourself upwards slightly and making it harder to keep nice and horizontal. You may find frog kicks a little hard initially, so always best to start with the flutter kick, but as you progress as a diver you will eventually frog kick- if you're able to do it by the end of your open water course, you'll be well on your way as a diver.
You will learn all of the above on the open water course, and listening to your instructor and trying to follow what he or she is telling you underwater will help to minimise exertion during your dive, so that you go through your air slower, and therefore have more time to enjoy the underwater world. Once you get more experience, for example by doing the advanced course, you can move on to more advanced techniques such as the modified frog and modified flutter kicks, and the DMT's nemesis- back finning. For now, enjoy the learning new things, go with the flow, listen to your instructor and have fun!
 
Whaleshark saved by text
How's this for a bit of good news. Fishermen in Karimunjawa National Park in Indonesia got a bit of a surprise when they realised they had accidentally caught a 4 metre juvenile whaleshark in their nets. But luckily they had a back up plan; they sent a text message to the World Conservation Society (WCS), who then, in conjunction with officers from the National Park sent a boat out to help free it. The fishermen didn't just happen to have the phone number to the offices of the WCS though. In a brilliant bit of forward thinking, the WCS set up a helpline for people to report fishing violations and marine animal strandings, which involves sending out a simple text. The fishermen didn't want to get into trouble for accidentally catching the whaleshark, and weren't able to free it by themselves, so they asked the WCS for help, and it all worked out marvellously.
Since the helpline has been set up, illegal fishing has been markedly reduced and compliance with fishery closures within the national park have increased. This is thought to have increased the number of fish, which in turn may be bringing more whalesharks back into the area. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had such a system in the Gulf of Thailand, so that illegal fishing could actually be enforced properly.

november 24th 2013

Beginners guide to Buoyancy
giant-strideLearning how to Scuba dive is a process of getting to grips with a number of different elements- physical dexterity and spatial awareness (i.e. not banging into other divers or coral), physics (buoyancy), engineering (fixing your own equipment), and differing levels of OCD (washing your own equipment properly). To get you to understand these, the open water course is a combination of theory lessons in the restaurant or classroom, and practical sessions, starting in the pool and ending in the ocean. At Big Blue we completely understand that the last thing anyone would want to do is to go on holiday and end up being bored to death about physics in a classroom. So we're very good at teaching you the information that you need to digest and understand in order to improve your diving, but without waffling on forever. One of the most important elements of diving is buoyancy. It's pretty easy to get your head around, people have an instinctive understanding of it, even though they don't know it at first. The key to improving buoyancy is by practising it whilst diving. Remember your first driving lesson and how you probably stalled the car a few times before you were able to actually get going? Buoyancy is no different, but instead of having dual controls, we get you to feel and practice the feeling of changing buoyancy in the safe confines of a pool.
Here's the basic principle. When you jump in the water off a dive boat, you need to be what we call positively buoyant. This means that you will float along without having to kick like crazy to keep your head out of the water with all your equipment on. You achieve positive buoyancy by putting air into the jacket that you wear, called a BC, that also holds your cylinder of air. Now, when you want to go underwater you need to let all that air out so you will sink as you head down the descent line- this is called negative buoyancy. To stop you sinking all the way to the sea bed, you need to put little bits of air in your BC so that you will float along at the same level. This is called neutral buoyancy and it's neutral buoyancy that we want to achieve when we are swimming along underwater. If you kick up just a little bit, the air in your BC will expand slightly, and make you want to go up to the surface. You want to stay down underwater so you need to let a little bit of that air out of your BC to remain at the same depth. If you can get your head around that, you will be a good diver very quickly.
The most counter-intuitive thing about diving is when you want to go to the surface and end your dive. Most people think that you add air into your BC to go up, after all that's going to make you float up. The problem is if you do add air, you'll go to the surface way too quickly, and we always want to ascend nice and slowly and controlled. So to end the dive we periodically let air out of the BC as we swim up. That way, we are in control instead of our BC full of air taking us up. You don't have to let all the air out straight away, but instead vent air as you feel your BC taking charge of your ascent. As soon as your head is out of the water, then you can fill your BC with air and be a positively buoyant cork again. Easy eh?
Your instructor will take as long as you need to help you get to grips with it all, and the good news is that once you understand it, it becomes automatic so you can concentrate on enjoying what you see underwater.

How to behave in Thailand
Every country in the world has their own set of rules regarding social etiquette that all natives will grow up learning. When travelling to other countries it's a good idea to do some research on how these rules differ from place to place, so you can save yourself and others embarrassment, or, at worst, offence. Here's a few basic tips to help you blend in a little easier, and maybe stop you getting arrested!:

funny-thai-sign1- Don't get angry or raise your voice. Thai's are not confrontational, and if you shout you will embarrass them, which will quickly stop them from helping you out in any way. Keep calm and smile just as they do.
2- Don't touch anyone! Touching a Thai person is considered very rude, and an invasion of their personal space. The head is also the most revered part of the body for Thais, so don't be patting anyone on the head. If you accidentally touch someone on the head, apologise immediately.
3- Don't point your feet to indicate the direction of something, or touch anyone with your feet, they are considered unholy and it will be seen as an insult.
4- Never ever talk disrespectfully of the Royal family in Thailand, you can be arrested for it, seriously. Don't even step on a coin in the street if it is heads side up. Don't even have a laugh under your breath.
5- Wear appropriate dress when entering a buddhist temple. That means covering up your arms and legs. Some places may provide a skirt to wear, or deny you entry. Always take your shoes off too. Women are not allowed to touch Monks.
6- It's good manners to take your shoes off when entering a shop or restaurant, but especially when entering someone's house.
7- Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances take or possess any kind of drugs in Thailand. The penalties are very harsh and the police don't care about personal use or dealng, or whether it's class A's or softer drugs. If you're caught with any amount of any drugs on you, you could either be made to pay a very hefty fine to stop you going to prison, or get 25 years in jail. There are lots of westerners in Bangkwang prison in Bangkok-one of the worst prisons in the world. Don't be joining them.
8- Don't drink and drive- You could kill yourself or someone else, or if you're lucky, just have to pay a hell of a lot of money for damage to vehicles. Taxis are way cheaper and safer.
9- Please don't wear speedos!!!!!
10- There isn't a number 10... please just be really nice to dive instructors and divemasters and tell the boss how brilliant we are :-)

November 23rd 2013

How to get underwater
dive-girlsIf you were to ask anyone what equipment scuba divers use, in the same way that everyone knows a skydiver needs a parachute, most people would say a tank to breathe from, and also mention flippers and goggles. There is obviously a little more to it than that, but really not much more. People doing their open water courses with us are often surprised that once they become familiar with their equipment, and have been shown what each piece does and how it's all assembled and disassembled, it's not very complicated and by the end of the course they know exactly how to put it all together and check that it's working properly themselves before going for a dive- which is exactly why you become certified to dive; you have demonstrated to an instructor that you are competent at using your equipment, and understand how you need to behave underwater, on the surface and on the boat, in order to be able to dive safely. Luckily at Big Blue you will also have had a lot of fun in the process and seen some really cool underwater life!
Recreatonal divers require a full cylinder of air of course, and they don't carry it in their arm on their dive, they wear it on their back. So the cylinder is attached to the back of a jacket that they wear called a Buoyancy Compensator, or BC- sometimes called a BCD. Fins (not flippers!) enable a diver to move through the water much more efficiently than without, and a mask (not goggles!) allows a diver to see underwater. You also need to wear a weightbelt with varying amounts of weights on it to compensate for your body's own buoyancy, and some kind of rashvest or wetsuit- no drysuits in Thailand! The only other primary piece of equipment required is a regulator, which allows the diver to breathe from the cylinder, enables two people to breathe from one cylinder if they absolutely have to, has an air gauge that tells you what's left in the tank, and connects your cylinder of air to your BC to enable you to manipulate your buoyancy. Understanding buoyancy is key to becoming a good diver, and is probably best left for another blog post, but you'll learn all about it on the open water course too.
There are of course other peripheral items used in diving, cutting devices, compasses, computers, surface markers, frying pans and sturdy boots- no, that's underwater camping.. But that kind of thing is introduced to you on the advanced course, where you'll be given a compass, computer and surface marker, and be shown how to use them.
If you're a geek you'll find equipment fascinating, if you're not, you'll still appreciate learning to assemble and maintain your equipment so you can get underwater and enjoy it all safely. Regardless, your instructor will guide you through the learning process every step of the way with the patience of a saint, so don't worry if you initially find it all a bit confusing- you'll get it. Just remember that your instructor was in your position once!

Cable cars for Koh Tao?
cable-carAlthough Koh Tao is getting busier, it's still pretty traditional in terms of what's on offer for tourists- diving, snorkeling, off-road biking, crazy golf and bowling etc, and getting around is very basic too. How about some of the things you get in other parts of the world that are a little more extravagant, or just completely impractical for this lovely little Island of ours? The most basic example I can think of is glass-bottomed boats. I recall someone telling me there used to be one here, but they're very common in the carribean and Mediterranean. Or pedallos or whatever their called? I'm sure if Koh Tao was a playground for billionaires there would be submarine tours available, and probably hotels on the sea front with bedrooms underwater and glass walls to see the marine life. What about getting around on the Island itself, what hair-brained schemes would be possible? A cable car taking you to the top of the jungle? Trams on the main road? Zip lines from the centre of the Island to the beach.. actually that would be pretty awesome! How about a travelator from Sairee to Mae Hadd? Just be thankful that SNUBA diving and booze cruises have yet to arrive here! Let us know some of the more outlandish things you've seen on your travels on our facebook page.

November 22nd 2013

So much for quiet season
Big-Blue-Diving-ResortAs predicted a few days ago, we've been inundated by full moon revellers wishing to detox from all the boozing and do something productive with their holiday by learning to dive with us. Consequently, our instructors are busy teaching open water courses, and our divemasters are busy taking out already qualified divers to show them the best marine life Koh Tao has to offer. Likewise, the tech boys are hard at work teaching interns Aleksandra and Maksim TDI advanced nitrox and decompression procedures. Once they've finished they will be teaching our divemaster trainees their deep, wreck and nitrox specialities. On the virtual diving front, our g+ page is getting more popular, and we are fast approaching 6,000 likes on the Big Blue facebook page. Who's going to be number 6,000? Similarly, on trip advisor we have almost 1,000 overwhelmingly glowing reviews, not that we're boasting or anything!
Big Blue video is filming some amazing underwater shots on a daily basis and wowing our customers in the bar where they sit down to watch themselves on their open water course dives 3 and 4. Very wise decision deciding to start filming in-house; someone has an idea to film something or other and it'll probably done the next day, which is exactly the kind of creativity and flexibility we were aiming for. The retail shop grand opening is imminent, and there will soon be a load of staff walking around like Derek Zoolander showing off Big Blue's own clothing range. Lets just hope they still remember how to turn left, especially underwater. If you want the latest information on what is happening at Big Blue, have a look on the website and the blog, and like our facebook and G+ pages.

Survival guide to arriving on Koh Tao
mae-hadd-pierSo you just arrived in koh Tao and are about to step off the ferry, what the hell do you do and where do you go? Firstly, you can't help avoid all the touts that will be shouting at you to try and get you to come to their dive resort. Don't feel pressured, just walk on through and take your time to decide. Hopefully you will already have done your research and decided where you want to go anyway. If you're really clever you will have booked online also. If you do talk to a tout on the ferry or at the pier, be weary of very cheap prices for open water courses, there will either be hidden charges or just a pretty shoddy course. Also be weary of touts telling you bad things about other dive resorts other than their own. Any good dive school should be able to sell themselves without resorting to underhand tactics. A common myth is that if you go to a school that teaches SSI, any future PADI dive resort will refuse to take you diving with your SSI certification card. This is utter rubbish- your SSI card is as valid as your PADI card anywhere in the world.
Some dive schools offer free accommodation for people learning to dive, and that's their main selling point, but you have to consider the bigger picture. At Big Blue our focus is on teaching a good course and you enjoying your time with us. Do you want to save a few hundred baht every night, but be staying in a bungalow that's so close to all the parties that you can't sleep, or would you rather pay a little for a nicer room away from the action so you can relax? At the moment we have free dormitory accommodation for the days that you're diving, but we also have some great private rooms that are still reasonably priced. I would rather go to a reputable dive resort and pay something for accommodation than find myself in a horrible room right next door to a nightclub on the south end of Sairee beach. If in doubt, do your research and look on trip adviser!
If you're not diving then there will be plenty of taxis to take you to one of the many resorts on the Island, and you're on your own as to deciding what you want price-wise and how near the action you want to be. If you are diving then each dive school will have a taxi that will give you a free lift. Big Blue has a taxi waiting for each ferry that comes in, whether it's Seatran, Lomprayah or Songserm, so don't panic if you don't see it immediately, it will be there, just keep an eye out for the driver wearing a Big Blue t-shirt. You'll probably have seen the Big Blue tout on the ferry anyway so let them take you to the taxi. the pier is in Mae Hadd and Big Blue is in Sairee, which is a 5 minute taxi drive away. Then once you've checked in for the accommodation and diving you will be doing, you can finally relax!  

November 21st 2013

Fairwell Ugly
uglySad news for Blue staff, old and new. A few days ago Ugly, one of the resident dogs and our unofficial mascot sadly died. He passed away in his sleep on the morning of the 19th completely out of the blue, though he was probably one of the oldest dogs on the Island so it wasn't completely unexpected. He'd had a damn good innings though and lived a happy life, utterly spoilt by dive and restaurant staff alike. All the Instructors and divemasters periodically chip in to pay for all the resident dog's veternarian care, and they're all well fed and given a lot of fuss, but "uggers" was everyone's favourite and definitely the boss. He didn't do a lot, and set the bar for how much one dog could scratch itself over the course of a day. If you've been to Big Blue you'll probably have witnessed what you initially thought was doggy abuse, as someone or other appeared to be hitting him with a shoe on his hind legs, but he loved it, wagged his tail and came back for more and more- very weird trait of all Thai dogs it seems. We already lost big black dog or BBD earlier this year, and now only Moo-moo, piglet, Ernie and sausage are left. Moo moo is probably the oldest dog that ever lived, sausage made even ugly look hyperactive, Ernie is half an IQ point short of being able to appear on the Jeremy Kyle show, and piglet is the dog equivalent of Norman Wisdom, with a pelican-like chin. Anyway, hopefully ugly and BBD are now lying on the big beach in the sky getting loads of attention, and continuing their war of attrition against any fly that dares to land on them.. let's just hope that flies don't go to heaven.

Whaleshark facts
whalesharkHere's a few amazing and wonderful facts about the largest fish in the ocean, that is common to the waters around Koh Tao.

- It's latin name is Rhincodon typus.
- The largest confirmed specimin was 12.65 metres long and weighed more than 21.5 metric tons!
- It's believed that they can live to be 70 years old.
- They mainly eat plankton via vacuum and filter feeding, but have also been filmed by the good old BBC eating a school of small fish.
- It's capable of diving to depths up to  1,286 metres!
- No-one has ever seen a whale shark getting down and dirty to mate, but they are thought to give birth to live young, around 40-60cm long.
- In Vietnam they are worshipped as a diety and called Ca Ong, which translates as "Sir fish".
- They are a huge draw for divers and snorkelers, and bring a lot of tourism revenue.. way more than if they are killed for their fins.
- They are listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- We get them on Koh Tao and see them pretty regularly. The juveniles are very curios of divers. 

November 18th 2013

Instructor meeting
scuba-meetingIt's that time of the month again at Big Blue.. no, I talked about the full moon party yesterday. I'm talking about the instructor meeting that will be held tonight in one of the classrooms... next to the bar. It's a monthly competition to see how many people can physically fit into a room the size of a bureau de change, that has also been temporarily turned into a sauna. See, we'll endure anything to improve what we do. The meeting is a good opportunity to keep everyone singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak, despite no-one, except maybe mini Ant actually resembling a choirboy. All the different dive agencies have standards that must be adhered to in order to ensure a diver's safety, and at Big Blue we take that very seriously. So ensuring that everyone is doing their job exactly as the standards dictate is integral to what we do. Anyone who is found to have been lacking in any aspect of their role as it relates to standards and customers' safety will not work for Big Blue much longer.
We are constantly trying to improve everything that we do so that our customers have the best experience possible, so we also regularly discuss everything and anything that may help things to run more smoothly. This includes how we check people in, the order and running of all our courses, the logistics of the boats, and even what kind of biscuits we have on board! If something isn't working, we look for ways to improve it. In some ways it's almost a shame that people don't have to undertake three separate open water courses at three different dive resorts before they become a qualified diver, because then they'll have a point of reference in the quality of teaching between schools, and realise that we are as professional is it gets.
The meeting is also the perfect forum for taking the mickey out of some instructors, and in all my years of endless, dull, soulless staff meetings this is the only time i've had a good laugh whilst actually doing something productive. It also helps that we all get a free beer! Incidentally, mini Ant recently posited the grand idea of having a HR department at Big Blue, to which instructors Rick, Donny and divemaster Nick quickly voted instructor Neil to be the director, as he's amazingly empathetic in matters of staff wellbeing. In fact we'll probably put it to a vote this evening. Now, mini Ant, why do choirboys have a centre parting?

Dive boats- what to expect
old-dive-boatI've spent the last couple of days trying to find out why Thai fishing boats and some of the more traditional dive boats have curved hulls, but google said no. I even asked a few of the Big Blue land staff, but it was too difficult to get the point across. I'll keep trying, but in the meantime I realised that anyone who's never been diving before will have no idea what to expect on a dive boat... apart from diving of course. A dive boat is usually laid out to maximise the amount of people that can dive from it at any one time, so on climbing aboard, the first thing you'll notice on the main deck is the row of diving cylinders on either side, sitting in grooves so they don't fall over in rolling waves. There should also be enough space in the middle of the deck to put all that dive gear- usually in bags. But space is always at a premium. Dive boats on Koh Tao can be anything from 10 metres to 45 metres long; Big Blue has the biggest boat- MV Waverunner. This means more space and therefore more comfort.
Also on the main deck you'll notice a bit of noise, as the boat will usually have one or more compressors to fill the dive cylinders in between dives. But once you've set your equipment up, unless you're going straight into the water, there's no reason to hang around downstairs. In fact you'll just be in everyone elses way, so get the hell upstairs! It'll be quieter, more spacious, and should hopefully have some sort of furniture to sit on and a canopy to get out of the fierce midday Sun or occassional rain shower. This is where you'll be briefed and de-briefed on your dives, and relax. It's also probably where the hot and cold water, tea, coffee, fruit and biscuits will reside. If a dive boat doesn't have a toilet, or "head", to use the correct naval parlence, then you were lured in by a dodgy company who's diving prices were way below every other company's.. and now you see why! A few things not to do on any Thai boat- Don't go into the captain's cabin- it's his house and this is where he sleeps.. and you weren't invited. Don't do a titanic at the front of the boat. It will usually have ribbons and that's where the spirit of the boat lives; you will offend the captain. Likewise don't wear flip flops- or thongs depending on whether you're antipodean, as this also offends the captain. Regarding your safety, don't get into the water until you're told it's safe to do so by your instructor or divemaster, and don't smoke anywhere near the compressor intake- you'll be told where that is. Apart from that, enjoy yourself, and either congratulate yourself on choosing to dive with Big Blue, or flagellate yourself as to why you're on a decrepit cramped boat going to the least appealing dive sites.. But hey, you saved yourself 2,000 baht for the open water course... apart from those hidden charges of course.

November 17th 2013

Day-glow invasion
Full-moon-partyIt's that time of the month again where we get the lull before the storm. Pretty much every traveller in Thailand is currently descending on Koh Phangan to buy cheap and cheerful day-glow singlets and shorts in preparation for the full moon party. Personally I can't think of anything worse than being trapped on a beach with 30,000 young beautiful people, whilst we all get plied with booze.. no wait, i'm thinking of that film Battle Royale, with the booze being replaced with weaponry. Ramblings aside, what this all means for Koh Tao and Big Blue is that the Island is currently pretty quiet, but in a couple of days it's going to be very busy, even though it's supposedly Monsoon.
So in a couple of days, at around 9am in the morning we'll start to get the drip drip of people coming into the resort who don't know where they are, why they are here, or what their names are. All they will know is that they want to learn to dive, which is also a good opportunity to detox. It's pretty safe to say that the drip drip will quickly turn into a torrent of people. When you arrive we'll sit you down with a free drink and give you your options; do you want to learn how to dive, which will take 3 days, starting with a two hour orientation on the evening that you arrive, or do you just want to experience being underwater? If it's the latter you can do a try dive, which will take one day and give you two full dives with an instrutor watching over you the entire time. If you're already qualified to dive there are loads of options available to you, from fun diving, to taking your diving further and undertaking some speciality courses like deep, wreck and nitrox, or even technical diving. Once you've decided what you want to do we can set you up with accommodation with us, which, in Monsoon may be free whilst you're diving if you want a dorm room.
But if you can, before you party the night and day away, please please please go on our website and book your diving and accommodation, as when it gets really busy we can't guarantee that we will have any availability for rooms, and bear in mind we have a lot more rooms available than most other dive resorts on the Island. Of course, we can still quarrantee being able to dive with us though. For any pre-full moon queries, send us an email (at the top of our homepage).

Longtail taxi boats
longtail-boatWhen you think of Thailand, there are certain things that spring immediately to mind; Muay Thai, ladyboys, land of smiles.. but what about longtails? You can't miss them, they're everywhere in the Gulf of Thailand (on the water rather than land.. obviously). Longtails are known as Ruea Hang Yao in Thai, and have been around for hundreds of years. They are basically a lightweight long wooden canoe, with a canopy of some kind if you're lucky and a huge exposed rocket engine at the back. The engines don't have a reverse gear, but the driver is able to maneuver them pretty adeptly by rotating them by more than 180 degrees. If you come to Koh Tao and do a bit of sight seeing, getting around by boat is a great way to see the Island, and the easiest way to get to the adjoining Islands of Koh Nang Yuan. If you're getting on one for the first time, here are a few tips to make your experience a little more enjoyable.
Firstly, expect to get wet. They are fairly easy to get on and off from the beach, but you may have to wade in up to your waist, so make sure your phone is in a dry bag. You will also be sprayed by seawater as they travel pretty fast! It can also be a pretty bumpy affair whilst riding the waves so if you're taking pictures hold on tight to your camera! When you climb aboard, get comfy, as the last thing you want to do is think you can stand up and move around- they are very narrow and many a longtail has capsized because it's suddenly listed heavily and taken on too much water. The captain will tell you where to sit so make sure you listen and stay put. Finally, longtail drivers are usually very experienced, but they'll also often feel that no storm is too great for them to navigate through. If you're on a longtail with 1 metre swells, and heading into a storm, do you really think it's a good idea? Don't wait for the captain to tell you it's not safe! Of course that would be very rare indeed on Koh Tao, but still good to have in the back of your mind. If you're mindful of the above you'll have a great time... and probably a sore arse!

November 15th 2013

Whaleshark central
whaleshark-koh-taoGreat news yesterday, we had another sighting of a whaleshark. Well, I say sighting, it stayed for the whole morning at Chumphon pinnacle, so it was more of a meeting than a sighting! Our fun divers, advanced students and open water students all got the chance to swim along with it, and, as they were all properly briefed beforehand and told not to chase it and stay together, they probably had a lot more time with it than some of the other divers on the dive site, who would have used up their air much quicker by trying to keep up with it. Whalesharks are curious of divers. Occassionally, they will swim straight past the dive site and just keep going into the blue. But 9 times out of 10 they will circle around and around the divers, so instead of wasting their air, divers can just stay in one place and watch it as it comes back for another look. This also enables our divemasters and instructors to easily watch over their group and maintain a good dive profile; whalesharks swim up and down, up and down like the teeth on a saw, not surpringly known as a saw-toothed profile. As divers we don't want to do this, so staying in one place whilst mainaining the same depth, either holding on to the ascent line or using the rocks as a visual reference makes for a much better dive. Chill out, watch the big fish swim around you, done. There were some very happy people on the fun diver boat and same same on the course boat. Imagine on your third ever dive you get to swim with a whaleshark.. pretty unforgettable eh. Especially as we had our videographers out filming the open water divers. They'll be taking video evidence of their encounter back home to show the family. The bar was a little busier than normal last night!

Buying and selling on Koh Tao
If you're thinking of spending quite a lot of time on Koh Tao, maybe doing your divemaster training, or already working here as an instructor, you'll probably need some kind of, stuff.. whether that's dive equipment, a motorbike, or you're looking for accommodation. There are plenty of ways to go about this. Word of mouth is good for accommodation in any of the dive schools. There are also posters all over the place in cafes and outside the supermarkets- Aukotan in Shalock, 4p in Sairee or Pen Wholsale on the road to Mae Hadd from Sairee. There are a number of shops that sell dive equipment in Mae Hadd, and Big Blue is opening our own retail shop in the next couple of weeks, where you'll be able to get any kind of dive equipment you can think of. If you need to buy pots and pans, don't bother with the supermarkets, go to the Burmese market in Mae Hadd, it's near the top of the hill on a lane connecting the up road with the down road. You can buy all sorts of weird and wonderful things there, fishing equipment, frying pans, barbeques, deadly weapons, kareoke machines.. yes, I really did say kareoke machines! In terms of diving equipment, if you're really on a budget, there is a market for 2nd hand stuff on facebook- Koh Tao trader, and also a 2nd hand shop in Mae Hadd. Buying 2nd hand equipment is not ideal, and you could end up with a broken product with no comeback, but it may be your only option if you're on a serious budget.  

November 14th 2013

Big Blue bar
big-blue-bar-tomEveryone has a local pub, even people that live 1,000 miles away from civilisation will have a local pub, even if it's 1,000 miles away. Considering Koh Tao is only 21 square kilometres in size, we have a lot of places to choose from for ours. Luckily, it's on the premises, as Big Blue has it's own bar... hurrah! The bar is the eipcentre of life at Big Blue, at the end of the diving day it's were we'll have a beer with our students and fun divers whilst we log their dives and debrief them on how they were underwater. Then, when they all go back to their accommodation to have a shower, it's where the instructors and divemasters congregate to have a good old chinwag and discuss their oh so hard day at the office.
At the end of the open water course we have videographers filming the students on their final two dives, then that evening in the bar, the big screen comes down and we play the video on the projector, which is a great way to end the course and nice to see the students enjoy their 15 minutes of fame. Similarly, when our divemaster trainees (DMTS) have finished their internship to become dive professionals, we also hold a challenge at the bar, which has to be seen to be believed. It's just some good natured ribbing at their expense involving copious amounts of alcohol, but it's always good fun and they are the most game out of everyone to partake.
So who works at such a fine establishment I hear you ask? A lovely Irishman called Thelma, and three Burmese guys with better English than Thelma; Sea, Zor, and Tom. Sea is new and hasn't learnt as many English swear words as his predecessor Sin, but i'm sure he'll pick them up pretty soon with Neil and Luke's help. Zor is what can only be described as a one man party; when he's finished in the bar he can be seen wandering around all the other bars on Koh Tao with a bucket of some kind of whisky that's designed to strip the paint off cars, enabling him to dance the night away. Thelma is the manager, and only works part time as she's also an SSI instructor. When she's working in the bar you can't miss her, as she'll be on the same side of the bar as you pretending to read a book so people think she's clever, but the book will be upside down. Tom (pictured) has worked in the bar since the beginning of time, and is the Burmese equivalent of Sam out of cheers. Also, seeing as his English is better than most English speaking natives, he is the master of keeping rowdy drunken people in line with only a look.. .
When you come to Big Blue, you'll notice straight away once the sun is setting how the bar really sets the atmosphere for the place, it's way better than anywhere else on Koh Tao, and pretty much the only place all of our staff like to have a beer, which says a lot.

Red Breasted Wrasse
red-breasted-wrasseIf you've done any kind of diving course on Koh Tao that requires you to sit in the sand practicing some skills, you'll more than likely be very familiar with the red breasted wrasse. It's like a miniature cow that looks dopey, but is clever enough to realise that your movements will disturb the sand and allow it to forage. They are certainly not shy about swimming  between your legs whilst displaying their buck-teeth. You'll see them on every dive site in the Gulf of Thailand, and considering their abundance, it's surprisingly difficult to find out more about them, but here's a few facts that you may not know about them:

- They like to hang around coral reefs, and forage for prey by taking pieces of rubble in their mouth in the hope of exposing their poor victim, that was previously using it as shelter.
- They grow up to 40cm in size.
- They live at depths ranging from 4 to 60 metres, though it's rare to see one below 40m- they don't have their SSI deep speciality.
- They feed on crustaceans, sea urchins, hard-shelled invertebrates and molluscs, and probably biscuits thrown overboard, which is not very good for them!
- Mating begins with the male circling the female, then they will partake in a bit of mutual head-bobbing for a while, then eventually they spawn whilst swimming alongside each other and rising in the water column.. weirdos.
- They seem to hypnotise all new divers when they see them for the first time whilst kneeling in the sand. What you're probably not aware of is that all red breasted wrasse are trained divemasters, and as long as they watch over the group, we'll keep buying them comics.

November 12th 2013

Movember time
MovemberIt's that time of the year again when every male divemaster, instructor and divemaster trainee (DMT) slowly, over the course of the month look ever more ridiculous. Of course, it's Movember. It's still early days yet and the majority of participants have yet to reveal the look they are going to go for this year. As they look for inspiration, the beards will keep on growing. It's always difficult to commit to a particular style in case your face can't quite pull it off, or you just completely mess it up, but it would be great to see some proper pork chops, a few Clark Gables, and a full-on handlebar would be rather spectacular! The winner thus far has to be SSI instructor Rod (pictured), who has been sporting a very fetching Magnum P.I. lip tash. But that wasn't enough for Rod, oh no, he also had to shave his head to look like a grandad. I think it makes him look younger- how old do you think he looks? I reckon about 39. He does look a bit like Alf Stewart from Home & Away now, and he is Australian.. you never see them in the same room together i suppose.
Of course, Movember does have a serious side to it, the whole point is to raise awareness of testicular cancer, and generate some cash for testicular cancer charities, so that they can get the message out and commit funding for further research into this horrible disease.
Maybe it would be a good idea to hold a tash-off competition, or have a divemaster challenge where we humiliate for fun the people voted to have the best face fur. So far the most elligible contenders for the award of best hairy head are instructors Rod, Rich and Simo, and divemasters Phil and Nick. Though I reckon if Carly put her mind to it she would give them all a run for their money.. she must be sick of shaving her face by now.  As for me... roll on Fanuary.

You can make a donation to Movember here for the UK, here for Canada, and here for Australia.

Getting mobile on Koh Tao
Can't help but notice recently a big increase in the amount of push bikes available for rent on Koh Tao recently, which is great news for the environment, and people's health, but also reduces the amount of motorbikes and quad bikes on the Island. It's not as if we get traffic jams here, far from it, it's solely an issue of safety. The single best way you can ruin your holiday would be to rent a motobike, even though you've never ridden one before, and find yourself in a crash because of an overzealous throttle, bad balance, complete panic resulting in forgetting where the brakes are, or sandy concrete. God forbid, if this ever were to happen, hopefully you would come out of it with only a few minor scrapes, but the damage to your wallet would be severe when you take the scratched bike back to the rental company. They just love adding to your bill for new fairings, and they always seem to be way more expensive than you could ever imagine.. funny that.
By renting a push bike you will be safer. You will be travelling slower, so if you did come off, the damage would be less severe- especially if you're wearing a helmet. You will also be reducing the amount of motorbikes on the road, which in turn will reduce the likelyhood of crashing into one. You'll still need to ride defensively and watch out for cars, motorbikes and quad bikes, but you'll enjoy getting around much more.
So in summary, don't even think of renting a motorbike, and especially not a quad bike- they are even more dangerous as they instill a false sense of security into people and they tend to ride them faster- and they are very prone to flipping over on corners. Get on your bike instead. If you do completely ignore the above and rent a bike, please wear a helmet. Don't follow the lead of all the idiot locals. You can't retrospectively buy a new head, even if you kept the receipt.

November 11th 2013

Longtail drivers
Yesterday I talked about the boys that work in the equipment room to keep everything running smoothly. Today why not give a mention to the three musketeers.. kind of, that drive our luxurious (compared with other dive schools) taxi boats; Win, Bang, and Sea.

longtailThey probably work the weirdest hours out of anyone else at Big Blue. They have to be up early to wade out to sea and untether the taxi boats from their moorings, then sit around waiting for the instructors and divemasters to get organised and ready to head off for their dives. Then they spring into action like some kind of, er, taxi boat driver, and occassionally wait for everyone to get on board before heading off like the stig to one of our five dive boats. Win has been at Big Blue for years. In fact, rumour has it he was sitting on Sairee beach for a long time waiting for Big Blue Diving to be formed as a company. Bang has played Burma-Koh Tao tennis more than most of our staff, and has held a number of jobs with us between going home. Now he's back he drives the biggest and newest of our taxi boats.. lets call her Shirley. Our third driver, Sea, is possibly the most helpful human being on the planet, and if we could clone him we would probably be bigger than Apple right now. It also runs in the family, his brother doesn't speak a word of English but will fill your tank on Ao Meung before you even knew you'd used it up.
Once the morning boats have gone out, you'll not see any of them for dust until 11am when the boats come back and everyone needs to come back to land. Then again they mill around waiting for the afternoon divers to ready themselves to be taken out to the dive boats. 5pm and it's back out to pick them up on their return from the dive sites, then Bang and Win moor up Shirley and, er.. Ermentrude, whilst Sea usually gets the short straw to take the divers out on their night dive.  For the instructors and divemasters at Big Blue, it can be pretty easy to take them for granted, but just when that's in danger of happening, the weather turns bad and these guy's skills come out to play. In choppy weather (which is never really that bad on koh Tao), they know exactly how to handle their boats safely to negotiate the coral near the beach, ride over the waves, and pull up alongside the dive boats and hold them in place whilst people are loaded on and off.  They also know how to have a bit of fun, adding just the right amount of throttle to make an instructor blocking their view almost fall over, or let a big enough wave soak them and wake them up properly in the morning! Next time you're on board on our of longtails, say Mingalabar and give them a smile.

We didn't come up with a name for Sea's taxi boat... post your suggestions on our facebook page, and the best one will receive a Big Blue keychain. I vote to call it Baxter. Steven wants to call it Bertha, lovely Bertha (sometimes I think you're a dream). You had to be there...
 
Non-diving things to do on Koh Tao
What if you come to Koh Tao with the intention of diving, but for whatever reason you can't, or maybe your other half is obsessed with the idea of learning how to dive, but you have absolutely no intention of putting on those flippers and goggles? Well there are other things you can do. Lets ignore the bars on the Island, anyone can get drunk anywhere at anytime nowadays. I'm talking about productive, educational and fun things to while away the day. How about a bit of 10-pin bowling and mini golf? In Mae Hadd we have the weirest bowling alley in the world, with the aim being (depending on your point of view) to throw the ball at the man behind the pins, or avoid hitting the man behind the pins. Whatever you knock over, they put them all back neat and tidy ready for the next shot. You don't get that back home. It's also open in the evening so you don't get heat exhaustion whilst trying to negotiate the crazy golf range. You can learn Muay Thai. A lot of the people that live here do it, mainly for the exercise- they've never hit anyone in their lives. They can tailor the classes to suit your level of fitness and comfort with sparring. I've done martial arts for 20 years and the only reason I never did it was a fear of getting too into it and breaking my leg. Not good for a diver.. then I went and broke my knee anyway! There are a few classes all over the Island, one in Mae Hadd, one in Sairee up towards Jitson. There are also occassional Muay Thai fights that you can go and watch, with men handing out flyers all over the place so you can't really miss them.
Thai cooking classes are available in quite a few different places, and you can learn to cook a few authentic Thai dishes so you can wow your friends back home when you have them over for dinner. Should be high on the list of things to do here.
Yoga seems to be pretty popular at the moment, with classes being held at all times of the day anywhere and everywhere. There's also a pilates class, whatever that is!
You just missed the best time of year to learn this when the winds are high, but wakeboarding if quite popular in September and October on Sairee beach. It's getting to the point where the idea must be to stay on the board and avoid other wakeboarders! The beach dogs will hate you and chase you up and down the beach barking their heads off for no apparent reason, but luckily they all hate water.
Rock climbing- It's not going to be like scaling El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, but there are some good spots to learn how to rock climb, and there's a company that will teach you and provide all the equiment you'll need. What else.. oh yeah, snorkeling- loads of nice beaches around the South and East of the Island, Ao Leuk, Shark Bay, Tanote Bay, Freedom beach. For any of the above activities ask any of our staff and we'll be able to point you in the right direction.

November 10th 2013

Equipment room boys
equipment-boysAny dive resort is only as good as the people that work there. Big Blue is no different, and there are a lot more people involved in the smooth day to day running of the place than the divemasters and instructors that you'll see the most during your time with us. The land-based staff play a vital role in keeping things tickety boo. Headed up by Mae, the team keep the equipment room clean and tidy, wash all the regulators at the end of each morning or afternoon of diving, fix broken regulators, BCs and tanks, fill any tanks needed for the pool, and make sure everything is packed away properly at the end of each day. Dive equipment is very reliable these days, and when it does break, it's only minor things like small bubbles coming out of an air gauge, or a slowly filling BC. Mae ensures that these problems are fixed quickly, so we have that piece of equipment back up and running and working as it should for the next diving day.  
At 5pm each day you'll see a few of the boys playing hackey sack (pictured), or whatever it's called, and at other times of the year they'll be guaranteed to be playing a game of football on the beach.. I think it's fair to say the Burmese love their football. Mae also manages the best Korean barbeque restaurant on the Island in Mae Hadd (no relation). When he's not working, I'd love to tell you that he enjoys knitting cardigans with huge pictures of wolves on them, and that he was once a stars in their eyes Regional finalist, singing as Neil Diamond.. maybe it's true, but I can't prove it... yet. When the rest of the staff aren't working or playing football, they seem to enjoy kareoke.. a lot!
The boys work long hours but are always smiling. If you come diving with us you'll have to wash your fins and BC when you get back to land. When you hand in your BC to Mae or one of the other boys, fully inflate it so it has a chance to dry inside and out. If you want to make Mae laugh, ask him why it doesn't inflate when you press the button!

Getting to Koh Tao
Back in the days before Koh Tao was on the backpacker's map, it was a real adventure trying to get here. Now it couldn't be any easier, there are so many options to choose and you don't have to come from one particular place anymore. If you are in Bangkok, you can get a VIP bus with aircon and legroom that will take you to Chumphon (takes around 7 hours), then hop on a ferry- all in one ticket. Or you could take the night train, which has first, second and third class- again, all in one ticket. Don't bother with 3rd class, it's just a seat you'll sit in for 12 hours, trust me you will regret it! Go 2nd or 1st class (for around £20!) and have your own bed so you arrive in Chumphon fresh as a daisy the next morning after a good nights sleep- but be sure to book ahead. If you're feeling really fancy, you could fly from Bangkok to Chumphon or Bangkok to Koh Samui, then get a ferry from there. It's way more expensive than travelling over land but saves you a lot of time. Just be mindful of your return trip back; if you've been diving you cannot fly on a plane for at least 24 hours. Once you're in Suratthani or Chumphon you will get to Koh Tao by catching one of the ferrys. The Lomprayah is the fastest but also the busiest. It takes around two hours from Chumphon and Koh Samui. You can also get the Seatran, which is slower but not as crowded. If you're really on a budget you can get the Songserm, which takes even longer, and isn't the most modern boat the world has ever seen but it's super cheap. I wonder if anyone ever took a taxi from Bangkok to Chumphon, and how much it cost, and whether they were still sane after listening to the taxi driver's Thai muzak for 7 hours!

November 9th 2013

Cobweb cleaning brainstorming retail shop opening season
big-blue-shopAs I mentioned a few days ago, this is the time of year when we take advantage of it not being as crazily busy as the rest of the year, so we can do a bit of spring cleaning. The first of our five boats has gone to Chumphon for it's annual facelift.. actually waverunner is having a little more than just a splash of paint. But other stuff is going on too. We're having all our tanks visually and hydrostatically tested to make sure they're in good working order. James and Ian at Big Blue Tech are servicing all our regulators and tank valves for the same reason. We did a full stock take a couple of days ago to see what we might need to replace to keep our fins, wetsuits, masks and weightbelts in tip top condition, and our Divemaster trainee (DMT) mentors are looking over all our training materials with a fine toothe comb to see what needs tweaking, so we can offer the most effective dive professional training possible. But the biggest thing that's about to happen will be the highly anticipated opening of our new retail shop. We'll be selling all sorts of dive equipment, and have our own range of Big Blue branded clothing, such as bikinis, board shorts, t-shirts, singlets and speedos.. ok no speedos, just mankinis. We will also be selling some exciting underwater photography equipment, and the list of what else is growing by the day. All you need to do is watch this space as there will be a dedicated blog post to mark the official opening... soon! This all equates to a diving resort that is constantly looking at itself in order to improve and evolve, so that we can offer you the best diving experience possible, by a looooong way.

Koh Tao animal clinic
koh-tao-animal-clinicVisitors to Thailand are often struck by the amount of stray dogs and cats wandering around, pretty much everywhere. Koh Tao is no different; some of them were born in the jungle off the main roads, whilst some were adopted by westerners who then abandoned them when they decided to move on- a sadly common occurance. A lot of the dogs suffer from, skin infections, fleas, or mange, and all are trying and stay alive by scavenging wherever they can. The koh Tao animal clinic was set up in 2002 on a temporary basis to try and do something about it. 11 years later it's still going strong, and now has a resident Thai vet, Dr Jae Intaraksa and a clinic assistant, Nai. The clinic has a number of aims. These are:

1- To establish a permanent vet clinic on the island of Koh Tao.
2- To introduce a neutering programme to bring the animal population under control.
3- To introduce a vaccination programme including mange and flea control to maintain a healthy animal population.
4- To introduce an education programme for visitors to the island to reduce casual feeding of the animals by tourists, and encourage support of a properly managed programme through the vet clinic.
5- To introduce an education programme for the islanders in good animal management.

They are working really hard to achieve these aims, and are making a lot of progress, but the clinic is funded solely by donations made by members of the public from all over the world. If you're in koh Tao, please consider making a donation, even if it's just the cost of a beer. It all adds up. If you are a vet spending some time travelling and find your way to Koh Tao, you may be able to offer your services to the clinic, but you'll need to have at least two years experience and be able to provide two references (one from your current employer). You'll also need to present a copy of your graduation certificate. If you really want to donate money and get something in return, you can pop into the clinic monday to friday and buy one of their snazzy t-shirts- you can guarantee that no-one back home will be wearing the same clothes as you! All money donated goes directly to the upkeep of the clinic and helps pays for medication, which is notoriously expensive. They are based opposite the Save Koh Tao office in Mae Hadd, easy to find if you ask someone. For more information, visit their website by clicking here.

 

November 8th 2013

Hard life becoming a dive professional!
similans-sunsetIt's been a lot quieter on Koh Tao over the last few days, and for good reason- SSI instructor trainer Simon Garrity, and his sidekick- divemaster trainee (DMT) mentor Nick Bufton, somehow managed to escape Big Blue and head for the Similan Islands on the East coast of Thailand to go on a 4 day and night jolly, I mean diving liveaboard. To top it all off they managed to pursuade 8 or so DMTs to go with them! Four dives a day and the option to go night diving, all topped off with great food. Alright for some eh! All that diving makes you tired and they'll probably want to have a holiday from their holiday when they return. But something tells me Nick and Simon will be pretty busy, as we have a record number of DMTs training with us at the moment. This is great for the DMTs as it means they'll make lots of new friends, and can help each other out during their training. It also makes the bar that little bit livelier! Every dive they do makes them that much more confident in their own diving abilities, and hones the skills that they will need to be signed off as dive professionals. Once they've graduated they can work as a divemaster, leading fun divers around dive sites, and assist instructors on training courses. They will also have the option to take their training further and become dive instructors themselves.. something no doubt Simon will have been chatting to the captive audience of DMTs on the liveaboard about! If you would like more information on dive professional training, click on the email at the top of our homepage.

Whale deaths blamed on discarded plastic
grey-whale-deadI was only talking the day before yesterday about how bad plastic is when it gets into the ocean, and this is all the proof you need. The dead grey whale pictured that washed ashore, was found to have 59 pieces of plastic in its stomach, which was ultimately what killed it. But sadly this was far from being an isolated incident. Over the last 20 years, stories of whales suffering the same fate have become more and more common, and include Sperm, Balleen, Grey and Beaked whales (that have been documented). There may be many more cases that simply never washed up, and no species of whale is immune to suffering the same fate. The whales eat the plastic due to a variety of different factors that depend on what and how they eat in the first place, but once the plastic enters their system it cannot be digested, so it just sits in the intestine. Over time it clogs up the intestine until the whale can no longer process the food it needs to survive. This leads to a slow, agonising death through starvation. Much of the plastic is sheeting used to build greenhouses on an industrial scale, for the purpose of growing tomatoes. But other items such as discarded fishing nets and rope, plastic bags, hosepipes, flower pots and plastic spray canisters have been found inside whale's stomachs.
It's all infuriating, and it's often the usual suspects that are to blame. But you can still do a lot to help directly. Much of the debris that floats around is plastic bags from your local supermarket or mini mart. If you start to reduce the amount of straws, carrier bags, party balloons, and plastic bottles, this will make a big difference in how much of it ends up in the oceans. Indirectly you can lobby your local politician to focus their mind on the scale of the problem. The more people that do it, the more they'll have to listen and respond. If you want to find out more about what you can do, contact Lizzie May at Big Blue Conservation here.

November 7th 2013

Try dives with Big Blue
rabbitfishThe vast majority of people that come to Koh Tao do so with the intention of either learning how to dive, or exploring the dive sites as a qualified diver. But there are a growing number of people that just come here to experience the unique relaxed atmosphere that turtle Island is renowned for. But you only have to spend one or two days here to realise that this Island is all about diving. You may well go snorkeling in Mango bay and see divers around and below you, which will hopefully spur you into thinking that you have to try it for yourself. If that's you, then good news! You don't have do a diving course to experience the underwater world; there is such a thing as a try dive that can be done over the course of one afternoon (after a little bit of theory before lunch), 
At Big Blue we run try dives every day and we want you to get the most out of it. You would meet your instructor at 10:30 in the morning to get the paperwork out of the way. The instructor will then teach you everything you need to know to be safe underwater, which really isn't as in-depth as it sounds. Then you'll be kitted out with the dive gear you'll need- all provided at no extra cost, then you'll break for lunch. At 12:30 you'll get in a taxi boat that will take you onto one of our 5 dive boats, there will be a boat especially for you and open water students doing their first ever two dives. The boat will go to one of the sheltered bays of Koh Tao, and you can relax while your instructor sets up your equipment for you. Once we've got you into your dive gear and checked everything is good to go, you'll get in the water and swim together to the beach. The instructor will teach you a few skills, but only in water that's waist deep. Then, when you're ready you'll follow the sea bed from the beach until you get progressively deeper, so you can experience the marine world for the first time. The instructor will be right next to you the whole time and pointing out all the fish that you see, and after what will feel like 10 minutes (but will probably be 35-45), you'll make your way to the surface and reluctantly get back on the boat. 
We have tea and coffee, fruit and biscuits on the boat and you can relax and sunbathe for an hour, then the boat will move on to another dive site and it'll be time for your second dive. You'll probably be dying to get back into your gear by this point! The second dive will probably seem like it lasts a bit longer, as you'll be more attuned to the underwater world compared with the first dive. Then you can explore again with the instructor right beside you the whole way, before again heading to the surface and getting back on board the boat. One more thing we offer with try dives is to have photos of you taken underwater, so you have a memento of your experience; a videographer will tag along on both dives snapping away in the background. Then, back on land at around 5pm, you'll have done something productive, had an amazing experience, and hopefully be taking home photographic evidence to show your family and friends. That sounds pretty damn good to me, but I guess you could always not go diving, and just get hammered and not remember anything.. tough choice eh!? For more information, have a look at the rest of the website. If you have any more questions, send us an email.

Food food food
You know that feeling when you just ate half of your weekly food intake in one sitting? Then you'll know exactly how i'm feeling right now. Koh Tao is all about eating out. It's a social gathering, a treat, and a way of lazily watching the world go by. All in the knowledge that it's costing a hell of a lot less than doing the same thing back home. Sairee is full of restaurants that offer amazing food. There is an Italian, Mexican, French, Japanese, and German restaurant, all within about a quarter of a mile radius. That's not even mentioning all the Thai restaurants ranging from swish and fancy, to simple and super cheap, and I haven't even mentioned one of the best things Thailand has- street food! It's amazing and ridiculously cheap; there's nothing quite like walking down the road and smelling the incredible flavours and seeing the variety of food available. One thing all the restaurants and street vendors have in common on Koh Tao is that the food is very very very good! Now, if you expand that and add Shalock and Mae Hadd into the mix, you'll realise just how spoilt for choice you really are! ok everything is getting a little hazy, I must be in the midst of a food coma!

November 5th 2013

What-soon?
chumphon-pinnacleWell, so much for Monsoon, the weather here has been amazing in the last week, just when we were expecting full on rain and windy conditions. The sea couldn't be any flatter than it is now, and the visibility when diving has been incredible in the last couple of days. Holiday makers being the sun-seekers that they are have inevitably clicked onto this, as we are unseasonably busy for this time of year. Lots of other dive schools close for November, thinking it will be absolutely dead here- that's not how it's looking so far. More fool them, we are bustling, our instructors are busy teaching people how to dive, our divemasters are still showing customers the best marine life that Koh Tao has to offer on our exclusive fun diver only boat, and the bar and restaurant still have the same vibrant feel as they usually do. Big Blue tech is gearing up to teach a new influx of interns, and Big Blue conservation is organising beach clean ups, and running an eco-internship. Just as well, as the boss just had his birthday and needs all the good news he can get! November is looking good for Big Blue. If you want to come diving in koh Tao and are pathalogically unsociable, then check out any other dive school on the Island. If you want to meet like-minded people, be taught or led underwater by the best dive professionals in the industry, and have a jolly old time in the bar afterwards... come to Big Blue!

Things to avoid on Koh Tao
If you're coming to Koh Tao on holiday, or thinking of spending a little longer here as part of your travels, there are probably lots of little tips that could help make life a little easier for you. To be honest you can find out about most of those by googling them; Thai customs, restaurant rules on tipping, generic cost of taxis etc etc. Beyond these kind of things, we would like to help you get the most out of your Thai experience by suggesting things that you can do that will also help to preserve this beautiful Island, now and in the future. First and foremost is plastic plastic plastic. this hydrocarbon by-product is evil, full stop. It kills turtles and all manner of marine life if it makes its way into the ocean. If you go to a shop or restaurant anywhere on Koh Tao, please please please refuse a plastic bag and straw with your purchase. If you're getting takeaway food, you should now be getting a container that is not polystyrene, but if it is, please ask for something else and let us know at Big Blue Conservation. Even better, it would help the turtles out if you could just eat at the restaurant instead. At the very least don't take any plastic cutlery home with you, most hotels should have some kind of cutlery you can use.
Secondly, do you really need to rent a motorbike whilst here? Apart from potentially being ripped off left right and centre, you are putting yourself at a high risk of having your holiday ruined by being involved in a crash, sadly all too common. Even if you don't get injured (god forbid), you may end up with a massive repair bill. Rent a push bike instead, or even walk; Sairee to Mae Hadd is a 15-20 minute walk away, which you wouldn't even think twice about doing back home.
Finally, if you do decide to sample the nightlife that is offered on Sairee beach, and fancy a midnight dip followed by a few beers on the beach, enjoy it obviously! But also no matter how sozzled you get, please grab your empty beer bottles, carrier bags, crisp packets and whatever else and dispose of them properly- at Big Blue we have recycling bins for bottles. After all, you came here to walk down sandy white beaches and experience the beauty of a tropical Island, so you're kind of defeating the object of you being here if you just leave everything on the beach.. common sense really.

November 4th 2013

Waverunner refurbishment
boatyard-chumphonAs our five boats start to set sail for Chumphon on the mainland for their annual service (not all at the same time), our newest aquisition, MV Waverunner has already gone, and it's getting a bit more than a lick of paint. We've been renting waverunner on a long term basis, but recently the opportunity arose to buy it, so we snapped it up. Now we have full license to get it exactly as we want it.
The whole main deck is going to be completely stripped out, so instead of having a dry room that's not really very dry, or used as a dry room, we can utilise that space for tanks. We're also going to let more daylight in so it's nice and airy. Feng shui is just as important as actual space you know! It's already the biggest dive boat in Koh Tao, so these factors will make it feel really spacious when divers are setting their equipment up.
Some nice little touches will also be going on behind the scenes, such as installing compressor whips the whole length of the main deck. This means that tanks can be re-filled where they are instead of having to lug them to the compressors and back. It also means that a large area of the rear of the deck will be freed up, instead of being allocated for empty tanks waiting to be filled. Upstairs, there has always been good cover from the extreme sun and occassional downpours, but part of it will be enclosed to prevent any above average wetsuit tan lines. The sun deck above the captain's cabin will remain as it is, and unfortunately we couldn't stretch the budget to have some massage chairs installed. But the fluffy dice for the rear view mirror in the captain's cabin has already been ordered, and I hear that the captain may even purchase a new singlet to wear on board once the boat is back in service again. When she comes back from Chumphon with a Big Blue paint job, there will be one very proud and happy captain, and some even happier scuba instructors and divemasters, we can't wait to see how it looks.

Buddhist festival
It was really busy all over Mae Hadd yesterday as local Thai and Burmese buddhists celebrated Kattai. It's a Burmese word and doesn't really have an English translation, but it's a day when buddhists give respect to monks, and donate money to them so they may continue their vocation. Preperation began a few weeks ago, with ornately decorated paper  trees being built to hang money on. These were then taken to the temple as offerings for the monks. Around 200 people walked in a precession all the way from Shalock to the Buddhist temple off the main road to Sairee, with many of them wearing tradtitional costume, dancing and singing along to music. Driving past the temple at 7pm it still seemed to be in full swing, and that was from 9am in the morning! Buddhist festivals don't involve alcohol, but it looked like they were having a wail of a time. Fascinating to watch. 

November 2nd 2013

Clash of the (not quite) titans
football-matchWhilst everyone was preoccupied with Halloween preparations the day before yesterday, a football match of epic proportions was quietly played out early on Halloween morn. A ragtag bunch of Big Blue instructors, divemasters and DMTs pitted themselves against some of our fittest and finest Burmese restaurant and bar staff. Captained by SSI instructor trainer Simon Garrity, instructors big Ant, mini Ant, Rich, Pal, Iain, Tupac and Alex, divemasters Phil and Stitch, and DMTs Ryu, Bjorn, Carolina, Gretl, Laars, Dwain and Saul redefined the phrase "being run rings around". Rich in goal saved some epic shots and has the cuts and bruises to show for it, Alex ran around like Forrest Gump in no particular direction, seemingly reacting to the rhythms of a completely different game, Simo suddenly remembered the rules in the final 5 minutes, mini Ant spent most of the match trying to memorise people's names so he knew who to pass to, and Iain thought he was playing netball. Shame it wasn't netball, he would have got man of the match. The game ended with the inevitable victory for the restaurant boys, with a final score of 5-1. The diving team's defeat was roundly blamed on the lack of anyone being available to provide oranges at half time, which may or may not be true, but overall the boys were very stoic about their drubbing. After some transfer deals have taken place, another good natured rematch will take place- they're even talking about getting shirts printed!  Good effort team Burma, I mean everyone! Something tells me we're going to need a bigger capacity stadium for round 2!

Halloween done, next stop Christmas!
I think it's fair to say there were a few sore heads on Koh Tao yesterday morning after Halloween, especially considering pretty much the entire Island seemed to dress up for it. Walking along the yellow brick road in Sairee should have been like a who's who of horror movies, but some people never got that memo; I saw Hunter S Thompson and his attourney, some oddly afflicted pregnant brides, quite a few man-babies, a zombie full moon party goer, witches galore, and, I think, a dead transvestite tennis player- apologies if you were actually a lady (Iain)! The only thing missing was Elvis. He must have been working the night shift in Tesco-Lotus in Koh Samui. Shame. All good fun and really good to see so many people make the effort. The whole atmosphere of the Island seemed quite festive. Speaking of which, I guess the next big night on Koh Tao will be Christmas eve... is it nearly christmas already, why did I have to remind you of that? Well just to make you even more annoyed, here in Thailand we don't get bombarded with Christmas music when we visit the supermarket from September until December, and there is actually food in the aisles instead of christmas crackers. Still.. counting down the days!

November 3rd 2013

Big Blue videography
Big-blue-videographyWe're really happy to be able to officially announce the opening of Big Blue videography! It's been bothering us for a while why we always used another company to film our students and the underwater world for us when we could do it bigger and better ourselves.. so we've decided to go ahead and do exactly that! I'd like to introduce you to Wayne, he's the one in the photo most likely to get a sunburnt head. Wayne is heading up the video and photography team, comprised of David (left), Jolande (the female one) and Barney (you can probably figure out which one he is). Wayne was especially shipped in by air freight to get things moving and head up the team of dive professional videographers. This is an exciting new start for Big Blue diving, and we can't wait to see some weird and wonderful new intro shots of our instructors, divemasters and shop staff. Barney, Jolande and David are raring to go, so lets get started!
If you've previously been to Big Blue, you'll know what we do in terms of filming our open water courses. If you haven't, let me explain. The open water course has four open water dives. Dives three and four have an early start and the boat leaves from Sairee at 7am in order to take advantage of some of the best dive sites we have- weather permitting Chumphon pinnacle, and twins or white rock. The students are accompanied by a videographer, who just hangs back and films them on the taxi boat, getting into their equipment, during their dive briefings, and on their actual dives. Then when the students get back to land, they can relax and sunbathe with their new certification cards, but David, jolande and Barney's work has only just begun. They edit the footage and put it to some modern music that is apparently very in, and then the instructor and videographer meet the students in the Big Blue bar in the evening to celebrate them becoming qualified divers, and they all watch the video together. It's a fantastic end to the open water course, and if the students choose to buy the video, which is very reasonably priced, it's the perfect way to explain to their families what they've been up to in South East Asia.
In addition to filming open water courses, we will be on hand to record try dives. For those people that really want to go diving but either don't have the time or don't really want to commit to undertaking a full open water course, they can do one or two try dives with an instructor over one afternoon. Seeing the underwater world for the first time is awe inspiring and something you'll remember for the rest of your life. Having photographic evidence of that is even better. Underwater shots of you in your scuba gear is a vital ingredient to proving to your friends and family that you actually did it!
We will also have our own youtube channel, which will be regularly updated with short videos highlighting the best of the weeks marine life caught on film, so look out for links to it from our facebook, G+ and twitter pages. In the meantime get you best frock on, slap that make up on and sign up to do your open water course to get your 30 minutes of infamy!

Shark Finning in Western Thailand
Ranong-fish-marketHere's a photo of a fish market in Thailand, in Ranong specifically, on the border with Myanmar. Absolutely disgusting I hope you'll agree. Shark finning gets lots of press nowadays and rightly so, Hong Kong, the Phillipines and Malaysia are always being highlighted as places were this barbaric practice continues unabated. But to see it on our own doorstep in Thailand is really sad. This photo was taken by Joanna Durakiewicz and Brett Fairhurst, who are undertaking a conservation internship at Big Blue Conservation. Save Koh Tao marine branch will be discussing this with the Thai Government at the earliest opportunity, but in the meantime, why don't you get involved and write an email to one of the director generals of the Thai Department of Fisheries? You can contact them here. They need to know that this is bad for Thailand's image, and ultimately terrible for their tourism industry; who wants to go snorkeling and diving in a dead ocean? These incredible animals are vital to the ocean eco system and play an important role in regulating other fish populations. If they dissapear from our oceans, so does everything else. There are lots of other ways you can get involved too. For more information, contact Lizzie May at Big Blue Conservation.

 

January 2nd 2014

New years resolutions
new-year-beach300x225So have we all made the usual new years resolutions? Quitting the booze and smokes, maybe aiming to exercise a little more? Various staff at Big Blue will be endeavouring to keep to their resolutions until at least the middle of January.. a record by Koh Tao standards. From our pool of instructors, mini Ant will be striving to make himself less of an object of ridicule by his peers. The only hope he has of achieving this is by making a vow of silence.. I can't wait to watch him miming his open water academics. Steveo will be trying to turn down his Yorkshire-ness so that his students can finally understand him, and Ernesto will be aiming to teach a group of students with a combined age of less than 400. As for our divemaster team, Steven will be refining his "missing link" look, and Phil has promised to twitch his leg slightly less, or at least figure out a way to harness the energy to power the office. Nick will try and stay with the same girl for at least a week, and so will Carly...
Ian and James at Big Blue Tech have a pact that James will make Ian a cup of tea first thing every morning, so that Ian can learn how to read tea leaves to plan his dives better.
The staff at Big Blue Freediving are aiming to hold their breath for the entire year, and office manager Jess has vowed to put her combat training into practice at those who want their passports back after the office has closed (at 7pm- now you know and have been warned).
Whether any of our staff stick to their resolutions or not, 2014 is looking good for Big Blue. We'll continue to have the most professional and fun instructors and divemasters on Koh Tao, we'll still take our customers to the best dive sites that they want to go to, and we will still be able to provide you with any kind of course you can think of.. As long as its not ice diving.
From all of us at Big Blue, we hope that 2014 is everything you want it to be. Happy new year!

The calm after the storm
So new years has been and gone, and hopefully everyone had a great time. it was kind of weird leaving big blue after midnight, as the road leading back to the main road in Sairee is usually heaving with revelers moving from bar to bar. But this year it was eerily quiet. I don't know why but Choppers bar and grill was closed, as was Diza bar, so it was desserted. Very strange.
All down the beach though the action was in full swing. Fireworks were going off anywhere and everywhere, and just about every bar had a big sign saying happy new year that was ceremonially set on fire at the strike of midnight. The whole Island had a good natured festive feel to it, and. As with anywhere else in the world the entire Island was pretty quiet on new years day, as everyone nursed their heads. So what's next? Sonkran, that's what!

December 31st 2013

Big Blue Forces
big-blue-forces300x225In case you weren't aware, Big Blue went all military recently by opening Big Blue Forces. It's not a shop selling military memorabilia or a computer strategy war game franchise, but a new branch of Big Blue Diving that provides discounts to former or currently serving members of the British armed forces, and their dependents. If you're in the Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force, and you really need some R&R, can you think of many things better than spending time on a tropical Island learning how to scuba dive? Maybe you just left the forces and are considering your options for a career on civvy street. We can help you with that too. We can train you up to become a dive professional, be it a divemaster that takes customers on an underwater tour, or an instructor that teaches people how to dive. It's a different office to the one you'll be used to, but I'm sure you'll have no trouble acclimatsing! Matt waters looks after Big Blue Forces. He's ex-RAF, and testament to an ex-serviceman making a success of civvy street by becoming a dive professional. He recently decided to come to Koh Tao and do his divemaster training, followed by his PADI instructor course and the SSI crossover course. He's now one of our full time members of staff.
If you're a family member of a current or former serviceman or woman, you can also get a discount on fun diving or a diving course. All you have to do is show your dependents card. If you're coming over as a large group, you'll all get a discount, and the person organizing the trip will get an even larger discount.
If you want any more information, look on our website, go to our Big Blue Forces Facebook page, or send us an email. We are also being advertised on the Defence Discount Service website. At ease!

Quarter, half, or full?
Very very quick second article today, just a question. When you did your open water course, what were you taught about turning the air of your scuba tank on? PADI and SSI teach that you should turn the air all the way on and then back a quarter or half a turn. Technical diving teaches that your valves should either be fully open or fully closed. This is what I teach. What did you learn? What do you teach? Can you outline problems or benefits with any of these methods? Just post a comment on our Facebook page. Thought-provoking comments could win you a Big Blue keychain!

December 29th 2013

Exams!!!
open-water-examHere are a couple of questions for those of you coming to Big Blue to do your open water course: question 1- in "time to fly" mode, dive computers report how much time the diver must wait a) before making another dive, b) before flying on an airplane, c) before taking a hot shower, d) before traveling on a boat. Question 2- how do you behave to avoid injuries when diving? a) treat all underwater creatures respectfully, b) answers A and D are correct, c) stroke animals from behind only, d) avoid touching anything. If you answered b and then b, then congratulations, you will pass your exam with flying colours. If you answered c and then c, maybe take up speed walking as a hobby instead. 
A lot of people seem to worry about the open water exam, but they really don't need to. It's 50 questions multiple choice, and by the time you have to do it you will be fully prepared. Your instructor will talk to you about dive theory as part of the course, and you will cover everything that's in the exam. As long as you listen to the instructor and do your homework, you will have no problems whatsoever. 
We do get the odd person that fails, but that's usually because they have either drifted off consistently when they should have been listening, they have a learning difficulty (i'm dyslexic and i write the bloody blog!), or they've been secretly looking at Facebook under the table. 99.99999999% of all people pass with flying colours. If you were to fail, we would put you in the stocks and throw tomatoes at you.. I mean, let you sit the exam again after a little coaching. So you can move on to the next part of the course- diving in the ocean. Alternatively we could take you on the dives and then at the end of the course coach you through the exam. So relax and concentrate on the task at hand- learning how to dive. The theory compliments the practical anyway so most of what you'll learn in the classroom will apply to your dives. Plus you can look forward to the advanced course straight after your open water- 2 days, 5 dives, NO THEORY!

Staying connected
This being the modern age, people are no longer content with traveling to a remote tropical Island and severing all communications for the duration of their trip. there are simply too many tweaking videos to see on YouTube. Asia seems to be years ahead of Europe and America in terms of Internet speeds; Japan has the fastest Internet in the world. Thailand has pretty good Internet in Bangkok, but Koh Tao is a little more "rustic". We have Internet and wifi all over the Island, but the speeds are pretty variable as there are no undersea cables back to the mainland.
If you want decent Internet for your smartphone, you can get a local SIM card to access 3G pretty easily. All you need is an unlocked phone, then you can buy a AIS one-to-call SIM pretty cheap, and buy credit for surfing the web. 7-11 sells them and there are various phones shops where you can ask how to get connected to the Internet. You can also buy a DTAC SIM for 3G on their network, but I found that it just ate my credit.
For good old fashioned phone calls a Thai SIM will serve you well. If you need to call the UK dial 003 before the country code and you'll only be charged 3 baht per minute with one-to-call, but you'll need to check whether the offer still applies after March 2014. It probably works for the rest of europe too but again, worth checking- I just work here!

 

December 27th 2013

Diving equipment- the mask
maskThe vast majority of human beings that come to Big Blue to learn how to dive will fall in love with diving. Fact. They know that they've learned a solid foundation of skills that will keep them safe whilst they enjoy being underwater. Those that progress to do the advanced course straight after their open water course will have been introduced to a number of techniques and procedures that will allow them to dive with even more confidence and thus become even better divers.
Now, if you did get the bug, you're going to want to buy your own equipment. Most of us can't afford to go out and buy it all in one go, so you'll get items as and when you can afford them. Where the hell do you even start? Your instructor should have already gone through the basic different types of equipment, and the Big Blue retail shop is a good place to see all the different types of fins and masks you can buy.
So let's start at the very beginning. You go underwater to see things right? So one of the most important initial considerations is to have a mask that is going to work for you. There's nothing more annoying than diving with a mask that leaks constantly when underwater. So you need to get your own mask- the sooner, the better. Masks come in all manner of different shapes, sizes and colours.
When buying your own mask there are just a few all important considerations. Does it fit your face? Is it comfortable? Does it give you the vision you want? How big an air space will it have? The seal needs to mould to your face, but not at the expense of it feeling uncomfortable. Conversely, it wouldn't be the best idea in the world if the mask is comfortable but doesn't fit properly. Over time, the seal will shape itself more and more to the contours of your face (this is now beginning to sound like a Loreal advert, but bear with me), and therefore reduce leakage- because you're worth it.... With vision, I'm not talking about 3D specs or anything, what I mean is does the mask enable you to only see what is in front of you, or are there small windows at the side that give you a little peripheral vision? Everyone is different, but you'll already have an idea of what you prefer. Finally, how much air there is inside the mask will determine how much of a mask squeeze you'll get when diving deeper, and how much air you'll need to blow in with your nose to compensate for this, or to clear the water out if you take it off underwater. High, medium, and low volume if you want the correct nomenclature.
Finally, if you know you've fallen in love with diving after your pool session or dive 1 of the open water course, buy your own mask immediately. It'll hugely improve your experience of diving straight away. If you never dive again you've got a great snorkeling mask , and can pretend your Jacque Cousteau when in the bath.
Your instructor can go through all of the above points to help you get the right mask. Yes we sell masks at Big Blue, but we're diving instructors, not hard-nosed sales people. But we do know how masks work and what will be best for you. If you want your own mask we're probably not going to sell you the most expensive one, we'll get you the one that's going to fit the best, be comfortable, and give you want you want based on the above considerations.
I suppose you want to know how to get the best BC now don't you.. Well i'm still full of Christmas food and I can't be bothered to tell you. Maybe in the new year.

Constant changes
Well, xmas is well and truly behind us now and we're heading for new years at break-neck speed. As time marches on it's so easy to think of everything staying exactly as it has always been, especially on Koh Tao. Yet looking around the place it's clear to see that it is no different to anywhere else and progress cannot be stopped.
Everywhere you look there are new hotels being built to cater for increasing numbers of travelers. Lotus bar on Sairee beach has been pulled down, to probably be replaced by a spangly new beach bar. An actual proper hospital is currently being built, the small 7-11 behind Big Blue has closed but a much larger one has just opened on the main road between Sairee and Mae Hadd. Banyan's cinema has been converted into a gym... Boo!! And, a MMA gym has opened up. Whatever next, road markings on the main road?... Oh yeah we had that last month!
Let's see what 2014 brings for the Island- A drive in cinema would be hard to beat.

December 24th 2013

It's Christmas!!!!
big-blue-santaSo, Christmas eve is finally upon us. It's that time of year when a really creepy fat man in a bright yet stylish red velvet jacket/trouser combo sneaks into your house via the chimney of all places, and reverse burgles you. The weirdest thing is that you will be expecting all this to happen and won't be annoyed when it does. In fact, far from it, you'd be annoyed if it didn't happen. So you have no excuse to feel violated and call the authorities. Here at Big Blue we are having a big ass buffet that will have a xmas/Scandinavian/Thai theme (don't ask). Regardless of the gastronomical mixture, you can guarantee that no morsel will be left uneaten. Of course xmas drinks will also be flowing, but unlike the xmas staff party a couple of days ago, there'll be no photocopying of arses or inappropriate dancing on the tables (well ok maybe just a little bit, but hopefully by then we'll have run out of toner). Big Blue staff and customers are all invited to the party, with the bar being separated into those who will be working on xmas day and those that won't. You'll be able to tell who is who by their zig-zag manner of walking and reciting of gibberish over and above the level normally expected.
It's a great time to relax with friends, colleagues and customers, and review the year's diving and non-diving shenanigans- and also to feel smug about not having to put 18 layers of clothes on or have the central heating on full knacker. No doubt there will be some sore heads in the morning, which will be easily alleviated by an afternoon on the beach with a nice egg-nog coctail or two. 
It's been a fantastic year at Big Blue, and wherever you are in the world, we would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas- even Cliff Richard. We hope you have a fantastic time with friends and family.

Christmas factoids
Here's 5 not so well known facts about Christmas, you know, because it's Christmas and you've got nothing else to do:

1- Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph's nose is red because of a parasitic infection in his respiratory system. Sleep tight children.
2- Contrary to popular belief, suicide rates during the Christmas period are actually low. spring has the highest rates. Can you say "seasonal affective disorder?".
3- Bolivians celebrate Misa del Gallo, or "mass of the rooster" on xmas eve. Some people even take roosters to mass with them, to symbolize the belief that the rooster was the first animal to announce the birth of Jesus. Brings a whole new meaning to chicken and egg..
4- Mistletoe comes from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means "little dung twig", because the plant spreads through bird droppings... Who said that romance is dead?
5- Early illustrations of St. Nicholas depict him as being very stern and generally not very pleasant, as he was often shown holding a birch rod. He was a symbol of discipline and punishment rather than the rotund jolly man children of today think of... Still can't sleep kids?

 

December 21st 2013

Christmas video
iain300x225Wayne from Big blue video has been running around like a tramp in a chip factory over the last few days, as it's that time of the year where all the staff give their own Christmas message to the camera for inclusion in the Christmas video- to be played at the staff party on the 22nd. The xmas video is a great opportunity to look back over the year, remember any staff that have moved on to different pastures, and replay some of the bloopers from the open water videos.. of which there will be many. Instructor Luke's usual message is to be repeatedly filmed looking at the camera with utter contempt in his eyes, whilst saying nowt, over and over again. It's one of those "you had to be there" moments, but it is highly amusing. Though I've heard that he's shunned even that this year, as he's feeling even more jaded and miserable than normal, probably because Neil is not here for him to beat up at his mma session.
With the videographers we've got at the moment, we're expecting great things from this year's video, even though they don't have a huge vault of footage to play with as we took over control of our videos fairly recently. But i'm sure we'll still see some pretty ridiculous stuff from instructors, divemasters, and customers alike. What we're all really looking forward to however, is Rich's speech.. There's no way in the world it could possibly top last years! The Big Blue xmas staff party will be on the 22nd and it's a big night. So if you want to watch the best of 2013 video, get yourself there- early preferably as I've no idea what time it will be played!

Day glow xmas
As predicted, Koh Tao has gotten distinctively busier since the full moon party on koh Panghan the day before yesterday. Hoards of weary party goers have been gradually making their way here to chill out a little and do some diving... That is, once they can remember who they are. They've not been helped by some of the ferries being cancelled because it's a little choppy out in the Gulf of Thailand currently, but that's not really affecting us here in terms of the dive sites that we are visiting. No doubt in the coming days there will be more day glow clothing on display, which you can either view as really Christmassy, or utterly un-Christmassy, depending on your level of color blindness. Either way, this Xmas is looking like being a rather busy one. The more the merrier I say.

 

 
 

December 17th 2013

Photogenic farang
Phil-fishladLooks like the boss will need to add a new category to the staff awards at the Christmas staff party this year- namely weirdest photo ever taken of a Big Blue employee. But that would probably be a pointless exercise as the award would hands down go to divemaster Phil "Fishlad" Smith. Lets be honest, any photo of him would look odd, but this one is truly magnificent for capturing the essence of a man on viagra, with no neck, suddenly realising that he's playing football instead of his preferred game of netball.
The match responsible for Phil's weird moves was a friendly between a ferrel bunch of Big Blue divemasters, instructors and divemaster trainees (DMTs), versus some of our Burmese staff. It's fair to say that the Burmese destroyed them in their first match. But after a couple of minutes of soul searching, they set to work diligently discussing tactics in the Big Blue bar, and got rid of any dead wood- that's right, they sent Neil back to the UK. Since then their performance has steadily improved to the point where they're not just holding their own without utter humiliation, they're actually winning!
They have to face two teams, the Burmese staff from Big Blue one and Big Blue two. The BB1 boys are pretty nifty on their feet, but the BB2 team are the A-listers. When faced with BB2 for the first time, they may as well have played a team comprising all the best players to have ever lived, Pele, George Best, er, Eddy the eagle Edwards? I don't follow football- you may have gathered that, but I do know that the wannabe champions have improved massively in a short amount of time to be able to beat BB2. I guess they had to when they knew that Big Blue videography and SSI instructor candidate Andy (a professional photographer) were documenting their every move. So where next for team Farang? I guess they could try and get a proper league going and aim to be Koh Tao Champions, but in the meantime they really should start weaning Phil off the viagra and see if he still looks THAT ridiculous..

Chrimbo on Koh Tao
How are you going to be spending your Christmas this year? Pickling your liver in the lead up to having a big family gathering on Christmas eve or Christmas day? On Koh Tao there are two types of Christmas, the one the travellers, backpackers and holiday makers will be having- probably to get away from the usual festivities, and the one the locals will be having. We will be working as normal, as people for some reason decide that they want to go diving on Christmas day- weirdos! But the lucky ones that aren't scheduled to be working will be having drinks with whoever else is not working, and some kind of Christmas dinner, be it on Christmas eve, Christmas day or boxing day. The one thing that will probably be the same between locals and holiday makers is that there will be time spent on Sairee beach sunning themselves- have a go at that anywhere in the US, Canada or Europe at the moment...
Bizarrely, the people that have come here want a nice tropical beach xmas, and the ones that live here probably miss the idea of snow and log fires and all that malarky. One thing's for sure, it'll be a very chilled out xmas no matter what you do, as there won't be any food to cook or washing up to do!


December 15th 2013

Monsoon over-ness
koh-taoWell I don't want to tempt fate but it looks like we're coming out of monsoon for 2013, not that we really had one this year anyway. Monsoon season is ordinarily characterised by raging winds and constant torrential downpours for the month of November and part of December. But we haven't really had one like that in about four years. This year was very tame. We had about 2 weeks of on and off rain, and the winds were evident enough on the East coast enough to limit the dive sites we could visit to the West coast off Sairee beach. But things seem to have died down a lot over the last week, and we are branching out again to twins and Chumphon pinnacle. The visibility hasn't been amazing, as you'd expect in monsoon, but Chumphon yesterday morning was apparently really nice, good visibility and no current.
The downside to diving in monsoon is that you can't see very far and the water is a bit colder than normal, around 28-29 degrees celsius- still nice and warm for anyone that doesn't live here (acclimatised wusses that they are). The upside to diving in monsoon is that if you can dive in those conditions, you can dive anywhere- it'll make you a much more focussed and attentive diver, especially in terms of being a good buddy. Plus, if you really get caught short underwater, you won't be seen with your trousers down.. literally.. ewww.
In the next few weeks we should see conditions get back to how they are for the rest of the year- 31 degree crystal blue water, with visibility between 15 and 30 metres, and we'll have forgotten all about monsoon... until next November!  

Nemo circle good or bad?
nemoI would be exagerating if I were to say that a debate is currently raging about a circle of stones on one of Koh Tao's dive sites. But the question has been asked as to why it is there. To summarise, dive site Twins, to the West of the Island of Nang yuan is a fantastic place to see all manner of marine life. Just off the main pinnacle to the South is what we call the "nemo circle". There used to be a big patch of anenome on the seabed at this location, and some divers decided to make a circle out of rocks to protect them, and therefore the anenome fish that live in them. The trouble is, if you go there now, there is only one small patch of anenome, with two anenome fish residing in it. So the question is, have the stones had the opposite effect than they originally intended?
Informal diver etiquette states that instructors and divemasters leading customers should not go inside the circle, yet at any point on any other dive site, they are able to get up close to anenome on the rocks. So why is this particular place different? Customers should have been told repeatedly not to touch marine life, and the divemaster or instructor should gauge how good their buoyancy and control in the water is, before showing them any marine life up close.
The nemo circle has some new residents- shrimp, which will not be visible unless you manage to get in close. Let us know what you think should be done about it, before it ends up in the Daily Mail..

December 13th 2013

Big Blue retail shop!
big-blue-retailIt's been a tense countdown, but the wait is over- Drift by Big Blue is now open for business! We've been wanting to open a proper retail shop dedicated to selling everything and anything related to diving for a long time, but we bided our time until we found the right location, and that we did. The shop is situated in Sairee village, just behind the dive school on the road leading back to the main road, where the 7-11 is. You can't miss it, it looks way more swanky than any of the other shops nearby. We sell any kind of dive gear you can think of, fins, dive computers, BCs, regulators, dry bags, torches, knives, DSMBs, dive bags, the list is endless. We can also sell you the latest gopro and Isaw underwater cameras- way cheaper than western prices.
But the thing that really sets the shop apart from the competition is our exclusive range of clothing, called drift by Big Blue. Very stylish, understated and just plain smart, it is to diving what North Face is to outdoor clothing. The range consists of boardshorts, hoodies, polo shirts, bikinis, and of course you can also buy our t-shirt range that you may have seen an instructor or divemaster wearing. We will be adding to the range all the time and the style will change as with any other fashionable clothes shop.
So if you're coming to Koh Tao, be sure to keep your shopping skills sharp and pop in for a nosey. We are open from 10am to 10pm every day. Anything you take away with you won't break the bank compared with shopping at home, and you can rest assured that you will be wearing something that not only looks damn fine, no-one else will be wearing it either- you poser...

Christmas anyone?
If you're currently residing somewhere in Europe or America, then I imagine you are being incessantly bombarded everywhere you go with ideas for things to buy for Christmas. Every public place will be playing Christmas music, and shop fronts will be decked out with tinsel, Christmas trees and all the other festive decor. Let's also not forget Cliff Richard singing mistletoe and wine whilst you wander around the supermarket- I feel your pain. But what about Koh Tao? Well, you might see the odd Christmas tree and a bit of tinsel. At Big Blue we have put the trees up, and in the coming week there will be a load of tinsel going up in the bar. Other than that you're going to struggle to realise it's that time of the year. People treat every day as a weekend here so you won't notice people drinking anymore than normal, and obviously there's no snow, no cold wind, no rain. Just Sun, white beaches and lovely warm ocean. You may however see the odd diver wearing a santa hat during their dive.
There are going to be various events in the run up to Christmas, Banyans has a big Christmas lunch (received very mixed reviews last year), Big Blue will have a staff party on the 22nd and a big xmas meal on the 24th, and there'll be loads of other places where you can have a festive dinner and get into the swing of it all.
If you're a big fan of xmas, you can enjoy it as much as anywhere else. If you're really not a big fan, you can come over here and easily avoid it. We sadly can't guarantee that you won't hear any Cliff Richard though!

December 11th 2013

Xmas dive pro's
SSI-instructor-trainingAnother intrepid bunch of divemasters are taking the plunge this month to become SSI instructors with our very own instructor trainer Simon Garrity. I only used the word instructor twice in that sentence, maybe I should have called Simon the instructor's instructor, as he's an instructor that instructs instructors.. Anyway, he's taught a lot of instructors their instructing skills... Andy, Ryan, Katherine and Mike began their instructor training course yesterday by being presented with tonnes of homework to prepare them for the next two weeks. The course is intense but also great fun, and combines theory presentations with practical sessions in the pool and the ocean, to prepare the candidates for tutoring students effectively. When I say intense I don't mean it's the most difficult thing in the world ever, I mean it's pretty relentless; every day they will have to give a presentation on some aspect of diving, and they will be assessed on how they teach the skills that need to be learned in order to become an open water diver.
Essentially, the current bunch of human candidates will be eating, sleeping, breathing and sleepwalking diving for the next two weeks, so as to prepare them for the Instructor Exams (IE), which involves some bigwig from SSI coming over to assess whether they cut the mustard enough to teach.. even though mustard is a paste and will not cut evenly.
Once they all pass with flying colours- and they will, they will embark on an internship with Big Blue, whereby they'll shadow an instructor to learn how courses should be taught properly. Once they have proven themselves able to teach to our high standards, they will be free to go off and earn wonger wherever they find themselves on planet Earth.
Wherever that may be, their job will not involve boardrooms, flow charts, shirt and ties, or watercoolers in any way, shape, or form. Unless that watercooler is on a dive boat somewhere nice and tropical. If you'd like more information on SSI dive professional training, have a look on the bigbluepro website and contact Simon.

 

Fighting fit
luke-white-mma-starKoh Tao seems to have gone a little bit fitness mad over the last couple of months, two new gyms have sprung up that provide weight training, boxing, pilates, and mixed martial arts training. Some of the Big Blue staff have realised that their mental image of themself as bronzed and toned adonis's is actually utterly false, and they look more like an albino shrek looking at themself in a hall of mirrors- Luke has a fat back, which no amount of jogging on the spot will remove.
But last night a group of Big Blue instructors (and one videographer) attended their first ever Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) class, halfway between Mae Hadd and Sairee on the main road. It's the fastest growing sport in the world and the dude that's teaching it knows his stuff. In the coming days no doubt there will be talk of competing professionally in the UFC, in between not being able to lift their arms or walk normally, and talk in the bar will be of guards, side mount transitions and ground and pound (and you thought never ending dive talk was boring). But lets see how many of them are still doing it in a year's time.. Either way, it's no bad thing getting them off the evening beers. Their gain is the bar's loss. Maybe one day they will be able to take their rash vests off on the boat without scaring all our customers away!    

December 9th 2013

Plan your trip properly!
advanced-adventurerMany people travelling around Asia will add Thailand to their itinary, and more often than not, this will lead to them venturing down to Koh Tao. The problem is, they leave Koh Tao until the very end of their visit. How is that a problem I hear you say? I don't really, as that would imply having voices in my head, which may be true but I would never admit to it on here... again. It's a problem for one simple reason. People learn how to dive and only allow themselves just enough time to get the open water course finished. Well, isn't that what they came to do? Yes indeed, but the vast majority of people who do learn to dive just want more and more, and if they'd only allowed themselves 2 extra days, they would be able to take their diving much further by doing the advanced course. I've just taught two open water courses- 9 people in total, and they all loved it and really wanted to do their advanced, but were all leaving straight after to get the plane home.. what a bummer.
If you thought you'd had a good time on the open water course, the advanced course will probably blow your mind. It's 5 dives with a different theme to each dive. Each dive focuses on a different area of diving to make you a more rounded diver with way more confidence in your ability than when you finished the open water course ( I think I just broke the record for the number of times dive, dives, and diver can be used in a sentence). You will learn the basics of underwater navigation and be given lots of tips on how to improve your buoyancy. You'll also go on a deep dive to 30 metres and learn the correct procedures for ascending safely. Navigation and deep you have to do, but you can then choose to do a night dive (the closest feeling you'll ever get to being in space), a fish identification dive, a computer dive, or a wreck dive; the HTMS Sattakut; it was a US Navy landing craft infantry ship, and was involved in 3 battles in world war 2 before being bought by the Thai Navy and donated to Koh Tao in 2011 to act as an artificial reef. It's also the nearest dive site to Big Blue!
The best bit is that on the open water course you are not alowed to have a camera with you- you need to be focussing on yourself. But with the advanced you can rent a camera, or take your own and snap away to your heart's content! We all know that one of those shots will be your next facebook profile picture. Following your open water course, 5 more dives will really start to shape you into a relaxed and confident diver, and you'll probably want to keep diving for the rest of your life- the statistics don't lie!
So give yourself a bit more time for your trip to Koh Tao, enjoy the open water course and then really enjoy the advanced course! I promise you will agree with me, but you'll have to do it to know that..

No more custard sandwiches
Not really big news for Koh Tao, but kind of news for Sairee, the 7-11 behind Big Blue is no more. It closed it's doors on Saturday, and will never open again. I don't know why it closed, or what will replace it, there are rumours that it is being knocked down and something else will appear in it's place, but only time will tell. If it does get knocked down, you need to be aware that the mess that you will see when you first drive into Big Blue does not mean that you will regret getting on the Big Blue taxi! Yes there will be a building site right in front of our resort, but it is the back entrance (sort of); once the taxi has pulled up into the Big Blue car park, just keep your faith for another 30 seconds, and once you start walking past the equipment room toward the beach and the office, you'll see that we have a great little spot on Sairee Beach. You won't hear any pneumatic drills or whistling builders from our restaurant, or see anything beyond beautiful blue skies and the shimmering ocean ahead of you. The place has an amazing vibe that you'll only get from being in amongst it.
So having said all that, lets pause for a moment and lament the fact that we will no longer be able to get any of that delicious 7-11 food, like microwaved pork balls, microwaved sausages, microwaved gyoza, and all the other "that cannot be good to put in your body" stuff that they sold so much of. Personally, i'm going to miss the beeping noise that went off anytime anyone walked through the doors. But before you weep too much, think about how many less plastic bags, spoons and straws will be sold and end up in the ocean... hurrah! But then again, you'll just have to walk 100 metres to the 7-11 on the main road... booo!

December 7th 2013

Getting the best out of you
open-waterTeaching an open water course at the moment has reminded me of what you need to bring with you when you want to learn how to dive. The people i'm teaching at the moment are interested, alert, and full of questions, but more importantly they have brought with them the right attitude- they want to learn. This really came through today in the pool when they put into practice what they've been taught and picked it all up really well.
You'd think that much would be obvious; they've already decided that they want to learn how to dive and have paid money to do the course, so it makes prefect sense that they should put in some effort so they can be as good divers as possible. Like anythng in life, if you work to improve on something, you will improve- simple. Diving instructors can work wonders with people who are new to the underwater world, we get people who are terrified of fish, claustrophobic, agoraphobic, afraid of sharks (we don't get them here), the list goes on. Yet we are consistently able to not only get people past their fears, they even end up falling in love with diving. We can work with you to help you through any learning difficulties you have, and show you every step of the way what you need to do to improve to the point where you are competent enough to receive your certification. However, very very occassionally we get people starting the course that assume that they have to just go through the motions to receive their certification and make zero effort- pretty disheartening from an instructor point of view. A good example is people looking at their mobile phones when we are giving them important information. This is obviously not going to help them become good divers. Some people have a little difficulty getting to grips with some aspects of diving, perhaps in the pool, and just give up before they have really even tried. This is very frustrating for instructors as we know we could get them certified and enjoying diving. If only those people would push that little bit further to get through their initial problems. We know better than most that everyone has a different learning curve, and people pick things up in different ways. I don't know any instructor at Big Blue that wouldn't be prepared to spend as much time as it takes with someone to get them through to becoming confident and happy underwater, but it's a two-way process, and it really can be fun at every stage!
At the end of the course when they're watching themselves having a great time underwater, people often say to us "thankyou for being so patient", as by the end of the course they know what they would have missed out on if they'd just given up early on.. so don't! When you turn up to do your open water course, have some faith and trust in your instructor (we know what we are doing), push yourself a little, and get involved in the learning process. The rewards are amazing and will last you for the rest of your life.

Busy season
Not long now, the whole of koh Tao is gearing up for the start of busy season again. as of the middle of December it's going to get crazy no matter where you decide to dive or stay. If you're not diving you will still struggle to find accommodation if you haven't booked anywhere. I cannot recommend strongly enough that if you want to dive at Big Blue, you need to make a booking on our website. It's not uncommon for people to just turn up on the Island and find themselves sleeping on the beach. You won't be cold but you will be lunch for the mosquitos!
When it gets busy there's a great buzz to the place with the hussle and bussle of people walking down the main road in Sairee. The smell of food eminating from the street vendours fills the air and everyone is clearly enjoys just wandering around and taking everything in. In the daytime the Sun lovers come out to fill Sairee beach, and there are all sorts of shops selling anything from snorkeling equipment to Thai souveniers all over the place. There are also plenty of places to chill out with a beer or coctail on the beach, get a massage, or, if you're feeling really experimental, go diving! It's going to be busy pretty much until April, so remember to pack your dancing shoes, cocktail dress, and your booking email!

December 5th 2013

Professional dive-bums
DMTsWhy do we have so many divemaster trainees (DMTs) at the moment? It's supposed to be coming to the end of quiet season and we have almost 50 people learning to become dive professionals with us. There are probably a multitude of answers as to why, but I suspect that good news also travels fast. We always seem to get glowing reviews from our newly graduated divemasters on trip advisor, and their friends can see all the fun they've been having via facebook, which must have an effect on them as a few of our current crop came here because their friends were already doing their training with us! The reason people enjoy our DMT programme so much is because we don't want to take your money and get you in and out quickly. Instead we want to train you properly to become the best diver you can be. To do this we have a team of very experienced instructor mentors that will guide and advise you every step of the way. You'll also shadow our full-time divemasters as they take our fun divers out to the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand.
There's also an element of flexibility with the internship; although we expect you to do lots of diving and spend as much time as possible with your mentors, we also want you to have fun, get to know your fellow DMTs and explore Koh Tao- it is a tropical Island after all! By the time you've finished all your training, you will be ready to start earning money as a professional divemaster, with the ocean being your new office. Just don't forget to get on trip advisor and review your experience for all to see.. For more information about the divemaster training programme, have a look on the website and send us an email.

Mai pen lai!
With the political protests ongoing in certain areas of Bangkok, it's understandable that people may be weary about travelling to Thailand at the moment. However, the British Government's foreign and commonwealth overseas website currently states that Bangkok is safe to travel to, and is advising that people just avoid certain areas of the capital at the moment. Bangkok is a huge city, and the epicentre for travellers, Khao san road is not where the protests are taking place. The rest of Thailand is completely unaffected by the current situation- in Koh Tao you wouldn't know anything was going on at all, it's still the same old tropical paradise where time seems to slow down. The buses to Chumphon from Bangkok leave from Khao san road anyway, and you could always fly down to Chumphon or Koh Samui from Bangkok airport. So in summary don't let it bother you, carry on with your plans and you'll be fine. Stiffen that upper lip, and get yourself down to Koh Tao. You'll be as oblivious as us with all that diving to do!

December 3rd 2013

Instructor internship
sofia-helden300x225After completing her SSI instructor course with Big Blue in October, Sofia wisely decided to do an internship with us too, and she's almost finished it. Just one or two more courses and she'll be signed off as a highly competent SSI dive professional. The instructor course qualifies you to be able to teach SSI courses, but the internship will quite simply make you a much better dive instructor. During the internship you will shadow one or two Big Blue instructors, in order to learn how courses are run and pick up some essential skills, such as how to look after your students effectively underwater, and how best to impart the information they need to know to become good divers. We also drill into you exactly what needs to be taught at what stage so that SSI standards are fully adhered to on all courses- something we are very strict about.
On the first course you'll just observe how your mentor teaches. On the second course you will maybe teach some academics and lead one or more dives. With each course you sit in on, you will take over more and more aspects of it until, when your mentor feels you are ready you will teach an entire course on your own, and the mentor will be the one in the background observing how you do it. You will get constant advice and feedback from your mentor at every stage of your internship. When the mentor feels you are ready they will sign you off, and away you go, teaching courses and earning money!
After completing an open water course this morning, Sofia is now busy consolidating everything she has learned, as the next course she teaches will be all her own work, with mentor Rick not having to say or do anything, the lazy sod! She's worked hard, and her timing is perfect; she'll be teaching her own courses just in time for high season in December, and any dive school will be lucky to have her.
If you're interested in becoming a diving instructor, or are maybe already a PADI or BSAC instructor and want to be able to teach SSI, contact our instructor trainer Simon Garrity here. If you'd like to teach BSAC, contact our instructor trainer James Foleher here.

Creepy crawlies
We seem to have quite a few Koh Tao residents walking around at the moment with inexplicable bites that they've received from some unknown insect. This is probably related to it being Monsoon season, greater than average rainfall brings them into our homes more than for the rest of the year, The culprit could be one of a few different insects, most likely a spider. Certain spiders will bite, which is not very painful- you may not even notice you've been bitten, but the area may go red, swell a little and become infected. Get yourself off to the medical centre to get it sorted out properly. There are two main species of centipede on Koh Tao, the black ones with small legs (about 10cm long) are harmless, but the bigger ones that are red in colour and up to 30cm long can give you a very very painful bite. Again not dangerous unless you have an allergic reaction to the poison, but maybe best to get yourself checked out anyway. Finally, the scorpions we get here are usually very small, about 3 or 4cm long, and black or brown in colour. They will sting you quite readily, but although painful (as much as a wasp sting), it's not dangerous.
So at this time of year it's probably a good idea to be a little more vigilant, have a look around your room, check your bedsheets and bash your shoes before putting them on. If you're walking in long grass look where you're walking and maybe wear trousers and shoes if you're going for a wander in the jungle. Just remember you're in Asia!

December 2nd 2013

Reasons for diving
whalesharkWhy do you like to dive, or want to learn how to dive? Ask some of the staff at Big Blue their reasons and they'll all give you a different answer. The reason can be as varied as the ocean is deep. Some people will tell you that they want to explore the underwater world, be it the variety of different types of rock formations or the chance of seeing some incredible marine life. Some people just love the feeling of being underwater and enjoy the sensation of weightlessness- we had a fun diver recently that had problems with their balance, and they loved being underwater because it temporarily went away. If you ask our tech instructors, James, Ian, Rick and Donnie, they'll pretty much agree that they like being inside a wreck or cave in zero visibility pushing themselves to the limit and putting their training to the test.. weirdos.
Whatever your reasons for going diving, we can turn you into a very competent diver. The open water course will give you the foundations to be able to begin enjoying the underwater world. The advanced course will introduce you to some important diving skills such as navigation and deep diving techniques, as well as increase your confidence. The rescue course will turn you into a diver that is able to look out for other people, anticipate problems with yourself and others and deal with them effectively. We can also teach a wide range of speciality courses that will make you better at the type of diving you are interested in, be it wreck diving, photography, or equipment maintenance.
If you want to work in the dive industry you can do your training with us- you'll learn from the best people in the industry, and if you want to become an instructor we can make you into a bloody good one- a trait that other dive resorts will recognise instantly. Finally, if you're a liitle bit weird, we can teach you technical diving so you can sit inside a shipwreck in complete darkness, because, you know.. you're a bit strange. But if that's still not getting you going, we can train you to freedive down to 40 metres, or become a freediving divemaster, or freediving instructor. Finally, we can teach you all about marine conservation, so if seeing the marine life underwater is not quite enough for you, you can learn some marine biology and ecology, and help spread the message of why it's important to look after our oceans.
So which type of person are you? If you're not sure, just get yourself to Big Blue... you'll soon find out.

Different types of dive professional
There are all sorts of creatures that frequent this beautiful Island we call Koh Tao. Some people did their divemaster, or used to work in diving but then ended up working in a bar. Some people that live and work here have never dived before in their lives. But the vast majority of westerners that call Koh Tao their home work as either divemasters or instructors, and you can tell them a mile off in the local bars, usually by the fact that they will be sporting a dive computer on their arm. Now everyone knows someone in any job that falls into a certain "type". Diving is no different, obviously the vast majority of people are diligent hard working professionals. But if you hang around places like lotus or fishbowl on Sairee beach, sooner or later you'll come across one of the types listed below. It's all a bit tongue in cheek, and thankfully Big Blue staff really do seem to fall into categories 7 and 9. We rarely frequent the aforementioned establishments as we're working all the time! But have a look and hopefully laugh along:

1- I've got the best job in the world, and I really need you to know that 24/7.
2- I've been doing this so long I used to look good in a wetsuit!
3- I'm a total space cadet yet everyone genuinely seems to like me!
4- I've been doing this for a long long time and think i'm amazing, but actually i've gotten lazy and am pretty bad.
5- I'm terrible at this but i'm kind of proud of the fact.. but i'm so much fun to be taught by so you'll never know the difference anyway!
6- I'm really humble and just like to get on with the job, unless someone thinks they may know better than me, then I'll just have to tell them how amazing I am.
7- I actually really like teaching diving and want to teach the best course I possibly can.
8- I'm gonna teach you how to dive then make love to you.. and you, and you, and you.
9- I've been doing this for a while but there's always more to learn.
10- This is just a stop-gap until I become a world champion ping pong player.
11- Diving keeps my piles at bay.
12- My favourite thing about diving is that no-one can talk to me underwater.
13- My favourite thing about diving is that I get to hear my own voice all day.
14- I love nudibranchs!
15- I couldn't care less about nudibranchs, or fish in general!
16- I've been doing this for 2 minutes but to listen to me you'd think i've been at it for years!
17- I reckon I can liven up your evening by talking to you about diving all night.
18- My voice will feel like a dentists drill entering your temple for every agonising second, as I tell you everything I know about decompression diving.
19- It's just a job, please talk to me about anything other than diving.
20- I am to diving what Jack Johnson is to surfing.


 

  

December 1st 2013

Clean and green
november-beach-cleanupIt never ceases to amaze us here at Big Blue that, whenever we organise a beach and underwater clean up, we get a fantastic response for volunteers in the form of our customers. Yesterday was no exception. 39 people decided to get involved in the morning to keep Sairee beach devoid of rubbish. Then in the afternoon the same people turned up to go for a clean up dive at Sairee reef. Rubbish can come in many forms; many of the dive boats moor up on Sairee reef, and people accidentally drop tea bags, mouthpieces from regulators, masks, weights and weightbelts, and god knows what else. When the weather is bad the fishing boats take shelter from the worst of it by mooring up at Sairee reef, and they discard all manner of items, which sadly includes plenty of beer bottles. They are a tough one, as although you may be doing a good deed by picking it up to dispose of it properly, you may also inadvertently make a tiny family of anenome fish homeless if it's been laying on the sea bed long enough to become an artificial reef. So sometimes it may actually be better to leave it as it is. Other items you might find on an underwater clean up include wire frames that are used to make the giantlanterns that people set off from the beach. What they don't realise is that turtles get stuck in them, rendering them unable to swim to the surface to get air.
If someone drops something in the Gulf of Thailand, it can end up on Sairee beach. Even if someone dropped a crisp packet on the mainland in Suratthani, we may end up having to pick it up off the beach. It's a never ending job, which is why we organise these clean ups so regularly, but it is effective, and the beach is looking lovely again!
So once again, thanks to everyone that made the effort. The day ended in the bar with a well deserved beer. If you want to get involved in our next clean up, send us an email (address at the top of our homepage) or pop in to the office.

Christmas is coming
Just a quick reminder that, as if you didn't know, it's December already... how the hell did that happen!!!? There will be plenty of Christmas blog posts coming up over the next few weeks, so this is a specific one aimed at those who live here, or the family and friends of people that live here. If you are plannning on sending a parcel to someone on Koh Tao, or if anyone on Koh Tao is diligent enough to send Christmas presents home- that'll be the girls then, you really need to either do it today or last week. The Thai postal service is not the best in the world and you can normally expect a letter or parcel to take 3-4 weeks to arrive. But with the Christmas rush god only knows when you'll receive it. The post office in Mae Hadd is probably going to be rammed with items so there may even be a backlog in even knowing your parcel has arrived.  So, it's not that nobody loves you, it's simply that you live in Thailand as to why you haven't received anything.. yes, that's the reason...


 
  

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