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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

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