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Discovering Scuba Diving in Koh Tao

Discovering Scuba Diving on Koh Tao? I did that long ago! But when my lil’ sis was in Koh Tao, I knew I needed to get her underwater. Our first attempt a few years ago in Grand Cayman didn’t end so well — Olivia panicked and never made it below the surface.

I was pretty anxious for things to go better this time, so I handed her over to Roctopus — my go-to dive school on Koh Tao. They signed her up for a one day try dive — there’s no certification involved, but its a no-pressure way to see if diving is a good for you! And of course, I tagged along as photographer.

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

Liv had one non-negotiable point — she would only dive if she could borrow my Swish Suit wetsuit. Fair enough. I had a new Roxy top I was pretty excited to rock.

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

While Olivia and her instructor Jay went through some skills on the surface, I descended into Japanese Gardens — a popular shallow training site. I was grateful for the depth, or lack thereof, because it allowed my camera to capture all the bright and vibrant colors.

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

Soon I turned around and to my amazement, Olivia was waving and smiling at me underwater! I was so happy to have avoided the disaster of her last attempt, I squealed into my regulator.

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

While Jay and I had agreed I’d keep the shutterbugging to a minimum on the first dive, Olivia was so comfortable that we forged ahead. I love this shot of Jay trying to demonstrate to a very confused Olivia how to pose with the sea anemones.

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

They both ended up doing a fair bit of modeling for me, like when Jay had to defend us against this territorial little fish — a fish whose title embarrassingly escapes me.

DSD Koh Tao

To be honest, experienced divers don’t really consider Japanese Gardens to be the most exciting dive site. But I was overjoyed when we spotted this baby scorpionfish hiding on the ocean floor!

DSD Koh Tao

With the first dive complete, it was Olivia = 1, Dive Panic = 0. Victory!

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

And after a very short surface interval — we didn’t go too deep after all — we were hopping in for our second dive at Twins.

DSD Koh Tao

Feeling even more confident underwater, Olivia demonstrated the escape artistry of shy Christmas Tree Worms — with the wave of a hand, they seem to disappear!

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

Normally I’m the last to spot anything underwater, so I was patting myself on the back pretty thoroughly when I found this moray eel.

And the discoveries kept on coming — sea slugs, colorful butterfly fish, and beyond.

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

Eventually Jay took over camera duty so Olivia and I could get a few photos together.

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

With my Grandma Joyce’s 80th birthday around the corner, we wrote her a birthday message on an underwater slate and later sent her the photo. She said it was her first ever underwater birthday greeting!

DSD Koh Tao

And I got the camera back in my hands just in time to catch a few rogue batfish — my absolute favorite — swimming through.

 

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

dsd diving_032

Before we knew it, it was dive over. But not without a little bubble-ring-blowing-on-the-safety-stop first!

 

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

DSD Koh Tao

Olivia, I’m so proud of you — I can’t wait for you to do your certification someday! Jay, thank you for being such a fantastic and patient instructor. And Roctopus — thanks for rocking.

Do you force your family members to participate in your favorite hobbies like I do? I think it went quite well!

18 Responses to “Discovering Scuba Diving in Koh Tao”

  1. Wow! I received my open water and advanced certificate in January and these pictures really bring back some memories! I’m absolutely sure that I’ll be back in Koh Tao before too long! Thanks!!

    -Morrissey

  2. memographer says:

    Amazing adventure with such a beautiful set of underwater photos! I am so happy for Olivia.
    The pic of Jay defending you against that fish is great :)
    memographer recently posted..The Miracles Of Polaroid: Girl With A Red Hat

  3. Haha the photos are awesome! The one of Jay posing with the anemone made me giggle. Nice to see Olivia rocked it and had a good time underwater this time! She looks like a pro already (that Swish suit probably helps!) That fish Jay is fighting looks like a damselfish, and they’re pretty territorial… might that be it?

  4. wes says:

    That pic of Jay and the batfish is probably the best of the dive-ham pictures I’ve seen. So funny!

    The little black one is a damselfish. There are many varieties and I don’t know what that one is specifically, but we just call them black damselfish. Very territorial little fellas :)

    • Alex says:

      And this is exactly why I need to write all diving posts from the comfort of El Patio — so I don’t shame myself by forgetting the name of a DAMSELFISH.

  5. Hannah says:

    Awesome photos Alex. I am hoping to get some diving lessons in when we get to Thailand, so will be sure to check out Roctopus :)
    Hannah recently posted..Silver linings notebook

  6. Jay says:

    Great write-up Alex. Olivia is a natural, we had great fun. Very impressed with your photography too!! some awesome shots

  7. Diana says:

    Great and inspiring post! First time commenter, long time follower! :)

    I’ve been following your blog and it helped pique my interest in diving. However, I just had a terrible experience in Grand Cayman when trying to complete my OW check out dives. It’s hard to come back from such an experience so it was really nice to hear about your sister’s success. Can you tell me anymore about her experience in Grand Cayman? Other than the amazing Jay, are there any other places/instructors you would recommend to anxious beginners? Much appreciated!

    • Alex says:

      Hi Diana, Thanks so much for commenting! Always love to hear from those that are reading :)

      The problem in Grand Cayman was basically all my fault! My ex was a dive instructor and previously in the summer my mom had come down to visit us and we took her diving and it went better than expected. So when my sister and dad came to visit I was feeling overconfident, and insisted we kick out past the shore and further into open ocean. I think that really freaked her out when it came time to drop down! As we were shore diving, we should have simply descended at the shore. Is there a specific place you are going diving and looking for a recommendation? If you’re back in Cayman I know some great instructors there!

      Best of luck, hope you get back in the water soon!

  8. I’m trying to get Lucas to get scuba certified! I hate watching him snorkel, while I’m diving. LOOOOOVE these shots!!! You and your sister should be models.
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Buenos Aires, Argentina: Recoleta Cemetery (Part 3)

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