Wander Women Koh Tao:
A Beginner Dive + Yoga Retreat
Koh Tao, Thailand
April 9-16, 2023
Join Wander Women Retreats for our first-ever dive and yoga retreat for complete and total beginners — with an option for certified divers who want to refresh their skills, too! Spend eight days with us on the island paradise of Koh Tao and not only will you leave the island a certified or reactivated diver, you’ll also be attending Songkran, known as the world’s largest water fight! Start the Buddhist and Thai New Year with the calming, healing benefits of both yoga and scuba diving – prepare to leave Thailand renewed and refreshed.
For this retreat, we’ve partnered with PADI, the world’s largest diving organization, to offer you the opportunity to become a certified Open Water Diver or to ReActivate in the incredible Gulf of Thailand. We’ll take in some of Koh Tao’s most famous sites with a highly-trained PADI Instructor who will teach you how to scuba dive in a relaxed, supportive, learning environment. By the end of the course, you’ll have the skills and knowledge to dive at home or abroad and become an ambassador for the underwater world. In classic Wander Women fashion, we’ll also learn about keeping our beautiful oceans sparkling with a conservation workshop, a beach cleanup, and a private documentary screening at a local cinema.
As for the yoga? You’ve never seen a more beautiful island on which to practice. We will explore creative vinyasa flows and try out yin yoga, SUP yoga, and more. There might even be a Sangria Sip + Salutations class on the itinerary (okay, there definitely is.) And all along the way, we’ll explore the connection between scuba diving and yoga, both of which hold conscious breathing at their core. This trip is for beginners — and that applies to diving as well as yoga! All are welcome.
And that’s not all – we’ve got hiking, temples, and viewpoints all on the itinerary too. We’ll share meals, talk daydreams and swap travel stories, and you’ll also meet the incredible Koh Tao tribe who have been making this magic happen since our first-ever Wander Women Retreat right on this island in 2018! (Third time’s a charm, and this is our third edition of this particular retreat that we love so much, we keep bringing back!)
Bonus — new profile picture practically guaranteed. You’ll end the retreat with professional photos, including underwater portraits by an experienced underwater photographer who will give you posing tips, too.
The dates of this retreat are April 9-16, 2023. The cost, including just about everything, is just $2,800 per person for a shared room.
This is less than the cost of most yoga retreats alone, and includes a PADI certification, diving, professional photos, and insider hosts who have lived on this island for years. Nab a spot now — spaces are limited.
• Seven nights shared accommodation in a private pool villa
• Six breakfasts, six dinners, and four lunches
• All scuba diving, gear rental + a PADI Open Water or PADI ReActivate certification
• Daily yoga
• A private island tour of our insider favorite spots
• A welcome massage
• Professional photo sessions – on the yoga mat and under the sea!
• A free Wanderland Guide To Koh Tao e-book
• A custom welcome bag
• All on-island transportation
• An on-call dive medic who has consulted on our program
• 5% profit donation to local charities
What’s Not Included
• Alcohol – though a post-dive toast here or there may be be thrown in (and by maybe we mean definitely!)
• Transport to and from Koh Tao (We are happy to help with your travel arrangements, however! There are dozens of ways to get to and from Koh Tao and after many years of making the journey, we know all the best ones and have outlined them in the e-book included with booking)
• Dive instructor gratuities
• Travel + dive insurance (see more information below!)
Oh, The Places We’ll Go
Subject to change, and expect surprises, but here’s the general idea.
Day 1: Arrivals from around the globe, or from our Pre-Retreat Bangkok Extension! Enjoy slow flow yoga to iron out those travel kinks before an evening getting-to-know-you dinner at villa, followed by Thai massages to unwind before bed.
Day 2: Start the day off with yoga before it’s back to school! The morning will consist of academic review, paperwork and introductions by the dive team. After a quick lunch break at one of our favorite local Thai restaurants it’s into the pool for your swim test + skills training. Shower up + head to the beach for a group dinner at a chic beachfront spot.
Day 3: Start the day with a hike to one of the islands incredible viewpoints where you’ll experience a yoga class in the clouds. After a healthy lunch you’ll be back in the pool to wrap up the rest of your training, then it’s almost time to dive amongst the fishies! After, we’ll join forces with our fellow Wander Women on our simultaneous Aerial + Adventure Retreat at a rooftop dinner and swap travel tales of your time so far in Thailand.
Day 4: It’s conservation day! Early morning yoga at the villa will leave you feeling fresh before we slip into our swimsuits for a beach cleanup. Once the island is sparkling, we’ll have lunch at a local vegan spot before jumping aboard the boat for your first two ocean dives! Back on land we’ll enjoy a rooftop conservation presentation at our villa (wine in hand!) before we head to another big group dinner with Alex and co., this time at the beach.
Day 5: You thought fireworks were cool? Just wait until you see how Thailand marks the start of the Buddhist New Year: with a nationwide water fight. This is real life. Before we get all wet and wild, we will rendezvous with both retreat groups for a sip + stretch yoga class (cocktails will be provided of course!) kicking off a day of non-stop fun. Don’t forget your best outfits because dress-up is strongly encouraged — think tropical prints, sequins and fun inflatables!
Day 6: The morning is yours but hydration sachets and a hearty breakfast will see you swerve any fuzzy feelings from yesterday’s festivities. Spend the morning sipping coconuts with your toes in the sand or head to the spa for a little bit of pampering. In the afternoon we’ll be back on the boat to finish your dive certification and then a sunset hangover yin yoga class will help to let it all sink in! Order some dinner and snuggle up on a comfy couch as we watch a movie in our own private cinema.
Day 7: We’re spending a full day visiting hidden beaches, viewpoints, the local temple, and a lunchtime cooking demo at a local Thai cooking school. In the afternoon, SUP yoga and a beach party followed by a festive farewell dinner and cabaret show.
Day 8: Breakfast delivery at the villa followed by personal time + departure — or continue onto Koh Samui as part of the Post-Retreat Elephant Extension with Alex!
Where We’ll Stay and What We’ll Eat
We’ll be staying in a spa-like private pool villa set in a lush coconut grove, within walking distance from the heart of Sairee Village. There are luxurious outdoor showers, beautiful examples of Southeast Asian art, and comfy Western-style beds.
Double rooms have one king-sized bed to share. Of course, you can room with a friend but if you’re traveling solo, fear not, so are most of our Wander Women guests! We’ll do our best to pair you with someone we think you’ll click with based on your intake forms — and we’ll all be besties by the end anyway. If a good old fashioned sleepover is out of the question for you and you prefer not to share a bed, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll be making full use of the villa by having dive briefings given poolside, and smoothie bowl breakfasts delivered to our dining room almost daily by our dear friends at various healthy island restaurants. That won’t be all — a private chef will drop by to whip up a healthy, delicious, Instagrammable meal on our first evening.
Outside lunches and dinners will be held at a curated selection of our favorite restaurants on the island, and offer a variety of local Thai specialties and special Western favorites. Koh Tao is a foodie’s paradise and we’re excited to show off the best of the best! Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and other diets can easily be accommodated.
Koh Tao is one of the world’s top destinations when it comes to number of annual dive certifications issued – in fact, it’s second only to Cairns, Australia. Travelers flock from across the world to take their first breaths underwater in the coral reefs fringing this little rock – Shannon + Alex included! – and it’s simple to see why: teaching standards are high, conditions are breezy, dive sites are abundant, and it’s a seriously blissful place to decompress after a day underwater.
We’ll hit some of the Gulf’s top dive sites and enjoy Koh Tao’s unique coral gardens, rocky swim throughs, and artificial reefs.
We’re running this retreat and course exactly the way we believe it should be done — with experienced and patient instructors, with confined sessions in the calm setting of a pool, and with the bulk of the academics completed ahead of time, on your own schedule, so you can make the most of paradise.
This retreat includes access to PADI eLearning for either program (a $200 value), which will allow you to watch the course videos, absorb the academic readings, and complete the quizzes in the comfort of your own home, before you even touch down in Thailand. And fear not! Your instructors will do plenty of poolside knowledge reviews and go over anything you don’t feel completely confident on.
For certified divers who are using this retreat as an opportunity to refresh their rusty skills, you’ll be going through the PADI ReActivate certification program. PADI ReActivate is a fully personalized scuba refresher program that covers the areas where your skills and knowledge need refreshing. Move quickly through topics you know well, then dive deeper where your knowledge may have lapsed. You’re welcome to join every moment of classroom time and confined skill sessions, but if you finish your requirements and want to enjoy some extra free time for massages or beach naps, you’ll have that opportunity too!
Dive and Downward Dog With Us
On this trip you’ll be traveling with Wander Women Retreats coordinator and yoga instructor extraordinaire, Shannon Stevens. Shannon began teaching yoga in 2017, and she has a vast amount of training and practice in several methods of yoga and healing including yin, restorative, flow, pranayama and meditation. Alex and Shannon met on Koh Tao in 2015 and have been travelling the globe together ever since!
Koh Tao is an island Shannon called home for the better part of four years. She first visited in 2014 as a primary stop on a trip around Asia but five months on the road led her straight back to where she started. Shannon taught yoga on the island for more than two years, met her future husband under a banyan tree, completed all of her dive certifications there, and continues to make her way back whenever possible!
Shannon first joined the Wander Women team in 2020 and has managed multiple retreats around the globe with us, as well as joined our behind-the-scenes team working to make magic all year-round.
Alexandra Baackes, the founder of Wander Women Retreats, will lead both the pre and post-retreat extensions, and will be guiding a simultaneous aerial retreat that we’ll join forces with while they’re on Koh Tao for a few days — we’ll enjoy sunset cocktails, a few dinners, and a wild Songkran celebration together!
The Wander Women team on Koh Tao consists of one of the most experienced, energetic female dive teams on the island and an incredible community of female entrepreneurs we partner with. You’re just going to be blown away — we know we are!
How to Get to Koh Tao
Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is the largest international airport in the country and most likely your port of arrival. Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) serves as a secondary hub for low cost carriers and both are viable options for your arrival into Bangkok. Thailand is a visa-free country for most passports. If you’re from the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and most of Europe, you can enter for thirty days visa-free. We’ve been navigating Thailand’s visa rules for years and are happy to help you figure out your specific situation. From the airport a taxi will take you to the hotel, expect to pay $12-$15. We are able to arrange private transfer should you wish at an additional cost.
A lengthy and in depth section on the many way you can make your way from Bangkok to Koh Tao is included in the Wanderland Guide To Koh Tao e-book (part of your booking!). Budget anywhere from $40-$150 depending on your preferred mode of transport — plane, train or automobile! Should you join the Pre-Retreat Bangkok Extension, you’ll travel with a group down to Koh Tao. Should you join the Post-Retreat Elephants Extension, you’ll end on Koh Samui, ten minutes from an airport where you can be whisked to your connecting international flight.
Health + Safety
All Wander Women must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to join us, in compliance with the laws of the Kingdom of Thailand.
On November 1, 2020, Thailand began allowing vaccinated international travelers who have resided in one of 63 countries to enter without having to enter into a lengthy quarantine!
In order to enter you must meet the following requirements:
• Fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no less than 14 days before traveling
• Obtain a negative COVID-19 test result (RT-PCR), issued within 72 hours before traveling
• Insurance with minimum coverage of $50,000 USD
With this trip being over a year away, we are sure travel requirements will change and likely become less stringent over time. We will keep a close eye on things and keep you updated along the way!
Extend Your Adventure
Can’t imagine visiting Thailand without seeing the Grand Palace, sipping a drink at a Bangkok rooftop bar, or hitting a market for a street food feast? Before heading to the tranquil islands of the south, join us for a two night Pre-Retreat Bangkok Extension hosted by Alexandra Baackes, founder of Wander Women Retreats!
Not ready to head home soon soon after? Island hop with us for a three-day Post-Retreat Elephants Extension to Koh Tao’s neighboring island of Koh Samui — also hosted by Alex. We’ll hit the ultimate Thailand bucket list moment of meeting elephants, Thailand’s national animal, and slip into ultimate bliss for an afternoon at the trendiest Koh Samui beach club to toast to the trip of a lifetime.
We’re proud to have sold out every single 2021 trip we ran, and expect this trip will too. Book early to avoid major FOMO! A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot, and remaining invoices are due 90 days before departure. Alternatively, payment plans are available upon receipt of your deposit.
Departure is not guaranteed until the minimum number of guests is met. If the minimum is not met within one month, your deposit will be fully refunded. Please do not book flights or other non-refundable travel until we guarantee departure.
If the retreat is full, email email@example.com and we will add you to the waiting list — also sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when enrollment opens on future retreats.
Why women only?
Girls just wanna have fun! Diving is still a male-dominated industry, and we want to take a week to connect like-minded women and celebrate the female scuba community.
Will I have time to do my own thing?
Absolutely. While there are certain requirements to completing your PADI Open Water course that you will need to complete if you want to be certified, all other activities are totally optional, and we’re happy to help facilitate you doing your own thing.
I want to extend my trip. Can you help me?
Absolutely! Alex and the Wander Women team have traveled Thailand extensively. We offer an hour of complimentary consultation on expanding your trip, after which we will offer our hourly consulting at a special retreat guest rate.
How much money will I need to bring?
Thailand has plenty of options when it comes to food which makes it easy to eat like a queen no matter the budget. Munch on street stall pad thai for only $2, order a whole BBQ’d fish for $10 or treat yourself to a steak dinner for $15, you will be hard pressed to spend more than $20 for a fantastic meal! When it comes to alcohol, budget $2-3 for beer, $3-6 for cocktails and $6-8 for a decent glass of wine.
Is it possible to have a private room?
Technically that’s possible, though due to the limited nature of accommodation on Koh Tao, it’s a specialized offer. Contact us for more details.
What travel insurance do you recommend?
Is there an age requirement?
You must be 18 years old or older.
What about visas?
Thailand is a visa-free country for most passports. If you’re from the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and most of Europe, you can enter for thirty days visa-free. We’ve been navigating Thailand’s visa rules for years and are happy to help you figure out your specific situation.
What if I test positive for COVID while abroad?
We understand this is a major concern for many traveling internationally right now. In the very unlikely event that you contract COVID-19 while traveling with us, we will assist you in confirming your positive test results, finding a location to isolate, and rebooking your travel home. We resumed our trips in May of 2021 and our guests have had a 100% success rate of staying positive and testing negative ever since
If you are concerned about the cost of quarantine should you test positive abroad, ensure your policy covers COVID-related expenses.
So does non-refundable really mean non-refundable?
The $500 deposit to secure your space is non-refundable and remaining invoices are due 60 days before departure. If the trip must be postponed or cancelled due to events beyond our control, you will be offered the choice between a full refund and applying your payment to a future trip.
The reason our deposits are non-refundable is that we start incurring costs from the moment someone presses “book” — from credit card fees to high hourly wages for our team who corresponds with guests, manages trip inventory and our e-commerce platform, analyzes forms to create room assignments, coordinates with our local vendors, and beyond.
There’s nothing we want more than for our guests to take and enjoy the travel they have worked hard and paid for. Thank you so much for your understanding and respect of our need to enforce this policy strictly. We want to be here to travel with you for years to come!
Is there a waiting list?
There will be a waiting list on a first-come, first-served basis in case spaces open up. If the retreat is full and you’re still interested, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waiting list.
I still have questions, or cute photos of my dog. Can I contact you?
Um, yes please! Our email is email@example.com.