Learning to scuba dive was something I never knew I wanted to do until I went on a snorkelling trip in Egypt. We got back to the boat after looking at the coral below from the surface, closely followed by the scuba divers who were ecstatic that they had seen octopus, shoals of fish and even whale sharks…all I’ d seen were some clams and a lot of sinking swimmers. I was pretty jealous to say the least and vowed to get my PADI licence so that I too could experience the depths of the ocean.
Fast forward five years and I finally got round to it.
When Ross and I were planning our South East Asia trip, getting our PADI licence was the number one thing to do on our list. After researching where best to do it, we decided to go for Phuket, Thailand. After even more research we booked a 3 day course with Love Diving Phuket (LDP) based in Patong.
Before we even arrived in Thailand, LDP had sent us emails letting us know the course details along with giving us some homework to prepare us. This homework consisted of 5 videos explaining the principles of scuba diving and a quiz sheet to test our knowledge at the end of each video.
I’ll admit, we gave the videos a quick look before hand but figured we would probably recap them once we were at LDP anyway. We were right.
Take a look at our 3 day dive schedule below and you’ll find out everything you need to know about learning to scuba dive in Thailand.
DAY 1 – Classroom & Pool
Remember those videos I mentioned, this is where you can take the time to sit down and watch them properly. After meeting our dive instructor, Will, and our third dive team mate, Aimee, we were allocated the morning to review the videos.
This is probably the most dull, but still crucial, part of the course. During this time you will learn about buoyancy, the pressure you’ll encounter below the surface, what each piece of your scuba gear does, the dangers of scuba diving and more. Listen up because at the end of your 3 days you’re going to be taking an exam that covers everything in these films.
After around 3 hours it was time for lunch before heading to the pool for the afternoon.
We took a 30 minute drive out of Patong to the pool (I think it was part of a hotel but I have no idea where we were). Our first task was to learn how to put our scuba gear together. We learnt how to inspect our oxygen tanks, how to assemble our scuba suits (not a technical term) and how to make final checks before getting into the water.
After you’ve done this a few times it’s time to get in the water. Taking a gentle entry into the pool you experience what it’s like to breathe naturally underwater for the first time. Not something I’ll ever forget, it’s an amazing feeling!
Once you’ve mastered breathing (which sounds easy enough but some people do struggle with this) it’s time to perform a series of techniques. First our instructor Will shows us what we will do above water, and then again below. One by one we all take turns performing techniques such as, flooding your mask and re-equalising it, using your buddy’s air source, breathing from your regulator free flow and performing emergency ascents.
Everyone’s favourite technique was the giant stride entry. You know the one you see scuba divers do off the back of the boat, well this is your chance to do that too. At first I was nervous it would hurt or that my mask would fly off but actually it’s pretty easy and before long it’s as easy as taking a walk….on water.
I lost count how many techniques there were to perform, but there must have been at least 40 because by the time we were finished in the pool we’d been there 4 hours.
Time for home.
Day 2 – 3 Open Water Dives
Hope you had a good nights sleep because today you’re being picked up at 7.15am and taken to the pier. Here you’ll regroup with your instructor and fellow divers and head to your first dive location of the day. On route, Will had briefed us on everything we would be doing that day. Day 2 is about taking the techniques you learnt in the pool and showing that you can perform them in open water.
I won’t lie, I was extremely nervous. I so wanted to 1. be good at it and 2. enjoy the dives, that I built everything up and ended up having a little cry.
After a long boat journey we arrived at Racha Noi – Banana Bay. As the scuba siren sounds it’s time to suit up and take a giant stride into the ocean.
One of the perks of learning to dive in Thailand is that the water was 31 degrees! Winning.
As I mentioned, here you will repeat some of the techniques you learnt in the pool, but it’s not all work, work, work, you also get to head out on your first proper dive and marvel at the oceanic life below.
Each dive today will consist of techniques and fun and will last around 50 minutes.
Our remaining dives took place at Racha Noi – Banana Rock and Racha Yai – Bay 2.
At 6pm we arrived back at the pier and headed home for a much needed massage.
Day 3 – Final 3 Dives
Yay, more diving! At this point, if you’re like me, you’ll be feeling far more confident and be raring to get into the water. But you’re going to have to wait 3 hours whilst we get to Phi Phi Island. It is another early start, 7.15am, because of the long boat ride, but it’s so worth it.
The first dive today will have a small bit of practical assessment but the rest of the dives are purely for fun. Today is all about taking in your beautiful underwater surroundings.
The last two dives take place at Turtle Rock and Shark Point, so you can hope to see some of the namesake animals. We were lucky enough to see both sharks and turtles. I had said before our dives ‘all I want to see is a turtle’, and we were fortunate enough to see three! I was also lucky enough to make friends with this little fella who took a liking to me and swam with me for ages. My hitchhiking friend felt so comfortable with me he even tried to take a little nibble.
Fish are friends, not food. And the same goes for people too matey!
For the final part of our course we had a short exam to take. This consists of 50 multiple choice questions covering everything you’ve learnt over the 3 days. Don’t stress, it’s not difficult if you’ve listened and you can get something like 11 questions wrong and still pass. Scuba Luce over here got 50/50 though, #justsaying.
By the end of day 3 we were registered PADI Open Water Divers, qualified to go down to 18m deep. It’s been a long time since I learnt something new and over this 3 day course I really felt like I had achieved something.
Ross and I are already in talks about getting advanced PADI licences to take us to 30m and we’ve lined up a few dives when we return to the UK.
I can’t recommend getting your PADI enough and can strongly recommend doing it with Love Diving Phuket. You can contact them here.
Let me know if you decide to go for it!
– Breakfast, lunch and pancakes(!) are provided on the boats so you don’t need to worry about extra cost of food and drink for days 2 and 3.
– All scuba gear is included in the price, you don’t need to bring anything with you bar swimmers and a towel.
– If you decide part way through that diving isn’t for you, no one is going to force you to complete the course.
– Love Diving Phuket will register you on the PADI official website so you can dive straight away without having a physical licence. If anything goes wrong, give them a call and they’ll sort it out for you.
– Patong isn’t my cup of tea by a long shot (think Magaluf in Thailand) but as a base to learn to dive from it was perfect.
If you have any questions about learning to scuba dive in Thailand leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you asap!
*This was my personal experience of diving, some details may change depending on time of year and conditions.