HTMS Sattakut 742 . Koh Tao Thailand
In 2007 my Husband and I brought our two children, then 11 and 13 to the little island of Koh Tao, around 3 hours off mainland Thailand to learn to dive. We were taught as a family in our little group of four and the positive experience we had with our Instructor, meant that we vowed to return again to continue scuba diving at a later date.
Here I now sit in 2013, my daughter is preparing to begin her Emergency First Response, PADI Rescue Diver and after diving the HTMS Sattakut 742 has expressed an interest in doing her ‘wreck spec.’
As soon as she is 18, she has decided she would like to begin training to enter the Scuba Diving Industry as a Professional and because of the level of service provided by Sunshine Divers on Koh Tao, is opting to do her training here.
I decided to approach Natalie Hunt – Sunshine Divers Course Director and ask her a few questions to find out a little more about the profession and the people behind the scenes but running the show.
Natalie, originally from Australia, trained as an Open water Diver in Greece in 1995 and decided to continue within the Profession, finally training as an Instructor in 1997 whilst on Koh Tao.
Natalie’s favourite dive sites are EagleRayPass and Princess Penny’s Pinnacle in the Cayman Islands and spotted eagle rays are her favourite marine creature.
Since then she has worked as an Instructor in the British Virgin Islands, a job found in the Undersea Journal; teaching PADI courses in Canada, also in an Aquarium in Cairns, but the pull of Koh Tao has brought her back to the little island where she is now running the 5* IDC training Centre, which trains between 1200 and 1500 pupils a year.
Interested I asked Natalie about her opinion and thoughts relating to the view of some Western PADI Centres regarding the quality of training in Thailand and Koh Tao in particular.
Natalie – “There has been in the past, discriminating events in Thailand but PADI is a worldwide organisation, the training here is really good and the standard is very high. There is a high level of quality assurance.”
Janice – ” So, because PADI is a worldwide organisation the training will be equivalent to a dive school in the west.”
Natalie – “Yes, just the cost will be different.”
Sunshine offers a ratio of 4 Divers per Instructor and provide a welcoming and professional service, with some excellent dive sites close to its coastline; this means you can be from resort to site within a very short time. If you are looking for luxury travel to take you to the boat, this is one of the things you may have to forgo, as the usual form of travel for divers are the local taxis (4 x 4s).
The night dive at Twins is particularly spectacular, dark and beautiful, with a depth of 12 metres and a bottom time of 48 minutes, this turned out to be my daughter’s favourite dive – the bio-luminescence providing ocean fairy dust, as a blue spotted ray soared above.
As we get ready to move on with our travel, one thing I know for sure is that we will be back to develop our skills, have more fun, hopefully see some of the whale sharks and Bull Sharks that frequent the waters and to spend a little more of our time in Sunshine.