My boyfriend and I had our hearts set on doing our open water dive licenses for months before we arrived on Koh Tao. We're not the young, full moon party type so we wanted a quality learning experience. Diving is so much fun, but only when it's safe so we did a lot of research before arriving on the island.
We'd identified four schools we wanted to see with our own eyes before making a decision: Bans, Big Blue, Simple Life and Scuba Junction.
Bans had a no-obligation pick-up from the pier so we started off here. We liked it straight away, the resort is beautiful, very affordable (9000 baht for PADI) and really well organised but we'd promised ourselves we'd check them all first.
Simple Life was next. Not too bad, but the guy on reception was offering 2-3 day courses which I thought sounded rushed. He talked more about being able to get us finished and over to the full moon party than the course itself. They wanted 9800B for the PADI and extra for accommodation, which was pretty shabby, unless you're a student and into that kind of thing. Group size is usually six and we wanted smaller for a good learning experience.
Next was Big Blue. We'd heard good things online about this place but when we arrived the guy on reception seemed like he just wanted us to walk in and make a decision. It seemed like such an inconvenience for him to answer our questions. When asked "what's your maximum class size here?" his response was "I don't know, it's always different"... Not very reassuring. Rooms were pretty below average. By this stage Bans was looking like the Taj Mahal!
Last was Scuba Junction. I actually really liked it here, the British girl we spoke to was so so helpful and showed us what to look for in well maintained equipment, which for amateurs was great info. She even offered to answer any questions if we decided to go with someone else and wanted unbiased info. The only set back was the accommodation, it wasn't pretty and they can't offer discounts as they lease the resort, they don't own it. I'm no princess but when you're staying 4+ days you want clean and comfortable digs... Am I wrong?!
We went back to Bans, asked to see the equipment which was all above board and asked about the group size. The helpful girl there said we could have any group size we liked so we decided to just do a class with the two of us to get a focussed training experience. They discounted our accommodation so we got a deluxe room nearer to the beach and it was lovely. So with great accommodation in the middle of Sairee Beach and the PADI course it was 10000B... Only 200B more than the others were asking for the PADI course alone.
That night we met our course instructor Andrea Fix who I would HIGHLY recommend.. if he's available! He built a great relationship with us right from the start. He has 14 years experience in variable environments and is also a Dive Master. He was very encouraging all the way through the course.. even when we were a little nervous and gave us plenty of time to get used to our new surroundings. We enjoyed our time learning with Andrea so much we decided to stay on the extra two days to do our Advanced Open Water, which I would recommend to anyone planning on diving again once you have your license.
The wreck dive and the night dive were certainly ones to remember! We finished six days later feeling confident and competent that we had all the tools we needed. It was truly an experience I'll never forget, and I only wish I had of got my license earlier!! I LOVE DIVING!
I hope this is of some help to those of you out there looking for an unbiased opinion, where ever you go, you're going to have a blast... but for us Bans was the winner by a long shot!
Good Luck... Renee (Aussie) & Scott (Kiwi)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ban's Technical Diving is operated out of Ban's Diving, Koh Tao, Thailand. Ban's Technical Diving is an award winning DSAT, BSAC, ANDI Technical Instructor Diving Facility. The only Tech Center on Koh Tao (and one of few in the world) that offers DSAT Technical Diving Intructor Courses. Deep Wreck Diving, Cave Expeditions.-Nitrox, Deep, Wreck, Gas Blender, Compressor Operator, Rebreather, Equipment, Emergency Oxygen, Technical Decompression Diving, Cave, Cavern......... ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ban`s Diving Hotel Koh Tao
- Bans Diving Hotel
- Bans Diving Ko Tao