Diving In Koh Tao


Koh Tao (meaning Turtle Island) is not only my favourite island in Thailand but it is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Most people in the dive world know or have at least heard about Koh Tao, because of its competitive dive scene (it has the highest number of annual dive certifications a year second to Cairns, Australia) and of course, its beautiful beaches and irresistible laid back vibe. I spent seven months here back in ’08-’09 and I hadn’t been back since, so I was excited to return six years later.

A Little Bit About My Trip

I was lucky enough to spend six weeks away in total – escaping the winter cold in the UK! I spent the first two weeks in Thailand travelling to Bangkok, Koh Phangan, Koh Yao Yai and Koh Tao, where I intended to start my Stress & Rescue Course. However, I sprained my ankle on New Years Eve and unfortunately couldn’t do any of the practical work in the water. Luckily as I had booked a one-way ticket to Thailand I could return 3 weeks later and complete the course.

Koh Tao

Sunset on Koh Tao

Choosing A Dive School

Choosing a dive school on Koh Tao can be hard – there are, quite frankly, a lot. Especially on the main beach – Sairee beach – where competition is at its highest. I did some research into several of the larger schools in the area and decided I wanted to dive with Big Blue Diving.

Big Blue Diving’s prime location on the beach, in addition to their new hostel rooms and free accommodation for divers, makes it one of the most popular dive schools on the island.

They are also heavily involved in their marine conservation work – working to ensure that the island remains as undisturbed as possible by the growing tourism in Koh Tao – which was another factor which drew me to them.

Koh Tao

At Big Blue… with my sprained ankle!

My Rescue Course

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about starting my Stress & Rescue Course. It’s one of those courses that I’d heard a lot about, yet at the same time I wasn’t entirely sure what the course involved! However, after meeting my Rescue Team I felt confident to get started. There were three other students taking the course, with a Dive Master Trainee per student as well as the instructor. This was another reason for me choosing to dive with Big Blue – they keep their groups small which is essential for learning.

The Stress & Rescue course was three days in total – I spent one day doing my first aid qualification, followed by two days in the classroom and in the water going through any potential scenarios that could take place on a dive. The course prepares divers on how to recognise, avoid and deal with any problems that occur on the surface or underwater, and in my opinion, is one of the most useful qualifications to have as a diver.

I loved doing my Stress & Rescue Course, and loved being back on Koh Tao. After all these years it still feels like a second home to me. Maybe… just maybe… I will return to the island soon to do my Dive Master Training…

Sarah Winterbottom

Sarah Winterbottom

Sarah Winterbottom is currently the title holder of Miss Scuba United Kingdom. She won the title in October, and since then has gone on to compete in the international finals of Miss Scuba International in Malaysia, placing in the top 5. Since winning Miss Scuba United Kingdom has completed her PADI advanced open water and dry suit qualification and is currently doing her rescue course in Thailand. Sarah also dived in Egypt, Cyprus, Malaysia and the UK for the first time since entering the pageant, and hopes to continue diving this year and to learn more about marine conservation. Sarah is from London and when she isn't diving - or doing all things Miss Scuba - works in PR. Sarah loves to workout and train at bootcamp several times a week. She also loves taking part in high intensity obstacle courses and took part in Tough Mudder last year in order to raise money for Deptherapy. Sarah is multi-lingual, having studied Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Manchester, and was lucky enough to live in South America as part of her degree. Travelling is a huge passion of Sarah's and she will be going on to dive in Vietnam after Thailand.

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