The Koh Tao Open Water Course is the first step in learning how to dive independently and obtain diving certification. Completion of the 3 to 4 day program will allow students to dive to a maximum depth of 18 meters without the supervision of a dive instructor. Certification is valid for life and is recognized world wide. Obtaining this certification is ideal for anyone who is interested in doing more local or international diving. The Open Water Course prepares students to handle any underwater situation and nurtures a feeling of competence and confidence underwater.
The open water course is divided into three components:
The Academic Portion will cover the theories of diving, understanding the physics of diving, the effects of underwater breathing and learning how to manage your underwater time and depth. There will be content on equipment handling, assembling, and proper inspection of tanks and dive gear. There are some videos to watch, a few multiple choice tests to complete, and knowledge review questions to be looked at during the classroom portion of the course. Anything that is unclear or difficult can be addressed at that time and your scuba instructor will be happy to give you the extra attention should you desire it.
The Confined Session of the course is conducted in a swimming pool or shallow bay with a maximum depth of 2 meters. The sessions cover some basic equipment handling, safety & buoyancy control exercises, and are designed to familiarize students with being submersed under water with scuba equipment. Once all the skills are mastered, the open water dives can begin.
The Open Water Dives: The first two dives reach a maximum depth of twelve meters; once you have become comfortable and repeated some of the skills from the confined water session you spend the rest of the dive looking at the amazing marine life and enjoying the new experience of weightlessness. By the end of these two dives you will feel much more comfortable and will be looking forward to the next two dives the following day.
The final two dives bring you to a maximum depth of eighteen meters and conditions permitting allow you to venture further from the island which increases the possibility of seeing larger fish such as whalesharks, giant groupers and the occasional tuna. The dives also include repetition of skills covered in the confined sessions to ensure the utmost confidence and competence.
For more information about beginner courses such as languages, group sizes and optional extras click here
PADI or the Professional Association of Dive Instructor is the most well-known scuba diving training agency on the planet, to such an extent that people often ask to do the “PADI” course when referring to any scuba diving course. Founded in 1966 they have more than forty years’ experience serving scuba divers and have over six thousand dive shops locate around the globe.
PADI run all types of courses, from kid’s courses conducted in a swimming pool to beginner, advanced, rescue and master right through to scuba instructor level and beyond. PADI has a few instructor development centres about the Island and some dive centres are recognised PADI 5 star resorts and offer only PADI courses while others offer certification through various other agencies.
As a member of the WRSTC (World Recreational Scuba Training Council), PADI recognises certifications from other training agencies such as SSI, BSAC, CMAS and NAUI amongst others. The above agencies are represented on Koh Tao but not all agencies are so it is a good idea to check before arriving if you hold a certification from another. Certification equivalent tables are displayed on some agencies websites if you are in doubt.
All PADI materials come in a range of languages. Though paper manuals are still common most centres are going down the digital route and offering online manuals for keeping and a “library” copy of the paper manual while doing the course. PADI also offers e-learning, this allows you to complete the academic sessions of the course including exams online before coming and doing the practical “water work” when you get here. For more information about online training please contact kohtao.asia.
PADI is a patron of the “Project Aware Foundation” environmental organisation and puts a lot of time and effort into creating awareness about the harm being done to the oceans through climate change, over fishing and shark finning. They also support marine conservation projects such as reef and beach clean ups. PADI are also long term associates of the National Geographic Society and offer marine conservation courses in conjunction with both them and the Project Aware Foundation.
The PADI website offers information on all available PADI courses. It has a shop locator, an online scuba community forum, dive holiday package deals and equipment sales. If you go as far as professional level you then get further access to the site offering the ability to conduct diver certification checks and access to training materials and updates. Wherever you decide to dive in the world there is always sure to be a PADI dive centre or PADI professional close by.
SSI - Scuba Schools International holds the title for the fastest growing scuba diving training agency in the world. They have gone from strength to strength on Koh Tao over the past few years with a majority of shops now running SSI courses alongside PADI courses from beginner right through to instructor level and beyond. Furthermore many well respected dive shops on Koh Tao now offer only SSI courses.