Project Aware Dive Against Debris & Land Clean Up | How To

Simple Life Eco Day – Koh Tao

15 February 2020

Huge thanks to a fabulous team from Simple Life, Dive-Careers & Hydronauts who took the time out of their day to participate!

Are you interested in organising a land, beach or reef clean in your area?

Follow this handy guide to make your efforts as effective as possible!

Cleaning up makes a temporary, cosmetic difference. Logging your data contributes to lasting change.

I have included some affiliate links in this post. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to yourself.
I am hugely grateful for your support and only advertise products I am happy to use myself.


How to conduct a land clean

Download the Clean Swell App so you can log your data. Designate one person to record all the data for your clean-up group so you don’t duplicate the stats.

Clean Swell in-app screen for recording data

This is ultimately what makes your land clean worth all the hard work. By removing the litter you’ve certainly made a cosmetic difference to your area, however, by contributing your findings for data collation, you can influence the legislation that will drive lasting change!

Get a hold of some eco friendly gloves. I’m going to fess up right here and say that we didn’t get any gloves and it definitely affected how likely we were to pick up certain things. Utterly essential!

Grab a few biodegradable bin bags (you don’t want to run out while you’re out on your mission so bring extras), get your group together and plan your clean-up routes!


What should I collect during a land clean?

Essentially, you should collect everything that doesn’t belong there.

Sorting through plastic fragments and trash collected on a land clean

The usual suspects:

  • cans
  • bottles & lids
  • plastic bags
  • wrappers
  • packaging
  • straws
  • plastic cutlery
  • lighters

Things that might pass you by:

  • fragmented pieces
  • corners of wrappers
  • cigarette butts
  • batteries
  • zip-ties
  • rubber bands
  • lollypop sticks
  • polystyrene

It’s really important to pick up even the smallest fragments of trash. A plastic fork starts out big but can end ended up smashed into tiny pieces when trampled on. It’s much more likely – though not impossible – that animals, birds and fish will ingest micro-plastics than larger sized pieces.


What do we do with all this trash?

First of all, you should congratulate yourselves on some game-changing hard work! It takes courage and dedication to go out into our big bad world and clear up other people’s mess. Good on you!

Now it’s time to sort through all the rubbish you’ve collected to make sure it is being disposed of in the best way possible.

Recycle everything that you can. Cans, plastics, glass, paper and cardboard are amongst the most readily recyclable products but be realistic. There may not be resources near you and you’ve got to consider the environmental impact of transporting a single item to a recycling facility. Also be sure to accurately sort items as cross contamination can result in the entire batch of recyclables being scrapped.

Anything that can’t be salvaged, upcycled or recycled should be disposed of in general waste. Please be careful with personal hygiene products and, if you do come across biohazardous waste, it’s best to call the appropriate authorities. Keep yourself safe, first and foremost.


Land Cleaning Hacks

From someone who has taken the long road and realised there’s a better way…

Cleaning up after a clean-up… learn from us and use a mat when you sort!

Sort as you clear

  • wear gloves and bring a variety of carriers
  • big bags are good for plastics and large recyclables
  • smaller bags work for non-recyclable waste
  • Buckets for small items and fragments

Record data as you go

  • Shout out to the person logging data in the app as you find things!
  • This makes your final sort much easier, and you can double check the accuracy of your data!

Save yourself a second clean-up

  • put down a mat or bag to sort your trash on
  • You can keep the land clear and your motivation levels up
  • Nobody wants to pick up the same litter for a second time!

How to conduct a reef clean

Download the Project Aware App so that you can log all your data. This helps prevent things like plastic straws and carrier bags from entering the water in the first place! Cleaning our planet’s habitats is absolutely worthwhile, but we have to contribute to legislating against the production of harmful products to truly change the world.

Project Aware Mobile App user interface screen

It’s just as valuable to log a dive where you find absolutely no debris. Data aims to paint a vivid picture and it’s fair to say that I’ve been on many dives and encountered nothing – this is important information too!


Dive Against Debris Planning

Organise your dive team:

  • Who is the dive lead?
  • Plan the dive route, navigation style and maximum dive time.
  • Organise diver formation for effective searching.
  • Ensure everyone has the appropriate equipment! All certified divers should already have a cutting tool, but a decent dive knife is very good idea if you’re going to be dealing with fishing wire or netting. You will also need a mesh bag to store all of your findings. If you know you’re going for something big, bring a lift-bag.
Project Aware Dive Against Debris team, pre-dive

Safety first:

  • Designate the use of at least one Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) to protect your team in shallow water – 6m or less.
  • Remember not to hook anything onto yourself – hold the reel or mesh bag in your hand.
  • Assign buddy pairs and count how many divers there are in the team. Make sure you come up with the same number you went down with!
  • Go over your missing diver strategy, just in case.

What should we remove?

We need to be more selective about what we remove from the ocean and how we remove it.

Of course we want to get rid of all things which don’t belong, but not if they have become habitats for life. An old bottle that’s been at sea for months is now a microhabitat for different marine species and it could be more harmful than helpful to remove it.

Another example is fishing wire which has been enveloped by coral. Be careful when using your cutting tool so as not to disturb or damage any marine life. It may be prudent to leave it.

Divers disposing of an old snorkel in the mesh bag

Old glass pieces, bottles and pottery can stay in the ocean. If there is a brand new bottle with its label intact then you can remove it, as long as there is nothing already living in it! Some people choose to tilt the neck of glass bottles upright to ensure a clear entry and exit route for any resident creatures. Again, please use your best judgement.

If you come across a heavy object (over 4kg) please ensure that a lift-bag is used by someone who is trained to do so.

The rest is yours for the taking!


After the Eco Dive

Give yourself a big round of applause for your hard work!

Depending on what you find, you may want to leave heavy things to dry out before disposal. Please, remember to separate the recyclables!

It’s wise to check that there are no sneaky wee critters hiding in any of the waste. Crabs are notorious for stashing themselves in amongst netting and rope, so be sure to shake them off before binning anything!

Our entire Dive Against Debris team taking pride in their work!

Take a photo of your haul and celebrate your hard work. Share it far and wide and encourage others to do the same! I’d love to hear about your land cleans or eco dives – please comment on this post, reach out on Facebook or tag me on Instagram!


If you found this post useful or inspiring then please share it with your friends, family and community! I massively appreciate your support and hope to continue bringing you useful and exciting content. We can save the world – one blog post, one land clean and one plastic bottle at a time. Thank you!


Become a PADI Divemaster | Thailand 2020

How to become a PADI Divemaster
Koh Tao

No matter where you want to go to do your DM course, here’s a quick guide on what it takes to get there!


If you still need a little push in the right direction, check out 10 of the best things about scuba diving!


Divemaster Prerequisites

Before you begin your PADI Divemaster Course, you’ll need to:

  • be 18 years old
  • have a doctor’s medical statement of fitness, signed within 12 months
  • be certified as a PADI Rescue Diver
  • have an Emergency First Response (or similar first aid) certification within 24 months – if you’re a medical professional, you’re sorted
  • have 40 logged dives
  • have at least 1 month to complete it (though I’d recommend taking 2+).

A lot of dive centres can work out a package price for you if you’ve still got a few courses or dives to get under your belt before you start.

If you book your DM Course here, you get to DIVE FOR FREE the whole way through! It’s the best way to gain experience and get your numbers up!


Where should you do your Divemaster course?

It’s a big world out there! Consider…

  • country, continent & culture
  • visa restrictions
  • living costs
  • political stability
  • local dive laws
  • weather & dive conditions
  • work opportunities
  • social lifestyle

What about the dive centre?

I’ve got experience with Simple Life Divers on Koh Tao, Thailand. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have!

There are many dive centres & schools out there, and they all have different ratings. I’m still learning about these but if ‘5 Star’ is in the title, I think you’re in with a pretty safe bet!

Take into account…

  • customer reviews
  • certification numbers
  • DMT turnover
  • course, materials & fee costs
  • location
  • pool/boat facilities
  • accommodation
  • perks – free diving/future discounts

but most importantly…

  • will there be whale sharks!?


What’s in the PADI Divemaster Course?

The PADI Divemaster Course can be completed in as little as 3 weeks, though I would recommend taking around 3 months.

Becoming a Divemaster is a commitment. You’re dedicating your time, money & energy to developing your knowledge and skills to a professional standard. You’ll want to get the most out of every component of the course so that you can become the best possible version of yourself!

The main components…

  • Knowledge Reviews 1-7 in the Divemaster manual & Exam 1
  • Knowledge Reviews 8-9 & Exam 2
  • Learn how to use RDP tables and the eRDPml
  • Complete skills circuits and demonstration workshops
  • Map a dive site
  • Exercises in Search and Recovery & Deep Diving
  • Shadow Divemasters and Instructors as they teach courses and lead fun-divers
  • Present boat/dive briefings
  • Conduct a scuba review
  • Conduct diver rescue simulations
  • Complete the swim exercises:
    • 400m swim
    • 800m swim with mask, snorkel & fins – no use of arms
    • 100m tired diver tow in full scuba kit
    • 13 minute tread water + 2 minute tread with arms elevated

Fun-dive for free all the way through your DM course when you book with us!

Get in touch!


PADI Fees and Professional Dive Insurance

If you want work as a DM you will need to pay your PADI fees to achieve ‘active’ status. Check if this is included in your DM course cost.

Depending on where you are in the world, you might also need professional insurance. It is not compulsory in every country, but it’s a smart idea to have it incase anything goes wrong with you or your students.

If you are an EU citizen (the UK is still included at this time) I would recommend Aqua-Med for professional dive insurance. Check out their website for more information!

If you book your insurance through this link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself, and I would be very grateful for your support.

I only recommend products & services which I value and have used myself.



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Benefits of Diving | The Top Ten

What’s so great about scuba diving?

Happy Jen and Hazal!

Here are my Top Ten reasons why scuba diving is one of the best things you can do for yourself – and for our planet!

Use this handy navigation list to jump to any section!

  1. Learn a new skill
  2. Travel to new places
  3. Boldly go where few have gone before
  4. Find space and calm
  5. Be at one with nature and life on earth
  6. Meet new people
  7. Improve your mental health
  8. See exotic wildlife
  9. Do more of what you love
  10. Conserve our precious ocean & planet

Learn a new skill

There’s something to be said for broadening your horizons and learning something new! A sense of accomplishment is up there with one of the most basic human needs and, with scuba, you can be sure to find endless opportunities to develop! From starting out by earning your Open Water Certification, to taking it all the way to Technical diving and diver specialties, the road to expanding your knowledge is bountiful.


Travel to new places

Whilst travelling to tropical locations to spend time in the sun, sea and sand is at the top of a lot of people’s agendas, you don’t have to draw the line there. Scuba diving can be conducted almost anywhere that you find water! From the ice caves of the Arctic to abandoned inland quarries, lakes and rivers, there are innumerable places to explore to seek out new underwater adventures. There might even be diving right on your doorstep – metaphorically speaking…

…Unless you happen to live here:

Gorgeous beach shack in the Dominican Republic

Boldly go where few have gone before

Although there are globally renowned dive sites which host thousands of divers every year, the world is full of unexplored terrain – both over and underwater! As a certified diver, you are at liberty to take a buddy and adventure forth into the unknown. Map new dive sites, search for wrecks, perhaps you’ll even discover a rare or undocumented marine species!

Secluded beach in Indonesia

It’s also important to recognise the privilege of this experience. We may have evolved from water dwellers millions of years ago, but the ability to explore the source of life on our planet is a beautiful gift recently bestowed to us. Take this opportunity to delve into the unique and undiscovered blue that represents 71% of our earth’s surface and find yourself at one with our planet and it’s aquatic origins. You’ll be one of a very lucky few.


Find space and calm

The water is a vast entity with depths we can only imagine. It is a sacred space, and you can feel it. It holds you like a full body hug and guides you into a state of mindful meditation. Scuba diving is not swimming – the aim is to expend as little energy as possible for the most rewarding experience.

Upon entering the water, it’s not silent as you might imagine. It’s bustling with pops, crunches and squeaks from aquatic life. The melodic rhythm of your breathing accompanies you on every journey, becoming your own meditative metronome. Your heart rate slows as you enter a space of relaxation, where tranquility washes over the body and mind. For about 60 minutes, you are at peace – living absolutely in the moment – and that is truly priceless.


Be at one with nature and life on earth

Like a stroll along a beach, a walk in the park or a mountain trek, a dive in the ocean brings you closer to the elements! Where the earth’s jungles have monkeys, exotic birds and insects, the ocean have sharks, dolphins, whales, tropical fish, eels, rays, turtles, crustaceans and so much more. Just as there are fields of wildflowers on land, there are beds of stunning varieties of coral, bearing their beautiful shapes, colours and sizes for our eyes to feast on.

They say that time spent in nature is the best medicine, and I couldn’t agree more.


Meet new people

Who needs tinder when you’re on a dive boat?! Jokes aside, it’s a fabulous way to meet people from all over the world and many walks of life. Life-long friends can be found in the dive community. Travellers, holiday makers, marine enthusiasts, environmental agents, thrill seekers, and passionate dive professionals are just a handful of the types of people that board the dive boat every day. No matter who we are or where we come from, we are all part of one big family!

Your dive boat buddies are among some of the best friends you’ll find.

Improve your mental health

This has been a major part of my personal journey and I genuinely can’t advocate for it enough. Like some type of miracle potion, scuba diving has opened my eyes to the wonder and value of all life, including my own. I’m at peace every time I enter the water, living in the moment, allowing my senses to carry me on a voyage of gratitude for who and where I am on this planet.

Happy Jen

Scuba:

  • Demands that I slow down
  • Invites me to be grateful
  • Values forward planning and problem solving
  • Encourages me to remain calm in times of difficulty
  • Reminds me to breathe and take responsibility
  • Stimulates my mind with the wonders of our world

See exotic wildlife

Glide alongside the majestic Hawksbill Turtle. Dance with Bottlenose Dolphins and seek out the meandering Moray Eel. Hover in awe of a gentle giant, the Whale Shark. Swim with hundreds of species of fish in a single dive. Observe the miniature Nudibranchs that require a keen eye to spot. Study the symbiotic relationship between the Gobi and the Shrimp. Avoid the Titan Triggerfish… (who are big softies, really).

And that’s just the beginning.

I love all the fish in the ocean (except triggerfish!)

Coral is an outstanding animal and an essential contributor to our marine ecosystems and planetary survival. It acts as a nursery for thousands of species to nest their eggs, providing shelter for their early stages of development. It provides food sources for all sorts of life-forms, including parrotfish, who create sand as a byproduct!


Do more of what you love

Scuba provides an excellent platform for you to build on hobbies that you already love! Perhaps you’re an avid photographer or videographer? Maybe you have a home aquarium or are interested in plant propagation? If you’re into sustainability and environmental protection, then there is so much scope for you to pursue and develop these interests in the world of diving!

Underwater filming and photography is great fun!

Conserve our precious ocean & planet

Although this may be the last item on my list, it’s definitely not least. This is possibly the most prevalent of all benefits of scuba diving.

We are visitors to the largest ecosystem on our planet and it’s only right that we do everything in our power to protect it. It’s our duty to give back to nature, or more aptly, take away all the things we’ve put there that do not belong.

Every dive is a fun dive but, more importantly, every dive is an Eco Dive. We are ocean ambassadors and the effort to remove bags, cans, plastic bottles, lighters, indeed, anything that doesn’t belong in the ocean should be at the top of our to do list.

The most important rule of diving is to never hold your breath. Alongside that, I’d say never hold anything. The creatures of the ocean, big or small, strange or familiar, friend or foe are not to be touched. There are surfactants on the skin of marine animals which are there to protect them from harmful and foreign bacteria. If we touch anything – even with gloves on – we risk exposing them and compromising their immune systems.

The only things we should touch or remove on a dive, are the man-made waste products that shouldn’t be in the water in the first place.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my top ten benefits of scuba diving! If you did, please share this post, like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram. Your support is hugely appreciated – thank you!

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The Grand Andaman Club Visa Run | Koh Tao to Myanmar

Andaman Visa Run:
from start to finish

Are you a backpacker or a digital nomad? Perhaps you’re planning a long break to do your Divemaster Course on the stunning island of Koh Tao?

You’ll probably need to make a visa run at some point!

The Andaman Club Visa Run is a fast, cheap & easy way to renew your visa.

Here’s everything you need to know about this land-based trip to Myanmar!

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Initially, I went into Island Travel which is located on the Down Road, between Cafe Del Sol and Pura Vida.

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I took my passport along and booked the 2500thb run which leaves Koh Tao on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. You depart Koh Tao in the morning, the visa is updated in the afternoon, and you return to Koh Tao on the night boat, arriving the next day.

THINGS YOU WILL NEED ON THE VISA RUN:

  • 3 booking slips which you receive from Island Travel in an envelope
  • your passport
  • Sources of entertainment – it’s about 18 hours of travel with not a lot else going on
  • Snacks and water & some dinner money (cheaper than buying onboard/at terminals)
  • a jumper or blanket (air conditioning can get very cold)
  • a change of clothes & toiletries
  • sleeping tablets/motion-sickness tablets if you’re susceptible
  • Recommended cash of 20000thb or evidence of a ticket out of Thailand

HOW IT WORKS:

Step 1
Lomprayah Ferry from Koh Tao to Chumphon
– 2 hours –

  • Show up 30 minutes earlier than the ferry departure time so you can exchange your booking slip for your ferry ticket without rushing. It can be very busy.
  • Get in line to board the ferry & put your sticker on. There are 2 boats and the stewards will make sure you don’t get on the wrong one if they can clearly see where you’re going.
  • Find yourself a nice place to chill – I recommend the VIP room on the upper deck. It’s only 100thb for the whole journey, there are wall sockets, bigger seats and less people.

Step 2
Bus from Chumphon to Andaman Sea
– 2.5 hours –

  • Keep walking straight through the Chumphon ferry port to where there are minibuses parked & ask for Andaman Club, someone will be sure to get you to the right bus.
  • Board the bus and buckle up for the ride.
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Step 3
Speedboat to Grand Andaman Hotel, Pulo Ru
– 0.5 hours –

  • When you arrive at the Thai Port, go into the office to the departures window for processing.
  • Follow the stewards who will guide you to the speedboat or use these handy signs!
  • When you arrive in Myanmar, mind the monkeys on the beach and protect your passport!
  • Process at the arrivals desk in Myanmar. They will keep your passport and issue you a photocopy

Step 4
The Grand Andaman Hotel
– 1 hour –

  • A minibus will take you to the Grand Andaman Hotel. There’s a duty free lounge and an in-house Casino!
  • You spend less than an hour here and if you’re not lined up for the bus they will send someone in with a bell to find you!

The Return Leg:

  • The minibus will drop you back at the Myanmar desk for you to collect your passport
  • Back on the speedboat
  • Back to Thai Immigration office
  • Re-enter Thailand
  • Back in the minivan to Chumphon – arrive around 7pm.

You now have a couple of hours to spend in Chumphon where you can pick up lots of essentials at decent prices. There are shopping malls, fast food restaurants, clothes stalls and loads of street vendors to check out!

  • 9pm: back in the minivan which will take you to the night ferry
  • When you check in they will assign a bed for you
  • Settle in for a good night’s sleep!
  • Arrive back on Koh Tao around 6am
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That’s it for the Andaman Club Visa Run!

Check here for updated rules regarding land-border entry limits from the Thai Embassy.

I hope you found this guide to the Andaman Visa Run useful. If you did, please share this post, like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram. Your support is hugely appreciated – thank you!

Back on Koh Tao for another stunning sunset!

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Check out my latest posts!


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Benefits of Diving | The Top Ten

What’s so great about scuba diving?

Happy Jen and Hazal!

Here are my Top Ten reasons why scuba diving is one of the best things you can do for yourself – and for our planet!

Use this handy navigation list to jump to any section!

  1. Learn a new skill
  2. Travel to new places
  3. Boldly go where few have gone before
  4. Find space and calm
  5. Be at one with nature and life on earth
  6. Meet new people
  7. Improve your mental health
  8. See exotic wildlife
  9. Do more of what you love
  10. Conserve our precious ocean & planet

Learn a new skill

There’s something to be said for broadening your horizons and learning something new! A sense of accomplishment is up there with one of the most basic human needs and, with scuba, you can be sure to find endless opportunities to develop! From starting out by earning your Open Water Certification, to taking it all the way to Technical diving and diver specialties, the road to expanding your knowledge is bountiful.


Travel to new places

Whilst travelling to tropical locations to spend time in the sun, sea and sand is at the top of a lot of people’s agendas, you don’t have to draw the line there. Scuba diving can be conducted almost anywhere that you find water! From the ice caves of the Arctic to abandoned inland quarries, lakes and rivers, there are innumerable places to explore to seek out new underwater adventures. There might even be diving right on your doorstep – metaphorically speaking…

…Unless you happen to live here:

Gorgeous beach shack in the Dominican Republic

Boldly go where few have gone before

Although there are globally renowned dive sites which host thousands of divers every year, the world is full of unexplored terrain – both over and underwater! As a certified diver, you are at liberty to take a buddy and adventure forth into the unknown. Map new dive sites, search for wrecks, perhaps you’ll even discover a rare or undocumented marine species!

Secluded beach in Indonesia

It’s also important to recognise the privilege of this experience. We may have evolved from water dwellers millions of years ago, but the ability to explore the source of life on our planet is a beautiful gift recently bestowed to us. Take this opportunity to delve into the unique and undiscovered blue that represents 71% of our earth’s surface and find yourself at one with our planet and it’s aquatic origins. You’ll be one of a very lucky few.


Find space and calm

The water is a vast entity with depths we can only imagine. It is a sacred space, and you can feel it. It holds you like a full body hug and guides you into a state of mindful meditation. Scuba diving is not swimming – the aim is to expend as little energy as possible for the most rewarding experience.

Upon entering the water, it’s not silent as you might imagine. It’s bustling with pops, crunches and squeaks from aquatic life. The melodic rhythm of your breathing accompanies you on every journey, becoming your own meditative metronome. Your heart rate slows as you enter a space of relaxation, where tranquility washes over the body and mind. For about 60 minutes, you are at peace – living absolutely in the moment – and that is truly priceless.


Be at one with nature and life on earth

Like a stroll along a beach, a walk in the park or a mountain trek, a dive in the ocean brings you closer to the elements! Where the earth’s jungles have monkeys, exotic birds and insects, the ocean have sharks, dolphins, whales, tropical fish, eels, rays, turtles, crustaceans and so much more. Just as there are fields of wildflowers on land, there are beds of stunning varieties of coral, bearing their beautiful shapes, colours and sizes for our eyes to feast on.

They say that time spent in nature is the best medicine, and I couldn’t agree more.


Meet new people

Who needs tinder when you’re on a dive boat?! Jokes aside, it’s a fabulous way to meet people from all over the world and many walks of life. Life-long friends can be found in the dive community. Travellers, holiday makers, marine enthusiasts, environmental agents, thrill seekers, and passionate dive professionals are just a handful of the types of people that board the dive boat every day. No matter who we are or where we come from, we are all part of one big family!

Your dive boat buddies are among some of the best friends you’ll find.

Improve your mental health

This has been a major part of my personal journey and I genuinely can’t advocate for it enough. Like some type of miracle potion, scuba diving has opened my eyes to the wonder and value of all life, including my own. I’m at peace every time I enter the water, living in the moment, allowing my senses to carry me on a voyage of gratitude for who and where I am on this planet.

Happy Jen

Scuba:

  • Demands that I slow down
  • Invites me to be grateful
  • Values forward planning and problem solving
  • Encourages me to remain calm in times of difficulty
  • Reminds me to breathe and take responsibility
  • Stimulates my mind with the wonders of our world

See exotic wildlife

Glide alongside the majestic Hawksbill Turtle. Dance with Bottlenose Dolphins and seek out the meandering Moray Eel. Hover in awe of a gentle giant, the Whale Shark. Swim with hundreds of species of fish in a single dive. Observe the miniature Nudibranchs that require a keen eye to spot. Study the symbiotic relationship between the Gobi and the Shrimp. Avoid the Titan Triggerfish… (who are big softies, really).

And that’s just the beginning.

I love all the fish in the ocean (except triggerfish!)

Coral is an outstanding animal and an essential contributor to our marine ecosystems and planetary survival. It acts as a nursery for thousands of species to nest their eggs, providing shelter for their early stages of development. It provides food sources for all sorts of life-forms, including parrotfish, who create sand as a byproduct!


Do more of what you love

Scuba provides an excellent platform for you to build on hobbies that you already love! Perhaps you’re an avid photographer or videographer? Maybe you have a home aquarium or are interested in plant propagation? If you’re into sustainability and environmental protection, then there is so much scope for you to pursue and develop these interests in the world of diving!

Underwater filming and photography is great fun!

Conserve our precious ocean & planet

Although this may be the last item on my list, it’s definitely not least. This is possibly the most prevalent of all benefits of scuba diving.

We are visitors to the largest ecosystem on our planet and it’s only right that we do everything in our power to protect it. It’s our duty to give back to nature, or more aptly, take away all the things we’ve put there that do not belong.

Every dive is a fun dive but, more importantly, every dive is an Eco Dive. We are ocean ambassadors and the effort to remove bags, cans, plastic bottles, lighters, indeed, anything that doesn’t belong in the ocean should be at the top of our to do list.

The most important rule of diving is to never hold your breath. Alongside that, I’d say never hold anything. The creatures of the ocean, big or small, strange or familiar, friend or foe are not to be touched. There are surfactants on the skin of marine animals which are there to protect them from harmful and foreign bacteria. If we touch anything – even with gloves on – we risk exposing them and compromising their immune systems.

The only things we should touch or remove on a dive, are the man-made waste products that shouldn’t be in the water in the first place.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my top ten benefits of scuba diving! If you did, please share this post, like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram. Your support is hugely appreciated – thank you!

Advertisements

Become a PADI Divemaster | Thailand 2020

How to become a PADI Divemaster
Koh Tao

No matter where you want to go to do your DM course, here’s a quick guide on what it takes to get there!


If you still need a little push in the right direction, check out 10 of the best things about scuba diving!


Divemaster Prerequisites

Before you begin your PADI Divemaster Course, you’ll need to:

  • be 18 years old
  • have a doctor’s medical statement of fitness, signed within 12 months
  • be certified as a PADI Rescue Diver
  • have an Emergency First Response (or similar first aid) certification within 24 months – if you’re a medical professional, you’re sorted
  • have 40 logged dives
  • have at least 1 month to complete it (though I’d recommend taking 2+).

A lot of dive centres can work out a package price for you if you’ve still got a few courses or dives to get under your belt before you start.

If you book your DM Course here, you get to DIVE FOR FREE the whole way through! It’s the best way to gain experience and get your numbers up!


Where should you do your Divemaster course?

It’s a big world out there! Consider…

  • country, continent & culture
  • visa restrictions
  • living costs
  • political stability
  • local dive laws
  • weather & dive conditions
  • work opportunities
  • social lifestyle

What about the dive centre?

I’ve got experience with Simple Life Divers on Koh Tao, Thailand. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have!

There are many dive centres & schools out there, and they all have different ratings. I’m still learning about these but if ‘5 Star’ is in the title, I think you’re in with a pretty safe bet!

Take into account…

  • customer reviews
  • certification numbers
  • DMT turnover
  • course, materials & fee costs
  • location
  • pool/boat facilities
  • accommodation
  • perks – free diving/future discounts

but most importantly…

  • will there be whale sharks!?


What’s in the PADI Divemaster Course?

The PADI Divemaster Course can be completed in as little as 3 weeks, though I would recommend taking around 3 months.

Becoming a Divemaster is a commitment. You’re dedicating your time, money & energy to developing your knowledge and skills to a professional standard. You’ll want to get the most out of every component of the course so that you can become the best possible version of yourself!

The main components…

  • Knowledge Reviews 1-7 in the Divemaster manual & Exam 1
  • Knowledge Reviews 8-9 & Exam 2
  • Learn how to use RDP tables and the eRDPml
  • Complete skills circuits and demonstration workshops
  • Map a dive site
  • Exercises in Search and Recovery & Deep Diving
  • Shadow Divemasters and Instructors as they teach courses and lead fun-divers
  • Present boat/dive briefings
  • Conduct a scuba review
  • Conduct diver rescue simulations
  • Complete the swim exercises:
    • 400m swim
    • 800m swim with mask, snorkel & fins – no use of arms
    • 100m tired diver tow in full scuba kit
    • 13 minute tread water + 2 minute tread with arms elevated

Fun-dive for free all the way through your DM course when you book with us!

Get in touch!


PADI Fees and Professional Dive Insurance

If you want work as a DM you will need to pay your PADI fees to achieve ‘active’ status. Check if this is included in your DM course cost.

Depending on where you are in the world, you might also need professional insurance. It is not compulsory in every country, but it’s a smart idea to have it incase anything goes wrong with you or your students.

If you are an EU citizen (the UK is still included at this time) I would recommend Aqua-Med for professional dive insurance. Check out their website for more information!

If you book your insurance through this link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself, and I would be very grateful for your support.

I only recommend products & services which I value and have used myself.



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List of PADI Courses | Learning Journey

Which PADI Course is Right for You?

What are the PADI courses and skill levels?

Here’s an almost exhaustive list of PADI courses & programs. Use these handy links to jump to relevant sections to find what you’re looking for.

PADI have an extensive list of available courses, programs and specialties which can be altered and updated at any time. Stay tuned for updates & more information on PADI Technical & Freediving Courses.


Courses for Adults

The bread and butter of your learning journey as a scuba diver.

Open Water
Your classic entry-level scuba course, with pool and open water sessions. Get certified to dive to a maximum of 18m around the world!

Advanced Open Water
5 adventure dives which focus on levelling up your key skills in different areas including deep and navigation. Get certified to a maximum of 30m!

Rescue Diver
Learn to rectify more challenging dive situations with heightened awareness in problem prevention and handling. First aid training a prerequisite.


Adventure Dives

These specialty dives build on the skills you learned in the Open Water Course. Adventure Dives contribute to the Advanced Course and they are also the first dives in the respective Specialty Diver Course!

Adventure DiveMinimum Age
Adaptive Support*15
Altitude10
Boat10
Cavern*18
Deep12
Delayed Surface Marker Buoy*12
Digital Underwater Imaging10
Dive Against Debris (AWARE)*12
Diver Propulsion Vehicle*12
Drift12
Dry Suit10
Enriched Air*12
Fish Identification10
Full Face Mask*12
Ice18
Night12
Peak Performance Buoyancy10
Rebreather*18
Search & Recovery12
Self-Reliant*18
Shark Conservation (AWARE)*12
Sidemount*15
Underwater Naturalist*10
Underwater Navigation10
Wreck12
*These dives must be taught by a Specialty Instructor. Get in touch to discuss.

IMPORTANT: It’s not always possible for a dive centre to accommodate every types of adventure dive. Imagine Ice Diving in the Mediterranean! Check ahead and communicate with your Dive Centre if you plan to do Adventure Dives that require a Specialty Instructor. Happy learning!


Specialty Diver Courses

This is where you can truly tailor your learning! If you’ve done any Adventure Dives – or your Advanced Open Water Course – then you’ve already completed the first dive of the respective Specialty Course! Time for a wee discount, no?
IMPORTANT: Most Specialty Diver Courses need to be taught by a Specialty Instructor. Many of them require you to have a prerequisite certification level. Get in touch with your Dive Centre to be sure you can do the course!

Specialty CourseMinimum Age
Adaptive Support Diver15
Adaptive Techniques18
Altitude Diver10
AWARE – Dive Against Debris12
AWARE – Shark Conservation Diver12
Boat Diver10
Cavern Diver18
Coral Reef Conservationno minimum age
Deep Diver15
Delayed Surface Marker Buoy Diver12
Digital Underwater Photographer10
Diver Propulsion Vehicle Diver12
Drift Diver12
Dry Suit Diver10
Enriched Air Diver12
Emergency Oxygen Providerno minimum age
Equipment Specialist10
Fish Identification Diver10
Full Face Mask Diver12
Ice Diver18
Multilevel Diver12
Night Diver12
Peak Performance Buoyancy10
Project AWARE specialistno minimum age
Public Safety Diver18
Search & Recovery Diver12
Self-Reliant Diver18
Semiclosed Rebreather Diver15
Sidemount Diver15
Underwater Naturalist10
Underwater Navigator10
Underwater Photographer10
Underwater Videographer10
Wreck Diver15

Additional

Discover Scuba Diving
Try Dive Program.
A mini-course to try out scuba diving to see if it’s for you. Learn the basics for a safe and enjoyable first dive experience. Maximum 12m.

ReActivate Program
PADI authorised skills review.
This is ideal if you’ve not dived recently and want to refresh your open water skills and update your cert card.

Discover Local Diving
PADI authorised fun-dive.
Get to know your dive site with an experienced Divemaster telling you all you need to know & guiding you to the best spots.

PADI Scuba Diver
Subset of Open Water
Not got the time or money to do the whole Open Water? This course certifies you to dive to 12m, accompanied by a Divemaster or Instructor.

Adventure Diver
Subset of Advanced
Not got the time or resources to complete the full advanced course? Complete 3 adventure dives and you’re well on your way there!

Master Scuba Diver Program
Rescue Divers with a minimum of 5 specialties and 50 logged dives reach the the elite MSD status. The highest level for recreational divers!


PADI Courses for Kids

For children ages 8 – 15.
Please also see the Adventure and Specialty sections for more information.

Bubblemaker Program
Max depth: 2m | 8+
This is like a ‘try dive’ for kids. If they enjoy it, enroll them in the Seal Team for further training.

PADI Seal Team
max depth: 4m | 8+
Complete 5 AquaMissions to develop core skills in diving. Exciting course with sound knowledge development.

Master Seal Team
Complete an additional 10 AquaMissions & independently assemble and disassemble kit for Master Seal Team Membership!

Junior Open Water
max depth: 12m | 10-11yrs
max depth: 18m | 12-14yrs
It’s the Open Water Course! Automatic certification upgrade to Open Water Diver at 15 years.

Junior Advanced Open Water
max depth: 21m | 12-14yrs
It’s the Advanced Course! Automatic certification upgrade to Advanced Open Water Diver at 15 years.

Junior Rescue Diver
max depth: 21m | 12-14yrs + navigation adventure dive
It’s the Rescue Course! Automatic certification upgrade to Rescue Diver at 15 years.

Skin Diver Course
8 – adult
This is like an introduction to snorkelling and freediving, whilst wearing a buoyancy control device. Pool only.


PADI Professional Courses

This is it! The professional ladder! If this is on your agenda, please get in touch to discuss tailor-made packages and internships so you can make the most of your journey to educational excellence!

Divemaster
Spend your days diving and guiding people around local dive sites. Complete a variety of exercises and dives to test your fitness, patience and demonstration skills!

Assistant Instructor
Conduct a variety of courses independently, and more under the supervision of an Instructor. Carry out some specialty teaching and inspire your students!

Open Water Scuba Instructor
Teach everything from Bubblemaker right through to Divemaster! Share your passion for diving, skill mastery and extensive knowledge to educate a new league of divers.

Master Scuba Diver Trainer
Learn to teach a minimum of 5 specialties and complete at least 25 certifications to reach the status of MSDT!

Keep going and you could become…

  • an IDC Staff Instructor
  • a Master Instructor
  • a Course Director
  • a Specialty Course Instructor Trainer…

The world is your oyster – just dive right in. Water you waiting for? Mussel in and let the waves of joy wash over you. It’s all about taking a giant stride into the depths of your dreams and bringing them straight to the surface. You’ll have a whale of a time!

More puns welcome. In fact… they’re encouraged! Send them here!


Postcards From Italy

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

Today, I spent several hours chatting to friends and family over different video-calling platforms. In a way, I count myself lucky that this is all happening at a time where we can stay connected through the wonder of technology. It also goes to show that the internet should no longer be considered a luxury – it’s a utility!

So, the plan is to keep communicating regularly, and I’m slowly creating a list of family and friends to call at the same time every week. Where we would have planned to go out for lunch or coffee, we now get that coffee at home, plant ourselves comfortably and spend time chatting, as though we are side-by-side.


After feeling a calling for quite some time, I finally took a few minutes to conduct some Metta Meditation for all the people of our world, offering love, solidarity, strength and peace.

Beirut – Postcards From Italy
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A Walk In Nature

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

Today’s highlight was meeting my good pal Graeme and going for a nice walk in the rain round Kelvingrove Park.

I took it all very seriously – no hugs or handshakes (even though this was the first time I had seen him in over 6 months) and I didn’t go into any buildings.

We walked with at least a metre between us and I kept my hands in my pockets as much as possible. It’s quite a challenge to avoid touching anything at all!

The thing that gets me is that people think I’m doing this because I’m scared. That I’m taking it way too far and overreacting.

Honestly, I wish I had done it sooner.


I’m devastated for all the bars, restaurants, pubs, musicians and companies in the events and tourism industries because this will be the end for so many. They’re torn between staying open to save their livelihoods and closing to save lives, and that’s a sickening predicament to be in.

Without a definitive lockdown, and forced closure of establishments by the government, these businesses can expect no compensation from insurance companies and will be left to fail.

Please see this post on financial assistance during Covid-19 lockdown, for some up-to-date information.

Support your local business:

  • leave positive reviews
    • TripAdvisor
    • GoogleMaps
    • Facebook Pages
  • share and like their social media
  • order online
  • order takeaways
  • buy & send gift cards – check for online versions!

This situation will change, but let’s do everything we can to promote local businesses and protect our vulnerable citizens, while we can.


Roots Manuva – Movements
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Happy Birthday Hand-Washing

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

It was an interesting birthday. Shout-out to my parents for cooking the perfect meal and providing my favourite Caterpillar Cake to top it off!

Thank you for the lovely messages and calls, from friends and family around the world.

It’s been a most uneventful birthday, but that was to be expected.

One thing is for sure…millions of strangers were singing Happy Birthday for me today, and they didn’t even know it!


Nico – These Days
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First days on Koh Tao | The Top Ten

Hey guys!

Finally getting round to updating you on what’s been happening on Koh Tao, in the gulf of Thailand! I’ve packed a lot into my time here already so I’m going to keep it concise is with The Top Ten. I hope you enjoy!


1. Simple Life Divers

Some of our simple life family from
September 2019

Simple – without a doubt – hits the top spot. This is the dive school and centre which has supported me through my Emergency First Response (EFR), Rescue and Divemaster Training courses (so far). They’re professional, friendly and extremely helpful – I couldn’t recommend them more. Do you want to discover scuba diving? If you have any questions, please get in touch right here.

2. Yang’s Restaurant

Woop woop! I don’t know where I would be without Yang’s! These guys have fed and watered not just me, but all of my colleagues from pretty much the moment we set foot on the island. A bit of an institution; the portion sizes are generous and prices are cheap. With Thai, Western and pan-Asian options, it’s my all-round winner for anybody looking for good food on a budget.

3. Koh Tao For Sale

A Facebook group has been set up with island hoppers in mind, and I love it for the sustainability aspect. Pretty much everything can be saved from landfill – I actually bought peanut butter, pesto and a half bottle of shampoo for way less than they cost in the shops. From clothes to scooters, home-furnishings to dive kits and accessories, you can pick up literally anything under the sun from your neighbours on Koh Tao.

4. Zest Cafe

The veggie breakfast comes with a glass of fresh fruit juice and a tea or coffee – 150thb

What a find! Zest is a reasonably priced coffee shop and sandwich bar with a wonderful selection of vegan/veggie/gluten free options and a high standard for every dish. Paninis, bagels, baguettes and fresh salads are just a few of the options available on their extensive menu. I’m loyal to their little cafe on the Up Road in Mae Haad, but I’ll be sure to check out the larger venue at the bottom of Sairee ASAP.

5. Koh Tao Cinema

Koh Tao Cinema is located in The Hacienda – right beside the crazy golf course, pool tables and sports bar. This dinky little room hosts a projector and eight large sofas. One cinema ticket is 50thb, but you can then use it towards buying a drink or food at the bar. The cinema shows a variety of films from new releases to kids shows, advertised on a daily basis via their Facebook page. If there is something specific you want to see, you can message them directly. So far, they’ve presented The Big Lebowski and a private screening of Chasing Coral – for folks at Simple Life – at my request!

6. Shakes

Coconut shakes from Bambam restaurant in Mae Haad – 50thb each

Available everywhere on Koh Tao, a shake a day keeps the hunger away. Available in a wide variety of flavours and freshly made, they’re ideal to cool down and energise between meals. There are fruit smoothies, milkshakes, lassies (blended with yoghurt) and iced coffees to choose from. I’m particularly fond of banana and peanut, though the coconut shakes are great for re-hydrating and also super tasty! Just let them know if you want a little less sugar in yours – they’re automatically made with a generous amount.

7. The Queen’s Cabaret

The costumes, jewellery, makeup and hair are absolutely incredible

A right of passage in Thailand, the ladyboy cabaret show is a must see, more than once! On Koh Tao the show starts every night at 10.20pm at the far end of Sairee. There is no ticket price to enter but you do have to buy at least one drink in the venue. Soft drinks start at 150thb and alcoholic drinks are around 250thb, which contributes to the cost of the show. Dancing, singing and acting are a big part of the performance, with a little bit of audience participation thrown in. Guaranteed to make everyone smile!

8. Pancakes

Pong and his pancakes – located outside the 7-11 at the top of the Up Road

A bit of an obsession of mine… There are portable pancake vendors dotted all over the island. Quite like crepes, with savoury or sweet varieties, there are any number of fillings available to satisfy your on-the-spot craving. I’m a huge fan of the banana and nutella one, topped with a drizzle of condensed milk which takes it to a whole other level of delicious.

9. Electrolytes

Electrolyte sachets are available for 8 – 10thb individually or buy a box of 50, bringing them down to about 4thb a piece

Hail hail electrolytes! The tap water on Koh Tao is not safe for drinking, so it’s bottled water all round. You can order large vats of water to be delivered to your home, or buy bottles at shops around the island… But it’s important to know that all of this water is straight H2O. The treatment process removes everything, including the salts, sugars, and minerals which contribute to healthy body and brain functions. Queue ELECTROLYTES! Returning many of the necessary nutrients to the water, these sachets of dissolvable goodness promote focus and keep light-headedness at bay.

10. La Pizzeria

The margherita pizza – 170thb & the funghi – 200thb

I know pizza is a big thing all over the world, so I didn’t think I would struggle to find some. I did, however, expect to struggle to find good pizza. Coming from Glasgow and our incredible Paesano pizzerias, I have high standards which are hard to meet. La Pizzeria makes a strong effort. With a huge variety of toppings, calzones and delicious starters, the authentic Italian sourced ingredients and the best garlic mayo out are just a few reasons why I love this place. They also deliver on the island if you message their Facebook page, and if you collect 10 pizza box vouchers you get a free margherita, or 170thb off a pizza of your choice. Brilliant – more pizza!


Well that just about sums up my top ten stand out experiences of Koh Tao so far! Look out for the upcoming posts which go into a bit more detail about each of these features. If you have any questions about diving, Koh Tao, travel, or anything else, please drop me a message on my contact page, I would love to hear from you!


Thanks for reading!
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