Up at sunrise and en route to the harbor, my stomach fluttered with both nerves and excitement.
I had booked an all-day boat dive through my hostel in Phuket, though I hadn’t been scuba diving in years.
Despite the quick refresher course I’d completed in preparation for the trip, I still felt unsure. I hoped I wouldn’t be a nuisance to my dive master or the other divers in my group.
You see, this was also my first solo trip and I was alone – no dive buddy to lean back on this time. Still, my worries weren’t enough to sway me. Nothing beats the feeling of breathing underwater… especially when the water happens to be crystal clear and a balmy 89° Fahrenheit. While the Thai island of Koh Tao is well known for its world class diving, I had no idea what to expect in Phuket. I simply wanted to revive my scuba skills and have a fun day out on the water, even if we didn’t see much sea life.
See also: Top Koh Tao Diving Sites
Arriving at the harbor, I was introduced to my dive master Praew (a local to the island), and another diver from Germany who would join us for the day. Praew briefed us on the dive sites we’d be visiting and patiently answered all of our questions. Approaching the first dive site and feeling just a tad queasy from the boat ride out, we slipped into our gear and (after a quick safety check), slid into the water.
Here goes nothing!
As we slowly and quietly descended, my pre-dive jitters melted away and my breathing relaxed. A whole world opened up before me. Schools of fish darted before my eyes, a turtle swam in the distance, a sea snake slithered above the sand and huge boulders formed mini underwater canyons to swim through. In the distance, my dive master pointed out a reef shark darting in and out of view. This dive was proving to be one of the best of my life. We caught up with a sea turtle and swam alongside it (at a respectful distance), and I soon lost track of time.
Before I knew it, our tanks were running low and we had to ascend. Back on the boat, we enjoyed fresh watermelon and fruit juice as we recounted all that we had seen while moving towards the next dive site.
Over the next two days, we encountered countless more turtles, reef sharks and fish, including my favorite – the batfish. I even swam through my first shipwreck and schools of sea life inched out of my way while I explored the various corridors.
It was, to put it lightly, the experience of a lifetime and one I’ll never forget.
After our final dive, Praew was kind enough to share his GoPro footage with us (free of charge!), and I now have hundreds of beautiful photos to remember the trip.
Back in my room that evening, I drifted to sleep exhausted, but ever so content and happy. I vowed to return to Thailand the following year for another solo dive adventure – and I did – this time in Koh Tao. I now plan to continue to return for years to come.
Scuba diving in Thailand offers everything one could hope for in terms of service, climate, sea life and diversity, and truly caters to all skill levels. In fact, there’s no better place to get certified if you’re interested in becoming an open water diver.
To book your own scuba diving adventure in Phuket, keep your eyes peeled for dive trips departing to Racha Noi and Racha Yai. Trips are typically all-day excursions and your chosen provider will pick you up directly from your hotel. In 2017, my trip cost $105 USD (3,700 Bhat) and included breakfast, lunch and gear.