We woke up early and were picked up by The Dive staff. I was excited to get into the ocean and get up close to the creatures I had seen in my aquarium. We drove down the beachfront in Ao Nang for about 10 minutes until we reached a beach with the standard long tail boats you see everywhere. From there we went out onto a large diving specific boat with a ton of people. Mostly divers, but some snorkelers too. We had a two hour boat ride to the islands we would be diving in Phi Phi. During this time we did our quizzes and talked about what skills we would do.
Upon the arrival at the island we moved downstairs towards the back of the boat. There were a whole lot of people trying to get ready and also talking to their Dive Masters. It was cramped and the fumes from the engines were getting to my head so I could not wait to get into the water. We did our buddy checks and did a giant stride into the water.
First thing, switch from the regulator to snorkel. The water was rough because we were diving along the wall of a cliff. Any waves crashing at the surface against the wall were pushing us in all directions. We followed our instructor and went through our descending procedure. We were going to kneel on the sand at a depth of 7 meters. It took awhile for me to get down there, I was having trouble equalizing my ears. If you don’t know what that is swallow and you will feel/hear a little click in your ears. I was trying the pinch and blow technique but that just does not work for me. The alternative to that is to pinch and swallow which I find more effective and easier to do. The first 5-7 meters were the most difficult for my brother and I. The most common injuries diving are related to the ears so I recommend watching this video and learning a bit more if you are a person who is a slow equalizer. I have done 17 dives now and an considerably faster but getting past 5 meters still takes a minute or two. Rather than descend down to go with your guide or buddy, hover above them until your able to equalize. They are still visible and close to you and it is not irritating the impatient people.
We make it down to the 7 meter mark and we just breathe there. Fish are swimming all around and the waves on the surface are now silent and beautiful. There is no current and we just sit there. Looking around at each other, the sloping reef wall, the coral, fish, and to the open water (the blue) was incredible. The open water is not scary but inviting, maybe a little to much. The visibility was about 8-10 meters but after that nothing. Things disappear quickly underwater, becoming disorientated is not difficult.
Over the next 4 dives we completed all of our skills and went to a depth of 17.9 meters. Even at that depth things are darker and the sun is getting farther and farther away. It is relaxing to stop for a moment let some air out of your BCD and kneel on the sand. The only sound is your breathing and the bubbles from your breath going over your ears. The dives all had skills to complete so taking a moment to enjoy what you are doing is very rewarding.
We did our safety stop at 5 meters for 3 minutes. Nick shook our hands and we were now certified Open Water Divers. The Dive is a great shop in Ao Nang. There equipment is new, and they did not skip over anything. Nick was a great instructor and was able to answer all of our questions and was patient and professional. Knowing what to do underwater is very important (obviously) so covering everything is essential and not excessive. For those reading this and considering a dive shop to do a course with, think about the service you are paying for. Do you want to pay a few hundred dollars to get your card so you can go diving, or would you like to know what to do when something goes wrong under 18+ meters of water. It is easy to choose a good or bad dive shop. Look for as many reviews as possible, and if you think something isn’t safe then do not do it. After getting a few more dives under my belt I have realized that even if you have 100+ dives you can still panic or still have no idea how to descend properly (coming soon in my Malaysia posts).