Some of our most popular experiences are the open water dive courses in places like Koh Tao or on the Great  Barrier Reef – but what can you expect from your 3/4 day course?

We asked our resident dive expect and blog ambassador Ally to give you a quick run through – she’s a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer so she’s pretty clued up on it all…!

So here is quick guide to your PADI Open Water Diver certification…


Scuba diving is very easy and safe, but it does require a bit of a learning curve.
First of all take your time to choose your dive centre, you want to feel comfortable with your instructors and the people in the dive centre. Whether you are hoping between “Koh”’s in Thailand or sampling island life on Gili T, have a look around and sit down with a couple instructors.

Obviously we all want the cheapest deal but you do want to remember that you are paying for your life support underwater here. Choose a dive centre with recognised training agencies clearly displayed at the front such as PADI, that looks clean, organised and care for the environment.

Don’t chose it only because the instructors hanging out the front looks fit. Well, maybe a bit!

Chosen your dive centre? Great, get ready to sign up. Although diving is all fun and games, you do have some paperwork to go through.

You will be asked to fill out a medical to make sure you do not have any pre existing condition which would endanger you, such as asthma. I would recommend to get a dive medical before you go traveling just to make sure, and bring it with you when you sign up! After that follows the usual liability forms and contact details. You are now ready to start your dive theory!

Several options are available to you. If you are short on time during your travels, why not do your dive theory online before you even leave your house?

Once you get to your destination all that will be left for you to do is the practical side of it!

Decided to jump in on a whim? No worries. Your instructor will provide you with a book, which will be yours to keep.

You will be asked to read the 5 chapters, do 5 knowledge reviews, and complete 4 quizzes. Sounds too much? The course is designed for 10 year olds to pass.

Throughout you will be also watching videos matching the chapters from your book in your dive centre classroom before being tested with one final theory exam, and off to the water you go!

Your first session will be what is called a “confined session”, meaning you will be practicing some simple skills in a pool or shallow water on the beach. Skills include taking your first breath, getting used to your gear, swimming 200m or taking your regulator out and putting it back in your month. Your instructor will show you each skill before asking you to repeat it.

All done? Great! Let’s get in the sea..

You will have 4 dives to complete to get your license, generally 2 dives a day. During those dives you will spend some time at the start to practice those skills you learned in confined in the water…and then? Enjoy your dive! Follow your instructor, make some bubbles and discover the oceans. Hopefully you’ll get to see some sharks, turtles, and the infamous “Nemo”.

Hooked already? Well, time to think about your PADI Advanced Open Water then!

See you underwater!


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ally toullec epic gap year travel blogger

 This is a guest post by blog ambassador Ally Toullec

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To celebrate the launch of Epic Gap Year we’re giving away a scuba dive course on Koh Tao In Thailand, complete with a brand new dive mask and snorkel!

All you have to do to win is sign up for our monthly newsletter – which is packed full of exclusive discounts, news and general travel goodness – and hit “like” on our Facebook page.

So fill in your details below and you’ll automatically be in with a chance of winning – the winner will be announced on July 20




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dive courses live aboard drive trip barrier reef cairns oz 2


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The Small Print;
  • Full PADI or SSI Open Water Certification
  • Accommodation throughout your course
  • Competition ends on July 15th 2014 at 09:00GMT
  • Prize value of £180 – no cash alternative offered
  • Prize must be used before 1st July 2015
  • Accommodation is subject to availability 
  • You must be 18 or over
  • Flights, insurance, visas and other travel expenses are not included

One of the biggest questions we get in regards to scuba diving and dive courses in Thailand is where is best?

Having spent a large amount of time working and diving in all the locations our team knows how difficult it can be to choose which one to visit – so we though we’d put together a quick low down on each location to hopefully help you decide!


Koh Tao

Koh Tao is one of our favourite places in Thailand. This island lives and breathes diving and more people head here for their open water than anywhere else in the world. By day you’ll have the chance to crack on with any level of scuba dive qualification, videography course or marine conservation internship and explore dive sites like the amazing Chumpon Pinnacle – regularly frequented by whale sharks! By night you can kick back in some of the many beach bars or join the infamous Koh Tao pub crawl.

It’s a great island to explore and we highly recommend taking a day trip over to the neighbouring Nang Yuang islands to relax and soak up the gorgeous views.

Pick if – Money is your biggest concern. Tao is the cheapest spot for fun dives, open water and dive master courses.


Phi Phi Island

Phi Phi is where out team have spend the most amount of time diving and gaining their own qualifications – and for good reason. There’s a great array of dive sites – and an abundance of amazing marine life. Whether you spend the day with turtles, leopard sharks or trying to find nemo there’s heaps to keep your attention! Scuba diving course on Phi Phi allow you to access a great range of dive sites including the King Cruiser Wreck.

The island itself is just a short hop from Phuket (meaning internal or international flights are easily accessible) and it’s easy to find party or tranquility depending on your mood. A stroll down to the beautiful long beach and the reef tip shark nursery or a venture up to the view point for sunset will fill the mellow days where as beach parties will help you let loose if you choose!

Pick if – You’re on a mid range budget and want a bigger variety of dive sites to choose from than Koh Tao


Khao Lak

Although Khao Lak itself is rather quaint and quiet it’s the best base to access the diving jewel of Thailand – the Similan Islands.

This chain of islands (a few hours boat journey from the mainland) is home to some of the best dive sites, conditions and marine life in the area. Spots like Elephant Head Rock, Richelin Rock and Koh Bon West will offer the chance to cruise with whale sharks, manta ray, barracuda, turtles and huge shoals of fish.

For us it’s the best diving we’ve done in Thailand and we can’t wait to go back again!

Pick If – You have a higher budget and want to access some of the best dive spots in Thailand. Our scuba dive live boards and dive master packages all include time in the Similan Islands


We hope that gives you a better understanding of where to choose – and if you’re in any doubt drop our team a line and we’ll make sure you end up hitting the water in the best locations for your goals and budget.


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