After an agonisingly long journey from Bangkok, we are finally living the Island Life. We’ve booked in to do our dive certification at Ban’s, the second largest dive company in the world, beaten only by ProDive in Cairns. It’s pennies on the dollar to get certified in Thailand compared to Australia, so we are loving life. Not to mention the free resort accommodation that comes with our class!

Koh Tao is a pretty small island, but we certainly don’t see much of it. If we aren’t sleeping or eating (or getting massages, because pampering), we are in the water. It isn’t my first time diving (hair flip), but the dives I did in Hawaii and the Great Barrier Reef didn’t count for any formal certification, so here I am in the pool with everyone else on the first day. Day 2-4 are spent splashing about in the 28C water and wishing I could sprout gills and never return to the surface.

All the details: PADI dive certification on Koh Tao

Cost: Spend 3.5 days getting your PADI Open Water Diver certification at Ban’s Diving Resort for 9,800THB, and then another 2 days getting your Advanced Open Water Diver certification for 8,500THB.

Getting there: Catch a bus from Bangkok down to Chumporn, where there will then be a connecting ferry to Koh Tao. Ban’s recommends booking this through Lompraya, which costs about 1,000THB in total.

Where to stay: Accomodation at Ban’s Diving Resort is included in the price of your dive certification.

Top tips: Tack on a few fun dives with Ban’s after you get certified— you’ll only pay 700THB per dive as a former student!

The obvious highlight is our night dive, which is like swimming in the Milky Way (galaxy, not candy bar). Bioluminescence is something we read about in The Beach, and seeing it in real life is unreal. At first glance, the sea is just endless black in front of you, but as soon as you move, all these neon particles are disturbed and just spin around like confetti.

We are so mesmerised that we decide– fuck it– let’s stay on the island and get our advanced licence, because you never know when you’ll need to go to 40m. In hindsight: never. But still, it’s a great experience. More free accommodation, this time our class is a one-on-one (technically two-on-one, I guess), and we get taken inside a shipwreck at 45m. Rebels.

As a last hoorah, we pay for a handful of “fun dives” and tick off a total of 15 dives on the island.

This week has gone by way too quickly for my taste, but we are already days late for a rendezvous with our friends on Koh Pha Ngan. Koh Tao, I’ll be back for you someday.

Read more about our travels through Thailand:

BANGKOK’S CRAZY KOH SAN ROAD

SURVIVING THAILAND’S INFAMOUS FULL MOON PARTY

ON TO PHUKET

TROPICAL PARADISE ON KOH LANTA

LAST STOP: KOH PHI PHI

PHOTO JOURNAL: DROP EVERYTHING AND GO TO THAILAND