At sunrise and on the way to the harbor, my stomach fluttered with nervousness and excitement.
I booked a full day boat dive through my hostel in Phuket even though I hadn’t dived in years.
Despite the quick refresher course I took to prepare for my trip, I still felt insecure. I hoped I wouldn’t bother my instructor or the other divers in my group.
You see, that was also my first solo trip and I was alone – this time no dive buddy to lean on. Still, my worries weren’t enough to move me. Nothing beats the feeling of breathing underwater … especially when the water wants to be crystal clear and a mild 89 degrees Fahrenheit. While the Thai island of Koh Tao is known for its world class diving, I had no idea what to expect in Phuket. I just wanted to revive my diving skills and have a fun day on the water, even if we didn’t see a lot of marine life.
See also: Top dive sites on Koh Tao
Arrived at the port, I was introduced to my diving instructor Praew (a native of the island) and another diver from Germany who would accompany us for the day. Praew briefed us on the dive sites we would visit and patiently answered all of our questions. When we approached the first dive site and we got a bit queasy from the boat trip, we slipped into our gear and (after a short safety check) slipped into the water.
Nothing works here!
As we descended slowly and quietly, my nervousness before the dive melted away and my breathing relaxed. A whole world opened up before me. Schools of fish shot before my eyes, a turtle swam in the distance, a sea serpent glided over the sand and huge boulders formed small underwater canyons through which one could swim. In the distance, my instructor pointed to a reef shark darting in and out of view. This dive turned out to be one of the best of my life. We caught up with a sea turtle and swam next to 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 get on. Back on the boat, we enjoyed fresh watermelon and fruit juice while telling everything we had seen as we moved to the next dive site.
In the next two days we met countless other turtles, reef sharks and fish, including my favorite – the batfish. I even swam through my first shipwreck and schools of marine life dodged out of my way as I explored the various corridors.
It was, to say the least, the experience of my life and one I will never forget.
After our last dive, Praew was kind enough to provide us with his GoPro footage (free!) And I now have hundreds of lovely photos to remind me of the trip.
Back in my room that evening I fell asleep exhausted, but very satisfied and happy. I had vowed to return to Thailand the following year for another solo diving adventure – and I did – this time in Koh Tao. I now plan to come back for years to come.
Diving in Thailand offers everything one could wish for in terms of service, climate, marine life and diversity and is really suitable for all skill levels. In fact, there is no better place to get certified if you are interested in becoming an Open Water Diver.
To book your own scuba diving adventure in Phuket, keep an eye out for diving excursions departing from Racha Noi and Racha Yai. Excursions are usually full-day excursions and your chosen provider will pick you up directly from your hotel. In 2017 my trip was US $ 105 (3,700 bhat) and included breakfast, lunch and equipment.