SCUBA Diving for Families in Koh Tao

Did you know that children as young as 8 can dive with the PADI Bubblemaker programme? And from age 10 upwards can take full scuba courses!

Scuba Diving is such a fantastic sport for the whole family! Not only is it a fun way to spend more time together, but diving also provides valuable transferable skills like communication, working with a buddy, caring for the environment, and spacial awareness… to name a few! Plus there’s the bragging rights when they get back home to their friends having seen a turtle, shark etc!

Junior Divers Open Water Course
Junior Divers Learning Hand Signals


However, there is lots to consider, as our customer Jacques and his wife found out when planning their trip…

“Going to Thailand on our first family scuba trip involved hours and hours of research to find the best dive operation. This was of utmost importance as our two boys 13 and 10 just qualified in their Junior Open Water course and dad wanted the first diving experience to be good as this would set the tone for their future diving experiences. ”

Many parents also worry that children will find the self study aspects of the course too difficult – especially with younger children. However in our experience this is not necessarily the case – in most instances, children are actually more eager to learn than parents are! The amazing thing about dive courses is that they provide a viable practical application to many things that are in the school curriculum back home, such as maths problems (RDP and dive planning) and basic physics (buoyancy and gas laws). Many teachers in a traditional school setting struggle to find a way to engage students on these principles, but for the scuba instructor this is no problem as their students get to see the results in real life under the water!

Jason with Jacques and his boys
Jason with Jacques and his boys


Diver safety can also be a common concern for parents. Will their children be safe underwater? Do they trust the Instructor/Divemaster to take adequate care of their offspring? Valid concerns for any safety conscious parent, but not a problem here at Master Divers. We take pride in being a family friendly centre with top notch safety standards and attention to detail, as Jaques and his sons found out…

“Having reasonable experience myself, with my boys obviously being very new to the world of diving I can honestly say all three of us were blown away by the experience we had. I arrived with my Rescue Diver qualifications and during my time with Master Divers I progressed through to Master Diver Level….Our boys progressed with a further 2 courses which included Peak Performance Bouyancy and Underwater Navigator. The number one thing that stood out to us about Master Divers was their detailed focus on all safety aspects without fail – the boys completed 28 dives in their time with Master Divers and dived with 7 different instructors and 4 different dive masters and every single one of them delivered detailed dive safety briefs before every dive and debriefed the boys after every dive.”

PADI Bubblemaker Course
PADI Bubblemaker Course in Progress


And it’s not just Jacques, many other parents feel the same way. The following quotes are taken from some of our Trip Advisor reviews from diving families we’ve hosted…

“Master Divers entertained my 9 year olds’ passion for sea creatures and fascination with dive equipment with great knowledge and humour”

“You can tell Master Divers is an operation that’s not following a “certification factory” model because you never felt like they were short cutting just to collect your money. Obviously, when it’s one of your children diving with you, this is extremely important”

“We were nervous of taking our children for their first open water dive experience – we needn’t have worried. The team here were amazing with our children and we felt completely comfortable with them taking them diving.”

Parents may also wonder about diving equipment for children. Will the tank be too heavy? Do we have dive gear in child sizes? Not a problem! Here at Master Divers we pride ourselves on having the best equipment for all of our customers. We have junior sized wetsuits, BCD’s, fins, masks, and even special junior regulators with shorter hoses so children can learn more easily without getting tangles up! We also have some 8 litre tanks, meaning kids can get in and out of scuba gear easily, and climb the ladder back onto the boat at the end of their dives without needing to struggle with unnecessary weight.

Scuba Diving for Children
Kids Can Dive Too!


You can read further about diving options for children on our previous blog post, and if you have any further questions or need more info please feel free to contact us directly.

Special thanks to Jacques and Anna for their fantastic feedback, you can read their reviews in full along with our many others on our Trip Advisor page.

Is Scuba Diving Safe?


Visiting the fascinating underwater world is an amazing experience, and also very safe provided that you follow some simple rules.

Diving is relatively easy to learn, but do make sure you are trained by a reputable school with experienced staff. Proper training will also make you aware of the most common problems that you could encounter underwater.

Make sure that you are medically and physically fit to dive as certain medical conditions are not compatible with diving. Aside from physiological factors, it also helps to be physically fit. You should be able to walk at least 1.6km in under 12 minutes as a minimum, and as part of your open water course you will be asked to swim 200m and float for 10 minutes. So if you’ve been a couch potato get some exercise before your next dive trip – the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy your dives!


If you have your own dive equipment, then check it all thoroughly and get anything serviced if necessary.

Have any necessary immunisation jabs required to travel.

Make sure you are fit to dive and have had a medical if required. Students are required to self-certify their fitness to dive using the form below. If any of the answers to the questions listed is a ‘Yes’, it’s important to get a medical sign off prior to departure:

Make sure you have adequate travel and dive insurance. At Master Divers we offer our customers dive insurance for just 100THB for the duration of  your stay with us, but we also have weekly, monthly and yearly policies for more active divers, as well as some recommendations for general travel insurance:



Check all your equipment to ensure nothing was damaged in transit.

Make sure you are properly rehydrated after your journey. If you’re not feeling 100% then don’t dive, and in particular don’t dive if you have a cold or hangover! Leave the party night until the end of your diving trip…

If you haven’t dived for a while just sign up for  a couple of easy, shallow dives to begin with in order to get back in the swing of things. Remember if you haven’t dived for six months or longer then you may need to do a scuba review first just to recap on all your skills…

Skills Practice In The Shallows
Skills Practice In The Shallows


Remember to drink plenty of water, and bring your sunscreen and seasickness tablets (if required, although the water here is generally very calm). If you suffer from seasickness make sure you have something light to eat and always take your tablets before the boat journey – don’t wait until you actually feel sick!

Set up your equipment in the allocated area making sure it’s all together in the one place. Attaching your mask to your BCD and putting your fins inside it are good tips for keeping all of your gear together.  Take your time double checking everything is in working order, and if you’re not sure of anything then ask just your Dive Master or Instructor. Never be embarrassed to ask for help – safety is always more important than speed!


Equipment setup!
Equipment setup!

Store your bag and weight belt under the bench to keep the walkways free, and try to make sure you return to the same place after the dive. A tidy boat is a safe boat!!!

Be careful walking around on the boat when it is choppy, especially going to the back of the boat and upstairs – make sure you have three points of contact at all times. Do not jump off the top deck and/or over the side after the ladders have been pulled up, as this means the engine is about to start!

Listen carefully to your dive briefing – no matter how experienced a diver you are! The Instructor/Dive Master know the dive sites intricately and will tell you what to look for along with any potential hazards you should be aware of.  They will tell you the dive plan including the maximum depth and time, making sure that you are familiar with all the relevant hand signals.

Once kitted up make sure you do a proper buddy check with your allocated dive buddy and do not enter the water until you are told it is safe to do so.


Buddy Check
Buddy Check


Make sure you are properly weighted and adjust your buoyancy accordingly so that you are streamlined throughout the dive.  Proper buoyancy control not only reduces fatigue and makes your dive more enjoyable but it also improves your safety and prevents you from damaging the coral.

Buoyancy Fun
Buoyancy Fun

Regularly check your air, your buddy and the environment around you. Make sure you follow your dive guide and don’t go off in the opposite direction…

Listen to your inner voice – if you do not feel right while underwater, or you feel that you have exceeded your comfort level, let your dive guide know that you want to abort the dive. If you become low on air let your guide know immediately and follow his/her instructions.

Don’t touch anything – the golden rule is “You take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but bubbles!”

At the end of your dive make sure you ascend slowly never exceeding an ascent rate of 18m/minute and make a safety stop for 3 minutes at 5 metres.

White Rock


White Rock

If you are doing a second or third dive make sure you have an adequate surface interval. Be sure to drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated. Avoid any strenuous exercise straight after a dive as it could increase the risk of decompression sickness.

DO NOT free-dive, do any cardiovascular exercise, have a Thai massage, or take an excessively hot shower after scuba diving. After a dive you will have increased levels of nitrogen in your body, and any of these activities can effect how efficiently your body off gases it, and in some instances it can be harmful to you.

Properly rinse all your equipment, hang it out to dry and remember to log your dives.  A record of your diving history is not only nice to look back on, but is also required should you ever need to prove your experience for higher levels of training.

PADI recommended that you wait a minimum of 12 hours before flying after a single dive, and 18 hours after 2 or more dives.


The super scuba society


There are many wonderful things about scuba diving such as the oceans, the marine life, the exploration, the weightlessness, and the education. However, there is an incredible part of scuba diving and being a diver that is often overlooked; the amazing, hilarious, experienced and openhearted diving community. Scuba is an activity and experience that brings people together from all over the world, from all walks of life, for one love of the underwater world.


Throughout the Open Water course and upon passing, new divers are welcomed into the diving community as a member of a likeminded secret society that have the passion and ability to breath underwater. Diving as an incredible experience to share with friends, but it is also a great way to meet new people and make new friends. Once the boat leaves for the dive site, everyone is quite literally ‘on the same boat’! There’s always a community atmosphere on board where everyone is happy to get to know each other and lend a helping hand. By the time you’ve shared a cup of tea and gone through your equipment and buddy checks, there will be a bond of familiarity and trust within the group whereby everyone is comfortable together and excited to get in the water! This is also beneficial to overall safety as all divers rely on their buddies and diving group should anything go wrong.


It’s true that there are no better experiences than shared experiences. Seeing a turtle is great, but what’s better is being able to see the mutual wonder in other dives eyes, to relive that experience by talking about it after the dive, and to remember not only the dive site and the marine life, but also the friends you met and spent the day with underwater. Besides, diving is an indescribable experience that can only truly be understood by other divers. As much as we try to explain a dive to non-divers, they will never understand it in the same way as someone who was there or has similar diving experiences. You may also experience this when describing an incredibly cool fish to a non-diver who thinks it’s ‘just a fish’… IT’S A TRIGGER FISH, AND IT’S INCREDIBLY COOL AND EXCITING!

Collectively, divers tend to be exceptionally relaxed and open minded individuals. It aids to be relaxed and calm when diving to avoid potential anxiety, but also to increase buoyancy control and reduce air consumption. Breathing should be deep, slow, and controlled, which helps calm both the mind and body and allows you to better relax and enjoy the dive. Experiencing the underwater world is undeniably eye opening, and will often change many first time divers’ perspectives on our world and their place in it. Seeing the ocean environment first hand and discovering its beauty also leads divers to think more critically towards their environment at large and their impact towards it. Overall, this means the majority of divers you’ll meet both on land and at sea will be pleasant, welcoming, warm hearted people who care about the environment and its inhabitants, and who are happy to share their stories and dives with likeminded people.


So welcome to the scuba society! We hope you’re ready to make some memories with lots of new buddies!

My first dive.

This is the story of Jasmin our Eco Queens first diving experience.

I never intended on learning to dive, I was travelling around Thailand for 5 weeks in the summer holidays during my second year of university and had planned to go to Koh Tao but had already decided against diving as it wasn’t in my budget.

Jasmin Diving


Whilst on the boat from mainland Thailand to Koh Tao some of the people I met on the journey down from Bangkok persuaded me to do it with them, we got off the boat, had a couple of hours to sleep and it was straight into the theory! Wow, I thought, this is a lot to take in plus I’m SO tired, I’m not so sure I want to do this. After the first theory session was over I collapsed on my bed to continue with the homework given to me for that evening. I knew the next day was going to be a long one with more theory in the morning and our first water session in the afternoon, so it was an early night for me. The next morning theory went by easily, I had finally got my head around it, the next step was the confined session, this I was really nervous about, all the equipment seemed very daunting and heavy, I really wasn’t sure that diving was for me. We hopped in the pool and put the equipment on in the shallows of the pool. Our instructor the briefly explained the upcoming skills and told us to put our masks on our faces and regulator in our mouths and that we were going to all kneel down on the bottom and get comfortable with breathing through the regulator. The first minute of breathing underwater was the most adrenaline fuelled 60 seconds of my life, I did not enjoy it at first, I stood up out of the water and began to cry, the Dive Master Trainee (DMT) who was assisting our course calmed me down and asked if I wanted to give it another go, I’m not one to give up at the first hurdle so agreed to try again, this time the DMT calmy took me down and allowed me to take my time to get accustomed to the new sensation, after a couple of minutes I signalled that I was OK and it was straight into the skills, given the fact that the sensation of breathing under water for the first time had caused me such distress, everyone myself included expected me to have issues with the skills but I breezed through it and by the end of the session I was having the time of my life, I couldn’t wait for the open water dives the next day!

The following day we got on the boat which droves us to the dive site, we set up our gear, had a dive briefing, got into our equipment, buddy checked and were off! We descended nice and slowly down the buoyline and all I could think was ‘OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS INCREDIBLE!’ Within the first 5 minutes of the dive I was hooked, by the end of the Open Water Course I knew I wanted to be a professional diver. For me diving was a form of relaxation, even in the first dives when I was getting used to the equipment and trying not to swim with my arms  and trying to control my buoyancy I found it so soothing.

After my trip to Thailand I decided to finish university and save up some money and come back to Koh Tao and train to be a Dive Master, and that is what I did, I was lucky enough to be offered a job at Master Divers combining two of my greatest passions; diving and marine conservation and I haven’t looked back since!

Surveying Buoylines

What to consider before booking your open water course.

The first thing you need to consider is your health and the medical form.

Certain medical conditions may prevent you from diving, such as asthma and heart conditions. There are many more that could mean its unsafe for you to dive too so as you have not dived before please take a moment to have a look at the medical statement.  In Thailand you only need a doctors clearance to dive if you have one of the listed conditions otherwise you can simply complete the form upon arrival. If you have one of the listed conditions, please be honest. It wont necessarily mean that you can’t dive but it does mean you need to see a doctor first. It is always better to see your own GP before leaving versus leaving it to chance here in Thailand. Your own doctor knows you better whereas here a local doctor is more likely to say no if in doubt. In some instances your GP may refer you to or ask you to consult with a doctor qualified in dive medicine so make sure you don’t leave this until the last minute.

You do need to have a reasonable fitness level to dive. You don’t need to be super fit but you do need to look after yourself. Diving does place physical demands on you and you will need an average level of stamina and fitness to complete the course.


You do also need to be able to swim. Participants need to complete a 200m swim or 300m snorkel but there is no time limit in which to complete this.  Participants also need to be able to float for 10 mins too.  If this is not in your level of comfort please do consult your dive centre for their recommendation as to how you can enjoy the ocean if your abilities are less than this.

If you have a fear of fish, the ocean, open water or water in general its worth considering if committing to the full open water course is the best place for you to start. Most dive centres offer snorkelling or a try diving experience of some kind. These will get you into the water with no pressure and give you the chance to see what you think first.


Make sure you have enough time to complete your diving. Remember you need to leave 24 hours in between your last dive and flying.





Top 5 things to remember on the first dive of your open water course.

Apart from all your gear, your buddy and your pre-dive safety check there are a number of things to remember. The following are the most common things new divers forget in the nervous excitement of their first open water dive.

Ready to Go !
Ready to Go !

1)      Relax.

Remain calm, remember to breath out as well as deflating to go down. Over-excitement and nervousness will increase your breathing rate making it harder for you to control your buoyancy. It will also mean you use your air faster too. Remember that shallow breathing means that you will not get the best air exchange through your regulator which can lead you to increase your breathing rate further and so the problem gets worse. Slow, steady and relaxed breathing is what you are aiming for.

2)        Maintain proper diving position.

You need to be perfectly horizontal in the water which is not a common position for landlubbers and can feel a little awkward at first. It’s common for new divers to orientate themselves slightly upright.  As your fins will propel you in the direction that your shoulders are pointing then this can have you heading for the surface. As you will likely have air in your BCD this will expand with the reducing pressure and speed your ascent.

Like this....
Like this….

3)      Don’t use your arms.

Diving is not swimming but it’s difficult to drop that mental in water association at first. Using your arms only wastes energy and therefore air in your tank. Flapping can make it difficult for you to attain neutral buoyancy too, cause you to hit your buddy or the reef.  If you are flapping your arms, ask yourself why…what are you trying to do? If it’s because you feel like you are sinking then instead breathe in and/or add a little air to your BCD. If it’s because you are trying to come down then stop all movement and exhale. If that doesn’t work come upright and deflate a little air from your BCD.


4)      You need to be upright to deflate and let air out of your jacket.

Not only do you need to be upright but you need to hold the low pressure inflator hose high above your head and even slightly leaning back to let the air out. Remember air wants to travel upwards and it cant pass around a bent hose.  When you come upright to do this remember to stop kicking your legs otherwise you will kick yourself up to the surface.


5)      Fin from the hip.

If you have never used fins before they can feel awkward and ungainly. Stretch your legs out behind you and kick from the hip not the knee. You do not want to have a bicycle motion. This is very inefficient and will waste air and energy. Long leg strokes and think about it more like you were kicking a football than riding a bike.


Phew !  Awesome job …3 more dives to go !

The Value of the Buddy Check

Whether divers are on a course or fun diving, as dive professionals we spend a lot of time teaching and reminding divers about the buddy check. Each training agency offers a different view on how the steps are structured and there are so many mnemonics to help you remember it that it verges on the ridiculous.

This post is not about that debate but rather reviewing the importance of a pre-dive safety check. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you remember it, as long as you have a structured process and you use it.


Buddy Check
Buddy Check


So lets look at a scenario shall we? Suppose we have a couple kitting up on a small boat. You can walk around but it’s simply kit and divers. The couple have been seated opposite each other and they gear up separately. The dive is a drift dive which requires a negative entry and they backward roll off opposite sides of the boat and plan to meet each other underwater.

Without a buddy check they can not confirm that each diver’s air is on or that they have remembered their weight belts. If one diver has no air but went straight down and the other diver has no weight then they can’t help their buddy either. A simple run through each others air, buoyancy and weight systems would have circumvented this scary situation.


Ready to go !
Ready to go !


I find all too often that after being certified, divers no longer think a safety check is required or can be too shy to do it in front of other divers who are not checking their buddy before getting in.

Ask yourself this, how many times do you forget where your keys, phone, wallet, etc. are?   So then it’s conceivable that you can make a mistake – we are all human after all.

The check doesn’t take long and no matter what your experience level, it is every divers responsibility to do it. The more it’s seen being done, the more it will be done and eliminate the panic,stress or emergency situation caused by a problem that can easily be avoided.

My First Dive: Nui!

Nearly everyone is excited and nervous about their first dive. Nui was no exception and the entire staff of Master Divers was elated along with her. Nui first joined Master Divers in late 2012 and for the past 6 months diligently studied the SSI Open Water Course online and read the books in both Thai and English. In addition to her studious efforts, she also observed her husband, a Dive Control Specialist, as he assisted in teaching students how to dive. Needless to say after all the intensive preparation, Nui was a natural and like most other new divers, she’s incredibly anxious and excited for her next dive. Well done, Nui!


nui theory


Special thanks to SSI for providing complimentary Thai language SSI books and certification.


What was your favorite part of your first dive?

Nui: The marine life.  When I went underwater and I saw many different fish and coral, it was so beautiful.



What was your favorite fish that you saw?

Nui: Angelfish and Stingrays


What was the hardest part?

Nui: At the beginning when I first jumped in the water. My face was always down and it was hard to balance.


Was your first dive how you expected it to be?

Nui: It was more fun than I expected, even though I was little bit scared before the first jump.

nui ready to go


How did it feel to be weightless?

Nui: It felt awesome!!


Would you do it again?

Nui: Yes…As soon as possible!!

My First Scuba Dive – Paul E. Lee

My First Scuba Dive is intended to be a series of posts from guest writers and Master Divers folk too where they can share the wonder of their first dive.  If you have a story to share please read the details at the bottom and you too could be featured!  This one comes from Paul E. Lee.
I’ll admit it – I never ever wanted to scuba dive. It seemed terrifying to me. Going underwater to the dark depths where strange creatures lurked unseen in the shadows? No, thank you. I had snorkeled before many times in Hawaii and Florida and while it was certainly fun to see the brand-new world stretched out beneath me, I had very little desire to see it any closer. That is, of course, until one of my friends bought me scuba diving lessons so that I could get certified.


I took the necessary courses near my home in California and both the dive instructor and my friends were very encouraging about the whole thing. Once I learned more about the proper safety equipment and procedures, I began to feel much more comfortable in the water in general. I learned to propel myself forward and very soon I felt ready to face my fears. I passed my exam and I was ready for my big scuba diving adventure.


At this point, my friends and I booked a vacation to the Philippines for another friend’s wedding and also to try scuba diving on site for the first time. I was a little apprehensive as I geared up for my first dive. We had chosen Cebu, which is an extremely popular diving area in the islands and very good for first-time divers. We completed four dives at 15 meters depth each time. As I submerged myself below the water, I almost forgot that I was diving. It seemed so natural and not at all scary.



We circled around some beautiful coral reefs through the clear turquoise waters. I saw sea urchins and fish hiding in the crevices; I even think I saw some sort of eel before it slipped away. What amazed me the most though, were the schools of fish that swam in front of us without even a glance. We were completely invisible to them, as though we had always lived there. I grew more confident in my ability to swim and began to go closer to the reef each time. Every time I resurfaced I felt like I wanted to go back down and for longer periods of time. Eventually, it grew dark and we had to go back in. I felt very accomplished however because I had faced my fears.


Since then I’ve dived in many different places both during the day and at night. I learn something new every time and I hope I can continue to do it for the rest of my life.


Written by the Marketing Department for Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, Paul E. Lee


If you would like to share your experience and be featured on our blog then please get intouch…..

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Learning to dive – what to expect?

O.K so you have run the gauntlet of choosing the correct dive centre. You have decided whether you want to take the SSI or PADI course. So what should you expect next?

Firstly you will be asked to complete a medical questionnaire.If you have any of the conditions listed on the form this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t dive but you will have to get medical clearance before you can. If you have asthma or any circulatory or respiratory conditions you will be better getting a dive medical before you leave home. There are various other liability forms to complete too. Paperwork done, then onto the fun stuff!

On the surface of it …..

Most open water courses on Ko Tao run for 3 and half days starting after lunch on the first day with a dive centre and course orientation. Here the dive centre facilities and general operation should be explained to you. The course schedule should be explained and outlined too.

Next you will progress to some basic theory development. The course theory is taught through the use of videos and a book plus review sessions with your instructor and the practical application of the concepts that you learn. The PADI course is split into 5 sections whereas the SSI course is split into 6 sections. This initial session will involve learning the first concepts you will need to understand to become a diver. The next three days will be split between further theory development and water work. Your theory will build and be overlaid during these sessions and as you apply them they should consolidate.

Before you jump into the water for the first time you should have been fitted for your equipment and be comfortable with both the size and quality. You will be shown how to put your kit together and how to check it all works and dismantle it too. You should repeat this so that you are comfortable and practiced with all the steps. Everyone is nervous when approaching their first time underwater so don’t worry, this is quite normal. You will either be in very shallow water or a swimming pool, either is acceptable. In my opinion shallow water is better as you don’t have chlorine to worry about, you get used to salt water straight away and you will see some reef life too. During this session you will learn the skills and techniques you will need to master. You will learn essential every dive skills such as how to clear your mask of water and how to control your position in the water. You will also be taught emergency skills too although it’s unlikely that you will need them, you need to know, just in case.

Over the next few days you will make two dives on each day. The first two will be to a depth no deeper than 12m and the final two to a maximum of 18m. During these dives you will not only learn how to swim correctly with the optimum position but how to control your depth. You will also be asked to demonstrate the skills you learnt during the first session too.


While there is no practical exam, your skills will be assessed at each point. You will get feedback and development every time you practice skills and go diving so the next time is not only easier for you but more perfected. By the end of the course you should achieve mastery of each technique, but as I said this is a gradual process built up throughout the course. Theory wise, whether you take PADI or SSI, there is an exam which takes the form of a 50-question multiple choice test. Don’t worry about this now; you’ll know it all by then — you will have not only seen a video, read a book, answered questions, reviewed with your instructor and practised the concepts. No problem! In the unlikely event that you miss the pass mark, your instructor will simply review the concepts that you have misunderstood and you will be given another exam.

Diving is a quick learning curve and you’ll be hooked!  Most are surprised at the amount that they have learnt and mastered. Most fall in love with the ocean and diving.  So if you are coming here with the plan to learn to dive, make sure your schedule is flexible so that you can stay and do some more diving or even your advanced course. You won’t be disappointed!


This article was written for and first published on It is reproduced here with kind permission !