Weekly Dive Report – April 7th – 13th

Our week was a bit wetter than usual thanks to Songkran celebrations, and a we celebrated with a couple of Whale Shark sightings in the lead up to Songkran itself! Another great week of diving on Koh Tao!

This week, we visited TwinsChumphon Pinnacle, Green Rock, Japanese Gardens and the wreck of the HTMS Sattakut . 

PADI Rescue Diver Course in Progress Diving on Koh Tao

We had mainly calm conditions, and lots of close ups of both divers and fish!

Sweetlips in the HTMS Sattakut Juvenile File Fish Koh Tao

We never tire of seeing Whale Sharks on our dives. Chumphon and Sattakut were the lucky sites this week. Fingers crossed this April is as good a month for these gentle giants as last year was!

Whale Shark on Koh Tao Whale Shark Koh Tao

See you next week for more underwater fun and photos! 🙂

Weekly Dive Report – 31st March – 6th April

We’ve had some slightly changeable conditions this week with some isolated rain showers through the day. Conditions have remained fairly calm though, although there has been some moderate swell at a couple of sites, as well as some thermoclines at the deeper sites.

This week, we visited Chumphon Pinnacle, HTMS Sattakut and Laem Thian Bay.

We had lots of new divers trying new activities this week. We had brand new divers giving diving a go for the first time on PADI Discover Scuba Diving programmes….

 

PADI Discover Scuba Diving Anemone Reef Scene

 

Seasoned divers trying their hand at PADI Digital Underwater Photography.

 

PADI Digital Underwater Photography Rabbit Fish Koh Tao

 

And others perfecting their buoyancy and trim on the PADI Wreck Specialty course.

 

PADI Wreck Specialty Perfect Buoyancy

 

All in all another great week at Master Divers HQ!

See you next week for more underwater fun and photos! 🙂

Master Divers Life Video Hints

 

We are very excited at the response we are getting to our 25th anniversary contest to win a PADI dive career with us right here on Koh Tao! We’ve had a number of applications already and videos are starting to filter in now too. So if you have submitted your application form already, please do submit your video as soon as you are able. In order to be short listed as one of the 10 finalists, you either need to be in the 5 selected by our judging panel, or in the top 5 by community vote on our facebook page. So…the sooner your video goes live the more time you have to get those all important votes to ensure you progress to the next stage!

 

Win your Master Divers Life Master Divers Life

 

So…what are we looking for in your videos we hear you ask? Well, first and foremost we are looking to meet you! We don’t need pro level video or anything flashy – we will be selecting the finalists based purely on your personality and passion!

We just want to see why you think you should win, and get to know a bit about your love for the natural world, and your experiences with diving, marine life, marine or land conservation etc. We appreciate that perhaps you are not able to ditch everything and go diving any time you want to (yet!), but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot to offer! So here are a few questions and examples to get you started – although feel free to be creative, it’s by no means an extensive list….

Is there a story behind your love of diving? Tell us why you want to make the ocean your office!

Do you have a favourite marine creature? What do you love about it and why?

What would be your perfect dive? Tell us all about it!

Why do you want to become a PADI Instructor?

Have you taken part in some interesting community projects (either land or sea based)? Tell us how you contributed!

Maybe you have a passion for teaching/training already from another field?

Are you proactive in your efforts to be sustainable and reduce pollution and plastic etc? We’d love to hear about your passion for the environment!

Have you already been involved in any conservation activities?

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to get you started. We cant wait to see what you all come up with! Feel free to get your friends involved too – either with the filming or as part of the video. The more we know about you, the easier it will be to see how you will fit into our amazing team!

So…what are you waiting for. Get those video entries submitted today to be in with the chance to win your dream life!

GOOD LUCK! 🙂

Master Divers Team

WIN your PADI Dive Career with Master Divers!

By now we hope you’ve seen – and entered and shared! – our Master Divers Life contest. We’re incredibly excited to be offering this life changing opportunity. It will open up a whole new way of life to the lucky winner, and we don’t mid telling you we’ll all be pretty jealous of them in their swanky new gear!

So why are we doing this you may be asking? This is surely to good to be true?! Well, believe it…. it’s real!

As its our 25th anniversary we wanted to give something back by giving someone the same exciting career progression and options that all of us here have had. For most of us here at Master Divers, diving has changed our lives entirely. From where we live, the skills and knowledge we’ve developed, our amazing tropical lifestyle, our friends, our career progression, and our future dreams and goals etc, finding a passion for diving has been a real game changer in every aspect. So why not provide another lucky diver to opportunity to join our ranks and live the dream too?!

 

 

For those of you who have not dived or trained with us yet, you probably want to know a bit about us… We are a 5 star PADI IDC Centre, with a reputation for our high standards, safety and experience. We a renowned for the quality of our training, and for providing the best dive experiences on Koh Tao whilst maintaining a friendly and relaxed environment. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable and passionate staff make us a sought after destination for certified divers and students alike.

 

 

With the help of our friends at PADI and Aqua Lung, we’ve put together an amazing prize package! The winner of our Master Divers Life contest will receive training with us in all PADI courses up to and including Instructor (including all materials and fees), a Marine Conservation Package and a full set of ‘top of the range’ Aqua Lung dive gear. The prize fund exceeds US$11,000 in courses and merchandise, but the chance to live, learn and experience the Master Divers’ Life goes far beyond that! So, what exactly do you get if you win? ……

 

You’ll get to hone your dive skills on any recreational courses needed to begin your professional level training. This includes PADI Advanced Open Water, Emergency First Response and Rescue Diver Courses .

 

 

All fun dives to reach the required pre-requisites for the PADI Divemaster and PADI Instructor Development courses are also included. So you’ll explore all of our dive sites and see some amazing marine life too!

 

Green Turtle encounter at Twins dive site Koh Tao, Thailand Sea Snake

Divemaster Katie with a Batfish at Twins Dive site Koh Tao, Thailand Whale shark in Koh Tao waters

 

We are very passionate about our commitment to the environment, so you’ll also take part in a Marine Conservation package, where you learn more about marine life populations/coral health/sharks/clean up dive etc and attend a conservation presentation evening (including meal) linking to your dive – eg the life of coral, single use plastics, the effects of over fishing etc. This helps you to become a more educated and environmentally aware diver – something which we are very proud of offering. We also run regular land and sea clean ups, so no doubt you’ll be involved in those too, as well as any additional eco projects that are running at the time!

 

 

On your professional level courses you’ll learn all the teaching techniques and tips you need to be a confident and competent dive pro. Plus your Instructor Development Course (IDC) with us will include your Emergency First Response Instructor rating, and your Oxygen Provider Instructor rating.

 

 

Plus we are throwing in a 2 week Divemaster Internship on completion of your Divemaster course, and a one month Instructor Internship once you pass your Instructor Exams!

 

Underwater photographer, Rob Kelly at Koh Tao dive site, Twins

 

While taking part in all of this diving you”ll be decked out in a full set of top of the range Aqua Lung gear! Check our our Aqua Lung page for a full list of equipment!

And of course there’s the general experience of living the dream here on Koh Tao. There’s lots of new friends to be made, fun island activities to get involved in, and of course some of the most stunning sun sets you’ll ever see!

 

 

The Master Divers Life campaign is a 3 stage contest comprising of Online Form submission, Video submission, and Blog submission. The campaign can be entered at on our webpage for Stage 1, followed by our Facebook page for stage 2 video entries. Video entries will then be voted on via the Facebook App. The top 5 voted videos, along with Master Divers’ top 5 picks will then enter Stage 3 where they will write a blog about an environmental issue close to their hearts. The winner will be selected and announced on 4th July 2018.

 

Win your Master Divers Life

 

Anyone is welcome to apply. As long as applicants are over 18, certified to Open Water level by the submission form deadline on June 1st, and are medically fit to dive, then its time to start your application!

So, what are you waiting for?! Check out the check out the full list of eligibility criteria, our competition page, and submit your entry today! Good luck and hopefully see you on Koh Tao to begin your dream life in paradise soon!

Weekly Dive Report – 24 – 30 March 2018

It has been baking hot as we make our way through peak heat season, and our divers have all been glad of the chance to descend underwater and cool down!

This week features shots from Chumphon Pinnacle, Japanese Gardens, Mango Bay, Shark Island and Junkyard.

Diving on Koh Tao

 

We found some great underwater models…

Dive Courses on Koh Tao

 

and some great marine life too!

Macro Marine Life on Koh Tao

 

OVER AND OUT UNTIL NEXT WEEK!

 

 

Sunny with a Chance of Whale Sharks

One of the things our customers ask most often is whether they will be able to dive with Whale Sharks during their stay with us. We very much hope so, but unfortunately we can never promise specific marine life sightings.

Despite what some online sources and business operators say, there really is no such thing as ‘Whale Shark Season’, and no guaranteed shark diving on Koh Tao to be honest. We do get the occasional sighting of black tips as well as whale sharks, but it can never be guaranteed. There are dive sites where they are spotted more frequently than others, and a few trends at times of year when its statistically more possible, but it basically comes down to luck – being on the right dive site on the right day at the right time!

Whaleshark-framed

 

In recent years we’ve seen the most Whale Sharks in March-May, September-October and then again around Christmas and New Year time. However do be aware that visiting during these months will not necessarily mean you get to dive with one. And they are frequently seen sporadically outside of these months too – for example in the last couple of weeks there have been a few spotted out at some of our deeper dive sites. When we do see them, they tend to be solitary encounters though, unlike in other destinations such as the Philippines, where at certain times of year you can dive/snorkel with many at the same time.

2017 was a particularly epic year for sightings of our favourite blue spotty fish, with an unprecedented number of sightings throughout April and May – which we dubbed Whale Shark Central. the Department of Marine Conservation released statistics that they had identified over 90 different individual Whale Sharks in the Gulf of Thailand last year! This is great news, so we are hoping they will all stick around this year and going forward in years to come!

Whale Shark!

 

The dive sights where you are statistically more likely to have an encounter with one of these gentle ocean giants are the deeper sights such as Chumphon Pinnacle, South West Pinnacle and Sail Rock, although they have also been spotted at intermediate dive sites such as Green Rock and Hin Pee Wee. Very occasionally they have been seen at shallow dive sites like Twins, but generally to increase your chances of a sighting you’d need to be deeper, so being Advanced Open Water Diver, or at least having completed a Deep Adventure Dive.

 

 

When is Monsoon Season on Koh Tao?

A fair question, and one that regularly comes up in our email correspondence with customers who are planning their trips to make the most of the best of Koh Tao weather. Its also becoming an increasingly difficult question to answer however, as weather patterns have been changing quite a bit in recent years.

The first thing to explain is that the weather system in Thailand is extremely regionalised.  Thailand stretches over a long distance running North to South, and the climate does vary quite a bit because of this, with different areas experiencing their wet seasons at different times. The country is also surrounded by different oceans on each side – the Andaman Sea to the West, and the Gulf of Thailand to the East, and is affected by different weather systems accordingly. So if you are travelling around other areas in Thailand too during your stay, then do be prepared for different conditions in the various locations you are visiting.

Rain on the surface while these divers descend
Rain on the surface while these divers descend

 

On the West Coast for example (Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta etc) the monsoon comes in June through to August. So while it is usual on Koh Tao to experience some sporadic rainfall during these months from the spillover effect of the monsoon that is hitting the West Coast, it’s usually just for an hour or two at a time.

The monsoon season on Koh Tao normally arrives in November, and in the past by mid December the sunny skies have been back in force. However, our monsoon is becoming very difficult to predict with accuracy, as the seasons have been changing so much in recent years due to climate change. So in the last couple of years monsoon has been delayed and did not arrive until December/January. If and when monsoon does come (some years it just doesn’t, and some years isn’t as powerful as it used to be) you can expect rains and high winds.

A dull day in Mae Haad but calm conditions for diving
A dull day in Mae Haad but calm conditions for diving

 

Diving conditions during monsoon are affected with choppy surface conditions and reduced visibility, although its actually a pretty cool sight to look up from underwater and see the raindrops hitting the surface. If you are after a challenge and are keen on becoming a more experienced diver these are great conditions to dive in! This is specially for those taking pro level courses –  in terms of becoming a confident and competent PADI professional, it’s actually a great time to train! Plus with your training being completed in low season, it would mean you were finished and available to work when high season starts if that’s something you were looking to do.

An underwater view of rain hitting the surface
An underwater view of rain hitting the surface

 

If you’d like to know more details about weather and conditions both above and below the surface on a monthly basis, feel free to check out our previous blog post on diving conditions throughout the year 🙂

Master Divers Commitment to the Environment

If you’ve already visited Master Divers, or have been following us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or reading our blogs for a while, you will have noticed we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.

As ambassadors for our underwater world and also Koh Tao in general, we are passionate about doing everything we can to minimise the environmental impact we have, as well as implement programmes, policies and events to educate others too. This is something that we are incredibly passionate about – and its not just paying lip service with us, when it comes to environmental awareness, we’re the real deal!

Beach Clean up in Koh Tao, Thailand

Thankfully, we are not the only business on Koh Tao that is becoming more environmentally aware. We do, however, offer a lot more than the bare minimum when it comes to doing our bit. Some other dive centres get together once a month for a clean up day. Every little helps, so this is a great initiative, but we believe more than 1 clean up a month between half a dozen businesses is required to really make any impact.

So….What does Master Divers Do Differently?

We employ a full time Eco instructor, Hayley, who organises weekly beach and roadside clean ups for staff and guests to help remove garbage that has washed ashore, and prevent any further trash from being taken by the sea.  Having just a few people volunteer an hour of their time to spend cleaning up the beachfront or road area makes a huge difference. This year, we plan on weighing and tracking how much trash we collect, so we can keep a tally of how much trash we’ve removed.

Beach and Ocean Clean

Hayley also works with the Koh Tao local government and local businesses to educate and encourage others to be more environmentally friendly in their practices – for example how to reduce plastic bags in local stores, and looking at solutions to reduce plastic waste from cups and straws in bars and restaurants too.

We run regular snorkeling and scuba diving clean ups at various dive sites (depending on which are the most in need), and have championed the abandoned beach of Laem Thien as our responsibility too.

Environmental-Policies-Master-Divers

We have environmental policies in the shop and onboard our boats. We do try to educate those outside the island as well as our own customers and those who live here.

We’ve written several blog posts on the topic on environmental initiatives, such as the ‘top 10’ things to reduce your plastic waste, and how to make natural household cleaning products to reduce your chemical waste.

The emblem for the no-plastic movement on Koh Tao

We sell reusable straws as well as reusable drinking bottles and cloth shopping bags and encourage our guests to reduce their usage of plastic – and single use plastic in particular.

We are heavily into recycling. In the corner of the reception area, there is a custom made collection bin in which our customers – and even passrs by – can dispose of their recyclable goods (water bottles, batteries, aluminum cans, and paper or cardboard products).

Master Divers sells eco-straws as an alternative to the single-use variety that are often used in restaurants

We offer Marine Conservation Packages and Marine Conservation Adventure Dives with our courses, which provide customers with a deeper insight into the issues that face the ocean environment. This includes a presentation evening and a marine conservation dive.

We run Coral watch dives to monitor and report on the health of our reefs, and also report into the DMCR (Department of Marine and Coastal resources) on any sightings of any species of rare/endangered/protected marine life that our divers or staff spot.

Coral-Watch Framed

We have created and deployed structures which have increased the scope and size of artificial reefs.

We sell natural and environmentally friendly sun screen and mosquito spray.

Sunscreen is important for skin health

We have strict no feeding and no touching policy for all of our dive and snorkel trips, and display codes of conduct for interactions with marine life at the dive centre and on our vessels – and ensure this is covered in our boat and dive briefings.

We are an official Shark Guardian Dive centre, and run regular events and presentations to educate divers, other tourists and local residents on how they can do more to protect marine life.

Be a Whale Shark Guardian

We don’t throw any waste into the ocean. Even biodegradable waste like leftover fruit gets brought back to last and disposed of properly (we use it for compost!).

Our smaller boat is 100% no smoking to eliminate accidental littering. There is a designated smoking area on the bigger boat, and while our customers are welcome to smoke on the larger of our vessels, you wont find our staff smoking on either of our boats.

We are heavily involved in local government meetings on conservation policies. We are committee members in planning the annual Save Koh Tao Festival, organise special events for all Ocean Days, and we are one of the founders and main organisers of Koh Tao Earth day.

Earth-Day-2017-framed

We have a free water refill station, so our customers don’t need to buy plastic bottles every time they need a drink. We are also an official refill station for Trash Hero bottles. So anyone who has one of the metal trash hero reusable bottles can come in and refill for free!

We have reusable cups and mugs both in the dive centre and out on the boats. In the dive centre we also have reusable plates and tupperware containers our customers can use on their lunch breaks so they don’t need to get any food in plastic bags or in single use containers.

Koh-Tao-Eco-Bottle

We use environmentally friendly cleaning solutions so as not to add chemicals to the water supply. We flush our toilets with salt water which preserves the sometimes scarce ground water supplies.

We ensure that both sides of every piece of paper is used, and old/discarded paper is used for scrap/to do lists etc.

We offer PADI eLearning (online), PADI Touch (app based) and digital manuals, all of which replace the need for physical books. This not only offers divers convenience but also saves on the paper used to create the book

PADI-digi-materials

We try to reuse or re purpose everything we can – even the most obscure things can have a second life. Right now for example, we are saving up all of our old fins, and hope to be able to build an artificial structure with them, or even fashion them into slates to make a roof for a shelter at our local animal clinic!

You can read more about our environmental activities by looking at the environmental category on the blog.

Things to Do on Koh Tao – Our Ultimate Bucket List!

Your flights are booked and ferry tickets confirmed. After what seems like ages of deliberation you have settled on the perfect place to stay. Now to the really important stuff: how are you going to make sure you hit up all the must-dos on an island with an overwhelming range of activities, beaches and viewpoints to keep you busy? If you’re struggling to decide which beach to visit, or where to watch sunset, then our handy Ultimate Koh Tao Bucket List will help you get the most out of your visit!

Dive Course
If you have never dived before and have to pick one dive activity to do, make it your PADI Open Water certification with Master Divers!

This course is designed for those new to diving and once completed, will give you an internationally recognised certification, valid for your whole lifetime that allows you to dive up to 18m depth anywhere in the world. This is a must do for anyone who is interested in our beautiful underwater world. Certified already? No problem, join us for your PADI Advanced Open Water or a Specialty Course, or even just some Fun Dives.

Insider’s tip: Save time on your holiday by completing the classroom portion before you get here with PADI Touch or eLearning. 

Fun fun fun with our range of PADI Dive Courses
Fun fun fun with our range of PADI Dive Courses

 

Day Trip
Visit the famous Koh NangYuan islands, just a 15 minute taxi boat ride from Koh Tao. You can snorkel all around the trio of islands where, at some times of year, you can even see Black Tip Reef Sharks! Don’t forget to take the walk up to the viewpoint and see for yourself why it’s one of the most photographed spots in Thailand.

Insider’s tip: Day-trippers make this little island busy during the middle of the day. Beat the crowds by arriving at 14:00 as the big tour groups start to leave. Head to the viewpoint towards the end of the day to have the views to yourself!

Koh Tao is full of postcard worthy beauty
Koh Tao is full of postcard worthy beauty

 

Sunset Cocktail
Sairee Beach enjoys sunset views the whole year round. There’s no better place to relax and watch nature’s nightly colour change, cocktail in hand, than reclining in one of Fizz Beach Lounge’s famous lime bean bags. Get there early to bag a front row seat to the action!

Insider’s tip: Lucky Lily Margaritas! Cocktails are strong so make sure you order some snacks from their extensive menu to keep you going until dinner.

Fizz at Sunset
Fizz at Sunset

 

Viewpoint
For an easy viewpoint hike, we love John Suaan Viewpoint, just 15 minutes hike from the end of the main road towards Freedom Beach. Situated on a small peninsula to the South of Koh Tao, it offers a stunning view looking back with the whole of Koh Tao laid out before you.

Insider’s tip: Visit the gorgeous Freedom Beach, just below the viewpoint and re-hydrate with a fresh coconut or enjoy some relaxing snorkelling after your hike.

Glorious views guaranteed at John Saun!
Glorious views guaranteed at John Saun!

 

Beach
Hidden gem Sai Nuan is just 25 minutes’ walk from Master Divers and is well worth the walk. Here you’ll find a classic old school Thai beach feel with palm trees fringing the white sands. There is a small restaurant and even a slack line to keep you entertained.

Insider’s tip: Take a mask and snorkel with you – black tip reef sharks as well as a resident turtle can be seen just a short swim off the beach.

Its lovely and quiet here in the mornings before the sun reaches its peak
Its lovely and quiet here in the mornings before the sun reaches its peak

The Eco-conscious Island of Koh Tao

 

Exciting news….Koh Tao could soon be known as one of the most eco-conscious destination of South East Asia! Many businesses, including most dive shops, are working together to try and ban single-use plastic items on Koh Tao, including plastic straws and plastic bags. On top of this, efforts are being made to install a recycling program for businesses to have their recyclable goods picked up rather than throwing them in with their everyday rubbish. This was all made possible by Koh Tao’s inhabitants having an eco-conscious mind set and the determination to fight for change.

Koh Tao is full of postcard worthy beauty
Koh Tao is full of postcard-worthy beauty, such as Koh Nang Yuan.

 

The term ‘eco-conscious’ is floated around a fair amount in the media these days, but what does the term really mean?

An eco-conscious individual or business has a way of thinking where they look at how their actions and choices impact the natural world. Dubbed eco-warriors, these people/companies are both very aware of the threats faced by our fragile world, and also work to reduce and ultimately eliminate their impact on those threats. Where plastic is concerned, this largely revolves around ‘The Three Rs’… Reducing  plastic use, Re-using any plastic that is used, and Recycling whenever possible.

Here on Koh Tao, with diving being the primary activity that draws tourists to the island, many inhabitants are already far too aware of the global plastic problem, ans its impacts on our oceans and marine life, and have been puching for changes for some time now.

As an island, there has already been some success in previous years. Just over 4 years ago the local government banned the use of styrofoam boxes, which were commonly used as takeaway containers from restaurants. This milestone showed that the community was willing to make sacrifices when alternatives are present, and when it was in the best interest of the island. Once a few people come around to a more sustainable way of living, it soon catches on, and now we have several key figures in the municipality on board, including the Mayor of Koh Tao! He understands that the island’s natural beauty (both above and below the ocean’s surface) is one of the main reason people choose to spend their vacation here, so it is worth making rulings to help protect it.

The emblem for the no-plastic movement on Koh Tao
Emblem of the no-plastic movement on Koh Tao

 

The latest introduction to Koh Tao to reduce and eliminate plastic waste is the sale of reusable straws (paper, metal and bamboo), with the hope that if the alternatives are available, single-use plastic straws will be phased out entirely.

So, first it was styrofoam, now plastic straws and the next step will be to remove plastic bags from our little island paradise. Its a huge goal, but with enough people involved and the right mindset, we’re not alone in pushing for change and committing to making it happen!

So, what can you do to help?

In short, the best thing you can possibly do is STOP USING PLASTIC as much as possible in your day to day life! And especially single use plastic. The great news is that alternatives are already available. Master Divers is proud to be a vendor of paper, bamboo and metal straws, and our retail section is well stocked with reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bags, meaning you’ll have no need for plastic bottle or cups, plastic straws or plastic bags. And the best bit? You get to take them all home and spread the word!

Please do join us in considering the environment, and not just in Koh Tao. It does not take much effort to live with less plastic in your life, it just takes a little more planning and forethought, but the results are well worth it!

If you’d like to know more about environmental initiatives and events on Koh Tao, feel free to follow us on Facebook or drop us an email 🙂