Koh Tao!

Paradise!  If you’re wanting clear blue waters, white sand, and activities ranging scuba diving to bouldering on their “mountains” then this is the place for it!  We bought a bus to ferry ticket so we didn’t have to worry about finding an AM bus and stayed at Salsa Hostel in Chumphon. We did a walk in price and paid 200 baht less than what was posted online.  It was seated right next to some delicious places to eat and the hostel had four cats! FOUR! The ferry to Koh Tao takes about three hours. When pulling into the Koh Tao harbor we had the opportunity to glimpse the breathtaking stay we were about to have.  Once we got off the boat and ran away from the taxi drivers we started towards our Airbnb. There are two roads to get you to all of the resorts, definitely take the road that goes along the shore. We ended up taking the long way. Carrying all of our gear, 90 degree weather and going uphill kind of sucked.  We stayed at Nat Resort. It was a laid back place, but if you’re stuck in the back of the resort with just a fan in the room it gets pretty hot. I would recommend staying as close to the beach as possible to get that breeze. We dropped off our belongings and immediately went for a swim. There is a small area of coral reef only about 20 yards from the beach and if you rent snorkeling gear from one of the smaller beer vendors it is pretty cheap.  The beer vendor we rented from costs 50 baht for one hour. There are also puppies that roam the beach to go swimming with you! We came to this location for scuba diving, which we ended up choosing Crystal Dive. There is an “AWARE” program that is eco friendly and sets out to educate people on how to better preserve the environment when you’re out on the water, and what you shouldn’t bring in the water. Crystal Dive is not only one of the most affordable diving places, but it makes it even better when you know it’s with someone working to clean up the oceans.  For our Open Water Certificate, I believe we paid around $300-$330 American dollars. We could have paid extra for their hospitality, which is right next to the facility, but we saved a chunk of change by booking elsewhere through Airbnb. When it comes to our travels, the Coronavirus has been kind of a silver lining. The Chinese population most of the time makes up about 50% of tourists. Due to the virus, all of our destinations have been pretty empty. Usually, the classes are all full at Crystal Dive (6-8) people, but my class was just me and a Canadian. Walter had already done his classroom time in America.  We went through a few hours of videos, took a few tests, then spent the next day in the pool with our scuba gear learning the basics. The next two days the dives began and Walter and a Swedish man joined us. We had an amazing instructor! Dav came to Koh Tao a few years ago from Australia and never left. He has been an instructor ever since. Taking your first breath underwater is quite the experience. We saw so many fish, stingrays, coral reefs, sea slugs, and numerous other entities! After this, we decided we HAVE to get our advanced! With the regular Open Water Diver, you can only dive down 18 meters, with the Advanced you can dive down to 30 meters; which is better since 75% of the world’s dive sites are roughly 30 meters down.  The food here wasn’t anything to brag about. Our favorite place was owned by a Thai lady so we ate there most of the time. We ended up walking to the other end of the island one day where most of the French owned resorts were. They all seemed to be closed down for some reason. We weren’t technically breaking and entering since there wasn’t a sign saying stay out, and the gate was open so we just went on it. These cabanas were pretty awesome. They had steps leading from their front door right into the water. This time around they were definitely out of our price range. I also learned here that the geckos have an ability to scream. Every now and then we would just hear a little scream and wondered wtf was going on or did someone need help…Nope.  Geckos. Unfortunately (kind of), scuba diving took up all of our days. If we had known we were going to love it so much we would have planned to stay a few days longer, but we were scheduled to catch a flight to Nepal. Quick knowledge point! If you go scuba diving you need to wait 12-18 hours before flying due to the nitrogen content in your body! I already miss this place so much. It had some of the best sunrises, sunsets, and waters I’ve ever seen. Who knows, maybe Indonesia will top this.

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