At the end of July I flew home from Korea to spend a month and a half with my parents on their farm in Queensland. I love my parents, but six weeks is probably three weeks too long for all parties involved. So I did what I always do when I’m at home, I planned my next trip. The only problem was that my next trip was visiting my friend on Tioman Island for a few months and apart from booking a couple of flights and checking the timing of the bus and ferry, there wasn’t really that much planning to do. I still need to talk to some friends about meeting up in Thailand after Malaysia, but considering I want to be there next year, it doesn’t really seem worth it. I would also like to meet up with Jess and visit Angkor Wat, but it also depends on money – for both of us!
So I started thinking about what I could do next year. One of my best friends is getting married in November, which makes doing another year in Korea a little difficult, as they don’t really do concepts such as ‘leave’. There are a few more options – I could stay in Australia and finish my teaching degree, but I have very little motivation to do that, and as being back in Australia for less than a month already drives me a little insane, I don’t think it’s the way to go. The next option would be to travel around either South East Asia or Central America, working as I do and dragging it out over the time until November, come back for the wedding, then head back to Korea, or similar. Third option, head back to Korea and just let them know I need a couple of days off in November. I’m sure that would work, and it’s something I’m considering.
Another option I’m now considering is heading back to Thailand to become a Diving Instructor. I started seriously considering this option when I spoke to my friend Scott who is currently working on the Great Barrier Reef. He said that he works bloody hard but he gets about $200 a day when he works. This is pretty decent money, and makes the money required to become a Diving Instructor worth it. I’m often reminded that I have two of the most valuable citizenships in the world, and I’ll always be thankful to be able to work in Australia and Europe without requiring a visa.
So with that in mind, I’ve decided to do some research into becoming a Dive Instructor, and so far it seems like, if you have the money, they will train you. The only thing now is finding a great, affordable place to do my training, and of course my first thought is Koh Tao. I’m not even really sure why. The last two times I was there, I felt quite lonely, although I think that’s because, for the first time travelling overseas, I was staying in a room by myself. While I consider myself an introvert, I much prefer being around people when I travel. So that was the first thing to consider – a large school with lots of ‘insta-friends’ that I could get to know and hang out with during my time there.
This narrowed it down somewhat from the reportedly 50+ dive outfits in Koh Tao. Another consideration was that I wanted to have plenty for practice guiding divers and teaching. This meant that I wanted a school with plenty of ‘traffic’, but not that many other Dive Master Trainees. I want to have a lot of people to learn and dive with, but not so many that we would have to take it in turns to do the actual work. A further consideration was that I wanted a school with a ‘name’. If people (prospective employers) were to google the school after I applied with them, I wanted the website to be professional and give the impression that this was a serious dive school that cared about both diving and taking care of the environment.
One of the most important considerations was the environmental aspect. I’ve been on dives where dive masters have picked up sea life and handed it around to the divers to touch. This is incredibly annoying and really turns me off diving. I feel like we should only look, not touch, and what’s more, we as divers should take an active part in protecting the underwater environment and educating people about it. So, I also looked for a school that put a big emphasis on marine conservation.
In the end I’ve decided to go with Big Blue on Koh Tao. I may change my mind in the future, but here is the research so far. Similarly to what I did with the Korea post, I’m going to write up a post with all the research I’ve done on doing your Dive Master/Instructor certification on Koh Tao. I’ll leave some links below, and if I end up going through with it, I’ll try and do regular updates on the course.
First, some blogs. These detail the journey to become a dive master or dive instructor. Some of these may still be works in progress as they take several months to complete.
Becoming an Instructor with DJL – Greg Tomlinson
Becoming a Dive Master on Gili T – Alex in Wanderland
Day in the life of a Divemaster – Padi Pros South East Asia
Some info on diving and doing a dive course on Koh Tao
Scuba Diving on Koh Tao – We’ve Made a Huge Mistake
Learning to Scuba Dive on Koh Tao – Kay Rodriguez
Diving Koh Tao – Keep Calm and Travel
Some first had accounts of working as a Dive Master or Instructor on Koh Tao
Dream Job: Dive Instructor on Koh Tao – Just Travelous
Here are some ‘how-to’ guides
Become a Dive Instructor on Koh Tao – Travelfish
Some general advice for living on/visiting Koh Tao
Lexi’s Ultimate Guide to Koh Tao – Adventures of an Aquaholic
The Eat/Do/Party guide to Koh Tao – Ashley Abroad
Living on a Tiny Thai Island – Dan Kelso
Thank You Koh Tao – This American Girl
Koh Tao Wiki – Wikitavel
A few miscellaneous links which relate in some way or other
My Favourite Go-Pro Accessories for Travel – Expert Vagabond
Finding Work on Koh Tao – Master Divers Koh Tao
Helping out at a dive center – WorkAway
What to Pack for Koh Tao – Scuba Internships Thailand
The Best Places To Do Your Divemaster – The Wellist