By Jennifer Ludwig
I recently just became PADI Advanced Certified in Koh Tao, Thailand. So, naturally, I thought I would share my experience. I also really, really enjoy diving, and I think that everyone should experience the world beneath at some point in their life. J
Now, I should mention first, if you cannot swim, do not think about scuba diving. I was told a story about a woman who decided to start her open water diving course. When it was time for the swimming test, she was asked if she could swim. It was more of just a general question, because it was assumed that she was able to swim if she signed up for the course. Well, basically, she said she had “learned to swim” online. What?! The instructor said that he had to jump in and rescue her about three times. Needless to say, she didn’t become certified. So, words to the wise, DO NOT learn how to swim on-line! That’s not even possible. [If you are in Hawaii and need to learn please look up and call Leahi Swim School. They will do an amazing job teaching you, and then you can make a trip to Koh Tao, Thailand and get certified with Scuba Junction or visit The Florida Keys Dive Center in Key Largo, Florida].
My very first diving experience began in Honolulu, Hawaii. My family and I went out on an Adventure dive and we were hooked! [Refer to picture above J] I became PADI Open Water Certified a year later. I completed my class portion in Crystal Lake, Illinois, and the following August we traveled to Key Largo to complete my Open Water portion with The Florida Keys Dive Center. Diving in the Keys is amazing. The water is always warm and there is a lot to see. It’s like Finding Nemo! Another yearly ritual I have started with my dad is diving in the Keys during mini lobster season. Whether you’re free diving or you throw on a tank, chasing and catching lobster is one of the funniest things I have done ‘unda-da-sea’. Sorry Sebastian. I would highly suggest a trip during the last few weeks of July to partake in this mini season.
When I moved to Hawaii in 2010, I tried to do as much diving there as I could. It was mostly shore dives when my dad came out to visit. Three Tables and Shark’s Cove on the North Shore of Hawaii are a must. Electric Beach on the West Side is also great for seeing a lot of colorful fish and turtles. Keep your eyes peeled though because most likely an eel will sneak up behind you.
By far, my favorite place that I have dived to date was in Cozumel, Mexico, off of the Yucatan Peninsula. We went on a diving excursion from a Carnival Cruise in 2011. The first dive site was called the San Rossa Wall. (Check it out on the Reefs of Cozumel page) The visibility was amazing, and it was a wall dive, so there were caves and tunnels to explore. We also saw a school of barracudas. I would LOVE to go there again and dive.
Thailand is also another amazing location for exploring the deep. If you are into diving, Koh Tao is the ‘mecca island of diving’ place to be. There are dive shops every 20 feet and boats leaving at every hour to take visitors out to see the surrounding reefs. I really enjoyed diving with Scuba Junction, but I’m sure all of the other dive shops are just as good. The coral in Koh Tao is very colorful and there are tons of fish. I especially found it exhilarating when the Trigger Fish were chasing after us. Apparently, they like to nibble at diver’s fins. :S I also, really, really enjoyed night diving. At one point we were huddled as a group, hid our torch’s light and waved our hands rapidly. The water has the most amazing phosphorescent, and the pitch black setting we had was perfect to see them. It was magical!
I am so grateful I have had the opportunity to get PADI certified, and one day I am hoping to get my Master’s Diving Certification to reach every divers goal of 100 dives. I can’t wait! The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, diving with whale sharks in Honduras, diving in the Caribbean, and even altitude diving in the mountains are on the top of my list.
Jennifer Ludwig has been away from her home in Woodstock, Illinois for the past four years. She started off her journey with a move to Hawaii in 2010, after three years of soaking up the sun and surfs up; she decided to continue on her dream of traveling the world. Jenn currently teaches ESL to students in Southern Thailand, and she uses her free-time on the weekends to explore the many picturesque islands, shores, mountains, and local cultures that Thailand has to offer. Her adventures so far can be found at http://jennbecomesworldly.blogspot.com/