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Dive Review of Big Blue Divers in
Thailand

Big Blue Divers, Jul, 2008,

by Georgette Oden, Texas, USA ( 1 report). Report 4330.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Caribbean and Pacific
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 83 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 25 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Depth and time limits; most fun divers had computers but those without, or those taking courses, were required to stay with the DM/instructor and dive their profile.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments All 3 boats are quite spacious, with plenty of space to lay out your gear. They all offer dedicated freshwater "buckets" about the size of a horse drinking tub or small wading pool for your cameras. The dive shop also has a large freshwater container limited to cameras and regs.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Big Blue is a great operation, offering instruction and guidance in about 12 languages, located on Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand. If, like us, you head to Thailand in the summer when the monsoons render the Similan Islands/Richilieu Rock impassable for diving, then Koh Tao is your destination. Less pummeled by tourists and partiers than Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao is relatively peaceful and simple. There are lots and lots of dive operators on the island, but Big Blue is one of the longest-running, best sited, best equipped, and most sensitive to environmental issues.

The accomodations are clean, simple and inexpensive (a tiled room with a fan [A/C not necessary] and private bath was about $6-7/night) and located a short walk from the main strip, so it's quiet at night. The dive shop sells tshirts, computers, books and random bits for your gear. The computers, by the way, are substantially cheaper here- I got my Suunto Vytek for 30% less than I would have paid in the US. The dive shop is right next to a nice little restaurant with teak lounge chairs facing the beach, where you can enjoy the constant refreshing breeze under shady palms and eat food ranging from the obvious Thai, to good woodfired pizzas and pasta and other comfort foods. They also boast a lengthy and creative cocktail menu and the seafood entrees are delicious.

The dive boats are big, with plenty of room to gear up, 2-3 marine heads, and lots of space for relaxing, eating, and sunbathing. Most dive sites are within a 30-60 min ride. There are always at least two trips a day-- two dives in the morning, two in the evening, and usually night dives 3-4 times a week. Hot coffee and tea, and water, plus cut fruit and cookies, are on board for your snacking pleasure. If you do the full day-trip to Sail Rock, they provide a full breakfast with eggs, bacon, fruit and toast plus a full lunch of rice, stirfry, Thai curry, noodles, as well as sodas and fruit.

The diving is pretty good-- lovely warm water and usually stellar visibility. Plenty of opportunities to dive with whale sharks-- in the 12 days we were there, 4 were spotted by Big Blue divers-- and other sharks, like juvenile bulls, black-tips, and grey reefs. On a site called Chumphon Pinnacle, a computer and nitrox are your special friends- Nothing better than laying on the sandpatch at 90 ft being circled by extremely curious bulls for 30-40 min! Lots of healthy corals, very little to no bleaching or broken bits, and lots of little things like nudibranchs (a Magnificent Jeronah in shocking white with magenta-purple lace was my favorite), yellow boxfish, baby scorpionfish, longfin bannerfish... great schooling fish too.

The only downside is the dive courses. There are almost always lots of them going on, so there are often LOTS of people in the water with you. Day trips to Sail Rock are good because you can usually avoid other dive shops if you get there early enough (and the chimney descent from 15-65ft, in a tube ringed with fantastic corals and anemones, is to die for).

I've written for Undercurrent before and would be happy to write about Koh Tao, just let me know.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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