Whale Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Top 8 Coolest Creatures To See Diving From Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta, on the west coast of Thailand, has perhaps the best land-based diving in all of Thailand. It boasts easy access to some great dive sites, including Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, Koh Ha, and the dive sites of Koh Phi Phi are also only a short trip away. During your dives on these great dive sites, you are sure to bump into some amazing creatures along the reef. Starting with the smallest, here are my favourite eight reef denizens to spot on your dives…

  1. Harlequin Shrimp

Koh Lanta, Thailand, Harlequin Shrimp, IDC, Divemaster

The colourful harlequin shrimp is perhaps the funkiest and coolest of all shrimp. They are commonly encountered hiding in the reefs around Koh Lanta, often munching on a sea star. Harlequin shrimp don’t stray too far once they have found a nice spot with plentiful supply of food, and when your dive guide knows where they are hiding out, they can be found quite easily…

2. Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Koh Lanta, Thailand, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Divemaster, IDC

The ornate ghost pipefish is another cool visitor to the reefs surrounding Koh Lanta. They come in a variety of colours, and can be seen in pairs or as solitary individuals. Ornate ghost pipefish can change their colour to suit their chosen home among the branches of gorgonians, in floating weeds, or feather stars. They can be tricky to spot, but again, once found, they often stay in one location for a while…

3. Seahorse

Seahorse, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Seahorses are another common spot amongst the reefs of Lanta. They can even be spotted very close to shore on Lanta’s beaches, but are also common on dive sites such as Koh Ha. The tiger tail seahorse is the most commonly encountered seahorse on Koh Lanta’s dive sites, and are spotted year round…

4. Frogfish

Frogfish, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Perhaps a less frequently spotted critter in the area is the frogfish. These cryptic creatures are a master of disguise and can be difficult to spot. The are still seen quite often on the dive sites around Koh Ha and Hin Daeng, as well as on the wrecks around Koh Phi Phi…

5. Turtle

Turtle, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Hawksbill turtles are a regular sight on all the dive sites around Koh Lanta. They are often encountered munching on bubble coral, or just cruising by in the blue close to the reefs. Green turtles are also occasionally spotted in the area…

6. Leopard Shark

Leopard Shark, Zebra Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

The leopard shark, also known as the zebra shark, is a commonly encountered shark in the waters around Koh Lanta. They like to rest on the sand, and are often seen at dive sites like Hin Bida, Bida Nok, and Bida Nai. When they are resting on the bottom, you can get close enough for a good photograph if you approach them very slowly. They are also a great photo subject when they are swimming, with their distinctive long tails scything through the water…

7. Manta Ray

Manta Ray, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

If you want to dive with the majestic manta ray, then you need to book yourself on a trip to Hin Daeng & Hin Muang – two sea mounts in the open ocean. These two stunning dive sites are home to many cleaner fish, and the mantas come to get preened. You just hang back and watch the spectacular show as the mantas circle the cleaning stations. Mantas are my favourite animal to just hover and watch…

8. Whale Shark

Whale Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

And last, but definitely not least, we have the giant whale shark – the biggest fish in the ocean. Whale sharks are very common, but you still need a little luck to be in the right place at the right time. They are commonly encountered at Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, and at Koh Ha. They are also sometimes seen at Bida Nok, close to Koh Phi Phi. Diving along and then seeing the unmistakable shape of a whale shark emerging from the blue is a truly unforgettable experience…

If you haven’t dived from Koh Lanta yet, maybe it’s time to add it to your bucket-list and come see the amazing creatures of the Andaman Sea. Lanta boasts a nice mixture of dive sites for both beginners and experienced divers alike. It is also a beautiful island to spend your non-diving days relaxing on the beach enjoying delicious Thai food or even a sunset cocktail…

If you would like to dive Koh Lanta, email Lanta Diver – a five-star PADI IDC centre offering day trips to all the sites mentioned above. Lanta Diver also run all recreational courses, as well as professional-level courses such as Divemaster & IDC programmes. And if you are looking for a great hotel on the island, look no further than Mook Lanta Eco Resort. What are you waiting for ?

Photos by Narcosis Nick and Richard Reardon

Advertisements

Teaching Tips: Hovering…

During PADI IDC training, it’s not uncommon for people to struggle with the hovering skill. This is a basic buoyancy skill, and should be mastered during the Open Water course, but all too often it is not – it is taught, but not to a mastery level. There is one simple trick I learned which made it much easier for me to get my Open Water students to mater this skill – and it comes down to understanding the situations in which we would hover whilst diving…

Another factor in helping your students master this skill is how you have taught the preceding skills up to this point in their training – they should already have a basic understanding and feeling of neutral buoyancy at this point.

In Confined Water Dive #1 we teach the ‘breathing underwater‘ skill. This should be the first skill to teach, and if you haven’t lazily over-weighted your students, they should already have a good understanding of how breathing effects buoyancy. When we reach Confined Water Dive #2, we have our students master the neutral buoyancy skill – usually by the ‘fin pivot’ method. Now the students really get to grips with how changing lung volume changes depth too as they ‘rise and fall in a controlled manner, during inhalation and exhalation’.

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutral Buoyancy, Platinum Course Director, Best CD

Making the transition to the hover in Confined Water Dive #3 should now be relatively easy, but you can make it even easier for them still. During the briefing for the ‘fin pivot’, I explain to students that this slow deep breathing is a good pattern for when they are swimming around a dive site – slow, relaxed, deep inhalations and exhalations. When it’s time to brief the hover, I remind them of this, but add that if you want to stop to look at something, it’s best to change that breathing pattern to slightly shorter breaths. If the lung volume is changing less, the change to the diver’s depth will be less, and they can have a good look at that nudibanch on the wall…

The next thing I do, to make it easier for them, is to give the student a visual reference. I stand next to them with my hand in front of them, and brief that the idea is to use their lungs to keep their eyes level with my hand. If their eyes go above my hand, they should exhale a little, and if their eyes go below my hand, they need to inhale a little. Once they have the level right, the shorter breaths will help them hold that position.

PADI IDC Phuket, Thailand, Platinum Course Director

This visual reference makes the skill much easier to master for the student. In Confined Water Dive #4, when hovering is repeated with oral inflation, I start the skill the same way, but then remove the visual reference once they have their level, and now they should be able to hover perfectly without a visual reference, as they may have to do during a safety stop on a real dive…

If you would like more tips on teaching PADI courses, come join us for your PADI IDC or PADI IDC Staff Instructor courses at Go Pro In Paradise

Email for further details – info@go-pro-in-paradise.com

PADI IDC Thailand, IDC Staff Instructor, CDTC Prep, Divemaster Internships

Platinum PADI Course Director and Elite 300 Award.

We had a visit during our current PADI IDC today from the PADI Regional Manager to present me with two awards.  Andy came by the dive centre to present me with the two highest awards in the PADI system – Elite 300 Instructor, and Platinum PADI Course Director !

PADI Platinum Course Director, Elite 300 Instructor, IDC Thailand, CD Richard Reardon

The Elite 300 Instructor award is the highest award in the Elite Instructor programme. This is awarded to PADI Instructors who certify three hundred or more students in a calendar year.  For 2016 there were seventy-five PADI Instructors worldwide who achieved this milestone.

PADI Elite 300 Instructor, Platinum Course Director, Richard Reardon, PADI Award, IDC Thailand, Phuket,

The Platinum PADI Course Director rating is the highest rating a PADI Course Director can earn – the highest level of PADI Instructor !  It is awarded to the top Course Directors around the world who issue a certain number of PADI Instructor-level certifications each year.  For 2017, there were less than one hundred Course Directors globally who reached this landmark.

Platinum PADI Course Director, Richard Reardon, IDC Thailand, Phuket, Elite Instructor, PADI Awards

Here’s to a busy 2017 and more PADI awards to come next year !

If you are interested in becoming a PADI Instructor in Thailand, with an award-winning PADI Course Director, please send us an email for further details on our PADI IDC programmes

How To Prepare For Your PADI IDC

PADI IDC Thailand, Dive Theory, Study notes, dive instructor

The PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) is an intensive programme, usually lasting around twelve days.  There is a lot of new information and knowledge to take in during this time-frame, and your course will be a lot easier if you are not also trying to re-learn things that you should already know as a PADI Divemaster.

Your IDC training will be much more relaxed, and the IE will be much easier, if you are comfortable with dive theory and a few other things before you arrive.  You will spend time during the IDC going through this, and completing more dive theory exams, but there will also be a lot more information for you to take in, and most nights you will have teaching presentations to prepare after a full day in the classroom.  I like to give my candidates a set of dive theory exams on the first day of the IDC, and I would expect everyone to be able to pass with a minimum score of 75% in each of the five subjects – Physics, Physiology, Equipment, Dive Skills & The Environment, and The RDP & Decompression Theory.

PADI IDC Phuket, Thailand, dive theory exams, study notes
Physics is fun !

When people book a PADI IDC with Go Pro In Paradise, we send a link to our students with materials to study before arriving – dive theory study notes, practise exams, knot tying videos, RDP revision questions etc..  A few of these study tools are also available to download from the Go Pro In Paradise website.  We also have a few videos to help understand the dive theory on our YouTube channel.

As a Divemaster, you should also be comfortable with the following knots:

  • Sheet bend
  • Two Half-Hitches
  • Bowline

It will also be beneficial if you are also familiar with the ‘reef knot’, or ‘square knot’, – as this is sometimes the result of a sheet bend going wrong, and you need to be able to recognise this error.

The more comfortable you are with all this information before you arrive, the more you will be able to focus and the new information and spending your evenings preparing your teaching presentations for the next day.  If you also need to spend your evenings trying to figure out how to calculate minimum surface intervals, or trying to remember the difference between convection and conduction, then you will be a lot more stressed during your training.

When you book an IDC with us, we will start helping you prepare straight away.  We don’t just wait until you arrive and then try to cover all this during twelve days.  Our IDCs are nice and relaxed when the students have revised the information that we send them at the time of booking.

If you would like more information about our PADI IDC programmes in Koh Lanta, Thailand, please feel free to send us an email – info@go-pro-in-paradise.com

PADI IDC Thailand, IDC Staff Instructor, CDTC Prep, Divemaster Internships

Teaching Tips: The most important skill…

PADI IDC Thailand, Confined Water, Go Pro, Scuba Instructor, Koh Lanta, Tao, Phuket

Which skill do you think is the most important when teaching an Open Water Diver Course ? Mask clearing ? C.E.S.A. ? Neutral buoyancy ? No, for me it’s ‘breathing underwater’ from Confined Water Dive 1. Not only is it essential to stay alive, but it the basis of everything that happens underwater…

PADI IDC Koh Lanta, Thailand, Tao, Phuket, Bali, Indonesia, Confined Water, Teaching Diving, Scuba Instructor

Quite often on an Open Water course this skill gets brushed over and taught too quickly. But if you spend the time explaining the importance and the effect of breathing correctly underwater, you might find that your entire Open Water Course will flow more smoothly. As an instructor, do not be too quick to place extra weight on the student’s belt when they can’t descend at the start of Confined Water Dive 1. Instead, take the time to explain the correct breathing pattern, and the importance of long exhalations. Once the student divers do this, they should descend more easily, and now right from the beginning, they have understood the correlation between breathing and buoyancy/depth control.  Their instinct now, should they start to rise in the water will be to exhale, rather than to reach for the deflate button.

PADI IDC Phuket, Koh Lanta, Tao, Phi Phi, Thailand, Platinum Course Director, CDTC Prep

Sometimes at the beginning of an Open Water Course, the students are a little nervous, and this can affect their breathing pattern too. Once underwater, I then take the time to teach the correct breathing pattern before attempting mask clearing or regulator skills. I treat this skill underwater as an introduction to the fin pivot. I ask them to lie down from the first moment they go underwater – never on the knees –  practising equalising as they do so.  Then I ask them to watch my hand as I coax them into a relaxed, correct breathing pattern. As they do this, I add little amounts of air to their BCDs to get them neutrally buoyant, so they are essentially ‘fin pivoting‘, and I will let them continue with this for several minutes – just breathing. After they are relaxed with this, I can continue with the rest of the skills in this ‘diving’ position. If I find that I need to add a significant amount of air, then I will remove a weight from their belts, as they are over-weighted. Now the students will truly start to understand the importance of the correct breathing pattern underwater and the effect this has on buoyancy, depth, and position in the water, and your Open Water Course will be easier to teach, and more importantly, your students will be better divers…

To learn more tips about teaching PADI courses why not enrol in one of our PADI IDC or PADI IDC Staff Instructor courses at PADI CDC Lanta Diver, Koh Lanta – email for further details – rich@go-pro-in-paradise.com

PADI IDC, Divemaster, Thailand, Koh Lanta, Koh Tao, Phuket, Phi Phi

www.go-pro-in-paradise.com

Go Pro In Paradise PADI IDC Courses You tube Channel
Subscribe to our YouTube channel too…

New 2014 PADI Instructor Manual

The New PADI Instructor Manual is available !

PADI IDC Thailand Koh Phi Phi Koh Lanta Phuket

The updated 2014 version of the PADI Instructor Manual is available for download from the PADI Pros website.  Log-n to the Pros site, and then hover the mouse over ‘Training essentials’, then click on ‘Digital Instructor Manual’.  Make sure you’re teaching the latest standards, so download the latest version today !  At present the new manual is available in the following languages – English, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and French, with other languages to follow…

If you are not yet an instructor, but would like to be, visit our website to learn how you can make your dream a reality.  Or you can simply e-mail us for further information…

 

PADI IDC Thailand Koh Phi Phi Lanta Phuket

PADI IDC Thailand
Follow me on Facebook too…

 


The Beauty Of Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi, in the Krabi region of Thailand, is a stunningly beautiful island – both above and below the surface.  There’s no coincidence that travellers and Hollywood directors with film crews alike have chosen to spend time basking in its sun-drenched glory.  Whilst in this tropical location, there are many activities to engage in to pass the time.  Of course SCUBA diving is one, but not the only one…

PADI IDC Thailand, Koh Phi Phi
Ton Sai Bay, Koh Phi Phi

 

Koh Phi Phi boasts great accessibility to its local dive sites, all year round.  With the dive sites so close, it’s also ideal for people who like to do half-day trips (two dives) and still have the rest of the day free to enjoy the other delights that Phi Phi can offer – including hitting the beach, rock-climbing, and walking to the view points for stunning vistas of Koh Phi Phi Don’s twin bays.

PADI IDC Thailand, Koh Phi Phi
The reward for walking up to the viewpoint…

 

The local dive sites offer spectacular underwater scenery too.  My favourites, The Bidas (Bida Nok and Bida Nai), are two small islands just off the end of Koh Phi Phi Ley.  Both are stunning sites.  The coral is stunning – a rainbow of soft corals, large intact sea fans and great hard coral cover too.  The beauty of these sites is that they are great for all levels of training, from Discover Scuba Diving students, Open Water students, and also more advanced training (I often conduct IDC training out there) and are also awesome for certified ‘fun divers’ too.

PADI IDC Thailand
PADI IDC action from Bida Nok, Koh Phi Phi…

 

Bida Nok has a nice bay at one end which offers good protected, sandy areas for conducting DSDs and skills for Open Water courses.  If you follow the reef that extends from this bay you can easily reach 30m too.  Coming out from the bay, one side of the island is also more sheltered and shallower than the other, and is ideal for less experienced divers, while the more experienced can check out the delights of the deeper water on the opposite side.

PADI IDC Thailand, Koh Phi Phi
A leopard shark at Koh Phi Phi, Thailand…

 

All the local sites offer varied marine life too.  Turtles (mainly hawksbill, but also green) are very common.  Also very common are the leopard sharks (or zebra sharks depending on your preferred common name), and black-tipped reef sharks too.  We get many of the usual suspects in and around the reef (moray eels, octopus, cuttlefish, scorpionfish, Kuhl’s stingrays in the sand etc), but are also very lucky to have seahorses as a relatively common sight.  We can also spot harlequin shrimp and frogfish from time to time.  Not something that I’d lead people to expect, but when lucky we can also see passing whale sharks on the reefs too.

IDC Thailand Koh Phi Phi Harlequin Shrimp
The beautiful Harlequin Shrimp (courtesy of Neutral Buoyancy images)

 

We are also lucky to have large schools of yellow snapper, barracuda and fusiliers dancing around the reefs, often being hunted by jacks…

The diving on Phi Phi offers relatively easy and gentle conditions.  Currents are mild, visibility averages 20m, and the water temperature hovers close to 30ºC year round.  The best time of year to visit is from October through to May, but the weather is fine year round – maybe evening showers more during the rest of the year.  With the 30ºC water temperature, many people opt to dive with just a rashtop and board shorts.  Phi Phi Barakuda offer 3mm shorties as standard, but we also have longer suits available for people who feel the cold more.

When not diving, there is also plenty to do to keep the visitor occupied.  Thai food is awesome and there are plenty of restaurants to try.  There are also walks to the viewpoints to overlook the bays (very nice for sunset/sunrise).  Traditional Thai massages are readily available too.  The beaches are also stunning and a great place to spend an afternoon after two morning dives.  Phi Phi is also a good place for rock-climbing.

Also another water activity is to snorkel with black-tipped reef sharks on Long Beach.  This is best early in the morning, but possible throughout the day.

PADI IDC Thailand, Koh Phi Phi
Black-tipped reef shark cruising its reef… (photo courtesy of Neutral Buoyancy Images)

 

There are also many boat/snorkelling trips on offer, including the famous Maya Bay, where Leonardo DiCaprio and friends filmed the movie ‘The Beach’.  Maya Bay is also where we often eat our lunch during surface intervals on our dive trips.

Koh Phi Phi is relatively easy to get to.  There are many options to suit all budgets.  From Bangkok you can either fly to Krabi or Phuket airports or you can take overnight buses down too.  From Krabi or Phuket you then jump on the ferry across to Phi Phi Don.

PADI IDC Thailand, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket
Map of the region.

 

Phi Phi locals are very friendly and welcoming to all foreign visitors.  Visitors should be aware of local traditions/customs on Phi Phi as much as anywhere else in Thailand.  Thai New Year (Songkran) is an especially good time to visit, as basically the day (April 13th) involves a huge water-fight and is a great experience.

So, what are you waiting for ?  Book your flight now and come see for yourself the myriad of pleasures that await you on Koh Phi Phi…

PADI IDC Thailand
Follow me on Facebook too…