We learned that Koh Samui offers excellent dive sites. And, the neighboring island, Koh Tao, produces a massive number of PADI certified SCUBA divers. Many vacationers seek the beautiful, calm waters chock full of beautiful sea life to embark on their diving journey. Being relatively new divers, we felt this would be perfect for us. We researched diving shops on the island and contacted two highly rated outfitters. One company stood out with helpful and prompt communication. Because of this, we decided to dive in Koh Samui with Discovery Dive Centre.
During the reservation process, Discovery Dive Centre asked a lot of questions about our experience, wants, and needs, so that they could determine the best diving excursion for us. We were given three options of dive sites: Hin Bai (Sail Rock), Chumphon Pinnacle, and Koh Tao. We explored the possibilities and decided to dive Sail Rock due to its’ unique characteristics. Situated between Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, Sail Rock is a granite pinnacle that has an abundance of coral and sea life to see.
Our diving experience began with an early 6:30 AM pick up from our hotel lobby. Tom and I stayed at the Renaissance Resort at Lamai Beach. Since the dive shop is at Chaweng Beach, the dive shop offered complimentary transport. The transfer to and from our hotel was a nice touch since it would’ve been a 550 Baht ($16.30 US) taxi ride each way (taxis are pricy on Koh Samui). Upon arrival at the dive shop, we were offered a continental style breakfast to fuel up for the day of diving. At this time, we were introduced to our dive-master, Nick. And when I say “our,” Nick was truly “ours” as we were his only “assigned” divers. This is also a great amenity when diving with Discovery Dive Centre. The maximum number of divers to dive-master is 4:1. In this case, it was 1:1. No, my math isn’t wrong. Unfortunately, I had a sinus infection at the time of the excursion, so Tom dove without me.
Nick is a fantastically energetic and knowledgeable guide. Originally from Bangkok, Nick has been diving for over seven years. Before leaving, Nick went over our equipment with us to ensure everything fit well. Nick brought out a picture book that showed us a rendering of Sail Rock and all of the sea life we might see. Then we set off for our speed boat for the hour-long ride to our dive site.
The speed boat also transported three other dive masters and their divers. It was fantastic to be a part of a truly international community of divers. Discovery Dive Center employs dive masters that speak multiple languages. On our boat, we had Nicola, who guided 3 German and English speaking divers. Arnauld, who speaks French, led 3 guests. Takeshi, originally from Japan, led a father and daughter from Osaka. The boat had a captain and two assistants. We enjoyed chatting with the other guests and divemasters. The diving community is extremely friendly, and we always enjoy the sense of comradery on our diving excursions.
Once we neared Sail Rock, we encountered something no one has ever seen (and should never see) before. The granite pinnacle was draped with a fishing net, with fishing boats hanging out in the near distance. This is despicable. How could the fishermen do this? They were destroying the coral and trapping sea life.
As the divers prepared to dive, Nick double checked with me to see if I could dive. At that point, my sinuses and ears were still congested, and I couldn’t regulate the pressure on land. Underwater, would be much worse. Instead, I decided to snorkel.
I was sad to see the divers below me. One huge reason to travel to Koh Samui was to dive. Instead, I swam around the rock and witnessed the horrible net situation. I saw countless fish trapped. It was a devastating sight. However, I also saw several divers with knives cutting down the net. Seeing strangers work together made me feel proud to be a part of this great community. Although I didn’t go very deep, I saw a fantastic array of fish. It’s so much better than what I’ve seen in the Caribbean. Between the first and second dives, all of the divemasters assisted their comrades with cutting down the net. Then we all settled in for a hearty lunch of rice and chicken curry, chicken wings, salad, watermelon, and pineapple.
During the second dive, I continued to snorkel. Tom said that both of his dives were incredible. The water temperature and visibility were superior to the Caribbean. Tom enjoyed swimming with the abundance of fish. He also had fun exploring the underwater chimney system.
Before our return journey, the divemasters continued to help cut down the net and brought a considerable portion of it back on board. During our boat ride back to Chaweng Beach, Nicola and Nick picked off the coral and returned it to the sea.
Although I was unable to dive, I’m so glad that Tom and a wonderful experience with Nick. Tom is now spoiled since having Nick as his personal guide/dive-master! The snorkeling gave me a taste of the site, and I highly recommend Sail Rock for excellent visibility and a considerable number and variety of fish.
Discovery Dive Centre is a great diving outfitter in Koh Samui. With an international staff of divemasters, it suits most travelers’ needs. We enjoyed the pre-dive communication and individualized attention during the excursion. If you have dived in Koh Samui, what company do you recommend? We would love to hear your suggestions!