When we originally were planning our trip to Koh Tao, getting our Advanced Certification in diving wasn’t necessarily at the top of our minds. We had an incredible time diving in the Great Barrier Reef and getting certified as Open Water Divers, but we weren’t sure of the commitment of becoming Advanced Divers just yet. We really wanted to do a few more fun dives before continuing our underwater learning journey.
As soon as we got to Koh Tao, we realized how big the diving community really is. We listened to many seasoned divers talk about their experiences and how the underwater world makes such a huge impact on their lives. Within a day or two of diving to no deeper than 18 m, we were completely won over and convinced we should get our Advanced Adventure Certification.
Now the tricky part is who to do your course with? I know I’ve discussed the importance of finding a dive operator who makes you feel comfortable, whether its just a day of fun dives or completing a new course, but I can’t stress it enough. Luckily, we fell in love with La Bombona Diving pretty much straight off the bat, and decided then and there to complete our Advanced with them. They’ve got a great staff and some of the lowest prices on the island, offering the Advanced Course and a free T-Shirt for just 7,000 baht.
In case you aren’t up to speed with what Advanced Adventure Certification means, I’ll explain it real quick here –
You need to complete 5 specialty dives, two of which are usually the deep dive to 30 meters and a night dive. All of which are completed with an instructor to monitor progress and check for safety. The point of getting the extra certification is so you can dive to deeper depths, which can allow you to go on most wreck dives. It’s also to show that you can handle yourself underwater without a dive master.
On the first day of our course, Sam and I were accompanied by another couple who just completed their Open Water Course. Our instructor, Tom, had explained the low down on the course, what we should expect and how he was going to be there for us. We watched a quick 5 minute video as a part of our theory – which totally beat the 3 whole days of online testing we did for our Open Water Cert!
We sat around a table in the dive shop and went over how to use the computers, compasses, rescue floaties, etc. We agreed that our 5 dives would be Deep Dive, Night Dive, Navigation Dive, Fish Identification and Computer Dive. We were rearing and ready to go.
The few days before, my ears and my sinuses were really acting up. I was pretty nervous to get in the water again and fail, but Tom assured me that there was no failing and they would work with me to complete the course. On the first dive, we went to a shallow site and practiced with our compasses. We showcased our abilities with navigating in a straight line and in a square, and how to do it all with a buddy. We also practiced how to hover upside down! Finally, we all held hands in a circle underwater, and closed our eyes for 2 whole minutes. This was to show us how calm and relaxed the experience should be. If we could stay calm, keep our eyes closed and breathe in a controlled manner, than we can definitely be great divers! It was such a cool experience.
The next dive was one of my favourites of the whole trip. We went to Green Rock, and Tom allowed us to take control of the navigation. First, Sam and I lead the pack and maneuvered our way through the dive site. Later, the other couple took charge. It was such an interesting site with loads of coral and fish swimming around. It was also really cool to feel responsible for the dive, and it made is feel like we were on our way to becoming seasoned divers!
Later that night, we were getting ready for our night dive. As Sam and I have already completed a night dive in the Great Barrier Reef, I was over the nervous feeling and really really excited. Unfortunately, my ears weren’t as excited. I couldn’t equalise pretty much the second I tried to go underwater. I had to call it quits. I was pretty upset with myself, but Tom, our instructor, assured me we would figure it out.
The next day came, and I decided to pass up the next two dives with the rest of the group because I was entirely stuffed up and congested. I was beyond disappointed, but the La Bombona team did everything in their power to come up with a solution. Later that day, Sam came home with a grin on his face after completing his Advanced Adventure Course, and I was happy for him. Especially because La Bombona allowed me to re-dive the dives I missed the next day.
I was nervous my ears weren’t going to let me get down to 30 meters, or even get underwater at all! Tom told me that we would take as long as it took to get down to the bottom, even if it took the whole dive, and that was really assuring. Luckily, I was able to get down to the depth I needed to get to, and we were able to explore a shipwreck, which was really neat.
After a few more super slow descents and cool dives, I was finally an Advanced Adventure Diver!
I really couldn’t have done it without the support of the La Bombona team. They allowed me to do the course at my own pace, and never once made me feel rushed. I think that’s one of the most important attributes in a dive company.
I’ll always be grateful for having the opportunity to work with such an amazing dive company, and if you’re ever looking to go that extra step in your dive career, look no further than La Bombona.
Check out their prices and location – http://www.labombonadivingkohtao.com/en/
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Disclaimer: I was a guest of La Bombona in exchange for this review. As always, I would never endorse or recommend a service or product that I didn’t honestly love 🙂