Over the past two weeks, Sam and I have spent most of our days underwater. Koh Tao is largely known for its world class diving, friendly whale shark encounters and fun beach parties. Just walking down the main strip of Sairee Beach, you can tell how big of a role diving plays into the economy, tourism industry and the local economy.
When we first arrived at 6:00 am off the night boat from Surat, we were surprised to see so much activity in the streets. Then, we realised this was a serious diving destination and most people who come to visit are here to dive. Diving usually means early mornings! With that said, there are over 60 dive operators working on the tiny island of Koh Tao. I don’t think you could walk even 10 metres without running into another dive shop’s sign. So how do you make the ever-important decision of who to dive with?
Well, you have your big name brand dive shops. You have the small, but long-established dive shops. You have the dive shops that you can just tell churns out the divers like nobody’s business. Then you have the dive shops that make you feel like family – this is where you’ll find La Bombona.
Located near the pier up the hill, La Bombona has a spacious dive shop filled with bean bags, good music and even better people. We spent a lot of time post-diving just chilling out on those bean bags! When we scheduled our two days of fun dives, we knew we made a great decision just by the way the owner, Rocio, was so calm, cool and collected about the whole thing. She made us feel super comfortable as if we’d been friends for a long time. They helped us pick out the best equipment and sizes, and we signed the usual paperwork before diving. Rocio ensured us we would be going on the best boat in Koh Tao (spoiler: she was totally right!) We were pretty excited to get going with this amazing team.
La Bombona was created by Rocio and her partner Alberto just over a year ago, coming all the way from Spain. It’s hard to think they’re that young because the company runs like a well-oiled machine, and the staff seem like they’ve been friends their whole lives! Most of the staff speaks fluent Spanish and English, making it a great spot for Spanish speakers and English speakers alike to come together and learn a bit more from each other.
On the morning of our first fun dive with La Bombona, we walked our way to the dive shop to meet up with our divemaster, Sam. He gave us a refresher on the equipment and dive signals, and he updated us on the rules of the boat and a little bit about the dive sites we were headed to that day. As soon as we stepped onto the boat, I realised Rocio was totally right. This was the nicest and cleanest boat I had seen! First off, it was huge! There was plenty of space for all of the other dive operators and their divers. It was super clean, well kept and safe. There also was a lovely little cat who lived on the boat, which was a nice touch 🙂
The fun dives were great, despite the weather not exactly holding up for us. Sam was super relaxed and allowed us to truly explore the site on our own terms. I felt really safe with him, which is the most important feeling to have when diving with a new company. You don’t want to be 18 metres underwater and feel like you can’t tell your divemaster what’s wrong in fear of being laughed at. This wasn’t the case with Sam or the rest of the La Bombona team. Anytime I had an inkling of anxiety or equalisation issues, he helped me calm down immediately.
After each fun dive, the boat staff laid out snacks, like biscuits, toast, eggs, fruit, coffee and tea. Usually, most divers relaxed on the top deck of the boat, catching some rays and chilling out before the next dive. It seemed each dive operator that worked on the boat worked really well together. After we got back to the boat, we carried our equipment back up the the La Bombona dive shop and logged our dives with the help of Sam’s computer.
The next day of fun dives was a rough one for me. Unfortunately, overnight my sinuses decided that they weren’t going to cooperate. I could barely equalise even 1 metre underwater, and the more I tired the more it hurt. To say I was devastated was an understatement. We were at Southwest Pinnacle, one of the best dive sites in Koh Tao, and the visibility looked incredible. I slowly worked my way back into the boat, defeated and deflated to be the only loser who couldn’t dive that day. But as soon as the crew got back into the boat, Sam reassured me that there is no reason to push it with my ears and that everything will work out. That was really helpful and kind of him. Again, I couldn’t equalise my ears for the next dive at Shark Island, which I would have been bummed about, but the sun was out and I got to tan up on the top deck. Also, when the divers resurfaced they were literally 200 meters away from the boat because of the crazy rip under the water!
I guess the point of this unfortunate story is to show you that not every diving experience is going to be absolutely perfect. Your ears may not equalise. You may be getting sick. Your mask may fog up. You never know, but the most important thing you can do is dive with an amazing company who will make you laugh and feel supported whether you made it 30 metres or 1 metre. That’s what I found with La Bombona, and I was so grateful for their hospitality and expertise that I decided to go for my Advanced Adventure Certification a few days later. I’ll be writing about that experience in my next review of La Bombona!
Check out their prices for all dives and courses here – http://www.labombonadivingkohtao.com/en/course-prices/
Follow La Bombona on Social Media:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/labombonadiving
Twitter – https://twitter.com/labombonadiving
Instagram – https://instagram.com/labombonadivingkohtao/
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 🙂