Every time I found myself stuck in on a bus in rush hour traffic in Buenos Aires, I would close my eyes and imagine myself diving into warm, aqua marine water on a tropical island far, far away.
This week, I found out that my happy place actually exists.
The runt of the Thai island litter, Koh Tao (aka Turtle Island) has amazing shallow and sandy bays and is famous for being one of the cheapest places in the world to go diving. The island is covered in plumeria, geckos and golden bearded dive-bums. This is the perfect place to RE-LAX, and go underwater to smile and wave at passing schools of fishes.
We got our fins wet by taking a full-day snorkel tour around the island, the highlight being swimming with black tipped sharks in Shark Bay. After that I decided it was time to dive.
It had been 5 years since I completed my PADI Open Water course in Honduras, and therefore it was definitely time for a refresher course. My Argie Divemaster Pablo at Alvaro Diving Center was incredibly chill and patient, exactly what I needed after a few too many years above the sea.
While the whole concept of breathing underwater seems offensively unnatural to me, once I get there, I realize how insanely cool it is to watch fish just hang around and eat coral.
(So this is what you guys do all day, eh? Not too shabby.)
Total: Refresher course – 1500 Baht ($50) Fun Dive – 900 Baht ($30)
Where to Eat: Bizzaros. Javier, an Argentine who lived in Ibiza for 20 years, has opened an amazing tapas and BBQ place close to Chaluk Bay. Even if you are on a budget, splurge for the $6 BBQ squid and prawn plate.
Where to Drink: Babaloo. On the northern end of the bay, around a plank pier, make the pilgrimage to Babaloo. With candle light, hammocks and fire-dancers, you will never want to move again.
Where to Stay: We opted to stay in Chaluk Bay, away from the main pier, and spent our vast majority of the time here. JP Resort was our first home, with amazing views but more than enough stairs. Viewpoint Bungalows were definitely a better deal/locations.
Moral of the story: Go here. Although it was somewhat cloudy and rainy when we were here in mid-July, so if you are flying across the Pacific for a beach vacation, choose your season carefully.