Ko Phayam is a relaxed, idyllic island that offers fun and adventure. The unspoilt beauty of the island extends underwater, so a Koh Phayam diving holiday to explore its reefs is well recommended. I decided to learn to dive there, check out this review of Phayam Divers PADI Open Water course to find out how I got along.
Phayam Divers are centrally located on the stunning Ao Wai Bay, which is on the south west coast of Koh Phayam. If you are looking for somewhere special to complete your next PADI qualification then scuba diving destinations do not come much better.
Phayam Divers is a PADI affiliated dive center offering a full range of courses at very competitive prices. For those who want to try diving for the first time Discover Scuba (try dive) costs 1500 Baht (approx £35/$43). At the other end of the scale the Divemaster qualification costs 29000 Baht (approx £665/$830).
Phayam Divers also offer scuba diving day trips from 3900 baht (approx £90/$110). These go to the amazing local marine parks, including dive sites such as Surin Island and Richelieu Rock. Richelieu Rock is renowned as a great destination to dive with whale sharks.
It’s a well established dive school with comfortable facilities, such as an air conditioned class for the theory. They have plenty of well cared for equipment by Scubapro that is regularly updated. Onsite is a state of the art Bauer silent compressor, with a 90,000 litre air-bank.
Mathieu my dive instructor, had a relaxed approach that quickly put me at ease and made the learning experience fun. As the only person on the course I got one to one tuition. My practice dives were completed in the calm waters of Ao Wai Bay – far better than in a swimming pool – and made this review of Phayam Divers PADI Open Water course particularly special.
Phayam divers provides all the PADI theory training videos and manuals, with the option of self-managing your theory training using their facilities. This flexible approach means that you can read the manual anywhere at anytime, as long as you have completed the required modules prior to the practical lessons.
My instructor Mathieu was friendly, approachable and supportive throughout. He made himself available to talk through and explain concepts I struggled with in more detail. Mathieu marked each training section knowledge review, and ensured I understood it before progressing with the practical lessons.
Each activity is demonstrated and practiced on dry land before it is attempted in the water. Most of these lessons were completed on the beach in the shade of the trees – a beautiful location. Prior to entering the water clear instructions were given about the skills to be practiced and the planned underwater route.
During this Phayam Divers PADI Open Water Diver course the itinerary of each dive was well planned and balanced. Important skills such as clearing goggles, recovering your mouthpiece, sharing air and an emergency ascent are practiced throughout and quickly become embedded.
During the course I did five dives that lasted around an hour each. At the start of each dive we ran through a number of skills before a short swim to the reef. During this Koh Phayam diving holiday the majority of dives were spent at between 2 and 8 meter depths.
It soon became second nature to me to check my pressure gauge and work on buoyancy by controlling my breathing. Throughout the exercises I was building important experience to enable safe and fun scuba diving for the future.
The Phayam Divers PADI Open Water course costs 9900 Baht (approx £225/$280). This is around $200 less than many other places in Thailand, and is one of the cheapest PADI Open Water courses worldwide. As with any PADI certification the licence is recognised around the world, so you can dive without supervision.
All the local diving is shore dives, so you are accessing the sea straight from the beach. You walk in until it is deep enough to float using the BCD and swim on your back until the water is 2-3 meters deep. During a slow controlled descent to the sandy bottom you will start to see fish and other marine life.
The reef has multiple levels of rock and coral with the added interest of sunken logs. On my first dive I saw lion, puffer & angel fish, a spotted Moray eel, a family of clownfish in their swaying anemone and shoals of brilliantly coloured fish.
To me it was like being inside a marine documentary, if only I had David Attenborough telling me what everything was. Once I had mastered the basics of buoyancy control I was thrilled to find scuba diving feels like you are weightless, flying through the underwater world.
Phayam Lodge has a fantastic position on the beach in the centre of Ao Wai Bay. The lodge offers bungalows with the luxury of hot water showers, air conditioning and 24hr electricity. It is a fun, relaxing and romantic location just a short walk from the village, where there are plenty of quirky shops, dining and drinking venues.
In addition to the dive school Phayam Lodge also offers surfing lessons and have equipment for hire. There are also hiking trails to secluded coves and viewpoints that crisscross the island. Plus a range of wildlife, such as sea eagles, hornbills, and crab-eating macaques to observe.
Staying at the Lodge made my Koh Phayam diving holiday an amazing experience. As this is just a review of Phayam Divers PADI Open Water course you can read more about my relaxed Thai adventure holiday on Koh Phayam here.
During my stay I hired a moped for 150 Baht (approx £3.50/$4.30) per day to explore the island, which was exciting and great fun. Ko Phayam has a laid back, infectious friendliness with plenty to see and do.
Starting with a wonderful welcome at Phayam Lodge, right through to a sad farewell, my Koh Phayam diving holiday was an incredible experience. Relaxing and exhilarating plus beautiful and unspoilt, Koh Phayam is an idyllic Thai island with good diving on its shores and world class diving nearby.
To conclude this review of Phayam Divers PADI Open water course, I’d say it is the perfect location to learn to dive, with high quality instruction and incredibly cheap. My training was a lot of fun, whilst still being comprehensive, and my Koh Phayam diving holiday was a truly special experience.
We hope you found this review of Phayam Divers PADI Open Water course useful. If you would like to plan a Koh Phayam diving holiday then visit Phayam Lodge at: www.phayamlodge.com