You should be aware that the levels of teaching, safety and dive equipment in Krabi dive schools (as in the rest of Thailand) vary quite dramatically, as many dive centres – even with the best intentions – will only be fly-by-night operators. If booking a course online prior to arrival in Krabi, try to check the company’s history and record – online reviews can be useful for this purpose. Or, if already here, you should walk around and compare a few different schools before making your choice.
When choosing a dive school, follow your instinct: these will be the people looking after you on the boat and in the water, so it is important that you feel comfortable with them. You may prefer a more jokey, fun-loving instructor – or someone more thorough and serious. As another example, you may find an instructor who speaks your native tongue is preferable to learning in English, if this is not your first language. Between them, Krabi dive schools offer instruction in all major European languages as well as Japanese, Russian and Thai.You can also ask about their dive equipment and, if possible, to see what condition it is in. A school that invests in good quality, new equipment is also likely to be more aware of your general safety.
You should not worry if the dive school you like is not the one in your hotel, or even close to it, as all dive centres in Krabi offer free round trip hotel transfers for any dive or course booked – i.e. getting to and from the dive centre should not be a factor in making your decision.
So now you have chosen your dive school, what next? It’s time to take the plunge!
If you’ve never dived before, most schools will offer the chance to do a PADI (the world’s largest diving organisation) beginner’s course, which can be anything from a one-day experience (Discover Scuba Diving) to the full Open Water course, which takes 3-4 days and gives you a certification to dive to 18 metres. If you have limited time in Krabi, look for a school that offers PADI’s e-learning program which will allow you to do the classroom work required online before arrival, saving you two days of your precious holiday time!
Licensed divers can also improve their skills with the full range of PADI courses, right up to instructor level. Note that if you are travelling in low season, fun diving only and have specific sites in mind, it is best to book your dives on arrival in Krabi as although many dive schools publish schedules online, these can vary quite a bit depending on the weather and which boats are going out (dive schools often share boats if they can’t fill their own to capacity). This way, you can be sure where you will be heading to the next day. If you are travelling in high season, it is fine to book fun diving in advance.