A few weeks ago, I wrote about choosing a diving school in Koh Tao. There was plenty of choice: 70-90 schools; a lot of competition – but to be honest, I’ve never heard a bad word from one school about the other. They might say ‘Yeah, they run big boats. But it’s your choice’. Up until now I’m not sure if a big boat is good or bad. I had a direct experience with two schools – GoodTimes, where I’ve done my SSI license and Phoenix, where I’ve taken my fun dives (it was cheaper!). The experience was the same: the same kind of boats, same diving spots, same fruit and biscuits on the boat, friendly people.
I knew that Koh Lipe was different. At first, I didn’t plan doing a course, but after I found out about prices – double Koh Tao(!!!) I realised that maybe that would be a better investment. A single dive is 1500baht ($50), while in Koh Tao it’s up to 1000 (I paid 2700baht for 4 dives). The advanced course price varies between 11 and 15K baht.
I’ve started my planning same as before – walking into the dive shops and asking.
The first one I really liked: the guy was so friendly and enthusiastic about diving, the island, their boats… Small boats being the best, attention to the client etc… I was almost convinced if it wasn’t the price – double Koh Tao. I promised to check out…
The next school was uninspiring and for the same price. I felt uninspired too.
Then I went to the next school, let’s call them C (since we’ve done A and B!). They were relatively convincing, had a better price(11K instead of 14K), and were located close to me. I didn’t have the money on me, so we agreed to come back later.
Next day, on the Walking street, I chatted to the guy from school D. They had the same price as C, and when I said about that, they said that C only go to bad dive sites because they run small boats (long tail boats). D, in fact, operates large boats, and go to the far-away excellent dive sites. So I was convinced.
But since I promised C, I went to their office to warn them I’m not coming. They wished me good luck, because D’s boats sink. Oh well.
At that point, I didn’t want to go with C or D. And with the inspiring A either because they too operate small boats which are apparently bad.
So I went to my favourite tour agent.. I knew them from my previous trip in April when I went snorkelling. They pointed me to the guys next door. They had a big boat, a very personal approach, same price… and, they gave 6 instead of 5 dives on the same course!!! They also didn’t criticize their competitors, but smiled.
I signed. I then told ‘D’ I wasn’t coming.. and found out that my guys go to bad sites. But their boats don’t sink!… I hope!