Charlie Beardow, Dive Leader and Club Instructor
October 2016, Ao Nang Thailand.
For months before my trip, I researched many different dive companies in Thailand. I eventually finalised my location (with my sister’s recommendation) to Ao Nang rather than Phuket.
I decided to use Kon Tiki Dive Company, after reading many different reports and not being far from the hotel. I emailed and reserved 4 days diving with up to 10 dives.
Upon arrival in Ao Nang, I went and registered with the dive company and completed all the paper work.
Next morning I was collected from the hotel and taken to a long boat for transfer to a larger dive boat. There were about 10 people diving with four guides. We had a major brief and introduction to the guides before being split into our smaller groups. Once in the small group we were given more detailed information on what we may see and procedures.
Day One went lovely, seeing all the fish and sea life. However, it was noticeable of a great amount of damaged corals. Once back aboard the boat we asked about the corals and informed that this was the result of the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004.
Day Two, We had new dive guides and new locations in the Bay of Thailand. Again, the dives were lovely and waters warm. One of the dives was next to a pinnacle of limestone that climbed out of the sea to about 100 feet with trees and other vegetation growing. Around the base, were many day boats with snorkelers swimming and splashing around. We jumped in and immediately dive onto an artificial reef.
Day Three, Only 1 dive today and my last in Thailand. The seas seemed a little rougher than the other days, and again another guide.
I dive with a couple from the London region, the man had done about 100 dives but his wife was still relatively new to diving and was quite apprehensive about the sea state. The Guide takes the wife in as his buddy because of her apprehension and I dive with the husband. Once in the water the woman literally uses up all her air within 20 minutes because she is hyperventilating and a little panicky. She ends up next to me as we swim through a ball of fish. Whilst we are doing our safety stop, the woman is panicky so I hold her hand, stay with her until we surface, and get to the boat.
When I was trying to get onto the boat with the guide the captain decides to engage his boats propellers and move off, everyone shouts for him to stop and the guide and I eventually make it aboard. I am not happy with the sea state as it was 3 to 4 foot waves. I decide not to do anymore diving with the company and inform the lead dive guide of my decision. Whilst they decide to do a second dive, I dismantle my kit and find that I had broken one of my BCD weight pocket pouch handles, so even if I had wanted to dive I would not have been able to ditch my weights if necessary.
I never heard another word from Kon Tiki divers whilst in Ao Nang and when I eventually did hear from them, they claimed they tried talking to me on the boat.
Moral of this story is, even if you do all the research into a dive company it may not turn out as you like.