Category Archives: Diving and Snorkeling

Apnea Koh Phangan – Freediving School in Haad Yao

Apnea Koh Phangan is a freediving school located in Baan Haad Yao Villas on Haad Yao beach. For those not familiar with freediving, it doesn’t refer to a diving school without charges, but to a type of diving that doesn’t use scuba equipment. It is an amazing experience to dive without the encumbrances of air tank, BCD etc..

For those who haven’t tried freediving the most common concern is the lack of potential under-surface time. Why not use scuba equipment? Through breathing techniques Apnea Koh Phangan instructors guarantee that at the end of the day you will be able to hold your breath for at least 3 minutes.

There is a Discover Freediving Course available for beginners to the sport. Currently, for 4,500 Thai Baht Apnea Koh Phangan offers a day course that includes tuition, equipment rental and a dive trip to Sail Rock, the best dive site in the Gulf of Thailand. On this introductory course customers get to experience depths up to 12 meters. They also get expert tuition in the following areas:

  • Introduction to freediving and the different disciplines
  • Familiarisation with equipment
  • Duck-dives – Effective underwater entry technique
  • Kicking technique
  • Equalisation techniques
  • Breathing techniques
  • Recovery breathing
  • Hydration and diet

If you like freediving the first day can be counted towards a 2-day course leading to certification in freediving.

Another option is the Static Apnea Clinic. This is another 1 day course which is about holding your breath. It is guaranteed that at the end of the day you will be able to hold your breath under water for at least 3 minutes. This course includes lots of tips for mind and body control as well as suggestions for future training to further extend breath-hold capability.

Just as with PADI scuba shops there are longer courses available for those who wish to qualify as an instructor.

For those interested in finding more out about freediving in Haad Yao here are the contact details for Apnea Koh Phangan:

Address: Baan Haad Yao Villas, Haad Yao, Koh Phangan
Phone: +66 923 801 494
Facebook: www.facebook.com/apneakohphangan
E-mail: info@apneakohphangan.com

So if you are holidaying in Haad Yao or elsewhere on Koh Phangan, and you want to try something a bit different then check out freediving with Apnea Koh Phangan. They are a professional and certified outfit that will allow you to not only see the underwater beauty of the Gulf of Thailand but also help you discover your limits and understand that they lie further that you thought.

We at Haad Yao Guide recommend you head over to the Apnea Koh Phangan website to find out more about freediving and the Apnea Koh Phangan team.

Reefers Dive Resort

reefers

Reefers Dive Resort markets itself as Koh Phangan’s first fully inclusive 5 star dive resort. We at haadyao.info are not sure what this appellation means but Reefers is a dive shop with a good reputation and they offer diving packages that include accommodation.

Reefers Dive Resort has 2 offices where you can go to enquire about diving. One is behind Haad Yao Bayview Resort the other is next to Seaboard Bungalows on the beach.

The dive school has an impressive set up. They have a 3 meter deep pool as well as a comfortable classroom. There is also a refurbished dive boat that can hold 20 people.

Every day the school organises beach dives and boat dives. The boat dives include lunch. The staff is friendly and they play music on the boat (not to everyone’s delight I am sure).

The full range of PADI dive courses are available starting from beginner and going up to Dive Instructor. If you are interested in a diving career Reefers also offer internships to budding divers. Course numbers are kept low (4 students to 1 instructor) to make sure the students get all the attention they need to gain confidence under the water.

For those with scuba qualifications they also offer Nitrox diving. For kids there is bubblemakers.

You can go to the Reefers website to find their ‘special offers’. For example, at the moment of writing they were offering an Open Water course and 7 nights’ accommodation for 16,400 Thai Baht. This is good value since you can pay 12,000 Thai Baht for just an Open Water Course at other Koh Phangan dive schools.

Currently Reefers Dive Resort is ranked the 7th best activity in Koh Phangan (out of a list of 55 on Trip Advisor). If you take any notice of Trip Advisor reviews you would do well to insist on not diving with Alex. Other people at the school such as Mitch and Viv get much better reviews.

Protecting the Coral

Haad Yao Divers boat

Haad Yao Divers boat

One of the most important marine resources in Koh Phangan is the coral reef located 400 meters off the shore at Haad Yao. There are a variety of coral and the list of fish you can see includes manta rays, porcupine puffer fish and anemone fish. The reef is close to Koh Ma, Koh Phangan’s only marine park and so contains many of the same species.

Whereas Koh Ma benefits from the protection afforded it by its National Park status, the Haad Yao corals are not as fortunate. Moreover, Haad Yao attracts a lot more temporary residents staying in the many rooms the beach and the surrounding locale has to offer.

One of the main activities for tourists visiting Haad Yao is snorkeling and scuba diving. It is a great sport and a great way to gain a new perspective on the marine environment.

There are often tours advertised that explore the reef off Haad Yao. Don’t take these tours if they set off from Haad Yao beach. Only take diving tours that use a boat that sets off from a pier. The longtail boats that go from the shore have outboard motors with long propellers. These propellers often scrape the reef as they cross over to the other side. This causes damage to the reef that can take many years to repair.

Also the boats often leak fuel into the sea which pollutes the sea and can harm marine life. The noise from these boats disturbs the peace of those enjoying the beach and the drivers often cannot see all the swimmers in the water.

So be responsible and only sign up for scuba and snorkeling trips on boats that use a pier. By doing so you are protecting the reef for future visitors to the area and helping to preserve one of the most important natural environments on the island. Thank you!

Haad Yao Divers

One of the best known dive resorts in Haad Yao is Haad Yao Divers. There are other dive shops on the beach such as Reefers Diving and Sail Rock Divers. These other shops also are highly recommended but this post will focus on Haad Yao Divers.

The dive school is located on the northern road to the beach, near Apache Bar and behind Silver Beach Bungalow. Haad Yao Divers is a 5 star PADI IDC Dive Resort. For those not familiar with the acronym ‘IDC’ it means ‘international dive center’. The dive shop has 5 stars from PADI and is officially an instructor development dive resort. That means that they offer course to take you from absolute beginner all the way to dive instructor for Open Water courses.

Haad Yao Divers was the first dive shop on the West coast of Koh Phangan. Since then this school with Western management has built up organically into a much bigger business. However, they have kept true to their roots – their dive groups are still small. They are also dedicated to environmental issues. They are a ‘Go Eco Operator’ and they also participate in the ‘Green Fins Thailand’ initiative set up to monitor the health of coral reefs in Thailand.

There are instructors who speak English, German, French and Spanish. If your English is not too good then this is perhaps the best scuba school to look at for foreign language instruction. However, it is always a good idea to check in advance that they have an instructor that speaks your mother tongue as dive instructors tend to move on after a season or two.

Trip Advisor rates Haad Yao Divers as the fifth best activity on the island. It has 43 reviews at the time of writing.

Prices for diving include free transfers, food on the boat and free equipment. Don’t be misled by the phrase ‘resort’ in their accreditation. They don’t throw in accommodation with their diving packages. This is more a Koh Tao idea where intense competition forces the big dive shops to offer the best value possible. However, in contrast to Koh Tao operators dive groups are very small – just 4 students to 1 instructor. Moreover, Koh Phangan is closer to the best dive sites such as Sail Rock so they tend to get there before all the big boats from Koh Tao.

So if you fancy doing something exciting while staying in Haad Yao we recommend checking out Haad Yao divers.

Website: http://haadyaodivers.com/en/index.php