Phuket diving, Thailand liveaboards cruises and PADI courses
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Phuket diving

 Phuket diving and Thailand Liveaboards holidays with PADI

Phuket is an island that offers all things for all people. You can take a leisurely vacation, relaxing on the beach, taking a sauna or being pampered at one of the many spas. Alternatively, you can learn to windsurf, go mountain-biking, trekking or sailing. There is however, another alternative: diving.

There are many organisations offering dive courses and experiences, but the largest and most universally recognised is PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). Nearly all dive shops on Phuket offer PADI certified courses, at the end of which you gain accreditation and membership (providing you pass, of course).

The variety of courses on offer are tailored for all ages and abilities: from a free "Bubble Blowers" course for eight years and up, to a Master Scuba Diver course for the highly experienced. For the beginner, all PADI courses start with a swimming-pool session, to make sure that you are comfortable underwater. Most hotel swimming pools are used by either the in-house dive operation, or outside companies using the facilities.

There are huge advantages of being able to learn in an enclosed environment: all worries can be put to rest before you enter open water, access is easy, the instructor nearby and the water is clear and shallow. For the beginner, or an out-of-practice diver, the experience is invaluable. In addition, pools such as those at Thavorn Beach Village, Le Meridien and others are picturesque and relaxing . . . an ideal beginners' environment.

For those not really interested in long-term diving, but want the experience, a Discover Scuba course such as the one offered by Asian Adventures is ideal. This involves very limited theory and completion is rewarded with a completion card which will enable you to continue scuba (with an instructor) for a few weeks. Next up is the PADI Open Water course, the most popular entry-level course in the world. This begins with a lecture, pool dive and culminates with two boat dives (or more, if conditions permit). Completion of this course secures your PADI card, enabling you to dive worldwide. On qualification you may advance further if you wish.

Of course, July sees Phuket entering the rainy season, so "is it still OK to dive?" There are admittedly some areas where the diving is still excellent, but the journey a little rough . . . these are mostly far off the west coast of Phuket (due to the southwest monsoon). Off the east coast of the island, however, fairly smooth seas prevail and further north up to Phang Nga Bay the seas tend to be calm year-round. Go on, take the plunge!

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