Assava Divers Posts


In the month of April, Assava worked with Spotlight and New Heaven dive center to teach the process of coral transplantation on New Heaven’s artificial reef located in the heart of Chalok Bay. As a part of Spotlights ‘Eco Week’, the event was held to allow divers to learn about the importance of coral in our marine ecosystems as well as participate in the transplantation process. The divers were briefed on the different types of coral, artificial reef structures and transplantation techniques that exist in Koh Tao and beyond.

The students were then taught the coral translation process, starting with establishing good buoyancy. Having solid neutral buoyancy is crucial to coral transplantation, as it ensures the diver can properly complete the transplantation process without harming the surrounding marine life. Therefore, the divers are asked to hover neutrally buoyant at the start of the dive as an exercise before the transplantation process. After this, the students learn how to identify ‘baby’ corals or recruits that are suitable to be transplanted onto the artificial reef. Recruits can be characterized as fragments of still-living coral that are broken off and found in the sand.

Once the recruits have been collected, the divers use zip ties to attach the coral fragments to wire frames. The coral recruits are carefully positioned to give them the best chance of survival and growth.

Thank you to all of the divers who participated in the event, and to Spotlight and New Heaven for helping organize and make the event possible. We are looking forward to more opportunities to educate divers on eco programs throughout Koh Tao to help keep our reefs healthy!

 Whale coral transplant 1Whale coral transplant 2Whale coral transplant 3



Bella-Fish-Identification.jpgThe PADI Fish Identification Specialty is available to PADI Open Water Certified divers who are looking to gain more knowledge on marine life that is seen while diving. Fish Identification students will learn how to identify characteristics of fish, gain knowledge on survey techniques, and familiarize themselves with PADI Aware and how to protect marine life.

At Assava, divers are introduced to the local fish species such as butterfly fish, angel fish, groupers, wrasse and more. The dive leader will point out different species to the student during the dive, and the students are asked to note the different behaviors, shapes, and patterns of fish species in order to differentiate between them. Thanks to the abundance of fish species that are present around Koh Tao, students are able to witness different behaviors such as fish that travel in schools and those that travel alone.

Obtaining this specialty is an asset to one's diving journey as it allows divers to be more aware of the marine ecosystem, and can help them notice the differences between various dive sites. Students can also learn about the different corals present in the ecosystem such as hard and soft corals. This specialty is a two-dive course that can count towards Advanced Open Water training, and is a great step toward becoming a more aware and knowledgeable diver.

Our fish identification page:


Everyone’s favourite tiny creature – The Nudibranch!

The Assava Team hosted a “Nudi” day led by our amazing PADI Divemaster Manon Steenbergen. We started out in the classroom where we learned more about the Nudibranch. Did you know the word “nudibranch” means “naked gill” in reference to the tiny lungs that exist outside of their shell-less bodies?! There are more than 3,000 known species of Nudibranchs in the world, 130 of which can be found in the beautiful reefs around Koh Tao. Thanks to the collective experience of this day’s participants, we were armed with special tips on where these little creatures can most often be found.

Next, the team headed out to two of Koh Tao’s dive sites, Green Rock, and Mango Bay on a “Nudi hunt” to look for, identify and photograph as many Nudies as we could find. We had a great day of learning, diving, and especially practicing our perfect buoyancy to get these shots!

Article Cr: Shannon O’Hearn

flatworm 1  flatworm 2  Nudi 4  Nudi 5  flatworm 4


Ban’s and Assava partnered to bring together an amazing and committed group of divers to participate in a coral transplantation workshop. Throughout the day, we learned different techniques for identifying and transplanting viable coral fragments to promote growth and restoration in our reefs.

The day began in the classroom where instructors taught the theory behind coral transplantation and briefed divers on the techniques we would use. Our dive began with a short buoyancy workshop followed by a point-out, where instructors helped identify recent recruits (growing baby coral!). We then identified and collected viable coral fragments that would be transplanted using the various techniques learned. Some fragments, particularly of branching corals like Staghorn, are fixed to underwater structures using zip ties. Other fragments, such as those from massive corals, are fixed to hard concrete blocks using epoxy. We also practiced techniques for mixing epoxy underwater using air-filled buckets and lot of concentration.

Thanks to all the participants and instructors for making this course happen and for creating such a great environment for us to learn new techniques that can be used to support restoration of our reefs.

Credit to : Shannon O Hearn ( Divemaster Candidate)

Eco-Coral-Zipties.jpg  Eco-Epoxy-Process.jpg  Eco-Coral-2.jpg     Eco-Coral-Bouyancy.jpg


It sometimes feels like you're not sure what to do next - possibly figuring out your next goal in life!  This is a natural process especially when you have just completed your school/university and wondering what is to follow... If you are uncertain about your the next step, then you may want to consider becoming a PADI Professional - and the first step is the PADI Divemaster Course.

megan Iggy

So where do you start? Firstly you will need to have the basic diving skills beginning with the PADI Open water , Advanced , EFR and Rescue Diver certifications. Once you have these then it's an easy start...

The PADI Divemaster Course duration is around 4 weeks, but through Assava Dive Resort we offer the Divemaster Internship whereby you have the opportunity to learn and absorb all the information for an even longer period of time. Our divemaster candidates tend to stay from 4 weeks to 3 months on the program, learning to assist and supervise on real life dive courses to further develop their personal skills and knowledge on how to be a PADI Professional. We offer a flexible program to suit your schedule whilst on Koh Tao and on your travels through South East Asia.

The program includes assisting on several courses from the PADI open water course to the Rescue Course, learning how to supervise and schedule courses with an instructor.  You will also learn the skills you will need once you become a Divemaster through the workshops - including Boat Master duties, skin diver and snorkelling programs, skill circuits, rescue assessments, scuba review workshops, discover scuba diving workshops and more. You will need to show your watership skills - your personal abilities with swimming and self rescue techniques. Along with all the practical workshops you will also have lectures on diving physics, physiology, dive skills & environment, decompression theory and use of the recreational dive planner and dive equipment. On completion you will need to sit two final exams as an assessment of your knowledge of these topics.

Ellie Megan

Our current Divemaster Candidates have also become involved in the Koh Tao ecological programs - the Marine Debri underwater clean-ups and landclean ups especially at our "Project Aware - Adopt the Reef sites".  We offer several specialty programs both Eco - AWARE Marine Debri, AWARE Shark Conservation and Project Aware - Coral Reef Conservation specialties and Non-Eco Specialty programs to further develop your Divemaster Skills.

During our PADI Divemaster Program we also offer our Divemaster Candidates the opportunity to gain experience in several other adventure dives and specialties including Wreck Diving, Search and Recovery, Night Diving, Deep Diving and more....Some candidates choose to apply for their PADI Master Scuba Diver rating alongside their Divemaster Professional Level.  

Feel free to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information about our Professional Programs.


The divemaster exchange, a chance for a group of Divemaster Candidates to experience the inner workings of another dive shop, but in reality it was so much more!

Having spent the day two months at Sail Rock Divers on Koh Phangnan, this was a chance to experience something different! On arrival, Kelly-Ann Nickel, the instructor who would be looking after us, gave us a quick orientation of where everything was, pointing out the new renovations being completed to mark Assava Dive Resort's 20th anniversary.

Next, we met Jack, the Dutch instructor whose fun divers we'd be helping out with. He showed us how they organised their equipment, made the crew lists and explained all the logistics of taking a group of people out on a dive. As per expectation, the main structure of it all was the same with its slight uniqueness - "same same, but different".

Following was the part we'd been looking forward to, the diving! With Koh Tao being famous for its diving, boasting 74 dive shops on an island a third of the size of Koh Phangan, we knew we were in for a treat! First was Chumphon Pinnacle. An underwater pinnacle filled with diversity of the Thai Gulf: from the small lionfish to sting-rays and huge schools of fusiliers to reef sharks. This was an amazing introduction to diving on Koh Tao. Crystal clear water and abundance of underwater life.

We then visited the HTMS Sattakut Wreck - A ship from WW2 donated to Koh Tao that was sunk to offer a diversity of dive sites for Koh Tao in 2011. This wreck has now become a habitat to many fish. Being our first wreck dive, we were very much excited. So much so that one of us decided to stay an extra few days to pursue the wreck specialty. This was also a chance to assist on an advanced open-water course. A big shout out to Elred, whose course we were helping out with, and is currently cycling from Singapore to Hong Kong - #cyclefoodfun.

After the wreck dive, it was our chance to help on an Instructor Development Course (IDC). This was an opportunity to see what happens on an IDC should we wish to continue our diving education. Natalie Hunt, the PADI Course Director at Assava Dive Resort, would assign problems that the IDC candidates would have to spot and help us correct. Best of luck to you guys at the IE! Within the space of a few hours we'd already made three dives but there was still one more left today - a night dive. Once again we were helping out with Elred's night dive adventure dive.

As the sunset in the far distance, Kelly made a dive briefing and in darkness we made our descent into the water. This was the last dive for Elred before he would set off on his travels. Congrats on earning your advanced open-water license! The morning after, slightly tired from the jam packed day and night of libations, we had two more dives to enjoy Koh Tao's amazing and plentiful dive sites.

First we visited White rock once again but this time guided by sunlight. I was rather shocked to discover how much I missed the night before. This time it was my chance to have a fun dive with Ellie, a divemaster candidate at Assava. Then we went to dive at a site called Twins. A curious site with some man made structures mainly used for peak performance buoyancy lessons. Attractions like the "rocktapus" and hoops similar to that from a Harry Potter - quidditch game. It almost had a rather eerie feel of a disused amusement park. But alas it gave us a chance to test the expert watermanship skills required from a divemaster.

Then there was one last surprise for me!  A taste of Burmese food! Not something that I expected I'd try on Koh Tao but was I in for a treat. Kelly and I decided to grab a Burmese curry just before I left. Blimey it was spicy! One of those dishes that tries to scare you off with the spices but gets you hooked regardless of the burning tongue. It was a brilliant way to finish off my exchange.

Once again thank you to everyone at Assava Dive Resort for giving us an amazing time and many thanks to David Arnold, our PADI Course Director at Sail Rock Divers who helped organise this divemaster exchange. Special shout out to PADI Course Director Natalie Hunt and instructor Kelly Ann Nickel for organising the best two days!

Cheers from Ollie and Jaeho!!!  (Divemaster Candidates from Sail Rock Divers)

KellyJaeho Ollie


Dive Master Exchange With Assava Dive Resort and Sail Rock Divers.

Myself – Kelley and one other dive master candidate Marko, were the lucky ones selected to go from Assava Dive Resort on Koh Tao to Sail Rock Divers on Koh Phangan as part of an exchange program between our two PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centres. Two Divemaster Candidates from each school where chosen to experience how another dive shop is run and gain a different perception of how dive operations run at a new location and dive sites.

I can't say enough good things about the experience it was truly the type of trip that money just can't buy. We arrived first thing in the morning and were picked up by Peter, one of their senor instructors, and shown around the shop. It was really interesting to see how another dive shop was set up and works. After a small tour of the area and a little breakfast at a local restaurant we went for an afternoon dive at one of the local dive sites called Mae Haad.

We did a shore dive, was a fun experience since as this is not something that is common on Koh Tao. In the briefing before the dive we were given some basic tips on navigating the site and at some point during the dive we were both asked to lead the dive for a bit. It was a great experience for navigating a dive site that was not familiar to us.

When we got back to the shop we were shown to our bungalows that we would stay in for the night. Both were just steps from the dive shop itself and very comfortable and spacious having separate bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms and even air-conditioning! After getting settled in to our rooms we were given scooters to borrow so that we could go explore the island of Koh Phangan. We drove for maybe 45 minutes and eventually ended up having lunch on a beautiful beach on the other side of the island. Having stayed on Koh Tao for some time, it was nice to be able to drive around for so long and see what a much larger island has to offer.

On our return to the shop the Sail Rock staff put together a BBQ and social event to welcome us to the shop. Fantastic food and a great way to meet everyone and enjoy the little bar they have on site. Such amazing hospitality and everyone was so great and welcoming, it was a real joy.

The next morning we headed out early to the dive boat - for Sail Rock, possibly one of the best dive sites this area has to offer. On board we had breakfast and lunch provided. When we got to Sail Rock, we had the opportunity to help with the dive site setup by securing buoys in a way that they wouldn't damage the reef and would allow them to do all the training skills that require the use of a line. After we had a great tour of the Sail Rock and all it has to offer. On our second dive we were lead by one of the dive master candidates from Sail Rock Divers for about half the dive then I had the chance to lead that was really fun and a great experience. We ended the dive with three friendly Whale Sharks and were also greeted by an amazing pod of Pilot Whales. Definitely more than we could have ever asked for!

On the way back to the shop everyone's spirits were high from the truly spectacular dives but I couldn't help but feel a little sad that we would be leaving in a few hours. After meeting everyone and having such an amazing time, I would have loved to be able to stay for a few more days and continue to learn from the team there but all good things must come to an end. One thing is for sure, I will definitely be going back to visit Sail Rock Divers to do a few more dives with them and say hello!

33463117 10212546191309258 8244126249350332416 n


Becky, Tom and Leigh all worked hard to achieve their recent PADI Rescue Diver certification.  PADI Instructors Kelly-Anne Nickel and Marcus Pinewald with assisting Divemaster Candidates Kelley and Trevor made the course an intense, challenging, fun and very rewarding course.  


The PADI Rescue Diver course is a 3 day program which includes learning how to develop personal dive skills and to recognize potential problems to either prevent them from occuring or solve the situation. The course is scheduled so that there is time to absorb all the theoretical information that is shown on the PADI Rescue Diver Videos and Knowledge workbook. Of course, there is a final exam and practical assessment.  During the course we begin with a confined pool session of all the rescue skills learning how to help a tired diver, panic diver on the surface and underwater, provide rescue breaths in water resuce and final scenarios including search patterns used to help locate a missing diver.  To take this course you only need to be 12 years old, be an Advanced Diver or Adventure Diver with Navigation training and have a current EFR (Emergency First Response course) or equivalent First Aid, CPR and Secondary Care certificaiton that is valid within a 2 year period.

On completion of the PADI rescue course you will personally feel a sense of achievement in your own abilities to help others in difficult situations whilst diving and broaden your knowledge on how to evacuate divers that experience pressure related injuries or more.