Manon’s Nudibranch Diving Program

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

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Coral Transplantation Ban’s and Assava Dive Resort

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)

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Learning the Ropes as an Intern at Assava Dive Resort

Hi, my name is Eileen. I live in Australia and am currently on an internship at ASSAVA Dive Resort.  My experience so far has been amazing! All the instructors and the resort staff have been amicable and kind. Recently I have just completed my PADI Discover Scuba Diving program, which was an enjoyable experience. It was fantastic to see and explore the underwater world and enjoy the feeling of weightlessness and see the colourful corals and fishes swimming within my arms reach. 
My internship at Assava Dive Resort consisted of learning more about diving, how a dive centre operates, how to interact with customers at the Resort and customer services in a restaurant.  It is such an enjoyable experience to be able to enjoy gorgeous tropical beaches of Thailand while doing my work as an intern. Yes, that's right,  Assava has a beachfront office and restaurant! Awesome right? Well, the food here is even better! As many have known Thai food is one of the most delicious food in the world. And being here in Thailand, I was able to fulfill my desire for Thai food.
I've been given this opportunity to intern at Assava Dive Resort and do a PADI Open Water Course, as part of my internship to have a deeper understanding of what the course is like. And how to better understand what customers will be experiencing as a diver and be able to communicate with the customers easily on the topic. I am currently just starting the interning at the dive centre, but I will be rotating around in the future.
Thank You, Assava Dive Resort and  staffs for letting me intern and experience a lot of new things and for looking after me during my stay here!

PADI Master Scuba Diver Challenge - Winner 2018!!!


Congratulations to Assava Dive Resort on winning the PADI World-Wide Master Scuba Diver Challenge 2018. Several of our student divers who held their EFR and Rescue Diver certification along with the required 50 logged dives, took on the challenge and learned 5 PADI Specialty Courses to achieve the MSD Rating.

PADI Specialty courses that we offered through Assava Dive Resort included the Underwater Navigator, Peak Performance Bouyancy, Deep Diver, Wreck Diver, Night Diver, Search & Recovery Diver, Self-Reliant Diver, DSMB Specialty Diver, Enriched Air Nitrox Diver and Sidemount Specialty Diver, are just a few options that were chosen by our guests.

Here is a Testimonial from one of our Master Scuba Diver Candidates – Ellie Jo Woods


Elie JoDuring my DMT I had the pleasure of meeting some inspirational people and making some incredible friends. As I was working full time, Platinum Course Directors Natalie Hunt and Minni Vansgaard, helped to design a programme of study that kept me on track but accommodated my teaching job at Koh Tao International Primary. This meant that the majority of my diving was done on weekends, with meetings and theory during weekday evenings.

While this meant I was always busy (something that anyone here will agree with!) I was busy doing something that I’d fallen in love with and found truly inspiring. Working with a range of MSDTs and Instructors (Kelly Ann Nickel, Jack Van Geel, Simon Bard, Devon Whittam and Marcus Pinewald) allowed me to learn so much from people that had developed their own teaching style and had different levels of experience.

I was able to conquer my own fears (mask exchange in the stress test being the main one) through their patient guidance, advice, and utilise different tips they gave the students I assisted. The team at Assava all have different interests and specialisms and have inspired me to teach my class about marine conservation and they role we all to play in it. I have been able to use my burgeoning passion to make contacts with a variety of dive shops and establish workshops and eco weeks to educate the children on the island about ecology. Often finding any DMT, customer or instructor at the Assava Dive Centre with a special skill or interest to come to school and run workshops and presentations with the kids.

Assava Team

Adding to the Assava family experience, were the other DMTs I’ve met and the friends I’ve made. Working with a huge range of people, from gap year students Jamie Philips, Ivy Stein and Philip Wurst who I started my DMT with to legends Trevor Hodgson, Leigh White and Megan Pearce, travelling the world in between jobs, who helped me complete it. I have reached some amazing diving and personal milestones with these people and shared experiences that I will remember forever – including the classic 100th dive challenge. Once I started my DMT and developed confidence in my abilities as a diver, I set myself the challenge of completing both my Dive Master and Master Scuba Diver within 13 months of my DSD.

To achieve my MSD I only needed to complete 5 specialties, as I had racked up my dive numbers during my DMT. The Assava team’s passion for the ocean and what they do motivated me to complete my Wreck, Nitrox, Deep, Coral Conservation and Shark Conservation specialties with MSDT Kelly Ann Nickel in September – 13 months after my DSD experience. Her passion for her job and her knowledge as a Marine Biologist ensured that I learnt as much as possible during my specialties and she was able to help me deepen the knowledge and understanding I had gained during my DMT.

Kelley HoughtonI was able to work with Connor Yamamoto, Kelley Houghton and Leigh White to achieve my MSD rating and help Assava Dive Resort win the worldwide MSD challenge!

To celebrate this achievement we cracked out the BBQ and Natalie Hunt presented us with our MSD prizes, to add to my growing PADI swag collection. We were given our very own PADI backpack with two shirts and cap (score!). I can’t thank the people I worked with enough for their time, patience, knowledge and most of all friendship during my first year on Koh Tao. They made my DMT and MSD truly unforgettable experiences, making friends and memories that will last for years. Although I would like to see more than one whale shark next year– but you can’t have it all, even if you’re living the dream.

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Ellie Jo Woods – PADI Divemaster and PADI Master Scuba Diver - 2018 


Eco Programs thrive at Assava Dive Resort

By Jamie Phillips

From metal straws to dive site clean ups Assava Dive Resort is doing our part to keep Koh Tao clean.

Assava Dive Resort has been working continuously to build our eco programs since 2007 when we did our first underwater and shore clean up dive. The ‘dive against debris’ led to the adoption of the dive site Lighthouse Bay in 2013 in partnership with Project AWARE Asia Pacific. The Lighthouse Bay adoption involves a commitment to organizing free dives at the site once a month where divers collect man made items found on the reef.  Student divers can also receive a PADI AWARE certification card for a 10 dollar fee which is donated to shark conservation and the collection of marine debris.

Travelling the World as a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer

Justin Marier-Sobol - PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer 

Since my PADI Divemaster Training at Sunshine Dive Resort and then my PADI Instructor Development Course at Ban's Diving Resort, I've worked as instructor in Saint Martin, Tobermory Ontario, and Calgary Alberta. 

I wasn't sure I'd work in the industry when I decided to do Divemaster. The way I saw it was that it was a great way to get a lot of diving in during my stay on Koh Tao. At the time I didn't realized how much of a great social environment it would be and how living and diving with other dmt's would shape my love for the industry.

A Course in Diving and Life : DM Training at Sunshine Divers

Bill PADI Divemaster"After getting my OW at Sunshine a year ago, I was ecstatic to be able to return and take my EFR, Rescue and PADI Dive Master courses. The DM training at Sunshine exceeded all my expectations; taking me from being a 'fun' type diver to a dive professional devoted to assisting students and instructors, and sharing my passion for the sport.

"Moving up the PADI Ladder "

Rebecca Staff Course

What a fantastic hands on experience rewarded by all 11 candidates passing the IE with flying colours. I want to firstly thank Natalie and Guillaume for such a thorough and well thought out course. Their expertise in teaching Instructors is second to none. I cannot praise them or the course enough. The structure, the way they allow you to feel very much apart of teaching others and even let you assign the problems for "bad students" was lots of fun. I went from hating physics to being the "physics guru" with the candidates confiding in me any concerns they had. As a team we overcame individual problems and provided extra tuition where needed. This company has a real team spirit and I would encourage anyone wishing to climb the PADI ladder to consider their course with  Sunshine Divers and Ban's Diving Resort. I promise you, you will not get better. 
Thanks again Natalie Hunt and Guillaume Fargues

Rebecca Wastall
PADI Staff Instructor  ( April 2017)

Socrates Diamant - PADI IDC & MSDT

Socrates MSDTI have had such a great time doing my PADI-IDC and PADI-MSDT on Koh Tao. It is an intense course, so it’s great to be in a place with such great life and people from all over the world. I made so many friends here! The class prepared me so well I aced the Instructor Exam. Natalie Hunt was my mentor for the program and gave me really personalized attention. And even now that I’m working she remains available to answer my questions and offer support. I can teach 8 specialties thanks to the MSDT program and that really helps getting work. I left the course feeling confident and ready to teach. Oh, and the whale sharks here won’t leave me alone! It actually takes a bit of luck to spot one, but in only two months here, I’ve seen four!
Socrates Diamant - March 2017


Enthusiasm & Passion Made our Diving Experience!

"My friend and I have just recently returned from travelliing around Asia.  We loved Thailand and in particular the island of Koh Tao on the east coast. Before we arrived on Koh Tao we knew it was one of the dive capitals of the world and always wanted to do a dive. Never did we imagine what the next 2 weeks of our stay would entail.  WE stayed in Chalok bay and did our diving with SUNSHINE DIVERS.  All the diving instructors were so friendly, welcoming and as soon as we arrived we were immediately accepted into this new diving family! We had a truly inspirational instructor by the name of bastiaan van der Kuijl.  His enthusiasm and passsion made the diving even more exciting and memorable. Not only was he a great teacher but he also taught us to enjoy the experience and have fun! After 2 days of the open water dive course we felt confident enough to sign up to the advanced open water course.  He made us feel so safe and comfortable in the water, we have only just go hoe but we are already planning our next dive h oliday back to Koh Tao, Sunshine Divers & Bastiaan."  
Florence Laidler & Inessa Goodman - PADI Advanced Open Water DIvers

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