Ollie and Damian 2

"Oliver Keime and Damian Cook - Celebration of PADI Divemaster Certification!"

Big Congratulations to Oliver Keime on completing his PADI Divemaster Program!

He started his journey by doing the PADI Rescue Diver Course with instructor Kelley Houghton, and decided to continue on to become a PADI Divemaster with her as his mentor. Over several weeks of assisting a variety of courses, participating in many eco projects and learning the role of a PADI Divemaster, we are happy to welcome Oliver into the PADI pro community and look forward to having him on his PADI Instructor Development Course in the coming months.  Great Job Olli!!!


Ollie and Damian 3






Colin Neil


Wonder what happens to our PADI Instructor Development Candidates once they have passed their Instructor Exam? There are several options but the majority of our new instructors progress on to taking the PADI Master Scuba Diver Training and Internship Program.

Colin Adams has been interning with Neil Giblin's through our schools Assava Dive Resort and Ban's Diving Resort. 
The opportunity to gain experience in small/medium and large dive operations. During this program he learns course scheduling, lesson planning and skill progression for student divers. Along with gaining the credits to achieve his PADI MSDT rating.

The newly certified divers with Colin and Neil in these photos had a blast during their training! 

A few quotes from Trip Advisor:

"we were all German speaking but did the course in English..our trainers were absolutely fantastic with their unique sense of humour, passion for diving and seriousness they made these 3-5 days a highlight of our holiday"

"Diving for the first time can be something quite emotional, but the staff Colin and Neil, reassured me. I also recommend taking the course in English, as a non-native learning the terms in English will prepare me for international use"

A wonderful achievement for these new PADI open water divers and great instruction provided by Colin Adams and Neil Giblin.


Whale sharks



The whale shark is a shark species classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is the largest of all fish species in the world and can measure up to 19,6 meters. Whale sharks are estimated to live up to 130 years, which means the reach sexual maturity later in life when they are around 25-30 years old. Very little is known about their mating and is extremely rare to see but was recorded for the first-time last year in June outside of Ningaloo Reef, Australia. Females give birth to live young where the eggs hatch inside of the female before birth (ovoviviparous). Just like within other shark species, the pups don’t stay with their mother after birth. However, baby whale sharks are a mystery. As mentioned before, scientists still know very little about how whale sharks reproduce, where they mate, and where they give birth.

Here on Koh Tao divers are sometimes lucky to spot a whale shark, although locals do not all agree on when the best time of the year to see them are. Some believe it’s in February, others in April or October. What most people agree on though is that many of the sightings around Koh Tao are juvenile/younger adult whale sharks, meaning they are rarely over 6 meters long. Still, seeing one of these gentle giants during a dive makes you feel like a tiny individual… Here on Koh Tao, and worldwide, photo identification is used as a research tool to estimate population sizes and to giving information about moving/migration patterns, since each whale shark has individual patterns. This means that the general citizen can contribute to science, by sharing their photos of whale sharks to research groups. Here on Koh Tao, that research group is called Koh Tao Whale Sharks. 

The main threats to the shark worldwide are human intrusion and disturbances (recreational activities like snorkelling) and biological resource use like targeted fishing and harvesting of aquatic resources. According to the Department of Marine and Costal Resources, Thailand have around 100 whale sharks roaming in their waters. The Indo-Pacific population have an estimated decline of around 50 % over the last three generation (75 years). Studies show that the annual catch rate from commercial Whale Shark fisheries in Taiwan have had a significant decrease (of around 58 %) between 1997 and 2001. Also, a decline in mean size and length was noted in Chinese waters, where mean size before 2004 was 8.27 m compared to 6.3 m between 2008-2011. 

Provisioning (feeding) whale sharks is a fairly common method in some areas in the world to attract tourist by keeping the sharks in the same area all year-round. Whale sharks in Oslob, Philippines are fed >300 kg of uyap (sergestid shrimp) daily (6AM to 12PM, year-round). In the wild, whale sharks do not solely eat shrimp but thrive on a varied diet including other zooplankton, fish eggs, crab eggs, small fish and krill. 

One of the main problems with the provisioning industry around whale sharks it that it effects the whale shark’s natural behaviour by interrupting migration patterns that is vital for the breeding of the shark. Studies also show that provisioning is affecting the sharks in a visual and physical way, by changing the shape of their head. This is since they change the position they are feeding, being more vertical than horizontal (since the provisioning comes from boats and are mainly on the surface). Also, studies in Oslob, Philippines show that about 95 % of all whale sharks seen in the area have scars on their body, believed to occur due to boat propellers. 

Worldwide conservation efforts include keeping key feeding locations and migration corridors protected. Site protection is necessary in some areas where high densities of whale sharks are present, as anthropogenic pressures on these sites could have disproportionate impact on subpopulation declines. Where whale sharks are routinely feeding on the surface, areas should be managed to reduce vessel strikes in nearby shipping lanes. Mediterranean and Thai waters are where the shark population has declined at the highest rate, IUCN noted in its recent report. A way to stop the decline, Thailand now have the highest legal protection (since May 2019) of the whale shark species. 


Aquamaster 1

Assava Dive Resort was recently presented the Aqua Master Partnership appreciation certification by Michael Chambers, aka –Tex, from our local Aqua Master Koh Tao distributor.

Aqua Master is recognized as the leader in high quality diving, snorkeling and swimming equipment. Since 1997, Aqua Master has been the Aqua Lung distributor for a wide range of products to cover all diving, snorkeling and swimming needs within Thailand.

Aqua Lung is the name that first introduced the world to Scuba diving more than 60 years ago when Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan developed the first “Aqua-Lung”.  The excitement and adventurous spirit of that first dive continues today and is relected in Aqua Lung’s dedication to quality and innovation.

Through Assava Dive Resort and The Scuba Store located on Koh Tao, we can provide you with a variety of quality dive equipment.  As you start to learn to scuba dive, taking your PADI Dive course programs, you may want to invest in your own dive gear.  

Check out this link for promotions and equipment selections along with Aqua Lung Technician courses. 






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!


Lionfish Chumphon


Whilst visiting Koh Tao, you may want to explore our gorgeous underwater rock formations at Chumphon Pinnacles. At varying depths you will see the underwater species “The Lionfish” also knows as the turkeyfish, tigerfish, dragonfish, scorpionfish, and butterfly cod.   Mostly found in warm waters in the western and central Pacific oceans, the Lionfish is a predatory fish hunting on smaller fish with its venomous spines.  

Although beautiful to look at and wonderful for underwater photos, they can cause direct or indirect damage to coral reefs with their elevated reproduction, all year round spawning and their feeding habits due to the lack of their predators.   The Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans) has distinctive stripes (bands) covering its body, alternating white and dark (dark red to brown or black). It has fleshy tentacles above its eyes ad below its mouth.

The Pterois volitans has many sharp spines on its dorsal (back) anal and pelvic (lower sides) fins. Venom glands are located along grooves of each spine. If a spine punctures a victim, the venom enters the wound causing intense pain and swelling. To treat this we apply hot water to the area and seek medical assistance.

Come join us and visit the Koh Tao Chumphon Pinnacles to have the opportunity to view these beautiful dancing creatures.



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.

IMG 6980

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



3 weeks holiday in Ko Tao …. let’s do a few dives but don’t take on too much - we’ve got time!

And go…..

We arrive at Assava Dive Centre, move into our bungalow on the beach and meet the fantastic people who work there.  Two dives later the little voice in Trevor’s head that’s been nagging him to complete his Dive Master Certfication becomes the shout that gets him to sign up.  I can just do some fun dives …. or I can do my Rescue Certification.  Yes, lets’ do that!  Some theory, some pool work, some exams and some fun, challenging dives with great diving buddies and guides and !BOOM!  I’m a Rescue Diver.  Now I can just do some fun dives …. or I can qualify as a Master Scuba Diver and supplement my existing Specialities with 3 more.  Some shots from the final Underwater Digital Photography of the Instructor Dive Candidate skills and Search and Recovery dives. 

Thank you to the Nat, Kelly, Marcus and all the amazing staff and friends at Assava Dive Centre for helping me achieve a pipe dream I didn’t even know I had!  What a rush - I am a MSD.

Leigh MSD


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 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