You do not have to be super fit to try this sport, but a reputable center will ask you to fill out a medical form before taking you in the water. Certain conditions such as a bad heart, asthma and any ear problems mean this sport is not safe for you. Also women who are pregnant should not dive as it may harm the unborn child.
Luckily most people are passed fit to dive and can at least try an introduction to the water with a qualified instructor. It is important to choose a reputable center with qualified professional instructors. Diving is not dangerous as long as you follow the safety guidelines which are laid out by diving associations.
Most diving centers near Pattaya are associated with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, known as PADI. Once you have completed a PADI course it is recognized worldwide and you receive a card stating the level you achieved. The first step after a DSD (Discover Scuba diving) is the Open Water Course. This takes about four days to complete so you will need to book a long enough vacation to accommodate this.
During your course you will be able to visit some of the dive sites where there are pretty corals and many fish to be seen. The most popular are the Samaesan Coral Islands or the sites which are known locally as "Far Islands". The visibility under the water ranges from five to fifteen meters depending on location. The currents can also be very strong so it is vital to stay with your instructor and do exactly as they tell you.
As well as coral reefs there are 3 shipwrecks which are worth a visit. The HTMS Khram has a lot of flora and fauna even though it sunk quite recently. The wreck of the freighter Petchburi Bremen and the Hardeep, which was a cargo ship, are also very popular. The Hardeep can by dived internally from stem to stern as it sank intact.
Among the local species of fish that can be seen are barracuda swimming near the pretty coral. For those who may be used to the clear waters of the Red Sea, the visibility and range of species may seem disappointing compared to Sharm or Hurghada. First time divers though are likely to find the whole experience a thrilling adventure.
Scuba diving in Pattaya makes an excellent break from the constant party that is Thailand. The peace and calm under the water soothes away any stress as you float along. There is plenty to see and you will have great stories to tell the folks back home.
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