Simple Life runs two resorts on Koh Tao, both situated along Sairee Beach.
Offers a wide range, from dorm rooms to beachfront villas at the south end of Sairee Beach.
By Lisa & Ash
We are a couple who live in Wiltshire, SW England. Lisa comes from Redcar in the North East of England and Ash is originally from Kwekwe in Zimbabwe.
We both got into diving in September 2012 after deciding we needed a new hobby that would take us all over the world. We’re already bikers with quite a big social scene of friends who ride all kinds of crazy and fast machines but we decided to swap the tight leathers of motorcycling for the tight neoprene of scuba (Kinky!)
Lisa is/was a serving soldier in the British Army, Ash a resource manager for a Rail Operating Company. Both of us have seen a lot of the world and both have been to Thailand before and fallen in love with the place.
We started our diving in the UK, lots of nasty cold water quarry diving in dry suits. We went from Open Water to Rescue Diver in the space of 12 months, completing 7 specs in Dry Suit, Deep, Nav, PP Buoyancy, Night, Search and Rec and Nitrox. We had done a lot of diving as it really grabbed our interest. We completed our Advance Open Water in blue water too and fell in love with how clear it was.
We had been to Koh Samui the year before our DMT and spent a week on Koh Tao during that trip. We’d fallen in love with the place so decided it was where we wanted to do our DMT course.
Life on the island was a nice mix of early morning starts as the sun came up to make the morning boats. Gorgeous sunrises and fresh mornings, everyone still half asleep but still full of enthusiasm to hit the water.
Koh Tao was a breath of fresh air compared to life back in the UK. The morning commute from our digs was a quick 2 mile trip on a moped, wearing nothing more than shorts, t-shirt and flip flops. This was a total contrast to the daily 35 mile commute through crowded towns and across Salisbury Plain in Lisa’s case. Riding a ‘Ped with no protective clothing was odd compared to all the gear we wear on our 1000cc bikes, but it goes with the feel of the island. Laid back, relaxed, no rush to get anywhere fast and just chilled.
It is really hard to pick our favourite dive site. Chumpon Pinnacle has to be up there for the depth and how long you dive for plus there is such a wide array of marine life it is amazing.
Other sites that are great though are Twins , mostly because it is a nice intermediate dive that anyone can enjoy, lots to see but without the stress of worrying about inexperienced divers getting out of shape. Really easy to navigate and fun for all.
We both really like the Settakut Wreck too. You never know what you’re going to get on Settakut until you arrive on the dive site. It could be amazingly clear viz perfect for everyone, or it could be really bad 1m viz much like when we did our Search and Recovery Spec in the UK in a cold dark quarry. It makes the dive more challenging and makes you think harder.
Diving in clear blue is amazing and a pleasure, but sometimes the challenge of poor viz or strong currents make the dive more interesting for the more advanced divers and keeps your skills sharp.
The DM training was brilliant. It really did put together everything we had learned across our various courses. We had both worked assisting a friends dive school in the UK as safety divers on various courses. We had both been victims dozens of times on rescue courses in the UK too (There is nothing quite like the feeling of disorientation you get whilst laying on your back on the surface, bobbing around being rescued , especially if your rescuer has bad breath! )
We had done a lot of theory prior to arriving on Koh Tao. Unlike most DMT’s who arrive for months at a time, we were both taking 4 weeks out of our regular jobs so we were on a tight schedule. We more or less had our books completed so just signed off when we arrived on the island by the OWSI and MSDT instructors leading the DMT course. Thankfully we passed the theory first time, it was a bit new learning a lot of the biology bits and bobs but we got our head around it quite quickly.
The swim tests were fun as we are both quite competitive with each other. Ash is a strong swimmer won all the challenges that involved speed without scuba gear on. Lisa is tall and athletic with long powerful legs, so any tasks involving speed with scuba gear on, the Amazonian warrior that is Lisa won hands down…
The best challenge by far was the kit exchange. We could both do day in day out was because it is so much fun, just being logical with your approach in exchanging kit. Lisa has contact lenses at the time too so had to keep her eyes firmly shut during the mask exchange, making that more interesting too. We had a real giggle doing that, a nice challenge but really fun too, especially if your buddy is your regular dive buddy, as you know how they dive.
We did a lot of our Open Water assists with Baden, a brilliant Aussie Instructor, really laid back and he let us get on with our demonstrations and assisting. Because we arrived as a couple, there was a general feeling among Simple Life that we came as a package and ended up doing many of our skills and tasks together, after all it was a holiday for us both as well as a course.
Leading dives was brilliant; taking qualified divers out was always a new experience. Thankfully we had a couple of friends with us from the UK, one of which (Sophia) did a lot of diving with us, so we knew her level, as we’d all been trained by the same instructor. However we did have fun with other qualified, often less experienced divers.
I (Lisa) was out on a dive with DM James who was taking a Scandinavian couple diving. The lady was having real problems with mask flooding, she really wasn’t comfortable, forever clearing her mask. I kept watching her and it was obvious that the mask was too big for her, she really wasn’t enjoying the dive. I signalled James that I was taking the lady to the surface and told her husband to buddy up with James.
At the surface I asked her if she wanted to try my mask (the Oceanic Mini Shadow) as it was smaller and designed to suit smaller faces better and I in turn took her mask and put up with a few floods. We dropped back down to 10m where her husband was circling with James and continued the dive.
What a difference the mask made, she loved the mask and went and bought one from the Simple Life shop and in turn a much happier diver booked another 6 dives with her husband … It was brilliant seeing them happy in the water enjoying themselves, the husband didn’t feel the need to be within arm’s length of his wife and the lady didn’t have to faff on with her mask every few seconds. It made me feel good that I’d identified the problem too and rectified it for a better dive.
The food was brilliant, street food everywhere, especially the lady who ran the motorbike and side-soup kitchen outside the 7/11. For the equivalent of £1 you could get a big bowl of spicy noodle soup for lunch, ideal for that post morning dive snack! All over the island though was a wide and varied range of great food outlets from traditional Thai to back to basics European food like pizza, pasta and the great British backbone … the butty (sandwich)
The night is when Koh Tao changes from an idyllic tropical paradise to a thriving, living, breathing creature. Bars fill, music plays, fire shows on the beach, more food in restaurants sat right on the beach with the water lapping against the entrances.
The weird and the wonderful come out, from teenagers who are there to party, to the slightly older who enjoy a good night out but want to be up for that morning boat. The mix of venue and style of music and entertainment is as eclectic as the mix of visitors to the island itself.
We never actually made the full moon party. Lisa is now 39+ and had partied hard in her days based in Germany. We’d come to do our DMT course on a tight schedule so missed out as we couldn’t afford to miss days. Ash made up big time for missing out and made sure she caught the afternoon boat a few times as she’d hung one on the night before and didn’t want to dive hungover.
The Divemaster internship was more than just a course; it was a way of life. We had such an amazing crowd of people from all age groups and walks of life. We all got on really well, had fun and enjoyed our time on the island, making friends that we will keep for life.
The DMT course really brought out strengths and weaknesses not only in peoples diving ability but also their personalities. It brought out leaders in the group, people who others looked to as well as creating bonds between people who had been strangers until they day they arrived on the course. It reminded Lisa a little bit of army basic training (without the shouting, bawling or room inspections)
We made more friends in that short 4 week time on the island, making more new friends and having more fun, than we have in 3 years in the UK doing our normal day to day jobs, living as part of the rat race… We can see why people decide to throw it all in and become full time dive professionals
We’ve been back in the UK for some months now, doing a week’s diving in Sharm El Sheikh along with keeping our skills sharp in the cold, green and murky waters of UK inland dive sites. We haven’t dived as much as we would like as Lisa has been doing a degree course in Wireless Communication and some other IT nerdy things for when she leaves the Army in January. Ash works a really busy job and isn’t a fan of diving without Lisa or diving in a dry suit anymore either!
We are heading back to Thailand in November 2014 and hoping to spend time in Krabi, Phuket and a few other places before heading back to Koh Tao to spend 6 weeks from the end of November until early January. We want to go back to Simple Life to see so many friends we made who continue to live on the island, it is the kind of place the keeps bringing you back.
We are considering doing our IDC course next, but right now Lisa is looking for new jobs outside of the Army and until she is settled and seen how life in civilian jobs market is, we probably won’t move on to IDC just yet. The plan is give it 5 or 6 more years, continue DM’ing here and there, then move on to IDC and sunnier climes and a life in Scuba.
The DMT course and scuba diving in general has really changed our lives. It has given us a whole new social circle, an interest shared with friends and strangers who share a passion for adventure. We couldn’t imagine not being able to dive, it is amazing!
Er yes, just a few ! Not all are repeatable though!
We remember dropping in one morning on the boat going for a fun dive. We’d had no breakfast, very little to drink but in we went. We hit 29 metres quite quickly and were enjoying the dive, when almost simultaneously we turned, looked at each other, giggling and could see we were both narced off our faces… Up we went by a few metres and cleared our heads. (Top tip… Eat something before going diving )
We continued the dive, came across another group of DMT’s doing their thing. Mikkel had not seen Lisa come up behind him; he was too busy waving at Luke who was in our group. Lisa went and grabbed his arse, well Mikkel nearly jumped out of his skin, turning round with eyes like dinner plates with the surprise. The whole group were laughing with our masks flooding. Fun times!
Ash had a bit of a moment one day on the water. We had been out on a night celebrating Sophia’s 21’st birthday and it had been a late one. We got back and had drills to do in the afternoon… Surface rescue scenarios and skin diving etc. Anyway, we’d had lunch (the famous spicy chicken noodle soup) and we’d been on the water for about 2 hours at this point. We had moved into the skin diving stage and just about to finish, when Ash started to look a bit green around the gills. A longtail went buzzing by and left a wave in its wake… This was enough to finish Ash off and up came the soup… Of course the local fish decided YUM and crowded around her lunch.
At this point Ariella, another DMT saw the fish and decided she wanted to have a look, dived down just as Ash vomited again. I (Lisa) was busy inflating Ash’s BCD as it had no cylinder on to prevent her swallowing water, whilst laughing as hard as I could when Ariella realised what was going on, coming up with a few noodles of her own!
We spent a lot of time in a little group doing things together. One day we decided we were going to hire kayaks and paddle over to the neighbouring island. We got there fine and had a nice chilled time over there, snorkelling, having a bit of a lazy day in the sun… On the way back however, Julie and Ash who were sharing a kayak we’re having a bit of a nightmare… Julie lost all coordination and control of her paddling , half way over and the Lomprayah Catamaran came steaming round the bend with Julie and Ash in their path… Jason and I (who must have been doing trials for the GB Olympic sea kayaking team, turned to hear them screaming at the sound of this big bloody boat sounding it’s horn at them to move or face ramming speed. I’ve never seen them move so quickly in my life, funny but very scary too!
We loved our time at Simple Life Divers. The experience was a totally positive one and we would both recommend anyone who is considering doing a DMT or IDC dive internship, or any other courses for that matter, to give Simple Life a call today! It will change your life. Keep it Simple
Patty M. | Mexico
"one of the most amazing places I've seen in my life .... Oh man, the shenanigans we got up to underwater!." Read more
Janine | Switzerland
"when you turn around and look at the reef itself, it's so full of life. I saw some of the coolest things." Read more
Brad R. | UK
"I'd rate Koh Tao 100 out of 10. It’s the most relaxing yet exciting place to stay & you could stay forever." Read more