I came to Phi Phi to enjoy its amazing beaches while it was still empty post-covid. Then I spontaneously signed up for a scuba diving course, which put me face to face with my huge fear of water. Overcoming that fear was really difficult but also one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.
I have amazing memories from Koh Phi Phi and I'm so happy I was able to see it without the tourists!
We took a ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi.
When we arrived, we dropped off our bags in our hotels and headed straight to the beach for sunset and beers!
We sat at a chill little bar, ordered Changs, talked about diving and had a great time. The view was really beautiful - the bay surrounded by giant cliffs on each side. Behind us there were palm trees with hanging fairy lights. Chill reggae music was playing.
Relax & Beach day
The next day, I woke up early, met my friends and we headed straight to the beach!
The water was crystal clear and beautiful. There were massive cliffs sticking out of the water in the distance. No one on the beach! Felt like a dream. Like some secret paradise treasure island.
We went snorkeling here... And I had an accident! I kicked a sea urchin and I got a bunch of needles in my foot.
My friends helped me get back to the beach. I gotta admit it was quite painful.
One friend ran to the nearby beach bar and asked for a medical kit. They gave her a glass bottle and a lemon instead! They told her this is "the sea urchin kit". Apparently, you gotta squeeze lemon juice on the needles, then hit them with a bottle to get the to dissolve!
We were a bit skeptical of this, but there was nothing else to do. It did help a bit.
Then I relaxed on the beach while my friends went back to snorkeling... And they saw 6 sharks! Oh well. To be fair, they did swim pretty far, I probably would've been exhausted if I tried to follow them.
After sunset, we visited a dive shop.
My friends are scuba divers and they wanted to do some dives here in Phi Phi.
I had never gone scuba diving before - so I spontaneously signed up for an Open Water scuba diving course!
I was both excited and nervous about it. Even though I love the beach and the ocean, I have a huge fear of water! A few years ago, I was even afraid of going to the deep side of a pool. I've been slowly overcoming this fear, but the idea of being several meters underwater still sounded a bit terrifying.
However, it was done now. I was starting the course tomorrow. I tried not to think about it too much. Two other friends were going to do it as well, so at least I wasn't gonna be alone.
The next morning, I woke up very early - around 6am.
I couldn't sleep as I was nervous about the scuba diving course.
I had some coffee in my hotel room, then went outside for an early morning walk and took some photos.
After the walk, I had a nice big breakfast as you can see in the photo above :)
Then I went back to my room to relax.
And around 1pm, I met my 2 friends and we walked to the dive shop to start our Open Water course!
Diving day 1: Practicing in shallow water
The first day, we practiced at the beach. Normally, this practice is done in a pool, but our dive shop preferred to do it on the beach, in the shallow water.
It started out pretty good. Putting on diving gear for the first time was very uncomfortable, but once we got in the water everything was fine. We did some swimming tests and some floating.
Then we had to go underwater. Here's where the difficulties started for me.
Whenever I tried to go to the bottom - about 3 meters down - I panicked and went back up. My body just didn't want to do it.
Finally, after lots of practice, I was able to go down and sit comfortably at the bottom. There we practiced some skills like taking off the regulator, helping others, etc.
When we finished, the sun was already going down. This was exhausting! I was quite happy to get out of the water and take the wetsuit off.
Later we met up with everyone else for dinner and Changs.
We were back to the hotel around 22:00 and I went to bed. It took me a while to fall asleep though.
I was quite anxious about tomorrow. Everyone else seemed happy and excited. But, honestly, today’s shallow-water training was quite difficult and stressful for me. I was only hoping tomorrow would be better.
Diving day 2: Fears and difficulties
That night, I had bad dreams and couldn’t sleep very well. I was awake before dawn. I had some coffee in my room, then I went out for a walk.
The sun was just rising. I sat on the beach and had a little cry. I was really anxious about my first dives today. I felt like everything was gonna go great for everyone except me. That something bad was gonna happen to me. Also I still had to do the mask exercise - where I take off my mask underwater and clean it by blowing through my nose. I found that really difficult and scary.
I sat on the beach, googling things like “how to relieve pre-dive anxiety”
While I was doing that, a kitty walked over to me and started rubbing her head against my leg! I pet it. Then she curled up next to my leg! She was comforting me. Made me feel better.
Around 6:45am, I walked back. The street food stalls were open now. I got some tiny fried eggs, sticky rice, and a small sandwich.
I also found a coffee place that had just opened. I ordered a latte and sat at a table.
Soon my friends showed up. It was time to head to the dive shop.
We met up with our instructors and the other divers at the dive shop, then we walked all together to the pier and got on the boat.
It was a really nice sail. The sun was shining. Giant cliffs were sticking out of the sea, caves under them, surrounded by turquoise blue water.
We arrived at the diving spot and started putting on our equipment. I was getting more anxious the closer we were to getting in the water.
Finally, we jumped in, and went underwater.
Once I was in the water, a lot of my anxiety actually went away. The vest was holding me nicely on the surface. Going under the surface was a bit scary, but once we did, I found myself in a magical world! Coral, fish, and all kinds of sea creatures everywhere.
I don’t remember much of the dive. It was really awkward with the buoyancy at first. We were all bumping into each other. Also, I ended up rising to the surface without realising it. WhenI did, my instructor came with me, and told me my nose is bleeding. So I got a bit worried. But she didn’t say anything else, and we went underwater again.
We did some skills, like taking off the regulator, and it was all good. But I still wasn't able to take off my mask and clean it.
The dive lasted about 45 minutes. Then we went back to the boat.
To be honest I felt glad to be out of the water. I was tired and very cold. Also I felt a bit sea sick.
The photo below says it all!
We were served lunch, but I was feeling too sick to touch it.
In about 1 hour, it was time for dive number 2. The waves were getting bigger and my sea sickness was getting worse.
However, once I was in the water, I felt good.
This dive was better. Less visibility, but I was a bit more relaxed. It lasted 45 minutes in total.
And we were done for the day! I was tired but happy I survived this.
We went back to our hotel. I was exhausted.
The weather was very hot. I went straight to the hammock on the roof, and took a nice nap there.
Later we went to the beach, where we had some ice lollies and relaxed.
We finished the day with some sunset beers again :)
Diving day 3: Getting my certification!
Today was the last day of my scuba diving course!
Just like the day before, I wore up very early and went to the beach to relax.
I was less anxious today.
Then I met my friends and walked to the dive shop and then to the boat.
This time, it was much better than yesterday.
The thing that was scaring me the most was the mask exercise - and I did it! Finally I got that out of the way.
After that was done, the dives were amazing. We saw a shark, a turtle, a moray eel that had its mouth open while a tiny fish was cleaning its teeth. We also saw a box fish which was so cute! And several lion fish.
This time I ate my lunch and had a great time relaxing on the boat between dives.
During the second dive, we saw some fellow divers swimming through an opening in the rocks. So our instructor suggested signed to us that we can do the same. That was very cool!
When the second dive was finished, we chilled on the boat and enjoyed the view of Maya Bay.
Now we just had the exams left, and we were going to be certified divers!!
I was so happy!! I felt like I could cry. I couldn’t believe I did this!
The rest of the day I felt like I was flying. Extremely excited and happy.
I spent the afternoon in my room, relaxing and studying for the exams.
In the evening, we went back to the dive shop for the exams. They were not difficult. We passed them and got our certifications!! And then we did out dive logs.
When we were finished, the dive shop closed and we went to get some beers together with our instructor. Our other friends also joined. It was a really fun evening. There was karaoke, we sang and danced. Our diving instructor even got us tequila shots!
Leaving Phi Phi
The next day I woke up pretty hungover, but happy :) It was time to checkout of my hotel and head back to Phuket and then to Chiang Mai.
Before I did that, I went on one final morning walk around this amazing island, knowing that I would probably never get a chance to see it so quiet again.
I loved my time in Phi Phi. I loved the massive cliffs, the crystal water, the jungle, the island feel. Felt like a pirate hideaway in paradise.
I'm so glad I could see this place without the tourists.
And I'm very grateful I got to do my scuba diving certification in such an amazing place with great people around me. On top of the beautiful dives, overcoming my fear of water felt incredibly rewarding and powerful.