When you are looking for diving courses around Thailand, you see that prices differ from place to place and sometimes even in the same place. This has to do with many factors, travel time to the dive sites, quality of equipment, service, safety equipment, park fees, operation costs, quality of staff etc. One of the most important factors in this is the group size of the course. Why waste your vacation to Similan Islands diving in the middle of a huge crowd?
There are places in Thailand where you can get a very good deal on courses, but you might end up in a big group of students, spending most of the time watching your buddies doing skills under water. The maximum number of students per instructor that the dive organizations allow during underwater training is 8. It is possible to increase that number to 10 or even 12 when 1 or 2 divemasters assist on the course. Big groups of course means low prices, but these “factory dive schools” often pump out as many students as possible in a very short time. This has a few disadvantages:
First of all, when you take a dive course, you want plenty of time to practice new exercises until you are comfortable with them. In big groups, you often end up doing an exercise once and that’s it. As there are 7 more people to do the skill there is no time for repetition. In the worst case, the instructor might even skip certain skills to speed up the course. This is completely against the standards set by the diving industry.
Second, you wont get too much attention from your instructor, as he/she is not an octopus and has to keep an eye on a lot of people. This is fine if you don’t have any problems, but it can get a bit messy, or even unsafe, if you and some other people need help from the instructor.
Also, with big groups you often end up spending a lot of time on the skill part of the dive, which leaves only a bit of time left for the actual dive. And that’s actually the best part of the course!
With big groups, there is not much time to spend with students who take a bit longer or need a bit more time to get comfortable under water. This leads to people being stressed. They might even drop out of the course, when with a bit more time and a calmer pace, they might have been able to get more comfortable and finish the course.
All in all at Wicked Diving we think that the maximum group size for a course is 4 people. This way the students get plenty of attention from the instructor and a lot of time under water to enjoy the beauty of the Similan Islands. We like a relaxed pace and if we need to spend some more time in the pool, classroom or in the sea, we just schedule an session. This leaves the instructors in control and guarantees a safe and relaxed course in which you will have plenty of time to ask questions, repeat and practice your skills and get maximum time diving some the best dive sites in Thailand.