Sea Gypsy Divers, open in October 2017, is managed by Meggy Rizza and Joel Gerstman. Our story is of a husband and wife couple whose life passion is scuba diving. We met at Koh Tao, another of Thailand’s famous scuba destinations. Joel was a full-time Instructor and Meggy was just starting her Divemaster training. As luck would have it, Joel’s manager played cupid by assigning him to teach Meggy’s Rescue course. A few years and one underwater proposal later, here we are in the Ao Nang area of Krabi continuing to live our dream.
Why Ao Nang area Krabi?
If you spend your holiday in Krabi, you will see for yourself why it is easy to fall in love with this place. For us, the most important factor is the diving. We have dived in many places around the world, and this part of Thailand has some of the best diving we’ve done. And like you will see when you come here, the area is a true paradise. Among beach destinations in Southeast Asia, Krabi stands out for beautiful scenery and genuinely nice people. Although Ao Nang is touristy, you do not have to travel far to find a slice of authentic Thailand. Our shop is based in an authentic village community only 10 minutes drive from Ao Nang. In many tourist areas of Thailand, particularly in the South, extensive development has made such places rare to find. But the area surrounding Ao Nang is a great balance between tourist convenience and genuine Thai culture.
The sea gypsy name…
In various parts of Krabi and throughout Southern Thailand, villagers called Moken make their home. They are commonly known as Sea Gypsies. They are a semi-nomadic people who spend much of their lives on the sea. In fact, Sea Gypsy children can see underwater twice as well as other people because of the time spent hunting from a young age. The Sea Gypsies have been living from the ocean in a sustainable way for hundreds of years. They are so attuned to the sea that they were able to escape the 2004 tsunami by recognizing the warning signs. Unfortunately, Sea Gypsies are finding their way of life increasingly threatened by development in many areas they live. Our name is an homage to a tribe that we hope will be increasingly recognized and protected.
There are many projects that we would love to focus on in the future. First and foremost, we want to continue bringing the joy of diving to as many people as possible. That is why we are particularly effective teaching people to dive who are nervous and prone to panic. In the future, we would like to expand our focus to include people with physical disabilities. Organizations such as Disabled Divers International (DDI) exist to open the world of diving to people with severe physical limitations. Meggy will train to be a DDI Instructor in the near future so we can offer courses for the physically disabled.
Also, we want to focus on training local Thai people to be divers and dive professionals. Although water sports are slowly becoming more popular among Thais, most have not been willing to try scuba diving yet. Many do not get taught how to swim from a young age, and the cost is prohibitive for rural families. Therefore, we would like to develop a program to train local Thais to dive and even become dive professionals. An internship-type setup will try to keep costs low. Joel will take the lead on this project. He has extensive community development experience in Thailand that has frequently given him the chance to work with Thais in various similar projects.