After two days of not moving my butt, my travel partners convinced me to make a trip to Coral Island or Koh Larn, which is a short ferry ride away from Pattaya and just off the coast of the city. With such enthusiastic companions, beach-bumming is not always an option. And so I found myself roped into participating in an adventure activity called Underwater Seawalking, a term that literally means what it says!
What is seawalking?
This is a fairly easy adventure activity that consists of walking on the sea bed not too far off the coast, amidst coral and underwater marine life.
The highlight of sea-walking is that it requires no formal training, unlike other underwater pursuits such as scuba diving or snorkelling. The other good thing about sea-walking is that it is not restricted to swimmers only. A non-swimmer too can undertake this activity smoothly, since there is no diving or swimming involved. In fact, diving enthusiasts often recommend sea walking as the first step towards familiarising oneself with the idea of scuba diving, since it offers a similar underwater experience of marine proximity, albeit in shallower waters.
Sea walking is also called ‘helmet diving’ because of the mechanism involved. When you push an inverted glass into a body of water, it ends up trapping air in its empty space. With the same principle at work, a huge dome-shaped helmet is placed on a diver’s head and the air pressure ensure that the inside of the helmet does not get flooded. The diver is then led vertically down into the sea through a ladder by a diving assistant. The helmet is connected to tube through which oxygen is pumped constantly from the surface.
A swimming costume will suffice for seawalking and there is no need for a scuba suit or a wet suit. Flippers are also not required and diving operators usually give you a solid pair of rubber shoes to wear before going underwater. These ensure that your feet do not get hurt while walking on an unfamiliar and dynamic terrain. With no complicated equipment to handle, you can just breathe normally during seawalking. In fact, you can even wear your glasses and keep your hair dry because the helmet does not allow any water to enter!
The diving operators usually offer photos and videos of your seawalk to you for sale once you're done.
My First Time Seawalking!
As a result of Thailand’s focus on tourism, there is no real need for prior booking as there are several water sports operators at Koh Larn who will facilitate your seawall upon request. We narrowed down on two young diving assistants who happily bargained with us and immediately endeared themselves to us!