The Hydronauts Story

Thus far...

Hydronauts Diving was founded with a vision that scuba diving, both education and exploration, must always seek what lies ahead and has yet to be discovered. 

Hydronauts was born in 2018 on Koh Tao, in the Gulf of Thailand, by technical diver and underwater explorer Erik Brown. Erik’s work on the improvement of safe diving principles and innovative dive equipment inspired him to work with RAID Asia and Chris Haslam. This dynamic duo led Hydronauts to become one of the only dive centers in Southeast Asia to teach full courses in backplate and wing with long-hose short-hose equipment configuration. 

This groundbreaking setup has become a starting point for technical, multi-tank and decompression diving used by the world’s foremost explorers. By introducing technical diving equipment to recreational dive courses, Hydronauts seeks to equip our divers with the latest technology and practices in the industry. 

During COVID, Erik sought new horizons in the Gulf of Mexico and sold Hydronauts Diving to his former student and friend, Dave Meres. Dave left behind 30 years in the oil and gas industry after falling in love with technical diving and the island of Koh Tao. His collaborative and keen spirit lead him to join forces with Québécois Katie O, a superb diving instructor and long-time island resident. Together, they planned to open Hydronauts as a lean and green boutique dive center until a remarkable opportunity arose out of the ashes left behind by the pandemic. 

As fortune would have it, the new Hydronauts team was offered an opportunity to acquire a 48-room beachfront property in Chalok Baan Kao Bay, formerly known as Buddha View Dive Resort. Buddha View was one of the largest diving centers flourishing on Koh Tao as well as in Southeast Asia. This acquisition blossomed Hydronauts Diving into Hydronauts Diving Resort on 11 June 2022. 

The evolution of Hydronauts Diving Resort remains full of joy, curiosity and love for all that bear the Hydronauts logo. We are a chosen family continuously growing as we share the passion for all things aquatic with those around us. 

Dave Meres

Dave Meres

Co-Owner & Instructor

Hailing from Aberdeen, Scotland, Dave left his corporate job to fulfill his dreams of becoming a dive professional and having a shop of his own.  Dave dedicates his expertise to the business behind the scenes as well as teaching courses himself. Thus begins our story…

Katie O


Our resident Canadian visited Koh Tao many times before leaving Montreal for good in 2018 to cultivate her passion for diving as an instructor. Katie has since explored multiple configurations and styles of diving and loves to help certified divers hone their skills. 

Portrait of Gary Robbins.

Gary Robbins

Co-Owner & Instructor

A celebrated chef in a former life, Gary left the UK in 2017 to sink his teeth into something new. He became a dive professional and quickly rose to be a head instructor at Roctopus Dive, Koh Tao for five years. Gary specializes in working with unsure divers, ensuring he can share his love of the sea with all those he teaches. 

Image of Zach, one of the co-owners and instructors.

Zach Benge

Co-Owner & Instructor

Emerging from Los Angeles, Zach seamlessly blends his professional photography prowess with a deep passion for the ocean. Transitioning to Koh Tao, he delves into a mesmerizing underwater world, merging his expertise in recreational and tech diving with the artistry of underwater and topside photography. 

Portrait of Elyse, a co-owner & instructor.

Elyse Etherson

Co-Owner & Instructor

Elyse is a true native-born California Girl and a Jill-of-all-trades. Before becoming a complete scuba diving addict, she specialized as a lighting technician for live production and rigging for large stage events all around the USA. Despite all this, she is best known for her incredible talents as a fire performer. 

Portrait of a Rafa, Crossover Instructor Trainer.

Rafael "Rafa" Mellado

Crossover & Instructor Trainer

Fueled by an enduring passion for the ocean, Rafa’s career journey began as a deckhand and evolved into pivotal roles such as a leading hand and relief bosun on prestigious mega yachts. Upholding impeccable safety standards and delivering exceptional customer service has defined his trajectory in the maritime world and taken his diving career to the top.

Erik Brown

Founder & Former owner

Erik is best known for his work in the largest rescue operation of his generation. He was part of the team of divers extracting 13 children trapped in a cave in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand in 2018. Erik is a world record diver, technical diving instructor, lecturer, and explorer. 

Ready to become a Hydronaut?

Why Choose Hydronauts?​

RAID Instructors​

Our experienced instructors are hand-picked, highly trained, and passionate about scuba diving. We tailor each course and dive to your unique needs.

Beachfront Diving Resort​

Southwestern-facing property including a dive shop, hotel, training pool, cafe & restaurant, dive boat, and beach bar. We offer diving & accommodation packages for every budget.

Guaranteed Small Groups

We guarantee small groups of no more than four students to an instructor or dive guide so that you get the individual attention you deserve.

State-of-the-Art Equipment

We choose to dive and teach in Backplate & Wing BCD with a Long-hose, Short-hose regulator configuration favored by technical divers.

Dive Anywhere in the World

Upon completion of your RAID scuba diving course, you will be issued with an e-certification card that recognizes you as an internationally certified scuba diver.

Low Carbon Footprint

We make every effort to reduce our footprint and use of paper and plastic. All our course materials are hosted online giving you access for life.

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