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Dive Review of Colona Group/Colona VI in
Thailand/Similan/Surin Islands

November, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Gail Kunkle , CA, usa (1 report)
Report Number 4559
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
51-100 dives
Where else diving
Bonaire, Belize, Hawaii, Honduras
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, no currents  
Water Temp
81   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
clean water bucket
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
We had an awesome experience on the Colona VI. The National Park in the
Similan and Surin Islands opens on Nov 1st and we boarded the boat on Oct
31 to be there on the 1st. We had four dives per day for five days and two
dives on the last day before we headed back to the mainland. There were 14
divers and 7 crew, including two divemasters. Our divemaster, Big Steve,
was fantastic. We decided to get our Advanced Open Water while on the boat.
Instead of getting just five instructional dives, Steve gave us instruction
and diving tips on every dive. We had a very international group. There
were 7 Italians, 4 Americans, 1 Irishman, 1 Frenchman, 1 from the UK. Big
Steve was from the UK and the other divemaster was Italian. We flew into
Phuket the day before we were going to board the boat. The dive shop,
Sunrise Divers, booked a taxi for me from the airport that was much cheaper
than the taxi I booked from the hotel going back to the airport. I should
have requested that they book both directions. The Colona group sent a note
to my hotel confirming the time they were going to pick us up the next day.
The van arrived on time and we headed off to the airport to pick up one
last passenger and then off to the boat. After we got settled in, dinner
was served and then we were off to the Similan Islands. The food was great.
A full breakfast after the first dive each morning, plenty of food for
lunch and dinner with a snack in between. Three different dishes were
served, usually one shrimp or fish, one chicken, and one pork or beef along
with salad and fruit. Sodas and beers were extra. 
The accomodations were great if you had the Master Cabin. I booked early
and the Master Cabin had a double bed with its own air conditioner and a
big window that opened. The rest of the rooms were down below with bunk
beds. Each room had their own bathroom. The air conditioner was shared
among the rooms and unfortunately the Italians complained of being cold the
first night so the air was turned down a bit and the others got hot at
night. Several of them slept up top on comfortable mats which was
absolutely gorgeous with the stars. 
Diving was fantastic. The crew helped you with your gear so everyone was
ready to go at the same time. We split into two groups of seven and entered
the water about 10 minutes apart from each other so we rarely saw the other
group. The Dive briefings were detailed and included what sea life to look
for and were translated into Italian. The divemaster used an SMB on every
dive during our safety stop and encouraged the entire group to practice
using them. The coral and sea anemones were diverse, healthy and beautiful.
Lots of fish, too numerous to name. My favorite was the sea horses and
ghost pipe fish. We did not see a whale shark although the Italians
supposedly saw one at Richlieu rock off in the distance. Richlieu rock was
fantastic. We dived it five times because we could not get enough. There
were several boats there on the day we were there so we were in the water
at 6:40am to avoid the crowds. This allowed us to avoid them on every dive
as we were in the water while they were out. The initial dives were around
45 minutes because three of the men were heavy breathers. Big Steve swapped
their tanks for bigger ones to allow us to dive for one hour. The sea was
absolute glass and relatively no currents.
One of the highlights was taking a shore excursion to the Moken Sea
Gypsies. We stopped in the bay of their village and one of them came by in
his boat to take us to shore for a visit. They had some hand made baskets
and carved boats for sale. 
The Colona VI is a great value for the money. Some of the liveaboards I
looked at before booking charged twice as much and I can't imagine how they
could have been much better (except for maybe every cabin having their own
air conditioner). The Boat and crew exceeded our expectations. This was our
first liveaboard experience.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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