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

Colona Group/Colona VI, Nov, 2008,

by Gail Kunkle , CA, usa ( 1 report). Report 4559.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Belize, Hawaii, Honduras
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 81 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments clean water bucket

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments 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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