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“Fantastic Similian Liveaboard”
Review of West Coast Divers

West Coast Divers
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Welcome on board M/V PAWARA, our luxurious custom built, steel hull, Similan Islands Liveaboard, refitted especially for this season.Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Richelieu Rock, the ultimate way to explore one of the worlds top ten dive spots with one of the longest standing Dive Centers in Phuket
Reviewed 2 February 2013

We booked a 4-night trip to the Similian Islands on the MV Pawara, staffed by West Coast Divers. Diving in the southern part of the chain was just decent, but we loved Elephant Head Rock, Koh Tachai, and Richelieu Rock. We could have spent another few days just at Richelieu. That pinnacle is covered in an amazing amount of life. We stopped at island #8 and climbed Sail Rock one afternoon. The views of the turquoise and cobalt sea, white sand beaches, and dark granite boulders was stunning.

The boat is gorgeous and looks like it was recently updated. There is lots of comfortable living space, including an air conditioned salon and a huge sun deck. We opted for a standard cabin, which is a bit cramped, but we figured we only sleep and shower in there anyway. It had an ensuite and enough storage, so it worked. Our only complaint was the mattress. We've slept on some pretty hard mattresses throughout Asia and this was by far the worst. There are no blankets, only sheets, so consider packing a lightweight blanket if you tend to get chilled at night. This is a big, stable boat. Even our friend that said she always gets sea sick had no problems.

I can't say enough great things about the staff. The dive staff gave very detailed briefings before every dive, complete with maps, and ran a very organized operation. All the guides were experienced instructors and were rigorous about safety and upholding PADI standards. Our boat was full, but they had enough guides to keep the groups small. Our group of five had our guide all to ourselves. We appreciated the safety rigor, but at the same time our guide was flexible enough to ascend with the divers that couldn't extend their air time quite as long and let the rest of us finish our dive. They had Nitrox on board, making it easy to switch over on those dives when we wanted to maximize bottom time, but we didn't have to commit to the extra expense for the entire trip. The dive staff seemed to know just how to schedule diving at each site so we usually had the site to ourselves. It seemed we were always departing just as a bunch of other boats showed up. This is definitely the way to dive these islands.

The Thai staff were very friendly and accommodating (of course) and served very tasty and plentiful meals. Often times I starve for vegetables on liveaboards, especially since I don't eat a lot of meat, but not here! There was a great variety and everything was good. There was always hot tea, fruit, and cookies out, and I swear they were feeding us after every dive.

We looked at many boats before booking this one, and I'm very glad we settled on the Pawara. It was a great trip and an amazing value. We booked through Jamie at Sunrise Divers, who was great to work with.

2  Thank Jdivemaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 30 January 2013

I'm a new diver, and this was my first liveaboard dive experience. I loved it, despite missing half my dives, due to not being able to equalize and feeling sick! The Thai crew was excellent, making me ginger tea to help with my nausea, despite the seasick pills (it was clearly not seasickness I experienced), and helping to zip up my full wetsuit, and hauling me out of the water after each dive! The dive guides are friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced, and are very particular about dive safety. I made friends with all the guests, and by the end of the trip, we were a big happy family! I'm glad I made the decision to book the trip on the Pawara!

1  Thank Envir0ment
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 January 2013

My husband and I had our first liveaboard experience on MV Pawara - a 4 day/4night trip to the Similian Islands, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock.

Though we're experienced divers we'd stayed away from liveaboards thus far because we both tend to get sea sick and also weren't sure we'd like being stuck on a boat for 4 days with the same people, same food, etc.

Our experience on MV Pawara was just fantastic and put to bed all our concerns. The boat itself is very big and really beautiful both on the outside and in terms of the layout and decor. Every part of the boat is spotlessly clean and looks exactly as shown in the photos on the West Coast Divers website.

The common areas of the boat are really nice and spacious, from the dining area to the sun deck to the lounge. The sun deck on top of the boat is beautiful, partly covered, and with both wicker loungers and padded mattresses. The indoor lounge is really nice, air conditioned, with a big screen TV, DVDs and even wifi that works on and off depending on the location. Best of all, none of the rooms feel damp or smell musty because the crew are fastidious about keeping them dry and ask the guests to do the same.

We stayed in the best room, the master deluxe, which has windows looking out onto the sea and the front of the boat. Though the room is not very large, it has a double bed and is cleverly designed to maximise space. The bathroom is small but again adequate and there's always hot water in the shower.

Sea sickness pills are always available in the dining area and the lounge. My husband and I took one every 24 hours and that seemed to do the trick for the most part. When the sea got a little choppy I needed to take another. I'd feel a little queasy for an hour until the pill started to work and then I was fine. After 3 days my husband didn't need to take any more sea sickness tablets, though I still did. Not getting sea sick was a big deal as this was what had kept us from going on liveaboards. But I will say that the sea was quite calm for our entire trip, and I did feel like everything was moving when I was back on ground for almost 3 days! Still, I'm now comfortable enough to go on another liveaboard, and that's a big change.

The meals were very good and plentiful. Coffee and tea before the first dive, a big breakfast after, a snack after the second dive, then a big lunch. Then nap time on the sun deck :-) Then a snack after the third dive, and THEN dinner which is early but you're ready for it and ready to crash soon after. The food was really tasty without being overly spicy (not that I have a problem with spicy food but they have to cater to a wide audience). Some meals were Thai, others more Western, but all good.

The dive masters were all fantastic, all super interesting guys, and great guides. They're very particular about safety and the dive briefs were detailed and very clear. The diving itself was good to great, depending on the dive sites. Having dived in the Maldives and Micronesia, we found the diving in the Similians to be good, not great. But we loved Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock, the latter of which had the best and most diverse corals we've ever seen.

All the crew on board were very helpful and always smiling. From gearing up for us, hauling us out of the water and hot towels after the evening dive :-) to lots of delicious snacks and clearing our plates for us. Our fellow guests were all great. Interesting and fun people. You never know who you'll be stuck with on your live aboard but we couldn't have asked for a better bunch.

Overall we had an absolutely fantastic time on MV Pawara and found it to be very good value. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and we've decided that this won't be our last liveaboard - what better endorsement that that! Highly recommended.

9  Thank Pokkstar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 January 2013

I booked a liveaboard with this company via an agency. Sadly I got very sick just before it was to depart and I asked the company if they would be able to move me to another date or hold the money as a credit so I could dive with them in the future. They would not allow it. No refunds, no changes. The only offer they provided my travel agent was to go on a boat trip with them a few weeks later (but I was already back in the States). So I'm out $1000US. Sad really, because I love the Big Blue outfit in Koh Tao. But with this sort of service, can't take a chance on booking with them in advance.

1  Thank TravelinShane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
West Coast D, Public Relations Manager at West Coast Divers, responded to this reviewResponded 31 January 2013

Dear Guest,

We are sorry to hear about your experience.

As per our terms and Conditions, published on our website, we do not offer last minute refunds, but we do offer a replacement trip when possible, or a credit for a later booking.

It seems that your problem originates from the agent's handling of the situation, rather than ours, so we would appreciate if you can contact us directly with more detailed information's.

We will then contact the faulty agent and try to fix the situation.

Best regards,
West Coast Divers.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 17 November 2012 via mobile

Great days diving with a great crew,large boat but a little slow but you don't mind when the scenery is that good

1  Thank Marc F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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