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.