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January 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Samís Tours, Palau, Micronesia

a less expensive alternative to a liveaboard

from the January, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

After three trips to Palau, my fourth felt like I was home. Palau . . . bucket list . . . dream dive . . . top five . . . world class . . . the superlatives become clichťs at some point. But for me, what has separated this spot from everywhere else I've dived is the balance it offers. You go to Raja for diversity. You go to Cocos for pelagics. You go to the Philippines for macro/muck. But with Palau, you get all of these without needing to stay on a liveaboard to guarantee kick-ass diving. And for less than $2,000 for seven nights.

However, rapid change is afoot. You won't see it from a liveaboard, but you will if you stay in Koror. Starting last year, Chinese tourism took off big time, and Palau has been riding the whirlwind ever since. The culture clash is dividing the nation between those who have benefited (property owners, hotels, some merchants) and those who have not (renters squeezed by higher rents, Palauan workers -- the Chinese are bringing in their own laborers -- and traditional merchants not catering to the Chinese).

The Boats at Sam's Tours MarinaHotels are being block-booked by Chinese tour operators half a year or more in advance. In April, I looked for a room at the Sea Passion Resort in November, and there was nothing. Other good hotels were similarly block-booked. Fortunately, the DW Motel, where I stayed in 2013, was available. It was okay -- it had the hardest bed I'd ever slept on, but it was cheap, and in less than 20 minutes, I could walk to downtown restaurants like Sushi Bar Mito and Mog Mog (you haven't lived until you've had lobster sashimi). The DW caters to the Japanese and frugal divers like me who want to save their money for diving but can't afford a liveaboard for two people. You can wash your clothes ($4 for the washer and dryer), and while there is a restaurant across the street, there is even a kitchen where you can refrigerate food and make your own meals....


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