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Dive Review of Sam's Tours/West Plaza By the Sea in

November, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Sandy Falen, KS, USA
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 3 Helpful votes)
Report Number 4624
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
All of the Caribbean; Costa Rica; Sea of Cortez; Fiji; Tonga
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
80   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dives were generally no longer than one hour.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
I took the "scenic route" to get to Koror, traveling American
(and its partner Japan Air) from Dallas to Tokyo to Manila, where I stopped
for a night before catching Continental Micronesia from Manila to Palau. At
the end of my stay, I flew Continental to Guam, spent another day, and then
it was back to Japan Air and American to Tokyo, Dallas, and home. It took
longer, but I enjoyed the stopovers; and it saved a ton of money -- cutting
my Continental fare by more than half, compared to the usual Continental
routing from the U.S mainland.  For an AA frequent flyer, this was a great
alternative way to reach Palau.

I split my time between Koror and Peleliu (see separate review of Peleliu
Divers and Dolphin Bay Resort).

Sam's Tours is a big operation, but for the most part, I was impressed by
the level of service.  There was a representative at the airport when I
arrived at 3:00am, who provided my waiver forms for the first dive day, and
also let me know when to expect my morning hotel pickup. The daily
transportation to/from the dive shop is included in the dive package, and
it was a great convenience.

Boats are roomy, and were never over-crowded; I think eight was the maximum
number of divers I ever had on my boat during the six days. Sam's shop is
impressive, with a full complement of dive gear and accessories, an on-site
restaurant, large gear storage area, and a full-service digital photo shop,
including brand-new Macs and internet service for a reasonable fee.

The boat crew and divemasters were friendly and fun, but the office staff
could have been better about explaining the routine and scheduling. I wound
up at Jellyfish Lake without warning, and as a result, didn't have
appropriate footwear for the steep trail (although I slogged through the
mire, anyway). They also switched me to another boat without notice one
day, resulting in a second trip to Jellyfish Lake.  Hey, it's interesting,
but once in a week is enough; I chilled out on the boat while the others
made the hike.

The lunches were excellent, and there were many options to choose from.
On-board coolers were kept full of cold soft drinks, and there was always
plenty of water -- and each diver was issued a squeeze bottle use for the
week and take home.

As for the diving, it's hard to add much to all the glowing reviews that
have preceded me, but I'll start by saying it was absolutely worth the
effort required to get there. While most folks rave about the sharks and
mantas, I was also overwhelmed by the spectacular corals -- the variety,
the density, the colors -- it was simply stunning. The soft corals were the
prettiest I've seen outside of Fiji, and there are spectacular formations
of lettuce corals, forming beautiful and delicate "fish

The Blue Corner can vary from day to day, but on my second dive there, it
was off the charts with activity -- schooling baby sharks, giant schools of
barracuda, cruising adult sharks, schools of napoleon wrasse and humphead
parrotfish, multiple turtles -- it was the exactly kind of dive for which
you travel halfway around the world. 

As beautiful as Palau's diving is, you'll still see signs of coral damage
in the shallower sites, and there were times I felt that the fish life
wasn't as prolific as I'd expected. 

West Plaza By the Sea, one of several West hotels in Koror, was simple,
clean, and absolutely fine. The staff was wonderful, but be forewarned --
you're not supposed to drink the tap water.  I was wishing I'd known that
before my 4:00am arrival, as there was no bottled water in my room, and no
place to get any, since the staff had left for the night.  Breakfast at the
Red Rooster cafe on site was included in my dive/hotel package. Not all of
the hotels have a restaurant on premises, so keep that in mind when
selecting a hotel. Downtown Koror was an easy walk away from the hotel, and
there are enough restaurants to provide some variety. The best meal of my
stay was at The Taj, where I indulged in the best Indian food I've ever
eaten. It was so good that I returned for another visited on my last night
in the islands.

Once you get past the cost of air transportation, Palau is actually pretty
reasonably priced (if can do without the high-end resorts like PPR).  I'd
go again -- although I'd probably spent more days in Peleliu next time.

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All Micronesia Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Micronesia
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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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