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Dive Review of Sam's Tours/Sea Passion in

December, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by Laura A. Sonnenmark, VA, US
Sr. Reviewer   (9 reports)
Report Number 5882
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Bonaire, Florida, Roatan, Utila, Cozumel, Belize, Cayman Brac
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, rainy, cloudy  
calm, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
80   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dives were all DM led, although they were considerably tolerant of the more
experienced divers.   
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
It's halfway around the world, so of course it takes a looonnnngg time to
get there (from East Coast USA)but it is definitely worth it. What an
amazing trip we had!

Sea Passion is extremely convenient for those diving with Sam's--a 10
minute walk or a 3 minute boat ride (Sam's picks their divers up from the
Sea Passion dock every morning at 8:30 a.m.) The rooms are large and comfy,
with a separate sitting area, large bathrooms (bad lighting, though)and
some have balconies. Not really set up for divers, but we managed. They
cater to mostly Japanese clientele, but there were plenty of Westerners
there, and they provide both a Japanese and Western breakfast. Small pool
that is somehow always chilly; you can snorkel in the lagoon (there are a
half-dozen giant clams you can see from the beach bar) Small refrigerator
with bottle water provided (replenish at water station on each floor.) One
"beach" towel provided daily for each guest. Sure, the PPR is
much more luxurious, but you are diving from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (sometimes
earlier but sometimes later) every day--why pay for extras you will have
neither the time nor the energy to use? 

Sam's has been described as "organized chaos" and that is a
fitting description. Somehow it all works. The staff is friendly, helpful,
and competent. The DMs are a mixed bunch, but all good to superlative.
(Sometimes we thought they were too fast for us, but you know how
photographers are.) Hot showers on premises, and drivers ready to take you
back to your hotel whenever you are ready to go. The Bottom Time Grill is a
great place to grab a beer, burger or sashimi after the diving day, but
before you do that, check out the dock around 5 p.m.; the elusive mandarin
fish come out every day to do their little love dance as well as other
interesting critters and fish. Actually, the Sam's dock was a better night
dive than the one we paid extra for at Jake's Floatplane. 

The boats are small but with two powerful engines. There are no heads on
board. (Call for a "current check" when nature calls.) Rides out
to the reef are at least 45 minutes each way, but the ride through the
beautiful Rock Islands never gets tiring; unless it rains, of course, which
it does, suddenly and thoroughly--bring a lined rain coat of some kind. You
will need it.

There are a lot of different nationalities to find at Sam's--both amongst
the DMs and crew and also among the clientele. Americans, Europeans,
Aussies, non-Japanese Asians (I think the Japanese dive with Neco?)--we met
so many interesting and lovely people. The long rides and lunch on the
beach (Bento box! Yummy!) provided lots of opportunity for fascinating
conversation and good times. 

The diving is, of course, spetacular. This was our first time in the
Pacific--and it pretty much blew us away. So many people who come to Palau
seem focused on sharks and mantas and other big creatures (saw plenty of
them.) We went to either Blue Corner or German Channel nearly every day.
When the DMs found out that we were also very interested in macro and other
critters, they tried to accomodate, but usually we just went along with the
rest of the guests. There is always plenty to see! I mean, the mantas are
spectacular, but the shrimpgobies and the leaf scorpionfish and cuttlefish
are impressive in their own way as well.  

Things I wish I had known:

#1. I wish we had done the full-day land tour of Peleliu rather than
tacking it on to a two dive trip to Peleliu. Two hours was not enough to
really explore the battle sites; Peleliu needs and deserves more time.
Also, I didn't think the reefs at Peleliu were that much different from the
ones further north. 

#2. Don't believe them when they say your booties are sufficient for the
trek up to Jellyfish lake. Unless your booties are ruggedly hard soled,
bring some tevas. Also take your bottled water. 

#3. Drink plenty (water!) and watch the sun. I got some sort of
heatstroke--woke up in the middle of the night with severe chills and
feverish. Had to miss a day of diving. I'm normally extremely careful about
hydration and sun, so I guess it really can  happen to anyone. 

I wish Sam's would require a check-out dive like they do in so many
Caribbean resorts. Most divers are pretty experienced, but there were also
some newbies there--and nobody should do their first OW dive at Blue
Corner, IMHO. Buoyancy a real problem for many--but the DMs do keep a
watchful eye out for everyone and seem to know the ones who need the extra
help. (groups are no bigger than 6, so that is good.)I wish all the dive
ops would impress more firmly upon their customers the need to KEEP THEIR
FINS AND HANDS OFF OF THE CORAL! Although, truthfully, it did seem to me
that the divers at Sam's were better about this than the other divers I saw
out on the reef.  

I would recommend Palau and Sea Passion and particularly Sam's to any (not
too new) diver out there. Would go again in a heartbeat, even with the 26
hours of traveling and FOUR flights! But it is an expensive trip and not
something most of us can afford to do every year.   
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Diving Guide to Micronesia
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