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Dive Review of Sam's Tours/Sea Passion in
Micronesia/Palau

Sam's Tours/Sea Passion, Dec, 2010,

by Laura A. Sonnenmark, VA, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports). Report 5882.

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

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, currents, no currents
Water Temp 80 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
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.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 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 N/A Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling 3 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments 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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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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