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Dive Review of Sam's Tours/Caroline's Resort and Sea Passion in

December, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Mary Herndon, MA, US
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 6407
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, Hawaii, Sea of Cortez
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
84   to 87    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Depth limits, No deco  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
5 stars  
Camera rinse on the boat, captain was always happy to hand the camera on
and off the boat for us.  Sam's has underwater photography and video expert
on site, and offers classes.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
We dove with SAMs for 8 days. For the first week, our family of five was
the only group on the boat. Daniel was our dive master and did a great job
to make sure we had fun, saw the best Palau has to offer, and had safe
dives. They really took care of us, rinsing our gear and changing tanks. We
were so pleased that we cancelled our dive reservation of three days at
another charter the following week and went with Sam's instead. We were not
nearly as happy the next week. We were on three different boats with three
different dive masters each day. On one day there were 14 divers, making
the boat and dives too crowded and chaotic. Dive masters Neil and Nicole
tried vary hard to keep us happy, but I left with the impression that SAMs
management was not interested in catering to our wishes and it felt more
like a cattle boat operation. That said, even those days were not bad, but
it was definitely a big disappointment compared to the service we had
received earlier. To be fair, this was over Christmas-New Year's holiday,
so the fact that they fit us in with a last minute reservation is probably
part of the reason we were bounced around between crowded boats. 
Underwater Photography class offered through SAMs was excellent and
instructor Nick went above and beyond to accommodate us. 
We also went on the Sam's kayak tour. Be careful as this is not fully
representative of the day- after a 745am pickup, we didn't actually get
into a kayak until about 11am. We were on a tour of the rock islands -
seeing lots of interesting and beautiful sites, as well as snorkeling in
peaceful lagoons. We paddled a bit before lunch, then more customers joined
our group. We definitely got the impression they were stalling so the other
guests could catch up before we ventured too far on the kayak tour. After
being told we would be back by 330 or 4, we didn't get back to the dock
until almost 5. Between that and the latter dive experience, I left Palau
feeling a bit sour on SAMs, but even with these criticisms, they were still
quite good overall.  
While in Koror, we stayed at Caroline's resort the first week and Sea
Passion hotel the last 5 days.  Caroline's is beautiful and secluded, and
you really get the sense of being away from it all.  Their staff is
extremely friendly and the bungalows are beautiful.  Sea Passion is much
more accessible - walking distance to stores, Sam's and other Koror sights.
 Its a standard hotel, but the rooms are very nice and include a huge
breakfast buffet.  Regardless of where you stay, Sam's will pick you up and
drop you off each day, and the drivers are always happy to make a stop at a
convenience store for groceries, ATM, etc.
Between our visits to Caroline's and Sea Passion, we spent 4 days on the
island of Peleliu and dove with MAML divers.  Their office in Koror is a
total mess of an operation, and they are completely unprofessional and
disorganized.  But once we got to Peleliu, we only dealt with our
divemaster, Bernard, and he was great.  Bernard is a very excellent guide,
nice to talk to and excited about the sights and wildlife. And when our
group had equipment failures he was right there to handle the situation. 
Diving felt safe but low stress.  Boats never had more than 7 divers and we
were grouped with other English speakers.  However, we noticed that their
boats that catered to Asian divers typically looked more crowded.  Spending
a few days on Peleliu is well worth it.  It allows you to dive the Peleliu
sights, which are very beautiful and not to be missed, but with <15
minute boat rides (they would be an hour trip from Koror).  The famous
Peleliu currents were not very strong while we were there, so that was a
nice relief.  However, when diving sights on the outer side of the island
we experienced really rough seas, which is apparently typical for Dec-Jan,
and a rude awakening compared to the mirror flat seas we had on the more
northern sights.  We stayed at Storyboard Inn on Peleliu.  The owners were
great and very accommodating.  Transfers between the hotel and diving or
other activities were always taken care of for us, and they went out of
their way to arrange tours and extra dives for us.  The bungalows at
Storyboard are not deluxe like Caroline's.  Storyboard is more of a
cabin-type feel, but they do have bathrooms and window AC, so you're not
exactly roughing it.  But they definitely feel very basic.  They are right
on the water and have a beautiful, remote, relaxing feel.
In summary, the Palau trip was the best diving we ever experienced. 
Mantas, sharks, healthy coral and lots of fish highlighted the dives.  And
the boat rides through the beautiful rock islands, and surface intervals on
gorgeous beaches, were an amazing part of the whole experience.  
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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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