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

March, 2013, an Instant Reader Report by Doug Swalen, CA, US (1 report)
Report Number 6909
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Yap, Palau, Maldives, Tonga, Monterey, Pt. Lobos, Cabo San Lucas, Kauai,
Maui, Kona
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry  
Seas
calm, choppy, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
75   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
2
Water Visibility
40   to 175    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
We had recommended depths but no hard rules. My computer died mid trip so I
stuck with the Instructor after that since I was on Nitrox.  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
yes 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
1 or 2 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
For Subscribers Only  
Small Critters
  For Subscribers Only
Large Fish
For Subscribers Only  
Large Pelagics
  For Subscribers Only
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
For Subscribers Only  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
For Subscribers Only  
Shore Facilities  
For Subscribers Only  
Comments
I'm not a hard core UWP. I have a tiny shell and a strobe, not a giant rig
that takes five to ten minutes  ...
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Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
For Subscribers Only
Food
4 stars
Service and Attitude
For Subscribers Only
Environmental Sensitivity  
For Subscribers Only
Dive Operation
For Subscribers Only  
Shore Diving  
For Subscribers Only  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
For Subscribers Only    
Beginners
4 stars   
Advanced
For Subscribers Only    
Comments  
I'd been to Palau twice before but I had unfinished business there having
missed out on some of the best parts of some of the best dive spots the
last two times for one reason or another. 

A week after I booked the trip I found out about Typhoon Bopha which hit
Palau in near miss fashion back in December. Reports of some damage had
come out since but I was still going.

However, in this sport, timing is everything and I happened to land when
Palau was at the early stages of a storm front that stretched clear back to
the Marshals. This translated into 7 out of 8 days of partial to completely
overcast skies, higher than normal winds, and more rain than I had seen
there previously.

First the bad news. The eastern reefs of Palau got hammered by Bopha. Want
to dive Short Drop Off? Trashed. Ngerchong Inside and Ngerchong Outside?
Wrecked. Peleliu's Yellow Wall? Hammered. Peleliu Express and Peleliu Cut?
Word is they got clobbered too. I never saw them first hand but based on
what I heard they'll take years to recover.

Now the good news. Short Drop Off and Ngerchong are considered several cuts
below Palau's best dive sites and Palau's Crown Jewels escaped relatively
unscathed. The only reef where I saw some visible damage was at Ulong
Channel which had the occasional uprooted hard coral face-planted on the
reef.

Ulong was my reason for going. I said I had unfinished business in Palau
and Ulong was at the top of my list. I was a lifetime 0-4 experiencing the
roller coaster of running the channel with the currents up. But Ulong
proved elusive at first. Not only had I flown into a six straight days of
atypical Palau weather for this time of year, I'd also flown into the wrong
tidal conditions for Ulong. I would have to wait for the conditions to come
back around. 

Between Bophas damage and Ulong being out of favor this resulted in a
concentration of dive activity down around Ngemelis. All the boats flooded
Ngemelis and the vicinity the first five days I was there. It's going to
sound like blaspheme but by day 5 I was getting sick of Blue Corner which
wed hit every day. 

I might have felt differently if Blue Corner had been firing on all
cylinders but it wasn't. Three times there was no current. Yes, Blue Corner
even with no current is better than anything you'll find in places like
Hawaii but after 5 days a kind of sameness started to creep in with the 
...
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Subscriber's Comments

By wwds at May 09, 2013 02:45 EST  
Thanks for a great report Doug - really good read but sorry to learn you
didn't get to visit some sites still on your list. I dived Palau in Dec
2012 shortly after Bopha and would agree that Peleliu Express was damaged
but the Cut was very good IMHO, we didn;t go to Short drop off or Ngerong
as we learned of the damage beforehand. I dived Shark City - really enjoyed
that one a good long drift with eagle rays & bumpheds. But when i went
we had a lack of current so not too hectic dives and maybe not what i was
expecting - but still plenty of sharks and big schools of fish. we hit the
motherload in German Channel with a 60 minute dive with 8 mantas going
bananas in front of us (and we were the only boat there) lucky us - guess
we got the impression its like that all of the time.
If you plan to visit Palau again have a look at the moon phase and try to
plan your trip to hit the full or new moon for more currents and chance to
see the fish spawning activity. Best Wishes
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Other dive reports on Sam's Tours

All Micronesia Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Micronesia
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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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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