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

Sam's Tours/DW Motel/Sea Passion Resort, Mar, 2013,

by Doug Swalen, CA, US ( 1 report). Report 6909.

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
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
UW Photo 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 ... Subscribe to get the full story. For Subscribers Only  Active subscribers continue reading here

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
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 ... Subscribe to get the full story. For Subscribers Only  Active subscribers continue reading here
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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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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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