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Dive Review of Sam's Tours and Werner Lau/Palau Pacific and Trader's Ridge in

June, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Pamela Turner, CA, USA (2 reports)
Report Number 1765
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Australia, New Guinea, Malasia, Thailand, Philippines, Hawaii, Costa Rica,
Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, US and British Virgin Islands, Cayman
Islands, Jamaica, Florida, California
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, currents  
Water Temp
80   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
5 stars    
We spent 8 days in Palau, 5 diving and 2 kayaking with Sam's Tours. Blue
Corner and New Drop Off were some of the best dives my husband and I have
had in 21 years of diving. So many sharks (reef, blacktip, whitetip) that
we lost count, big Napoleon wrasses, schools of barracuda. We didn't see
any mantas underwater in Palau, but saw two that cruised by our boat for
five minutes, which was a great photo op. In Yap, visibility at the manta
cleaning stations was limited, but we saw 2 big mantas. Our second dive was
actually better--through an underwater canyon with barracuda, baby whitetip
sharks, big lobsters, and a huge barracuda. Best time for mantas in Yap,
according to our dive guide, Nikko, is February. Both Palau and Yap
exceeded expectations, and we've dived enough to be pretty spoiled.

We stayed at Palau Pacific in Palau. Nice, especially the beach access,
though some of the rooms are starting to look like they need new wallpaper.
Best restaurant on the island is The Taj (great naan and butter chicken)
followed by Arirang (Korean). We dived with Sam's Tours. They are very
committed to conservation--the general manager, Dermott, helped push
through a shark finning ban and is actively involved in getting a new
zoning plan to further protect the reefs. Our guides, Dexter and Daniel,
were excellent. Our youngest (12) was certified during the visit by the
very affable Ronnie. Our kayaking guide, Jake, was extremely entertaining
and an incredible athlete. If you want to see mandarinfish, go kayaking to
Risong Bay--you can snorkel with them in 2 feet of water and enjoy as long
as you like. 

In Yap, we chose the upscale Trader's Ridge and its Werner Lau dive center
over Manta Ray Bay Hotel, which attracts the package tour crowd.  Trader's
Ridge is nicer, has a lot more atmosphere, and Werner Lau has a brand-new
facility a short walk from the hotel. We had a boat to ourselves (family of
five) while the Manta Ray Bay divers were crowded shoulder-to-shoulder.
Service is generally slower in Yap--they have less experience than in
Palau--but friendly and laid back.

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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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