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Dive Review of Sam's Tours/Palau Central Hotel in

Sam's Tours/Palau Central Hotel: "Finally made it to Palau and it was definetly worth it!", May, 2018,

by Mark Etter, PA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 10323 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Overall, I had a great trip. The Staff at the Palau Central Hotel are incredibly friendly and helpful. Most of the staff knew my name by the first 2 days. They are present 24/7 and were very accommodating, even at 4 am. The hotel is currently being refurbished with a pool and bar. The lobby is artistic and eclectic with a historic, boutique atmosphere. I felt like I stepped back into time yet at the same time there were modern amenities in my room. The soon to be completed pool deck has diving paraphernalia including an old Mark V diver suite. What a great touch for divers!

The hotel provides free transportation to nearby restaurants. I especially recommend eating at Elilai for dinner. The meals include international dishes with local food as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the course menus. There are other nearby restaurants including Tori Tori (Japanese) and Taj (Indian). Breakfast is provided at the Hotel beginning at 5 am in case you wake early or your going for the Unique Dive Experience with Sam's.

If anyone is interested in a local tour of the Island, you really must try a trip with Nan who works at the hotel. He took me on a private tour of the island including a magnificent wood carving shop, his local village where he grew up, the Badrulchau monoliths, Japanese cannons, a marine biology research facility, and the National Capital Building. We had a great lunch in the north at Okemii Cafe. Fantastic!

I spent the week diving with Sam's Tours. Each day they picked me up in a van and drove 5-10 minutes to the shop. The facility is well organized and very relaxed. The guides are friendly and very experienced. Dive sites are chosen based on the incoming and outgoing tides which affect the water clarity and the migration of large animals including multiple gray reef sharks, white tip sharks, green turtles, and mantas. We saw 2 mantas at Sandy Bar and 3 at the German Channel. There are large schools of bigeye trevaly at the Blue Corner with fantastic groups of bluestriped snappers and soldierfish. We saw turtles on almost every dive including more than a dozen at Turtle Wall. The schools of fish were better than Raj Ampat in my opinion. The Napolean wrasse approach divers closely and often don't leave. The coral is fantastic at Ulong Channel with huge colonies of cabbage coral. I have never seen so many giant clams, not even in Australia. The table corals are huge and there are brilliant sea fans on the wall dives. Pyramid butterfly fish are seen in the brilliant blue waters at Blue Corner with tame banner fish and morish idols. Take a reef hook for anchorage at the Blue Corner and Siaes Corner if you want to watch the sharks out in the deep blue water.

Sam's Tours offers Unique Diving Experiences depending on the phase of the moon. I was lucky to go on 2 early morning trips to see red snapper spawning. They use a smaller speedboat (The Blueshark) for this trip. Each diver has a private seat which allows storage of your gear and camera. We had 5-7 divers with 2 guides for these trips.I recommend taking a windbreaker or waterproof jacket as the wind can be cold and it often rains in Palau. The UDE's are great and very well organized.

Lunch was often eaten on some of the great beaches in the southern islands. We stopped on 2 occasions at a great secluded beach for lunch on picnic tables in the shade. Trips to the dive sites take about a hour so be prepared and bring water, sunscreen, etc.

There were 2 other great dives that we did this week. The Amatsu Maru is very large Japanese shipwreck that sank in WWII. The water was murky but there are table coral that span more than 10 feet across on the deck. There is a huge single prop at 125' for those who need a Truk experience. The second dive was Chandelier Cave right next to the shop. I had a private dive with my guide Evelyn as she showed me 3 separate chambers with air pockets above. Pretty awesome!

Can't wait to go back! I definitely would stay at the Palau Central Hotel again and I highly recommend Sam's Tours.
Websites Sam's Tours   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Komodo, Ambon, Lembeh, Alor, Bunaken, Raj Ampat, Misool, Kri, Caymans, Egypt, Maldives, Australia, Dominica, Truk, Hawaii, St Lucia, Bonaire, Curacao, Provo, St Kitts, Barbados, Nevis, Cozumel, US Virgins, North and South Carolina, etc
Closest Airport Koror Getting There Flight from Guam thru either Hawaii or Narita, Japan

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas currents
Water Temp 79-84°F / 26-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Keep with guide for the first 2-3 days until guide became comfortable with divers. Freedom depended on your guide for that day and location/current. All divers must ascend together. Some guides who carried 2 side mount tanks provided extra tank for divers who were low on air.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 1 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments Not bad but no rinse tanks on day boat. Crew sometimes forgot to help with cameras on entry and exiting water. Generally tolerant of UW photography but a few guides didn't give much freedom for stopping to compose pictures. Better later in the week when I buddied with other DSLR shooters and photopro. Probably much better when there are more experienced photographers in same boat. Multiple divers with different experience and agendas. By the end of the week, Great Trip and more freedom.
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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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