from 5 reviews
National Geographic Center
PADI 5 Star Dive Center
PO Box 7076
18th April 2012 by arnekuilman
Great location and all-round diving!
Visit Date: August 2007
I visited Palau in the fall of 2007 and unfortunately we had the tropical cyclone Man-yi terrorizing our weather, which made it impossible to dive the outer – more spectacular – reefs )-:
We dived the German Channel and saw multiple mantas and small sharks and lots of rays and small groupers.
The wrecks in the bays are also very nice, since they aren't dived a lot. The corals are abundant around the wrecks unlike the barren wrecks in the Red Sea. The wall dives were quite spectacular too with the great abyss to your left and sharks swimming by.
The best dives however I made at the pier of Sam's Tours. They have a jetty where you can dive a bottle and dive for free. The jetty has all the hallmarks of a classic muck dive. Tires, discarded ropes and smothering corals. The ideal environment for juvenile fish, nudibranchs and bottom dwellers. The velvet fish – known more from Australia – had only been discovered here in 2005. At 1 metres of depth just at the base of the jetty and the island there is a lot of rubble where you can photograph tens of mating mandarin fish! The easiest place to photograph them since they have no place to hide.
Best dive: The German Channel basically had it all and I saw my first Mantas here!
Worst dive?: The Lighthouse
A safe place to dive in bad weather, but also quite a boring little coral shelf. Not the kind of place to dive when you've travelled all the way to Palau.
Jellyfish lake can't be missed, but all the divers/tourists go there I suppose. A great place to watch the wonders of non-stinging jellyfish.
Best things to do on Palau?
Rent a car for a day and travel up north.
Best diving thing?
Make special arrangements to visit the outer reefs of Peliliu, because not many people dive there.
Also make special arrangements for a nautilus dive. Sam's Tours unfortunately could not accommodate me with this dive, because not enough people were there to arrange it. That peeved me off, but the rest of the diving and arrangements with Sam's Tours were excellent. Friendly and helpful staff! They even sent me some sand by mail, that I forgot to take from the ocean.
27th July 2009 by jred
sams tours is a top class dive center
Visit Date: November 2008
11 Jul 2009
Eight of us came to Sam's tours from Ireland in November 2008.......... From one side of the world to the other. Was Sam's tours worth the trip ???? ............yes it was !
It was a top grade slick operation. From the the moment we arrived on site in the morning, for breakfast which was ready for us at our agreed time to loading up the boats, to the the correct nitrox mix in our tanks every day, we really couldn't fault it. The dive sites were what we had been led to expect from the day before. The boats were all really well maintained and the dive gear was very much up to date. I'm not sure but I think after 2 years they replace all the gear rather than try and patch it up like so many dive operations. Our dive guide was a chap called Jim from chicago who knew his stuff who must have had gills for lungs for the amount of air he used. We were all seasoned expierenced divers, who have all been around the block and have been to many dive operators around and this ranks right up with the best !! I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
10th June 2009 by fairygodmother
Sam's Part 2
Visit Date: April 2009
I just read the proper way to leave a review and realized I left out a few things:
BRING FOUL WEATHER GEAR or a jacket of sometime for the boat rides, when its cloudy, you're wet and going 30MPH its cold and often rainy
They will give you one if you need it. We used it at least once a day, if you have never used one I reccommend asking the dive guide ahead of time to help hook you in. The current is really strong.. you should be able to just hook in and float effortlessly, at the wrong hooking angle you will be fighting to stay straight the whole time and will miss the AMAZING show..
Conditions were really good. I get really seasick even with dramamine but wasn't at all in Palau.
Ngemelis Wall is worth doing twice-its just as great as everyone says.
I forget the name of the dive, but you basically go with the current at a ripping speed thru rocks and little lettuce coral.. I DID NOT hear that it was going to be like that and was a little nervous because I had to struggle to stay going the right way just a bit..the dive guide was great though and kept an eye out for everyone. I would say this is a more advanced dive..all the other sites were pretty mellow.
Ok, that's it.. enjoy!
Thanks for the review! RE: Rain jacket: I agree with the recommendation that everyone brings a "packable" rain jacket on every trip. It's great insurance and a nice comfort if needed. RE: The "unknown" dive referred to....that's Ulong Channel. It's a great dive on the incoming tide. Regards, Dermot Keane Sam's Tours
8th June 2009 by fairygodmother
Sam's is great!
Visit Date: April 2009
We went diving with Sams and found them to be a great operation. We had been to Yap the year before and actually sat next to Sam who told us he had a dive operation so we looked it up when we went this year.. glad we did. I wish I could remember the name of our guide b/c he was definitely our favorite dive guide from any trip..i have a picture of him! but cant remember his name...even though he has been diving many years he was still super excited to see things.
Got to dive all the sites we wanted. Lunches were quiznos sandwhiches or bento boxes and dessert. Plenty of water on the boat, adequate buckets with water for our cameras, and a nice station to wash and air clean the camera back at the dock. I rented an underwater camera and got great pics, and found a new hobby! Also, at the dock of Sams is the best (and free) Mandarin Fish dive we have done... we had done several others, in Yap an Pelileu but this had so many practically right out in the open..a photographers dream and I am just fascinated by them!
They were on time in the morning and overall we were really pleased and hope to go back.
27th May 2009 by christine
Very nice but go as group if you do go...
Visit Date: April 2009
We spent 12 days with Sam’s tours. The girls at the front desk are fantastic at ensuring that you get to do everything you want to do whilst in Palau. For example, they organised our diving, kayak tour, land tour, helicopter tour (which I highly recommend) and even our laundry. There’s nothing they can’t do! We were not bored during our time there (although we are now very broke – the tours are not cheap).
For diving, Sam’s have many boats for diving and can cater for lots of people. The boats are also very large and fast. One issue I had was the way the dives were organised: Late boat launch at 9:30 – 9:45am, one dive, then lunch, then second dive – then arrive back at 4pm. So essentially you have no time for land based activities. It would be nice if they had an option for express mornings where you could leave at 7:30 am and return by 2pm and have enough time for other activities such as the helicopter tour.
As we were only 2 people, another issue we came across is that we felt as though we were “fillers” for boats and didn’t have much control as to where we were going to dive. They also didn’t match us with divers with similar experience and as a result, we were required to dive what I considered boring sites to accommodate the beginners – I felt like I had to beg to ensure we got to Blue Corner. The other issue with being a couple rather than a group, is that we didn’t have the power of people number for certain activities. For example, the Nautilus dive, Peleliu Dive, Peleliu Land Tour, Kayak tour all require 4 to 8 people for the tour to go ahead. So we were going around asking people to join us for the above activities....We got to do it all except the Nautilus. In the end, it wasn’t as smooth as I thought it be and required a little effort on our part (and quite frankly it was a annoying).
If you can pick your dive guide: ask for Richard! He was the best at pointing out the little creatures (Obviously you go to Palau for the big fish, and what I found was that most dive guides didn't take much time to find macro stuff, with exception of Richard! The big fish are not always around, so it was nice he took the time to look for the small stuff. He was also the most accommodating - too bad we only got him for our 2 last days :( )
Dive sites to do whilst in Palau: Blue Corner, Chandelier Caves, Helmet Wreck, German Channel, Jelly Fish Lake. Also, you can see Mandarin fish just in front of Sam's docks! One of the best shore dives and won't cost you anything (Sam's gives the air for free!).
Other good thing, Sam's provides Nitrox at no extra cost
Sites I could do without: Big Drop Off
My main highlight at Sam’s was the videographer course I took with Nick. If you have a camcorder/ camera and want to leave your holiday with great footage, I highly recommend his course! It was fantastic and well worth it! I would return to Palau just to continue with his course!
Overall the dives were good and I would likely return, but with a group of 8 – safety in numbers!
Greetings from Sam's Tours Palau! Thanks for your recent review of Sam's Tours and your positive and constructive comments. I appreciate your suggestions re: "express dive" option and think it's a good idea which we'll seriously.consider. RE: Accommodating individuals. Points taken. We have recently become a member of the Quality Divers Network and are now observing a lower guide to diver ratio of 6 divers with one guide and will be configuring our boats to better accommodate groups of 6. This should help smooth out the logistics and provide improved service to those not traveling in a group. We appreciate your diving with Sam's Tours and thanks for your honest comments. We take them to heart and they will be applied as we constantly strive to improve our services. Regards, Sam's Tours Palau