My wife and I had the pleasure of diving with PDA in late March 2013. We took a bit of a chance going with a startup shop, but soon realized this was the best way to dive Palau.
What initially drew us to PDA was the idea that at most there would be 10 divers on board. My wife and I have done a fair amount of diving, but we find that our most enjoyable dives have come with a smaller crowd and an attentive dive guide. PDA provided the small group feel we were looking for, and a top notch diving staff. As another reviewer stated, there were some minor glitches with administrative stuff on day one, but once we got started everything went smoothly, and their customer service was off the charts.
Our dive guide, Jason, has many skills, and I think I came to appreciate them more as the week went along. Jason truly understands the tides and currents and really sets the dives up for success. For example, he suggested that we take an extra long lunch one day to make sure that we hit the current at the best time for our 2nd time diving Ulong channel. Jason also did a great job of keeping us out of the way of the large groups of divers, while still hitting all the big dive sites like the Blue Corner, Blue Holes, and Ulong Channel. With the boat picking us up on the dock at PPR, we were able to get out to most sites before the crowds. Jason also seemed incredibly adept at locating excellent hook-in spots even if there were large groups of divers already there. Jaywin was very attentive both above and below water. My wife and I had never done reef hook diving, and were quite nervous before our first time. Jaywin made sure that we felt safe, and helped us the first couple times. By the end of the week, we were very comfortable hooking-in ourselves.
Another clear advantage of going with PDA was the worry-free storage of our gear. At the end of each day we were dropped off at PPR, and then Jason and Jaywin headed back to the shop to rinse our gear and store it. It was so nice to not have a wetsuit hanging in our hotel bathroom each night, and made it much quicker to get out to the first dive site the next morning.
Safety was always the top priority of the dive briefings. We clearly understood where we were going, what we were seeing, and what to look out for. We felt completely comfortable with the pace we dove at, and it was nice to know that Jason and Jaywin were always there if you needed them.
We had a great boat captain, Mitch, who was excellent at navigating the islands and selecting the pre- and post-dive music. The food was some of the best we’ve ever had diving, and the water bottles were an added bonus.
My wife would say I’m cheap, but I like to think that I try to find good value. While PDA is slightly more expensive than other dive operators, I think they provide much greater value. Customer service was excellent, and the small boat made it feel as if we were planning our own dive week. The staff provided excellent recommendations for restaurants, and even provided transportation services on land. I would highly recommend Palau Dive Adventures.
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