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“Amazing Palau Diving with Sam's Tours”
Review of Sam's Tours Palau

Sam's Tours Palau
Ranked #1 of 19 Tours in Koror
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Sam's Tours, a PADI Five Star IDC Facility, is Palau's most award-winning dive center, eco-adventure tour company and home to Palau's newest, most luxurious liveaboard, the Palau Siren. Located in Malakal Harbor, Koror, Palau, we operate every day of the year, offering scuba dive trips, snorkel trips, rock island tours, land tours, sailing charters, Palau's top rated kayak trips with Planet Blue Kayak Tours and 7 and 10 day liveaboard trips to explore Palau's reefs and waterways.We provide a full range of guided tours and services that includes full day or half-day trips and customized private charters for individuals, families and groups. Complete value-packed hotel & tour packages are offered in conjunction with Palau's preferred hotel properties. Complimentary roundtrip shuttle service is provided daily to all Koror based hotels from early morning until late evening.Excellent customer care, personalized attention, and professional service have earned Sam's Tours recognition as Palau's premier tour and liveaboard service.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access, Lockers / storage
saskatoon
Level Contributor
16 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Amazing Palau Diving with Sam's Tours”
Reviewed March 31, 2014

My wife and I (+200 dives each) enjoyed outstanding diving in Palau with Sam's Tours over a 10 day period in March 2014. We saw sharks on almost every dive, mantas at German Channel, turtles, octopus, stingrays, napolean wrasse, bumphead parrots, titan triggerfish, giant clams, clownfish and many many more exotic fish and coral. All the while swimming in beautiful aquamarine water at 28 Celsius (82 F). The following is our personal list of pro's and cons:

Pros
- All the office staff we interacted with at Sam's were excellent. We were especially pleased with the service provided by Ashley and Jeremy.
- All the dive masters and boat captains we went with were also excellent. Joedyn and Matsu were especially good at pointing out interesting things to see.
- The BC's and Regs we rented were in like-new condition. Sam's allowed us to keep the same rental gear for the entire time we dove with them.
- Free nitrox
- Complimentary pick-ups and drop-offs at our hotel. We stayed at the Sea Passion hotel as part of our package with Sam's. It is a nice medium cost hotel located near Sam's.
- Tasty/filling lunches between dives, usually at a nice beach on one of the Rock Islands.
- A very good on-site restaurant/bar which provides free coffee.
- Lots of dive boats (about 10).
- secure gear storage between dive days.
- After our dive vacation was over they let us dry our wetsuits in the compressor room so that we didn't exceed our airline luggage weight limits.

Cons
- Although Sam's dive boats are fast and have good sun shades, the rides are long (30 to 60 minutes) and there is no protection from wind and rain. As far as we saw, all dive operators in Palau employ the same type of boats.
- Divers are rarely assigned to the same boat for more than a couple of days in a row and never get much of an opportunity to develop a rapport with individual dive masters.
- Sam's daily schedule does not include the dive site destinations. This is decided by the dive masters on each boat. As a result the more popular dive sites (Blue Corner and German Channel) are over dived while other just as good sites are under dived. We think Sam's needs a system which allows divers to sign up for the sites they want to go to.
- Sam's has begun surcharging for payment by credit card or paypal.
- Palau requires all divers to purchase a 10 day permit which covers only a part of the dive sites. Other areas require additional permits and if you intend to dive for more than 10 days you also have to purchase additional permits. Since divers tend to come on one or two weekly packages, we think it would benefit both the country and divers to offer permits covering all of Palau for the length of time each diver wants to dive.

Visited March 2014
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2 Thank CostaWatcher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Palau is absolutely AMAZING....and Sam's Tours is a great way to dive it!”
Reviewed March 29, 2014

Palau is without a doubt, beyond beautiful. Sam's Tours had a very efficient, well-run establishment to help you explore the underwater world. Their DM's are phenomenal. We mostly dove with Nathan who went above-and-beyond expectations by being not only the best underwater guide but was also very friendly and funny as well! Matsu is also so helpful underwater and a great personality to talk to above water. He has over 2000 dives in Palau under his belt! We also had Leon and Del who were also great... all the DM are very good at their jobs. The staff is phenomenal...they always picked up my crate and things so I wouldn't have to carry them from the shop to the boat etc. Everyone from the front desk receptionists to the drivers to the boat captains all made us feel very welcome and at home. and FREE ENRICHED AIR....who else offers that? Lunches were good, the drivers will take you anywhere on Koror you'd like to go after a dive, and the Bottom Time Bar and Grill is really good! we loved every second of this trip to Palau and we made the best choice with Sam's Tours. One tip though, they are very busy so I suggest making reservations. If you just drop in, you may not get a seat on the boat! see you guys soon, I will be back for sure!

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
Thank PBuiLiesl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saskatoon, Canada
Level Contributor
21 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Can't do again soon enough!”
Reviewed March 29, 2014

Let me start right off by admitting I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to diving ... about 115 dives in half a dozen or so countries ... but I've dived with some good operators and seen some amazing stuff. When it comes to diving, I suppose there MAY be somewhere that compares to Palau's reefs and undersea wildlife, but I've never been there. Our two week visit was too short!

When it comes to dive operators, I suppose I could say something negative about Sam's Tours, but I'd probably have to make it up; our experience with Sam's was absolutely first class. We didn't dive with all their dive guides so I don't know if all of them are as good as those we went out with but our experience was that their guides and boat operators are wonderful. That being said, when I go back I'll be asking to have Neil as my guide. What a prince! Absolutely as good as I've ever met. I can't say I found a favorite boat operator because the closest thing that I could come to as far as something negative about the tour is that the usual length of boat ride among the fabulous paradise of islands to most of the dive sites is about 45 minutes, so having a really good driver helps a lot in the sometimes choppy seas. We were never disappointed.

The 'Bottom Time' bar at their front door is a great place to visit and meet people from all over the world while enjoying some of the top notch local beer and bar food as good as I've seen anywhere, all of it as reasonably priced as anywhere and with great friendly service.

We stayed at the Palau Royale Resort which is almost right out Sam's front door (okay, about a 5 minute walk). This is probably the best resort hotel I've ever stayed at. Again, I could probably say something negative, but this time I'd just be lying.

What a great time! Can't do it again soon enough!

Visited February 2014
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Thank Don M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canada
Level Contributor
20 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Outstanding Dive Trip, Nov 2013”
Reviewed March 26, 2014

Slightly delayed review, but better late then never; this review is biased towards experienced divers.........sorry.

In Oct / Nov 2013 I chartered a day trip boat from Sam's for a group of 8 divers for ten days of diving over a two week period. This was my 4th trip to Palau, and each trip I have dived with Sam's operation. First off, I must say that if you can get a group of divers together (friends, a dive club, divers organized through the internet), this is absolutely the way to go. Overall the costs will work out approximately the same (depending on the deal you can strike), and the advantages are enormous. You can negotiate for three dives a day instead of two, you can depart before all the other boats in the morning, you can decide on which sites you want to dive, and you will most likely have the same captain / guide for the whole trip. It's make a remarkable difference in the quality of the experience. Staying at the Sea Passion Hotel also works out best, as it's only a 5 min boat ride / walk from Sams. If you would like more info on how I organized it or costs involved, please feel fee to contact me.

Our guide was Joedyn from the Philippines, and he is one of the original Sams Tours guides. He was superb, probably one of the best on the island. I would strongly recommend requesting a guide that has dived with Sams for a number of years, as it takes a few hundred dives in these waters to fully understand current flows and optimal tides, and this makes all the difference in the quality of the diving. The captain we had was Jeff, and he is from Palau and grew up on this very patch of ocean so to him it literally is his back yard. A highly competent guide & a knowledgeable captain is a powerful combo in Palau, and can open a lot of doors to great diving. Hats off to both these gentleman for the awesome experience they provided to our group.

As for the diving itself, Palau is still truly a remarkable place. You will still find a very healthy shark population here, as well as huge schools of fish, turtles and mantas if you are lucky. We saw dugong, dolphins & whales from the boat as well. The coral reefs are still in exceptional shape. The problem, however, is there are currently FAR too many boats operating in Palau. On a good (bad?) day you can easily find over a dozen boats dropping divers into the water all at once at the premier dive sites such as Blue Corner & German channel, and it's only a matter of time before these dive sites are destroyed. I have been diving for nearly 25 years, and I have seen it time and time again (Thailand or the Red Sea, for example); Palau is an absolute paradise, one of the most beautiful places on earth in my opinion, and for the life of my I don't understand why a government does not have the foresight to regulate and protect it for future generations for both divers & the peoples of Palau. Hopefully the realize this, before it's too late.

Anyway, I'll conclude by saying that in my opinion Sam's is by the far the best operation on the island. If you can, charter a boat for a group. You don't need to do a liveaboard here either, they all go to the same sites and it will cost you twice as much as a good charter package with Sams and a decent accommodation deal negotiated with the Sea Passion hotel. The owner/manager are a couple of good dudes, Sam & Dermot, and they are usually hanging around in the morning or afternoon and are very approachable if you have any concerns / issues. The sunset bar located right at the dive center has excellent, reasonably priced food, cold beer, great views and really friendly staff. You can run a tab here all work and square up when you leave, which is very convenient.

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
Thank DeepBlueDiver99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bozeman, Montana
Level Contributor
6 reviews
“Sam's Tour Diving”
Reviewed March 23, 2014

Thanks Daniel, Del, and Cameron of Sam's Tours for a great diving experience! The week on the Hammerhead was a blast! Hope to see you all again soon!

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
Thank Kim59730
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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