We found an amazing new dive shop and it is called Day Dream! I couldn't find them on TripAdvisor to write them a nice review, so I thought I'd highlight a few reasons why they rocked right here. Maybe someone Google searching the diving in Palau will stumble across this and be inspired to check them out. Or maybe this will give some of you ideas of what to look for in a dive shop.

Since we have befriended most of the staff at Sam’s Dive Tours, they have sort of turned into our default shop to dive with. Unfortunately, since they give us a local discount, they are also allowed to bump us from their boats if customers paying full price come along. When this happens we have to seek out different shops. We found a keeper last week and this is why.

1. Friendly Japanese Staff - Day Dream is owned and run by Japanese. Everyone is incredibly helpful and polite. I studied Japanese in high school and so was excited to brush up on some skills. Even if the only Japanese word you know is Konnichiwa though, don't let the language barrier scare you away. The guy who signed us up spoke proficient English and he sent out a Palawan guide with us who was trilingual in Japanese, English, and Palawan.

2. Choice of Big or Small Tanks - Most dive shops just give everyone the big tanks. Most Americans need those, or the even bigger tanks. If you’re small like me though, you will probably be ecstatic to carry something smaller and more streamlined that doesn’t bump into the backs of your knees when you kick.

3. Awesome Local Discount - When we signed up to dive, we were told that a day of diving would cost $60 each. We were thrilled as that is $10 cheaper than Sam’s charges us for two tanks. What we didn’t find out until later was that that $60 was the price for three tanks! What an awesome deal!

4. Cheap Lunch Option - To add lunch was an additional $6. We can definitely pack our own lunches for under that, but when we were presented with the menus, we found options of maybe fifteen or twenty different, nice-looking bento boxes. So we figured $6 might be worth saving ourselves the hassle. For $6 I got kimchi, two ume onigiri (pickled plum-stuffed rice balls), steamed veggies, grilled fish, pickled goya (bitter melon), and two pieces of fried chicken. As if that wasn't enough food, solo cups of miso soup were passed around to everyone! Even leaving out the fried chicken (I’m pescatarian) it was more food than I could eat. And if that particular bento box (option C on the menu) sounds like too much of a culinary adventure for a dive trip, there were bento box options with sandwiches too.

5. Amazing Boat - I think the Day Dream boat may be the nicest dive boat I’ve been on. Definitely the nicest one I’ve been on in Palau. It was two levels, the lower level for all the customers and then the captain’s area up top. Four benches lined the port and starboard sides. An additional tank area was at the stern of the boat for all the staff to set up. Benches in the middle concealed additional tank storage underneath. The bow area was enclosed and a dry area with additional seating. There was a head! (This was the first dive boat in Palau I’ve seen with a head). And a freshwater shower! Four different sections along the port and starboard opened up as exit points. With 15 other divers on the boat we never once felt crowded.

6. Staying Hydrated - Once we were all geared up, right before we entered the water on our first dive, a staff member came around and handed everyone half a cup of water. Such a smart idea.

7. Plan Your Dive and Dive Your Plan - Our guide told us at our first dive site that we would have a maximum depth of 20 meters and a maximum dive time of 40 minutes. He never once ventured a fraction of a meter deeper, and at 40 minutes on the dot we began our safety stop. This may sound fairly rigid, but from a professional standpoint, having worked on boats that were always running an hour late, I can appreciate the timelines. I also enjoyed the shorter dive time because I usually just spend the last 20 minutes of hour-long dives shivering anyway.

8. Hot Green Tea After Every Dive - As soon as we were back on the boat after every dive, cups of hot green tea were passed around. (The real deal too, not some sugar water from concentrate). I’ve been on boats with a hot water thermos and ground coffee or tea bags that you could mix yourself, but that requires shaking your gear off and actually putting forth the effort to mix yourself a hot beverage, by which point you’ve probably warmed up enough that you don’t even want it anymore. The hot tea in hand right away was a nice touch.

9. Hour-Long Surface Interval - An hour is a good amount of time for a surface interval. Two to three hours, like we’ve had elsewhere, can be relaxing but it is usually just way too long. I start wondering why we can’t cut it shorter and head back to the shop earlier and have the rest of the day free for more fun activities. Or cooking dinner. Or nap time.