WHERE ARE WE GOING?
Today we are diving in Palau, Micronesia, a country that is made up of 600 islands spread across the Pacific Ocean.
HOW DO WE GET THERE?
To get to Palau, you need to fly into Koror airport. From there it’s about a 30-minute drive to “town”. Most Liveaboards will arrange to pick you up from the airport. For shorter dive trips, you may need to arrange your own transport or ask for an added transfer with your dive operator.
Flights to and from Koror are pretty expensive, with direct flights from Taiwan, Seoul, and Manila. Manila only has flights coming in 2 times per week so you will need to be aware of this when scheduling your trip. A round trip flight from Manila is around 1,000 USD.
WHY ARE WE DIVING IN PALAU?
Diving in Palau is known for current hook diving, sharks and manta cleaning stations, and pristine coral. There is a seasonal aggregation and spawning of red snappers (every full moon), bumped parrotfish (every new moon), Moorish idols and Orange spined unicornfish (January and February). Fish life is by the hundreds, sometimes thousands!
There are also a lot of Japanese shipwrecks from World War 2. With a lot of historical significance with the country belonging to Japan during WW1, then taken by the USA during WW2. There is recent independence, and a previous occupation by Germany as well. This area has a lot of history that is not very well-known.
Palau’s Rock Islands were listed as a World Heritage Site in 2012 by UNESCO. This includes an amazing 445 islands of volcanic origin which is what encourages the unique reef system.
In 2009 Palau also launched the first Shark Sanctuary which encourages the fight against the shark fin trade.
WHICH DIVE SITES ARE MUST-SEE?
Blue Corner, Siaes Corner, Big Drop off, Peleliu express, Peleliu cut: These dives are ‘reef hook’ dives with strong currents. There are lots of sharks relaxing in the current. The average depth is 18 meters. Max depths see some walls go down to 200+ meters.
German Channel: Manta and shark cleaning station. Mainly dive on incoming current. Sometimes get the mantas feeding in the blue, barrel rolls and all. Max depth: 20 meters.
Blue Holes, Siaes Tunnel, Turtle cove: Tunnels in the reef wall. Max depth 30-35 meters. Very pretty architecturally, can spot various macro and electric clam. Usually ends on a wall dive with the current.
Jake Seaplane: WW2 Japanese seaplane wreck. Shallow at a max. of 12 meters. Iconic. Also accessible for snorkelers.
Iro wreck: WW2 cargo boat wreck. Max depth 40 meters. Historical significance, and very well preserved. For divers who are certified to penetrate the wreck, you can spot beds, toilets and a bathtub inside.
TELL ME MORE
There are 10 liveaboard companies in Palau. Most dive sites are around a 10-20 minute skiff ride from the liveaboard.
You can also dive with dive shops on land that do day trips, but you will go to very crowded dive sites. These dive sites are often the same most days and will need to spend all day on a small speed boat and travel over 1 hour to get to the good spots. A liveaboard is our recommendation!
DO I NEED ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT?
The water temperature here is 27 to 29° Celcius / 80.6 to 84.2° F during the open season. A 3mm wetsuit is great, but some people will go with just a rash guard or even a 5mm wetsuit. This will depend on your comfort level.
We suggest bringing a reef hook and torch. The hook is very handy in stronger currents, and a torch is great for spotting critters.
Be aware that gloves are illegal here.
WHAT LEVEL CERTIFICATION SHOULD I BE?
AOW / Advanced level with over 50 dives is better. Some diving can be challenging with strong currents.
WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS?
- Often 20+ meter visibility
- Water temperature between 26 and 29° C. Can have fairly cold thermocline currents down to 21° C. But rarely.
- Generally current and reef hook diving
- Good season from November till April.
HOW MUCH WILL I SPEND?
Diving here is quite expensive. Liveaboards are generally around 3,000-4,000 USD for 7 days which includes 20 dives.
Day trips will run you around 70 – 80 USD per dive, with most trips being 3 dives.
Courses are quite expensive too.
WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION IS AVAILABLE?
If you are not staying on the liveaboard, you will stay in hotels with an of average of 100 USD per night.
WHERE DID YOU STAY?
I work on a boat and live on the boat!
DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Diving here is pristine and amazing. Great visibility and the coral is in fantastic health. There is abundant life, lots of sharks, mantas. Not a good place for macro though. If you time your dives with the full moon or new moon you will get some amazing aggregations and spawning.
Not a great place to get your beginner certification as it is quite expensive and you will enjoy the dives here much more with more experience. You can choose a place like Gili Air to get your certification and training before embarking on your Palau adventure!
Absolutely recommend it for experienced fun-divers looking for somewhere a bit off the beaten track!
WHAT DO WE DO ON SURFACE INTERVALS?
There is a local market every Friday. There are some cool land tours you can do: waterfalls, ATV, etc. There is no shopping and not much nightlife to speak of. This is all diving. There are lots of Chinese food restaurants and Chinese massage places.
Palau has a predominant Chinese, Korean and Japanese clientele due to its proximity and the flight schedules.