Micronesia is made up of more than 2000 forest-covered islands in the Western Pacific Ocean and is a world-class scuba destination offering varied diving, white sand beaches and turquoise waters. It is a picture-perfect paradise with two main diving destinations. June and September are particularly great times to visit; making the most of quiet dive sites and the lowest prices.
PALAU MARINE LIFE
Palau is one of Micronesia’s main diving destinations and is made up of more than 250 islands. It is best explored by Palau liveaboard diving to experience the numerous dive sites and abundant marine life on offer. The dives sites of Palau have flourishing reefs with over 1300 species of fish and 700 species of corals. There are plentiful sea fans, sponges and critters, plus wahoos, Napoleon wrasse and Mandarin fish. Larger marine life in the area includes green turtles, Hawksbill turtles, grey reef, zebra and whitetip reef sharks.
PALAU DIVE SITES
The dive sites of Palau provide something for all interests, with reef dives, drop-offs, drift dives, caves and wreck dives. There are multiple wrecks and numerous World War II artefacts to experience at Palau.
Blue Corner is a natural corner in the sea that borders the deep ocean and is known as one of the best dive sites in Palau. The deep diving at Blue Corner is exciting, with changeable currents and visibility. The reef has numerous soft and hard corals and abundant schools of fish. There is a sea wall at 10 meters (32 feet) depth that drops all the way down to 330 meters (1082 feet) and the wall is covered in coral and sea fans. A plateau at 12 to 20 meters (39 to 65 feet) has numerous cabbage corals. Divers can enjoy jacks, barracudas, snappers and the Palau Napoleon wrasse. Sharks, eagle rays, wahoos, giant groupers, green and hawksbill turtles are also seen regularly. Being used to divers, these species come close and are perfect for underwater photography.
This channel was created in the 1900s when the Germans needed to transport phosphorous from the lagoon out into the open ocean and it is now a popular dive site. The channel itself has extremely swift currents but the dive site is at the southwest mouth and is one of the best dive sites for experiencing manta rays. There are manta ray cleaning stations to enjoy and other marine life includes schools of blacktip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, barracuda and numerous tropical fish.
Whilst this lake isn’t technically a dive site, it is well worth experiencing and offers the chance to swim and snorkel with millions of Golden jellyfish. This isolated lake was formed in the ice age and the jellyfish no longer have stingers as they don’t have any predators. As well as swimming in the lake, visitors can enjoy hiking and spend time relaxing at this remote and peaceful island.
Iro Maru Wreck
The Iro Maru is one of the many wrecks of Palau and is very well-known amongst divers. This Japanese Navy oiler sank in 1944 and lies in an area with no currents, sitting upright and offering a full view of the ship to those who dive it. It is a huge 143 meters (470 ft) long and the deck is at 25 meters (85 ft) below the surface. Structures, such as guns and king posts, can still be seen and it is important not to touch anything on the wreck, as some of the ammunition is still live. Wreck penetration is possible at the Iro Maru.
The wreck has been populated by a variety of corals including mushroom, staghorn, brain and lettuce corals. There are also black corals growing on the wreck. The deck is covered with clams and oysters and there are numerous critters, including plenty of nudibranchs. The wreck is surrounded by schools of fish and there are many World War II artefacts to see.
This is great dive site for beginners, with a sandy floor at 13 meters (42 feet) and slopes down to 20 meters (65 ft). Divers can enjoy seeing batfish, groupers, stingrays, grey reef sharks and titan triggerfish. The channel is shallow and there are coral bommies to explore and a variety of corals at the channel entrance.
The Big Drop Off
This 285 meter (935 ft) drop-off is a spectacular wall dive. The shallow waters are populated by reef fish, Gorgonian fans, leather corals and purple soft corals. Divers can also see nurse, zebra, whitetip and grey reef sharks during a dive here, plus nudibranchs and leaf fish. This wall can be dived from either end depending on the currents.
The Chandelier Caves system is made up of 5 caverns connected by cave channels. It is known for the stalagmites and stalactite formations that resemble sparkling chandeliers when torches are shined upon them. Four of the five caves are filled with water and have air pockets, making it possible to scuba dive these caves.
It is pitch black in the caves and divers need to bring a torch and be comfortable cave diving. There are schools of sergeant and cardinal fish at the entrance to the caves and divers may also see Mandarin fish. The visibility can be excellent but the floor is silty, so divers need to take care when finning.
WHEN TO DIVE PALAU
There are three main seasons for Palau:
- The high season from December to March, offering flat seas and dry weather
- The shoulder months of April, July, August, October and November, when there is more wind and rainfall
- The low months of May, June and September which offer fewer visitors and the lowest prices
The water visibility can reach up to 40 meters (131 ft), though it can drop to 15 to 20 meters (49 to 65 ft) during July to September. The water temperature is usually warm, at around 28 to 29 °C (82 to 84 °F).
The beautiful S/Y Palau Siren offers year-round safaris to explore Palau and also has special new moon trips to witness the spectacle of spawning bumphead parrotfish.
EXPERIENCE LEVEL TO DIVE PALAU
There are options for new divers, but it is best to visit as an advanced diver to make the most of Palau. Wreck and drift diving experience are helpful and are sometimes required to dive certain sites.
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