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Unmissable Micronesia Wrecks

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Micronesia scuba diving has everything a diver could wish for; from thriving reefs to coral-encrusted WWII wrecks, plenty of large marine life and tiny colourful critters. Palau and Truk Lagoon are the places to go if you’re a fan of wreck diving, with numerous wrecks on offer.

There are a variety of liveaboards to choose from at both destinations. The beautiful Palau Siren is an understandably popular choice with its luxurious accommodation. The SS Thorfinn is great for technical divers and has two special technical diving packages; the Rebreather Plan and Truk Tek Unlimited.

Truk lagoon can be dived all year, thanks to its sheltered nature, and Palau has three main diving seasons:

  • 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

Here is our pick of the top Micronesia wrecks to explore:

PALAU

 

Palau is one of Micronesia’s main dive destinations and there is something for all interests; with reef dives, drop-offs, drift dives, caves and multiple wrecks to explore. It is best to visit Palau as an advanced diver, with drift and wreck diving experience, to make the most of the dive sites.

IRO MARU

What is it?

This Japanese Navy oiler sank in 1944 and is 143 meters long, with the deck at 25 meters below the surface.

Why dive this wreck?

The Iro Maru is an impressive sight, still sitting upright and giving a complete view of the ship. The deck is covered with clams, oysters and critters and the ship is home to plentiful corals, including black coral trees. There are numerous fish and an array of WWII artifacts, including some live ammunition – so be sure not to touch anything on the wreck. There are two large guns; one on the stern and the other on the bow.

Who is this wreck suitable for?

The Iro Maru sits in an area with no currents, making it easily accessible, and it is within recreational dive limits. Wreck penetration is possible at this wreck.

AMATSU MARU

What is it?

This oil tanker came into service just 4 months before being sunk. She is the largest shipwreck in Palau, with a total length of 159 meters.

Why dive this wreck?

This huge shipwreck is also known as the Black Coral Wreck, as the hull is covered in black coral trees. This unique sight is great for photography. The interior still has electrical and radio equipment and you can see damage on the stern from the explosions that sunk it.

Who is this wreck suitable for?

The Amatsu Maru lies at 40 meters depth, with the deck at 30 meters, and is best suited to advanced divers. Wreck penetration is possible.

JAKE SEAPLANE

What is it?

The Jake Seaplane is one of the most well-known wrecks and was only discovered in 1994, by a fisherman who spotted it from the surface. It is a WWII Navy Seaplane and is 11 meters long.

Why dive this wreck?

The Jake Seaplane sits upright on a coral head and is mostly intact. The wreck is covered in corals, and there are plenty of coral species to spot on the wreck and in the surrounding area.

Who is this wreck suitable for?

Sitting upright at around 15 meters depth, the Jake Seaplane is easily accessible and suitable for less experienced divers.

TRUK

Truk Lagoon is known for having more than 48 wreck diving sites and waters up to 100 meters deep. It is one of the best places for wreck diving and offers great opportunities for recreational and technical diving amongst World War II wrecks.

FUJIKAWA MARU

What is it?

This cargo and passenger ship had been sent to Truk lagoon for repairs in 1944 when it was caught up in Operation Hailstone and sunk after being hit by a torpedo. It is one of the most popular wreck dives in the area and she is 133 meters long.

Why dive this wreck?

This is another impressive wreck, with the boat sitting upright, and the outside of the wreck covered in corals and sponges. There is a large bow gun and two fighter aircrafts, and the engine room and tool rooms are a must. You can find many artefacts on this wreck, including artillery. Keep your eyes open for large schools of jacks and barracuda, plus grey reef sharks, whilst you dive there.

Who is this wreck suitable for?

The depth range of 5 to 35 meters, with the deck at 18 meters, makes the Fujikawa Maru ideal for all dive experience levels.

SANKISAN MARU

What is it?

This 112-meter Japanese army cargo ship was strafed, leading to a fire and explosions that ripped the ship apart. There is a huge 152-meter diameter crater with large metal sections lying around.

Why dive this wreck?

This is a great open wreck where you can see holds filled with machine gun and rifle shells, plus truck frames, aircraft engines and propellers. The aft is missing but the stern sits upright 100 meters away from the rest of the ship. The mast rising to the surface is covered in corals and there is also plenty of coral cover on the deck. It offers some of the best soft coral cover in the lagoon.

Who is this wreck suitable for?

The average depth is 24 meters, with a maximum depth of 27 meters, making this wreck suitable for advanced divers.

SAN FRANCISCO MARU

What is it?

This passenger cargo ship is Truk’s most famous deep dive, lying at a depth of around 63 meters.

Why dive this wreck?

The San Francisco Maru contains mines, bombs, tanks and trucks. She is a popular choice in the 40 to 60-meter (131 to 196 feet) depth range and the four cargo holds contain aircraft bombs, artillery shells, tanker trucks, a flatbed truck, and torpedo warheads.

Who is this wreck suitable for?

This wreck is a favourite among technical divers.

SHINKOKU MARU

What is it?

The Shinkoku Maru is around 152 meters long and was originally built as an oil tanker, later converted to a fleet oiler. She survived two days of attacks and two aerial torpedo strikes, until finally sinking.

Why dive this wreck?

This wreck is fantastic for night diving and has plentiful soft corals and hydroids that emerge after dark. This is one of the most colourful wrecks in Truk and truly comes alive at night. You can see into the engine room from the bridge and the galley still holds many utensils on the stove. The medical bay and huge engines are not to be missed.

Who is this wreck suitable for?

The depth range of 10 to 38 meters makes this wreck suitable for a variety of dive experience levels.

This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAboard.com

Photo Credits: SS Thorfinn Liveaboard


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TRAVEL BLOG: Jeff Goodman Dives SOMABAY, Part 2

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Day three of my trip to Somabay and we were spending the day on the Lady Christina and diving on the wreck of the Salem Express.

somabay

Diving wrecks for me is always one of mixed emotions. The excitement of diving a wreck is more than often tempered by the thought of loss of life when she sank. The Salem Express was a passenger ship and a roll-on/roll-off ferry travelling from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Safaga, Egypt. Most passengers were of poor class travelling home from their holidays while around 150 people were returning home from their pilgrimage to Mecca.

somabay

The ship struck a reef and sank within 20 minutes. Passengers were trapped below deck and the ship was filled with fear and panic.

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The wreck area is strewn with personal belongings from the crew and passengers such as a transistor radio and a flat iron for clothes. A diver at sometime has put them in a prominent place to be seen.

somabay

Tragically only one life boat was launched while the others went down with the ship. More than 600 men, women and children lost their lives here.

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It’s a stark reminder that the sea can be unforgiving and so when we dive on such wrecks we should do so with humble regard.

Returning to the surface, shoals of fish are gathered under our boat and seem to be welcoming us back into the light.

somabay

Back at the Breakers I sat in the dining area with a beer and a very good meal while my thoughts still remained with the day’s dive on the Salem Express.

Check in for part 3 tomorrow for Jeff’s last day of diving with Somabay on the off-shore reefs looking for turtles.

Book your next Red Sea dive adventure with SOMABAY! For more information, visit www.somabay.com.

Stay at the Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge when you visit! For more information, visit  www.thebreakers-somabay.com.

Find out more about ORCA Dive Clubs at SOMABAY at www.orca-diveclubs.com/en/soma-bay-en.

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Blogs

TRAVEL BLOG: Jeff Goodman Dives SOMABAY, Part 1

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somabay

For a week at the end of February I was invited to sample the diving with Orca Dive Club based at the Breakers Diving and Surfing Lodge by courtesy of SOMABAY.

Somabay covers an entire peninsula and is home to several resorts as well as residential  compounds. Somabay caters for scuba diving as well as many other sports, including windsurfing, golf, sailing, go-carting, horse riding and many other activities.

All the activities are of a world-class standard and any or all of these can be booked directly from The Breakers.

somabay

I took Easyjet from Bristol (UK) to Hurghada. Easyjet are not by any means my favourite airline but the flight was cheap and direct (except for the surprise extra £48 I was charged at the gate for my carry-on bag).

I was met at Hurghada airport by a driver and car and taken to the Breakers 28 miles (45Kilomaters) south along the coast. Once at the hotel I was too late for an evening meal and so a basic meal was delivered to my room. That and a beer from the fridge and I was fast asleep.

Early the next morning after breakfast I arrived for my rep meeting at the Orca Dive Center for 8.00am. I was immediately made to feel welcome, and after brief introductions I got some dive gear from the store, had a chat with my dive guide Mohamed and got ready to try the house reef situated at the end of a very long wooded pier where all diving gear and divers are taken out by buggies.

somabay

Once at the end of the pier, a helping hand from staff makes sure your gear is set and then it’s a short walk to the very end where you can either climb down a ladder of simply jump in the water  next to the reef. The house reef extends both north and south giving a very easy and safe dive with plenty to see. At this time of the year the water temperature was a constant 22 degrees Centigrade and there was little or no current, so there were no issues in swimming back to the pier.

somabay

Quite a few divers were in dry or semi-dry suits, but being from the UK and used to the cold I found a 3mm wetsuit with a 3mm neoprene vest quite comfortable. Even after 50 years of diving I still find that first dive of a trip slightly nerving until I am actually underwater and then all becomes relaxed and I ease into auto diving mode. There was plenty to see with many of the Red Sea favourites along the way.

somabay

After the dive and a buggy ride back to the hotel for a very good buffet lunch I was back in the water, once again on the house reef for an afternoon dive.

somabay

Check in for part 2 tomorrow when Jeff gets on a day boat and dives a few of the off-shore reefs.

Book your next Red Sea dive adventure with SOMABAY! For more information, visit www.somabay.com.

Stay at the Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge when you visit! For more information, visit  www.thebreakers-somabay.com.

Find out more about ORCA Dive Clubs at SOMABAY at www.orca-diveclubs.com/en/soma-bay-en.

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