Palau jellyfish over coral shutterstock 134778266 opt

pen ink well goldA note from Dom  ...  Mesmerizing Micronesia ... & Bikini Atoll  

Prior to my first visit to Micronesia, I was looking forward to it, but wasn't really super-charged.  Well, that sure changed once I was in the water !   I have to tell you that Micronesia really does have something for nearly every diver.   The pelagic encounters are as good as it gets, with the alluring & ever-present manta rays being the most generally treasured & I can assure you, for good reason!               read more

The corals are smashing - both the hard and soft varieties. The wreck diving in Truk Lagoon is nothing less than spectacular & humbling at the same time.  And Yap?  Well, I'm mad about Yap.   The manta encounters are other-worldly and the island itself ... with its huge money-stones ... is culturally fascinating.

This archipelago is nearly as vast as Indonesia and is blessed with much of the same underwater diversity and excitement - and like Indonesia, there is a great variety of top quality liveaboards & resorts which provide exciting diving for the experienced diver and underwater photographer.

Personally, I came away from that first experience in Micronesia a total convert and ready to encourage divers that whatever their preference, the wide variety of diving opportunities, excellent liveaboards and equally excellent resort options, should place this destination very high on a list of preferred lifetime options.

If you're interested in putting together a combination of 2 or 3 of the destinations (which is what I did on my first trip) just let me know.  I'd be pleased to help with the details.

In addition, the Truk Master will now be making an annual trek over to the neighboring Marshall Islands to visit Bikini Atoll, adding new and stirring wreck dives to her repertoire.  If you're a wreck aficionado I can't recommend this option highly enough!   Available spaces are listed under Truk Lagoon on our Live Search.  See May to September 2018.

Check it all out here on our Micronesia page and when you're ready to hear more, I'm an email away and will respond to your request with any additional details that you wish.     Cheers, Dom


Palau Islands w coral reefs

globe th CopyThe Federated States of Micronesia, includes the diving havens of Palau, Truk & Yap, covering roughly 3 million square miles.   East of the Philippines & north of Indonesia, the islands are small, rocky & largely uninhabitable, but richly forested, many with dazzling white sand beaches.   Palau itself is composed of about 250 mostly-uninhabited islands, which are ringed by a single barrier reef.   Truk Lagoon (Chuuk) consists of 11 main islands, plus 87 smaller ones within the lagoon & on the fringing coral reef.   The lagoon is very protected, which is what made it an ideal setting for the Japanese navy in WWII.   Yap has four large islands & numerous small ones, surrounded by coral reefs, with an area of only 46 square miles (119 square kilometers).

Micronesia diving  ...  in brief

  • in Palau .... walls cloaked with luxurious multi-hued corals & immense sea fans
  • channels, tunnels, holes, caves & caverns and sensational drift dives
  • currents which attract sharks, rays & huge schools of jacks & barracudas
  • manta rays & eagle rays ... then more manta rays ... plus grand, picturesque Napoleon wrasse & mysterious nautilus
  • the inimitable & renowned Jelly Fish Lake
  • in Truk Lagoon ... an entire WWII Japanese fleet scuttled by the US in 1944, more than 42 wrecks at "diveable" depths
  • in Yap .... reef diving, caverns and swim-throughs & more manta rays than the imagination can conjure up

And now, Bikini Atoll has joined the party - for tech divers - with it's incredible fleet of wrecks.  While not specifically in Micronesia, it's close enough for the Truk Master to include in it's itineraries.  See the details below ....

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Palau:  drift dives, rousing pelagic action, walls, drop-offs & diversity

The first thing we'd like to note, which speaks to the character of this island nation, is that the world's first shark sanctuary was declared in Palau in 2009.  It was only after that action that other nations begans to follow suit.

Situated where she is in a triangle with Indonesia and the Philippines, it comes as no surprise that splendid corals are one of Palau's greatest claims to fame - along with tremendous marine diversity.   Add to that fantastic pelagic action and the thrill of manta interaction ... along with heart-thumping drift dives, mammoth walls and drop-offs and you have great diving.

Palau offers world-class land-based and live-aboard options: the Palau Pacific Resort has always been our favorite deluxe resort, while the liveaboards in this destination are second to none.  Interestingly, unlike most destinations we discuss on this site, Palau is one of the few where land-based diving can equal liveaboard diving.

Getting to Palau requires a long journey for most divers which leads us to the next point.  In this area you have three fabulous places to dive ... and in our opinion, it's well worth considering a bit of extra time to dive Truk (and perhaps Yap) on the same voyage.

Truk Lagoon: stirring experiences, indelible memories

There are times you may be lucky enough to get from Palau to Truk (Chuuk) to board your 2nd liveaboard on a boat the same day you leave Palau  .... for an unforgettable wreck diving experience.   Other times, you'll have a day or two between liveaboard trips ... with great places to stay and dive.

The fascinating Truk Lagoon is famous in large part due to its prominent place in WWII history, as the American attacks here on the Japanese forces were a virtual Pearl Harbor in reverse.   The wreck diving here is amongst the most stirring experiences a diver can have.

For your diving support you have 3 excellent options to choose from: the Truk Odyssey liveaboard is still regarded as one of the best there is anywhere in the world & has just undergone some major work; the always popular Thorfinn is back from the yard after undergoing a major refit;  and the beautiful Truk Master will be joining the group in 2016.

Yap: mantas, mantas and more mantas

Finally, a note on Yap, which is often an add-on destination for divers who visit Palau and/or Turk and who dream of extraordinary encounters with magnificent manta rays.

Yap is an island that has managed to carefully maintain its fascinating cultural heritage and the man who supports that more than any other is Bill Acker of the superb land based Manta Ray Bay Hotel.

The hotel is top-notch, Bill is a master ... and the entire operation is strongly recommended.

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands

This is an incredibly exciting addition to diving in this remote part of the world.   Regular trips on the Truk Master will start from May 2018 with a choice of 10 and 11 night trips with a maximum of 11 guests per cruise.  Technical diving supported.

Bikini Atoll is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which covers nearly 1 million square miles of idyllic emerald-green coral atolls, surrounded by the crystal-blue waters of the Pacific.  It was declared the first UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010.

This is a one of a kind diving paradise, as it features not only beautiful reefs, corals and wonderful marine life, but above all, it is the final resting place for some of the most significant warships in history.

Bikini Lagoon was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for the Marshall archipelago and is undisputedly ranked first on any serious wreck divers’ bucket-list. You will be able to dive  a unique collection of historic battleships, cruisers, as well as the world famous USS Saratoga aircraft carrier with its 270m (888ft.) flight deck.

Most wrecks in Bikini Atoll are located beyond recreational diving maximum depths; therefore technical diving skills and wreck experience are required.

Available spaces are listed under Truk Lagoon on our Live Search.  See May to September 2018.

Consider combining 2 or 3 of these impelling options ...

Palau Soft Pastel Corals Palau  ...  corals & critters, sharks & mantas
OK.  Let's start with this.  It's rumored the Ngemelis Drop Off in Palau was considered by Jacques Cousteau to be the finest he'd ever experienced.  This wall, which is "crawling" with sponges, whip corals, sea fans, anemones and other soft coral species crashes 300 metres virtually straight down ... read more ...

Needless to say, the fish attracted to this behemoth wall tend to be as colorful and dramatic as the wall itself.  

Clearly the best-known feature above the water line has to be the Rock Islands, so let's look at the diving around there.  Coral gardens galore, yes, but with countless drop-offs, caves, swim-throughs, blue holes, marine lakes and even wartime wrecks make thrilling entries in your dive log.  

On the barrier reef that circles the area, many of the drop-offs, such as those around Ngemelis Island, reach 300 metres. Here you'll find wall dives and drift dives and more Kodak photo opportunities than you can count.  The currents here can be swift and sweeping, but they bring the excitement of big schools of fish and pelagics, including tons of jacks, turtles, sharks, manta rays.

You'll also find areas where the currents are quiet and you'll have lovely slow drifts where you can dawdle to your heart's content, examining the life on the walls and in the surrounding waters.

Big Drop Off brings more corals, gorgonians and whips with plentiful smaller creatures for photographers, plus snappers, turtles, fusiliers and if you're really lucky, the occasional hammerhead & Blue Marlin. 

The area known as Blue Holes is probably as fascinating as anything you'll ever find underwater.   The 4 holes merge into one enormous cavern filled with sparkling clear water and remarkably unusual fish and critters.  Coming out of the Holes you can forge your way to the head-spinning Blue Corner, where currents and upwellings require that you hook onto the wall and wait for the show.  Swirling around here you'll find hose-eye jacks, giant trevally, grey reef sharks, mantas and more black snappers than you can count. It's a free-for-all and you'll regret the moment you have to unhook and swim on to tamer waters.

There's so much more, but we hope this description provides inspiration.  Remember, you can easily connect your trip to Palau with an extension to Yap or Truk Lagoon, or both, so do read on below. . . .

Truk Japanese warplane Truk ...  chilling remains of WWII
The waters of Truk hold the remains of the Japanese fleet hit by Operation Hailstone in February 1944.   The beauty that Nature has placed on these wartime gravesites is unforgettable.  The sadness & horror of war cannot be wiped away, but it has been softened by time and the historical significance of these sites is worth the effort of the trip ... read more ...

In addition, Truk offers some great reef diving, particularly on the outer walls of the lagoon, with drop-offs and passes and tons of fish life in crystal clear waters.

There are so many wrecks to dive that we'll only mention a few.   Let's start with the San Francisco Maru freighter, which is a very deep dive, but if you brave it, you'll find the remains of Toyota and Isuzu trucks, three Japanese light tanks, a high velocity anti-aircraft gun and a staff car.   The Sankisan Maru freighter is a much easier dive for most divers, located at only 24 meters.   She's sitting fully upright on a slope, covered with beautiful corals, oysters, sea squirts, tube sponges and lots of dazzling damselfish.

At only 15 meters below the surface, one of the most popular wreck dives is on the Fujikawa Maru.   With much of her bow end surprisingly intact, she's an impressive wreck covered with sea fans and soft corals, and provides a home to a number of large Napoleon Wrasse, as well as being a cleaning station.    For all of you intrepid adventurers, you can swim into the hull, and down a couple of decks where you'll find four Japanese fighter planes.

Marshall Islands propeller shutterstock 444952282 optBikini Atoll, Marshall Islands ...  the aftermath of testing The Bomb
More than 60 years on from the destructive bombing of this atoll ... and the displacement of its population .... the shipwrecks remain unequivacobly impressive, the horror having been softened a bit over time by the many kinds of corals and species of fish which have taken up residence. ... read more ...

The signature dive of Bikini Lagoon: the USS Saratoga CV-3. This 270 metres (888 feet) long and 29 metres (95 feet) wide American aircraft carrier which rests  at a depth of 52 meters. Her bridge is easily accessible at 18 metres depth, her flight deck at 28 metres, and the hanger for the Helldivers at 32 metres. These Helldivers and bombs are still on display complete with all dials and controls.

In addition to the Saratoga, you'll find a battleship, a couple of destroyers, two submarines, a dreadnought, an attack support boat (all American vessels) plus a Japanese Agano-class light cruiser and a German heavy cruiser.   And, you'll be surprised by the life in these waters .... plenty of sharks, beautiful coral life and plenty of fish.  If you're a tech and wreck diver this is a destination to add to your wish list !

Manta Bubbles Sun Yap  ... mantas, mantas, mantas
Most famous for her Manta Ray encounters, Yap also boasts great coral gardens, critters and caves. Roughly 300 miles from Palau to the northeast, Yap's culture & traditions are perhaps as interesting as her underwater world ... read more ...

I suppose that every divers first inclination is to visit Manta Ridge where the Mantas congregate nearly every day in large numbers, in incredibly clear waters.  Crossing a deep channel is a coral bridge that brings the animals in. 

You'll find mantas here measuring as much as 5 meters in breadth (15 feet +).  As they "fly" in, the remarkable Cleaner Wrasse get ready to begin their task of removing parasites from the Manta bodies.   Astounding to observe.

In addition to the grace and majesty of the Mantas, however, you won't want to miss the dramatic wall-dives.  One of the most popular is Lionfish Wall, home to an immense community of these ethereal creatures.  

At Yap Caverns you'll have fabulous formations - caves & tunnels & passages - to swim through and around, all surrounded by vertical corals.   Then there's M'il Channel where drift diving is the thing, amongst sharks, trevallies, turtles, eagle rays and, of course, more Mantas.

Micronesia / Bikini map ... zoom & click the markers for airports, departure points & diving