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 & barracuda. MANTA RAYS & eagle rays ... then MORE MANTA RAYS ! Grand, picturesque NAPOLEON WRASSE & mysterious NAUTILUS. YAP: Reef diving, and more MANTA RAYS than conceivable. TRUK LAGOON : WRECK DIVING extradorinaire. For complete information visit our TRUK LAGOON / BIKINI ATOLL PAGE
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.
PALAU & YAP RESORTS
YAP: MANTAS, MANTAS AND MORE MANTAS
Finally, a note on Yap, which is an alluring 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.
The mantas are there all year and willingly interact with visitory. You'll have close and thrilling encounters with these angels of the ocean.
In addition, with almost 100 miles of barrier reef, several big channels and lagoon sites, you have more to see than just the mantas. You'll find miles of outer reef wall diving, deep and shallow channels to drift as well as inner lagoon macro delights and night diving. Plus, grey reef sharks and both black & white tip reef sharks can see seen on nearly every dive and on occasion, you may be lucky enough to encounter tigers, silkies or silvertips.
CONSIDER COMBINING 2 OR 3 OF THESE COMPELLING OPTIONS ...
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. . . .
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.
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. You can see complete details of Truck diving here: Visit ourt Truk Lagoon page
The 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).