Diving in Palau

DIVING

Where divers can have it all, Palau is and will be a destination for those who want to experience the wild side of nature, one of the most amazing adventures you will find underwater today. The archipelago’s oceanic realm is home to about 400 reef-building hard corals and 150 species of soft corals, gorgonians, and sea pens. Reef fishes in Palau are also far more diverse than those in neighboring Micronesian islands – at least 1450 species. Favorites of divers, the napoleon wrasse and bumphead parrot fish are protected species here. For shark fans, there are seventeen species of sharks that thrive in the waters that were named the World’s First Shark Sanctuary in 2009.

See-through waters bequeath underwater visibility beyond anyone’s imagination. So much so that from the shoreline, a boat fifty meters beyond creates the magical illusion that it floats merely on air, with its conspicuous shadow cast on a translucent seabed a few feet beneath.  Visibility is good year-round, but can be affected by tide, wind, and weather.

A prism of colorful coral reefs and virtually limitless variety of sea life set the stage in this tropical paradise. Palau’s experienced dive guides know what to find and where, introducing you to world-class diving.

From beginners and intermediate to expert divers, there are over fifty existing dive sites, each possessing distinct characteristics and individual personalities to appeal to everyone’s desires. Chandelier Cave, for instance, is a sub-surface catacombs of rooms filled with massive, ancient icicle-shape stalactites deposits that simultaneously hang from the ceilings of cavernous openings. Experienced guides ensure measures are taken to adroitly negotiate the dives that result from this shallow-water, yet challenging diving experience.

The Ngemelis Wall, commonly known as the Big Drop-Off, and declared by diving’s immortal icon, Jacques Cousteau to be the best wall dive in the world, is but one. Its precipitous 1,000 feet drop confers a profusion of intriguing sights of soft corals and reef animals, while its upper portion is encrusted with a rainbow of multi-colored sea fans, sponges, coral whips and soft corals.

Blue Corner,is arguably one of the best in the world and the most famous of Palau’s underwater attractions.Rich in nutrients, oceanic currents rush up from the deep as cruising gray reef sharks searchfor their prey. Insatiable photographers snap away at schools of barracuda, giant resident Napoleon Wrasse, snappers and butterfly fish. The dense concentration of marine life is revealed as these countless underwater fruits of nature dart in and out of a scintillating panorama of hard and soft corals that house them.

The famed Siaes Tunnel, with its enormous cavern bathed in ethereal blue light and peppered with sea fans and ancient bushes of black coral, is an unparalleled aesthetic dive. On its spotless, white sand bottom can often be seen white tip reef sharks and black spotted stingrays slumbering.

On the east side of Palau Lagoon is a site known as the Ngerchong Coral Gardens, famous for its fabulous variety of intricate coral formations and high concentrations of small, schooling reef fish. The photographic opportunities here are inexhaustible.

Visualize diving amid gentle manta rays at German Channelas they engage in the ritual of circling reefs to render their gills cleaned by small fish. When not chased, these graceful creatures remain calm and even maneuver friendly approaches, as if intent on giving welcomed divers close proximity glimpses of their undulating beauty.  Or how about encounters with endangered species like the Hawksbill Turtle and the giant dog-toothed tuna or blue marlin.

World War II relics randomly dot the underwater seascape with an almost perfect sense of dispersion; displaying haunting wrecks of World War II Japanese seaplanes and shipwrecks that render the islands a dream for wreck diving aficionados. There is an uncanny distribution to the intervals and space between their whereabouts and the effect that they effortlessly blend in with the underwater environment while at the same time embellishing what are already exceedingly attractive natural diving venues. The irrepressible synergy between all the wonderful elements found in Palau’s diving sites gives way to the many of the finest diving venues. And they in turn do nothing better than invite diving enthusiasts of the world to visit and dive in our unsurpassed immaculately preserved waters.

Diving is year-round in Palau and during the busiest season from January to April, spectacular sights such as migratory whale sharks passing by, sharks or mantas mating, and large schools of fish spawning can be seen. Although typhoons are rare in Palau, southwest winds from July to September can affect conditions. Palau is strategically straddled by two extremely deep channels to the east and to the west, those of the Philippine Trench and Palau Trench. The cold nutrient-rich waters of these fathomless abysses teem with sub surface natural gifts, and the results are striking; in very few other places can such awe-inspiring underwater activity and life be witnessed with such regularity and ease.

And this is all not to mention the incredible Rock Islands, probably most enduring image of Palau. Beneath her islands, is an ocean of dazzling gardens replete with luminous, rainbow-like collection of fish and crustaceans. The sheer splendor of the diving experience here is said to leave scuba divers speechless upon their return to the surface.

The Belau National Hospital has an operational two-chambered Hyperbaric Chamber. Two chamber operators and one doctor are available 24/7 for diving emergencies. For more information, contact:

Palau Ministry of Health
P.O. Box 6027
Koror, Palau 96940
Tel: +680 488-2552/2553
Fax: +680 488-1211
Email: mohrop@palauhealth.org