The world‘s finest diving

Palau & Yap

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! But, the shark action can be superb, also & the corals luscious.

Both the hard and soft varieties of corals are smashing. The wreck diving in Truk Lagoon is nothing less than spectacular & humbling at the same time (see our section featuring Truk …. ).  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.

A word from Dom

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To help you plan your trip, we’ve prepared a list of basic information you’ll want to know before you book.

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.


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.

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 & mysteriousNAUTILUS.   YAP: Reef diving,  and more MANTA RAYS than conceivable.  TRUK LAGOON : WRECK DIVINGextradorinaire.  For complete information visit our TRUK LAGOON / BIKINI ATOLL PAGE

Consider Combining 2 Or 3 Of These Compelling Options ...

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.  Needless to say, the fish attracted to this behemoth wall tend to be as colorful & dramatic as the wall itself.  The best-known feature above the water has to be the Rock Islands, so let’s look at the diving around there.  Coral gardens galore with countless drop-offs, caves, swim-throughs, blue holes, marine lakes & even wartime wrecks. 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. . . .


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.  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.


Truk Lagoon ... wrecks, wrecks and more wrecks

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.  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.  You can see complete details of Truck diving here:  Visit ourt Truk Lagoon page


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