We all met for welcome drinks and dinner at a restaurant in Cairns before our flight to Guam and then onto Palau. There was a lot of excitement in the air, and for good reason, we were about to be diving some of the most famous reef sites in the world.
We arrived in Guam bright and early and checked into our day room, after a few hours sleep, we had breakfast and then explored the sites of Guam, the highlight was definitely shooting real guns at one of the many local gun clubs.
We arrived in Palau around 8pm, and checked into the Sea Passion Hotel, right on the water, with our own private beach. Sam’s tours picked up the group at 8am from our private marina in front of the hotel, it was a short 2min boat ride to Sam’s Tour’s. We completed registration, met our dive guides and boat captains and set up our gear.
The 45 minute boat trip was one of the most amazing experiences, and we haven’t even been in the water. The boat weaves in and out of the lush green rock islands, through the crystal clear water below. WOW, this would have to be one of the most spectacular places on earth.
Every dive in Palau brought something new. We dived, the Sand Box, Chandelier Cave, Short Drop Off, Big Drop Off, New Drop Off, German Channel, Ulong Channel, Virgin Holes, Blue Corner, Blue Holes, Iro Maru, Sias Tunnel, and Sam’s Macro wall. There was not one reef dive that we didn’t see a minimum of 3 reef sharks, most dives you see 8 sharks plus. The hard and soft coral cover at every dive site is amazing, so much colour and diversity. You like seeing fish, and lots of them, this is the place. At the new drop off we witnessed a GT in hunting mode, chasing a school of 300+ trevally, he singled one out and, bang, it was all over for one little guy. The blue corner brings schools of thousands of barracuda and big eye trevally. You also see turtles on almost every dive, groupers, and giant clams. Did I mention FREE Nitrox on every dive??
The diving in Palau is so stress free. Easy wall drift dives, 40-50m vis, 28-29 C water temp and depths ranging from 5m to 40m. Oh and did I mention, your dive gear is rinsed and set up every day before you arrive.
Each day consisted of at least 2 dives, sometimes 3. One of the highlights was diving with the Nautilus. Sam’s Tour’s set a trap at 150meters overnight and bring them up and release them. They are approx 15cm wide and very alien looking. They live in very cold water, so after we got our photos, we sent them back down to their natural habitat.
Another highlight was snorkelling at jellyfish lake. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of jellyfish trapped in a lake that you can only access by foot. Snorkelling through the lake, the jellies are all the same species, however they range in size from 10mm to 15cm in length. This was a very unique experience that I doubt anyone would forget.
Each day the boat arrives back at Sam’s tours around 3:30pm, we had a drink at the bar, while completing log books, and sharing stories about our dives.
At night we went to one of the many restaurants Palau has to offer. Palau pacific resort and the Palau royal ware two very up market resorts and restaurants. Both had excellent service and very nice food. We checked out Kramers, a very affordable ‘local’ hang out, great food and very friendly atmosphere. Mingles Thai restaurant in town was also recommended by the locals, great atmosphere and excellent food. The drop off bar and grill had fantastic pizzas and steak. There is also a restaurant at Sam’s Tours, who serve great Sashimi and crab.
After a big day of diving most of us hit the sack around 9pm, there were always a few at the Sea Passion beach bar enjoying an extra drink or two before bed.
Our non diving day saw the group split in two. One group swimming with the dolphins and the other group went on a Risong Bay kayak tour. The dolphins were a lot of fun, after an introduction and dolphin behaviour session it was time to grab their fins and go for a ride around the large pools.
The kayak tour was very relaxing, effortlessly paddling through the rock islands, you get to see parts of Palau that the boats can’t access. We went to mandarin fish lake and at low tide the lake has 100% visibility. There is an amazing eco system thriving in this lake, snorkelling you can find lots of macro life, gobies, mandarin fish, damsals, jellyfish, sea snakes, crocodile fish, and many more weird and wonderful creatures.
If you are a diver, do yourself a favour. Book a trip to Palau! This is one place you MUST visit. You will be hooked on diving for life!
We would like to thank Bev Evans, Greg Kamp, Jacinda Boully, John Manski, John Moody, Judy Scott, Karen Priestly, Katrina Lam, Leith Boully, Lynne Sheehan, and Marie Meier for a wonderful diving experience. We hope to see you in Truk Lagoon, June 2015.
Mike McKinnon and Raelene Brown
P.S. I am trying my hardest to finish my video. Look out for it in next months enews…Mike