Published: August 3rd 2006July 25th 2006
who would believe we spent 30 mn at 5 m to observe them...really cute !
Sorry for the delay...Many of you have been waiting for this blog but here it is !!!
Palau is one of the most extraordinary diving spots in the world for many divers but not so many had the chance to really experience diving there...Not much flight to reach the capital Koror (2 per week from Manilla and few others through Guam), a huge area to cover that make day trip quite frustrating (if you are a real diving adicted) and only a few liveaboards (some of them you truly do not want to experience...) For the non divers, Palau and the Micronesia area are so obscure that they could be on the moon....Technically, it is in the middle of nowhere... (North Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Philippines) and if you do not like snorkeling or diving there is not much to do...but for the one who are looking for a 360 degrees experience of marine life from the tiniest creatures to the largest pelagics this is THE place !!
Back to the beginning of the trip...Everything was going quite smoothly, got updgraded to business class between HK and Manilla, about to land on time in Manilla when 2 minutes
before actually landing the plane went up again direction Cebu due to a tropical storm that was hitting Manilla at that time........Usually, we would not have really care but this time we had to catch our connection to Palau (cf: 2 flights per week) in order not to miss the departure of the liveaboard....By the time we reached Manilla again, our plane had left and THE longest trip for the shortest distance ever had started...Instead of a two hours flight, we end up spending the day in Manilla, take a night flight to Guam, spend 10 hours over there and catch an evening flight to Palau....total 34 hours !!
Reaching Palau was a huge relief... and as we landed the excitement of finally going on the Ocean Hunter I for a 7 days trip was back !!
This trip was the best diving trip I have ever done...Palau really has it all and the liveaboard we choose was just perfect ! It was actually the smallest of the liveaboard available (up to 6 guests and 3 crew) and after few days everyone was feeling just like home...The crew and the small number of guests (we were only 4)
made this experience really unique and fun :-)
Key locations Ulong Channel
One of our first dive in Palau and ouah ! That was good ! Wall dive then you reach the entrance of the channel where you hook to the reef and enjoy the show ! Sharks everywhere you look catching smaller fish themselves attracted by the strong currents and the "food" brought by the ocean, school of barracudas that quickly surround you, turtles passing by, surfing on the current (remember the scene with the turtles in Nemo...well here we are !). Then, after a good 30 minutes watching the show, you take out your hook and drift along the channel...full speed !! Trying not to bump into any bigger fish, flying over field of lettuce corals and ending up at the end trying to remember what happened ! Siaes Tunnel
Huge multicolor cave that you enter at a depth of 35 meters...waking up a few white tip sharks that were sleeping on the sand (sorry guys...) and just enjoying the moment...Black corals, colorful gorgogna and the sun light getting through the exit hole....ah...then drift along the wall with guitar fish, school of pyramid butterfly,
banner fish.... Big Drop off
The name say it all....that's a wall dive too and one of the top worldwide...Colors again and again....everywhere you look the reef is covered with hard and soft corals, sea fans, gorgogna, anemone (we ever seen a red one...) giving you the impression that this place was designed by an artist who would have wanted to see if he could use all the colors he could reach and this within the same tableau... Blue Corner
One of the most electric scuba experiences in the world! Literally a swirling kaleidoscope of marine life, large and small, big sharks to clownfish, turtles to schooling barracuda, and the good thing is: action never stops....
The corner is a promontory of the main reef wall with an average depth of 16 meters. Oceanic currents wash over the wall at this point making a massive feeding station. As we reach the corner, we hook right at the cut in order not to be washed away by the strong currents...and then you just open your eyes, at first trying to count the number of sharks swimming around you (I stopped counting at 30....), some of them getting really close,
but clearly ignoring us, busy as they are feeding right in front of us...Huge Napoleon pass by escorted by other smaller size fish, get closer and start their parade around us...they are definitely the best friend of divers and often come really close to play....Huge tuna (up to 1.5 meter) drift along the current too and at one stage you do not know where to look anymore....it s happening all around...and after a good 40 mn where you have done nothing but being hook and watching, it is time to go....our first comment as we reached the surface was...when is the next dive there !!! We want more !!
Well..we went back there 2 more times...for a total of three hours spent in the corner... German Channel
An other amazing dive during which the main highlight has been the encounter with a huge manta (2 meters wide at least...) at one of the cleaning station. Beautiful garden eels and lots of fish, turtles, octopus... Ngerchong Drop off
Thanks to our captain and dive master, we have been there at the perfect time (something to do with the moon...)...Medium currents, drift along the wall with white tip and grey
reef sharks, turtles, school of bumphead parrot fish, barracudas, sweetlips....and then the action starts ! Peter spotted a eagle ray going done full speed in front of us and then as I look into the blue I cant believe what I am seeing !!!! A hammerhead shark !! Right there, swimming in the blue !! I guess that s when I started acting crazy, yelling, waving my hands, trying to catch the attention of Peter and the 3 other divers...At first I think they felt I had a panic attack or even that I turned to be completely narcosed but then they saw it too and they started "literally" to jump everywhere, then tried to get closer and finally enjoyed this unique moment.......
Back on the boat, our dive master who has been diving in Palau since he was a kid, told us it was the fourth time only in his life that he got to see one of them......that s what I call luck !! Jelly Fish Lake
Fun, unique somehow weird....let's go snorkeling surrounded by thousands of stingless jelly fish! Yep, at first it is not exactly what I would go for (I never really appreciated
hook diving ... hello Sharky !!
THE best invention made by the locals..the hook...or the best way to spend 30 minutes surrounded by sharks, school of fishs and baracudas...without efforts but while enjoying very hight sensations (some of them ARE REALLY big...)
being close to jelly fish as each time it happened I end up being "bitten" by them...burning version...)
Anyway, those one are stingless so should not be a big deal....
The lake is on an island and the walk up and down the hill is somehow challenging especially when it is the first time you leave the boat for something else than water....
Then you reach the lake and as you swim to reach the middle of it, you start to see a few jelly fish and then you end up being completely surrounded by them....the best part is when you go down and they bump into you....now you understand why I used the word weird... Chuya Maru
Very impressive wreck dive...100 meters boat lying by 28 - 35 meters covered with corals and anemone and hosting crocodile fish and lion fish....the not so good part was the length of the deco stop we end up doing at 5 meters...17 minutes in total...that s what it takes when you do too many dives and spend too much time down there.... Chandelier Cave
That was something unique...not much in term of fish (nearly non existent) but because of the
stalactites and stalagmites formations and the fun....You enter through a hole located at around 3 meters and swim into a tunnel leading to three large caverns, the depth of the first is about 18 meters and there are air pockets in each cavern..that was the fun part ! You go up and start chatting while enjoying the view: beautiful the chandelier like forms and drip stones...really cool !
I could keep writing about the so many other dive spots we have visited during our trip...but the above one give you a taste of what Palau means for us divers....no wonder you get addicted to diving before you have ever realized it!
Our trip by numbers 7
A total of 26 + two snorkeling
Average wake up time 630 am
(aie...) coffee pleeeeeaaaaasse 35
meals...who said a diver need food...?!
7 short nights of sleep 7
bottles of wine...5 of them we brought with us (you never know what's gonna be available on the boat...) 2
the number of dives out of 28 during which we have seen other divers 1
Hammerhead Shark, 2
silver tip sharks and a
Grey Reef and white tip sharks 1
hour, the average length of each dive .... total around 28
hours spent under water ! 0
the number of times we have been in contact with the outside world
THAT WAS GOOOOOOOODDDDDD !!!!
There are more photos below