If you know me well, you know I'd rather dive with sharks than do a wreck dive. But having dived in over 60 countries, I had to keep Chuuk Lagoon on my wish-list. So here we are, I'm finally diving what is known as the best wreck diving in the world!
Chuuk is one of the four group of islands that are part of Micronesia. It is also a new country for me, and one of the most difficult to access if you do not want to spend millions! My flight in was only slightly more expensive in business than in economy...but as a general rule, there is no cheap way to get to Chuuk. First, you've got to reach Guam, this is the easy part and I started by flying Hong Kong to Tokyo and next to Guam.
Chuuk is the first stop on the United "Island Hopper" from Guam to Honolulu. This is a 3 times flight a week, Boeing 737, making 3 stops on the Micronesia islands, than the next two stops in the Marshall Islands. This is one of the "iconic" route, and some people do it just for the fun
of it...a 20 hours journey where you can step out of the plan at nearly each stop for one hour at each stop. Chuk is just the first stop!
My plane in was just 90 minutes late...and on the way back, we took a whopping 22 hours delay. Nice that United decided to take care of few of the passengers. I was one of the lucky ones. We went back to our own room left earlier that morning at the Blue Lagoon Resort, and were dine and hosted by United. Staying in the same hotel as the grounded crew, the first beer was on the Captain! All this for a little light that would not work in the cockpit. But the flight to Guam is 600 miles....and there is no way to land in the middle! I'm happy that United do up their game when it comes to taking care of us, even throwing in some nice compensation miles to apologize!
Chuuk has some 60 wrecks to dive, most of them being amazing ones. This sets the decor....a world class diving place! Hailstone was the operation that in February 1944 would sink a big
part of the Japanese fleet. The Japanese knew it was coming and had already moved away most of them War battle fleet. Chuuk was a rest and repair center for the Japanese Empire. The Island had been occupied by the Japanese army for over 30 years and was fully fortified.
As the Japanese Empire was already on the way down in February 1944, a big part of the fleet had left, but a huge number of cargo ships and supplies ship were still in the Lagoon. The Allied sunk most of them over two days. Today, you can dive some 60 amazing wrecks, including few planes, two destroyers and even a submarine.
My business partner did dive the submarine back in 1995. But today, there is no penetration into the submarine. Even our DM never went in, simply too dangerous. So I did not dive it. But I did a plane as well as a destroyer. On the program for me, 10 dives in 5 days, a total of 9 wrecks!
If you have a huge budget, you can dive on the Odyssey. The live-aboard offer 6 days diving over 7
days, 5 dives per day...and a price tag over 4000usd for a week...without your flights! I made my little week slightly more budget conscious! I stay at the Blue Lagoon resort. It's a basic clean hotel. Most of the wrecks are easily accessible from here, and we actually saw the Odyssey every day! There is not a lot of choice on Chuuk. Neither for accommodation or restaurants, and as you can guess, due to the isolation, nothing is cheap here! The Blue Lagoon seems to be the best place to stay. You can do two or three dives per day. As we went deep, I was more than happy to do only two dives per day and relax each afternoon.
Now for the divers....you dive deep here. So it was a mix of air or nitrox. Deepest dive was 61 meters....deepest wreck penetration, in pitch black engine room was at around 32 meters. Longest dive was 81 minutes on a 12 litters aluminum tank for me, this due to a long deco time at 3 meters. Water was 30 degrees...and no current here, beautiful blue water with over 20 meters visibility. Let put it simply, I was
lucky with the other divers...they packed enough experience to push the dives to fun limits. Yes, this is a solid divers paradise, but we do speak of experienced divers!
I saw a lot. This is the time to dive this place. In 10 to maximum 20 years the wrecks will start to collapse due to the erosion of time! This is a reality...and soon some penetration will become unsafe. Not that accidents do not happen on a regular basis here...some of these penetrations a truly "narrow"....deep...full of still...and obviously very dark!
I could go into full detail for each wreck. I guess pictures tell a better story! Beside diving at home, I have an other amazing dive trip plans this year. End of August will come on a solid live-aboard in the middle of the Pacific...for some more crazy diving...coming...not that soon!
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