SCUBA DIVING PALAU
Palau is one of the premier destinations for scuba divers from around the world. Divers of all skill levels will be thrilled with what they find here, and surprised at the amount of colorful marine life.
Located in the Pacific just over 500 miles from the Philippines and Indonesia, there are a lot of shipwrecks from WWII that have become spectacular dive sites. There are amazing walls and drop-offs, healthy reefs and fantastic drift diving among the many options for that perfect dive holiday.
With so many options, it can be a daunting task to plan that ideal vacation. This guide is designed so that all of your questions and concerns will be answered. Not only do we list many of the best dive sites, but everything else you will need.
Wondering who you should dive with, or where you should stay? Listed here. Wondering about the country itself and what else it has to offer? Listed here. How about that VISA situation and what you need? Or how to even get here? Listed here as well.
The goal of this guide is to get you on your way to the greatest vacation ever in the most stress-free way possible. So read on and start planning your trip today!
BEST DIVE SITES
With so many options for great scuba diving in Palau it is hard to list just a few. From shipwrecks to walls and everything in between, you can choose the type of diving that is right for you.
Here are the top 9 recommendations for the best dive sites in Palau.
Blue Corner is one of the most popular dive sites for experienced divers from around the world, The spectacular wall with the strong current gives rise for some of the most amazing marine life around.
2. Blue Holes
Blue Holes is near Blue Corner, and should be on your list to dive as well. It is a spectacular site for experienced cave divers. A diverse array of caverns and caves await you here. There are 4 holes in the reef that you can drop through. Light streaming through these holes gives an amazing aura to the area as you view much of the same marine life as there is at Blue Corner.
3. Ulong Channel
Ulong Channel is considered by many to be the best drift dive site in the world, and can be enjoyed by divers of all skill levels. The entrance to the channel is filled with coral of all shapes, sizes and colors.
As you drift into the channel, you will be greeted with so many varieties of fish, many of which are friendly and love to get their pictures taken!
4. Peleliu Wall
Peleliu Wall is off the small island of Peleliu – the furthest point from Palau. Here you will be treated to some of the deepest canyons, greatest walls and best caves around. Such a wide array of marine life, from the beautiful coral and large fans to great numbers of large pelagics, you will see it all here.
5. German Channel
German Channel is a famous channel that cuts through the reef that runs between Ngemilis Island and Ngercheu Island. It is busy cleaning station where you can spot many amazing creatures such as manta rays and the gray reef sharks. Many of the usual suspects hang out here, along with some of the more unusual critters.
6. Helmet Wreck
Helmet Wreck is one of the most popular places for anyone that loves shipwrecks. It is an ideal site for divers of all skill levels.
A remnant from WWII, this wreck lies from 10-30m deep. The chambers of it are filled with some amazing stalactites and limestone formations that you will want to get pictures of.
The coral that has completely formed over the wreck, which is amazingly intact, is simply breathtaking. This, along with all of the fish that call this place home is fantastic. You will not want to miss this one!
7. The Big Drop Off
The Big Drop Off is just what the name says – one big drop! It drops down to the sea bed at a staggering 285m. It is also considered by many to be the best wall dive in the world.
Situated off Ngemelis island, this wall is filled with amazing coral and sponges of all sizes, shapes and colors and reef fish equal to the beauty.
8. New Drop Off
The New Drop Off starts where two separate reefs come together forming a beautiful corner underwater. At times there is no current, so everyone can enjoy the spectacular show that awaits. Be sure to take your reef hook for when the current picks up.
Large gorgonian fans greet you as you start your dive. The spectacular array of colorful corals and sponges are home to many reef fish. You can also expect to see all of the sharks, turtle, wrasses and so much more that Palau is known for.
9. Chandelier Cave
The Chandelier Cave is a fantastic dive for anyone that loves to cave dive. It is a system of 5 caves that are connected, 4 of which can be explored by divers. Each cave has fresh air, so you can surface and take out your regulator.
Some of the strangest and most amazing stalactites and limestone formations you have ever seen have developed on the ceilings of each cave. Many resemble intricate chandeliers, which is how this site got its name.
Not only will you see some amazing coral and sponges, but the Mandarin fish may even makes its presence known – not something you get to see everyday. But the crabs, shrimp and many other species of marine life make this a fantastic place to dive.
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COMMON TRAVEL QUESTIONS
Are there shipwrecks to dive in Palau?
That is a resounding yes! Being the sight of many battles at sea during World War II, many vessels ended up at the bottom. Choose from cargo ships, transport vessels, navy destroyers and Japanese Zero planes.
Many are still intact and are easily reached from Koror. You could spend your entire holiday exploring them, and not see them all. You will love all the macro species including pipefish, nudibranches and scorpionfish that love to hang out in these.
Is scuba diving Palau safe?
Palau is one of the most friendly countries in the world. The people here are very accomodating and helpful. As with anywhere, there are always a few exceptions, so always be aware of your surroundings and help yourself with simple things like not flashing money around and keep personal items secure.
As for dive safety, Palau is for more experienced divers overall. This is due to the fact that it is located where three major ocean currents come together, so the current is usually fairly strong at all of the dive sites. A good reef hook is advisable at all times, as is a dive sausage as there is quite a bit of boat traffic.
There are good sites for less experienced divers however. And there are plenty of places where you can take some advanced courses to sharpen up your skills and get more certifications.
What are some more unique dives in Palau?
Watching the spawning of the green humphead parrotfish or the two-spot red snapper is one of the most amazing sights. Literally thousands of fish are involved, which is hard to fathom unless you are there. Usually occurring during a full moon or new moon, it is incredible. Ask your guide for the best place to see this event.
Night diving, or diving at dusk is a great time to see those elusive Mandarin fish. Several places around Koror are great for this.
The nautilus can only be seen in a few places in the world, and luckily Palau is one of those places. Ask your guide about taking you out for this special dive.
How warm are the waters of Palau?
Temperatures normally range in the 28-29 degrees celsius, but can drop a couple of degrees in the off-season. This means that most people are comfortable with a 3mm short suit during the normal season, and switch to a long suit, possibly with a hood, during the colder season.
Air temperatures are usually in the 20’s (70 to 85F), so it is ideal for lounging on the beach.
WHERE TO STAY
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Palau is an amazing country that consists of almost 250 islands, and is part of the Caroling Islands archipelago. Situated in the Micronesian area between Philippines and Indonesia, it is an idyllic place to spend a vacation diving and enjoying the beaches.
Koror is the most populated island, and the main city in the country where a large part of the 21,000 residents live. It is where you will fly in to and from where most of the adventures start.
Palau is becoming a very popular destination for tourists from all over the world. It is a good idea to book your reservations well in advance.
For getting the most out of scuba diving Palau, consider booking a liveaboard. These are usually based out of Koror. You will be able to get in many more dives when you are not spending time getting from one site to another on regular boats.
Another fun place you should check out while here is Jellyfish Lake on Eil Malk within the Rock Islands. You can swim and snorkel with tons of jellyfish rubbing against you without getting stung! It is a magical experience.
Palau comprises 500 islands that look like a sprouted giant mushrooms from the waters of the Pacific Ocean is located in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a total area of 459 km2 (177 sq mi) and an estimated population of 21,503. Palau is a place for divers and snorkelers where corals swirl around the islands. Palau’s Blue Corner is one of the world’s top dive sites.
Capital city of Palau: Ngerulmud
Best times to visit Palau: Palau has a steady warm climate all throughout the year for it is near to the equator. Best time to go is during the dry season from September to May for divers when the sea is calmer.
How to get to Palau: Flights from London and the US will be taken via Tokyo or Guam. It will take an estimated time of 24 hours including the varying stopovers.
Visa requirements for Palau: No need to obtain a visa if you are visiting Palau for a year or less although passport valid for 6 months upon entry is required.
Currency of Palau: United States dollar (USD) is the currency of Palau.
Official Language of Palau: English and Palauan are the languages of Palau.
UNESCO World Heritage sites in Palau
There is 1 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Palau and 4 on their tentative list.
- Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (2012)