The dive sites in Palau are known to be one of the last pure and untouched found in the Pacific. 75% of tourists who visit Palau come to scuba dive and to explore these fantastic dive sites.
Yes, some people come to Palau just for the sun and the sand, to Kayak between hundreds of small uninhabited islands, and to see birds and other wildlife, But mostly they come to explore the fantastic dive sites in Palau.
NOAA says that:
“Palau’s rich marine biota includes approximately 400 species of hard corals, 300 species of soft corals, 1400 species of reef fishes, 7 out of 9 of the world’s species of giant clams, thousands of other invertebrates (many still to be identified), the world’s most isolated colony of dugongs (a relative of the sea cow) and Micronesia’s only saltwater crocodiles”.
Continue reading for 5 of the best dive sites in Palau.
Palau's dive sites consistently top lists of the best places in the world to dive. Each diver looks for something different in a dive site. Therefore, every diver will have a different view of what is best. Here are some of the dive sites that are frequently called the best dive sites in Palau as well as making the best in the world list.
1. Blue Corner
Blue Corner is probably the dive site that comes to mind first for divers thinking of diving in Palau. This epic dive site is said to have been the birthplace of reef hook diving. A reef hook is a piece of webbing with a small hook on one end and a snap on the other that attaches to a BCD.
Blue Corner is a spectacular ridge at 45-60 feet (15-20meters) that extends out into the ocean. The sides of the ridge drops to the deep. When there is no current the coral reef is an excellent site for divers of all skill levels. Novice divers will be thrilled by the abundance of both hard and soft corals. A look at the side of the ridge will show you some of the pelagics in deeper water and of course, many of them do rise to the reef top and explore along it.
However, when the current is present, Blue Corner is an excellent drift dive and should only be dived by experienced divers. The currents can change intensity and even direction very rapidly. When the current starts getting too strong, reef hooks are used which are anchored to rock.
When the reef hook is secured, you add a little air into your BCD and you will stay in place above the reef much like a kite on a windy day. It is in conditions like those these that the greatest number of large pelagics like reef sharks can be seen.
2. Blue Holes
Near Blue Corner, you will find, Blue Holes an underwater cavern with four entrances that drops to about 120 feet/ 35 meters. You can spend an entire dive exploring this large cavern, however, if you plan your dive accordingly, you can exit the hole by a lower exit or a “window” in the wall. Once outside, depending on the current, you can drift along the wall and within a few minutes, you will finding yourself at Blue Corner ready to hook into the reef to watch the pelagic action go by.
3. German Channel
Talk about diving with Manta's with an experienced diver and German Channel will come up, guaranteed! That is because this is the place where you will be able to see these massive rays every day as German Channel is blessed with a few Manta Ray cleaning stations.
These cleaning stations can be found on the slopes of the reefs surrounded by a sandy floor at 30 to 40 feet. Manta's and sharks glide past these slopes, locate a free station and hover in place as the cleaner fish remove parasites from the skin of the rays.
Over a hundred years ago, German engineers in Palau blasted a hole in the atoll and dredged a channel between the inner lagoon and the open sea. They did this to reduce the risk and time required for shipping phosphate from the mines to the port for shipment to Europe.
Today the incoming tides bring strong currents that rush into the lagoon and these currents bring nutrient-rich waters from the depths, and the rays station themselves in the mouth of the channel to take advantage of it.
4. Chandelier Cave
Dive into Chandelier Cave and you will understand where the names comes from. Five chambers are waiting to be explored filled with stalactites and stalagmite formations. While the site name is “cave” in scuba diving terms they are underwater caverns. The primary difference between a cavern and cave in diving terms is that in a cavern you can see the light of the entrance. You can go to the far end of Chandelier Cave and still see the light of the entry.
The elusive Mandarin Fish can be found near the entrance and as you go in you will see crabs and shrimps clinging to the walls. Damsel fish and solider fish are found in the deeper water. The entrance to the cavern is only 12 feet deep with the deepest point at about 40 feet. The highlight of the dive are the chambers which allow you to surface inside them and view the inside of the cavern.
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5. Turtle Wall
Turtle Wall is a portion of the vertical wall that runs the length of Ngemelis Island. The reef is very shallow and there is little current running along the wall so this is an excellent wall dive for novice divers. It is also great for Advanced Open Water Diver Training. The wall drops to 300 meters, but the best diving conditions are found at around 13-20 meters. As the name implies, this is the site to see turtles.
6. Peleliu Wall
For those experienced divers who drift dives, this is THE dive site of Palau. Peleliu Wall can be found between the Peleliu Cut on the western side of Peleliu Island and Peleliu Corner at the southern tip of the of the reef.
This is the deepest reef structure in Palau, and unwary divers can travel the current to depths far beyond recreational limits. The best ride is said to be between 80 and 90 feet, but you need to stay close to the wall and make sure you are not pushed into the blue.
Expect to find huge coral fans on the face of the wall with some crevices that marine life can hide in. The current brings nutrients that the reef fish indulge in. It also brings sharks, barracuda, and jacks to feed on the Moorish Idols, Yellowtail Fusiliers, Bumphead Parrotfish, Pyramid Butterflyfish, Palette Surgeonfish and Sergeant Majors that are enjoying their meals. This is one of the best sites for photographers who want action in their images and videos.
Why should you explore the dive sites in Palau?
Palau is part of an archipelago of more than 500 islands that comprises the western most part of the Caroline Island group, which itself is a portion of Micronesia. Only twelve of these islands are inhabited.
While the island nation has a history that includes being a colony first by Spain, then Germany, followed by Japan and lastly the United States, It has maintained much of its own culture. It is a relaxed lifestyle with simple but comfortable ways. A culture that is in tune with the environment.
Its location in the western Pacific where different ocean currents converge and its remoteness from major landmasses as well a small population gives you superb dive destinations with outstanding visibility, great biomass, and many pelagics to look for.
Have you dived one of the magnificent dive sites in Palau before or would you like to do so? Let us know in the comments below.
Blog written by: Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.