For non-divers, Palau is almost an unheard of destination. Situated between the Phillipines and Guam, this archipelago of approximately 500 islands is a feast for any diver’s eyes. Some areas boast visibility of up to 60 metres, sharks and barracuda are commonly sighted, and the coral is incredibly diverse and healthy. Many of the sites are populated with dense schools of snappers and jacks, as well as napoleon wrasse, tuna, wahoo, and eagle rays. Inland, the jellyfish lake is not to be missed, although is generally more of a snorkelling spot than a dive site.
Countless American and Japanese ships and plans were destroyed here in World War II, so there are many wreck dives as a result. Experienced divers will enjoy these varied wrecks (some of which sit well beyond recreational depth, but many are easily accessible), as well as drift dives in medium-strong currents where you may spot manta rays, and tumultuous topography including crazy caves and drop-offs. Palau can be visited year round, but may be better visited during the drier months between October and May
Liveaboard or shore diving in Palau?
The most obvious advantage to a liveaboard is that you can typically do more dives each day (up to five sometimes) including sunset/night dives, where as land based operators usually have a maximum of three and you will be back mid afternoon.
Liveaboards tend to be more expensive at face value, and on the luxurious side, however there is not much cheap or budget accommodation in Palau and eating out is more expensive than many dive destinations so take this into consideration when working out the real cost of your trip.
There are many reputable dive operators in Palau for both liveaboards and day trips. Aside from the wreck dives most sites are 40 – 60 minutes boat ride from Koror town. For some these trips are tiresome, and for others they add to the experience, enjoying watching the sun rise on their way to an early morning dive – relaxing on their way back, taking in the incredible tropical paradise they find themselves in whilst naturally high off the dives they’ve just done.
Koror, where you will fly into, is Palau’s main commercial centre and where most of the accommodation, restaurants, shops and bars are. In the central area most places can be visited by foot, and though as always, be aware of your surroundings and belongings, it is a fairly safe place to visit with a very low crime rate.
Blue Corner is Palau’s most famous dive site, and one of the worlds’ top ones – for very good reason. Usually you will hook in at the edge of the plateau at around 20m/60ft and just watch the sharky show unfold around you. With the changing tides & currents coupled with huge volumes of diverse marine life no experience will be the same – but each one promises to be nothing less than incredible.
Blue Hole is a huge cavern near Blue Corner with the floor at 40m. You can enter through one of the four holes in the reef and the ambient light illuminating through makes awesome silhouettes in the bright blue water; great for photos, and leaves you finning through whilst admiring the fish and corals in the most peaceful, serene ambiance, trying to spot disco clams, flaming Scallops and a variety of nudibrancs in the cavern walls
Siaes Corner, less famous than Blue Corner it’s another speculator drift dive, where you will hook in at a current swept corner (or on the plateau for less experienced divers) with the best action usually at 10-20m. The reef then descends vertically to around 50m below you. Grey Reef Sharks and large schools of jacks and barracudas are usually spotted, as well a variety of other tropical fish. The dive ends at a beautiful shallow coral garden home to large Hawksbill and Green Turtles
Siaes Tunnel’s entrance is at 30m, with the exit to the spacious cavern at 25m, and so pushes the limits of recreational diving – it is very important to watch your no deco limits! However it is an amazing dive, free from currents and whether time is spotting the hidden critters living in the nooks and crannies of the walls or admiring the magnificent sea fans silhouetted by the rays of light shining through – it is a unique dive and experience/conditions allowing, one not be missed.
Chandelier Cave – A few minutes away from Koror is a limestone cave system made up of five caverns that are fascinating to explore. The name comes from the stalactites and stalagmites whose formations now resemble glittering chandeliers. The maximum depth is only 11m/36ft but make sure you bring a torch as certain parts of the cave are in darkness.
With ten WWII wrecks (cargo ships, navy destroyers, transport vessels) and two sea planes wreck diving enthusiasts are spoilt for choice in Palau, many of them in great condition and easily accessible.
Not a dive site but a must for any diver visiting Palau! Re-opened in 2019, it is a 12,000-year-old lake that requires a short, but quite steep walk from the small pier. With beautiful and tranquil surroundings it is easy to get yourself into quite a meditative state swimming and snorkeling slowly amongst the thousands of non-stinging golden jellyfish. A very, unique experience not to be missed
Palau has a warm climate all year round with an air temperature between 24°C and 32°C. However there is a rainy season and the wettest months are between July to October.
Water Temperature: Always fairly warm, generally between 26°C and 30°C. For many a 3mm long wetsuit will suffice, but everyone is different so take into account your dive plan and how cold you usually get!
Best time to go: The visibility is pretty amazing all year round, but whilst it is often 40m+ (aside from the wreck dives) during July to Sept it can drop to around 15-20m due to heavier rains and stronger winds. Though you can dive in Palau all year round the best conditions exist between November and April.