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Palau, Micronesia - xmas 2014

Discussion in 'Member Trip Reports' started by McLOT, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. McLOT

    McLOT Tiger Shark

    So, I finally got around to writing a trip report for a xmas dive trip to Palau, Micronesia. :eek:

    Photos posted here:
    http://www.chumclub.org/photopost/s...&page=1&cat=787&ppuser=0&thumbcheck=0&cat=787


    A group of us flew out on several different flights with my flight VERY early on December 26th 2014, via LAX to Honolulu. The idea to
    break the journey there with a 24hr layover paid off, with a good evening and morning spent on Oahu drinking Mai Tais and decent beach-
    time.
    A second 7 hr flight to Guam, 2 hr stop, and then a final 2 hr flight to Palau got us all there with no lost luggage. :happyeyepatch:

    We had originally been booked to stay at the Palau Royal Resort hotel which is walking distance of Sam's Tours, the dive operator.

    However, it was switched to the Palasia Hotel which is more central and got us onto the main drag with bars and restaurants, and there were shuttle buses run by Sams anyway, so this worked well. There are other hotels and resorts scattered around the town and coast but being central worked for me.

    The first day's diving was really check-out dives but included a couple of great dives in relatively shallow sandy locations. Plenty to see and not too demanding after some long-haul flying.

    'Jelly Fish Lake' is an atoll that has risen over time trapping jelly fish that have evolved to lose their stings. Pretty weird diving in millions of jellies with a few anemone feeding unchallenged. This was a snorkel-only experience but well worth it.

    'German Channel' is a passage cleared through the coral by the Germans mining for phosphates and is a main route for boats and large marine life. Loads of big stuff including sharks and mantas.

    'New Drop Off' is a wall dive and we encountered more big stuff including sharks and turtles.

    'Blue Holes' is a site off one of the islands with a deep cavern accessible from the shallow reef but dropping over 100' with an exit point out onto a wall dive. Great dive and a dive light is not really required.

    'Blue Corner' is world class and now one of my favorite sites. A wall dive drifting onto a promontory with really strong currents and loads of activity. Tying-off onto rocks for hands-free photography of sharks and Napoleon Wrasse larger than me was stunning. The down-current on the far side of the promontory was a challenge but once I realized what was happening, the boat was waiting for us on the exit point.

    'Milky Way' is a great "spa" experience in shallow muddy backwater, and very relaxing with some shade in the afternoon sun.

    The final night dive on New Years Eve was on 'Halfadai' which is thought to be a Japanese fishing vessel wreck from the 1980's. It's a good size wreck covered in coral and life with a few swim thru's and plenty to see. The crew had lined up apres-dive cold beers for us on the deck to get us started on festivities as we headed back to the harbor. :beer

    'Ulong Channel' is a site with strong currents, loads of sharks and giant clams. The drift dive finished with a flotilla of juvenile sharks hanging in the current a short distance from the pick-up point.

    'Iro Maru' is a WW2 wreck of a freighter. It includes two guns (<5" barrels I think) and really overgrown with coral. The hatches had some cargo intact but I was low on deco to investigate further having done a few swim thrus. Viz was better than usual apparently and a lot of the wreck is not too deep.

    'Chandelier Cave' is not a full cave dive and you are never too far from the exit, i.e. a cavern. However there are 4 different stages of the cave with air pockets lage enough to surface, stalactites and some interesting twists and turns.

    The rest of the day was spent on another blue hole and back to the German Channel by common vote.

    For the 6th (extra) day of diving, we returned to new favorites and then another wreck, but this time it was an aircraft - 'Jake's Seaplane'. A Japanese Zero 2-seater reconnaissance plane which had ditched off the islands. For 70 years old, it is in remarkable condition.

    The islands were the site of a bloody WW2 battle with Peleliu island taking the brunt. It now offers tours and include another (single-seater) Zero fighter, a US Avenger, tanks and APCs, pill boxes and caves that were cleared one by one on the way to the summit. It's a couple of hours boat ride from Sam's and well worth the visit for a deco day after a week's dives.
    We also had a separate day of kayaking and snorkeling.

    The series of 3 return flights leave around 2.30 am followed by approx 24 hrs of travelling resulting in some of the worst jet lag I have had in a long time.

    I definitely recommend it as a dive destination and it is pretty close to Truk for those considering a dive-fest, once you get past the travel slog.


    Itinery:


    12-29 Ulong Sand Bar
    Siae's Wall
    12-30 Jellyfish lake
    German Channel
    New Drop Off
    12-31 Blue Holes
    Blue Corner
    Milky Way (Not a dive)
    Halfadai (fishing boat wreck night dive)
    1-1 Ulong Channel
    Iro Maru (WW2 freighter wreck)
    Shore Dive at the harbor
    1-2 Chandelier Cave
    Virgin Blue Hole
    German Channel
    1-3 Blue Corner
    German Channel
    Jake's Seaplane


    cheers, :chug
    McLot
     
  2. birddog

    birddog Tiger Shark

    Sounds like a really good trip and somewhere I'd like to go myself at some stage in the future. I'm definitely making note of the various dice sites. Thanks for a fantastic write up.
     

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