End of the Rainbow
It would be fair to say I was in love with Palau before I had even left the Philippines, this had been born from various conversations I had had with diver’s around Malapascua Island who had previously been to Palau. As soon as you mention Palau you are greeted with a beaming smile and a glint in the eye, the sort of reaction anyone might give when they are remembering a place which not only met but exceeded their expectations and allowed them to fully indulge in their passion.
By the time I boarded the flight in Manila I was bordering on anxiety, had I put Palau up on an airy pedestal that just couldn’t be reached? During the flight I was put at ease somewhat when the immigration and customs declaration card was headed with the slogan “Welcome to Palau the end of the rainbow”, I mean as long as the pot of gold translated to bucket loads of sharks I would be happy! On arrival in Palau I was further reassured when the customs declaration guy waved me on telling me that I had come to the right place after reading that I was a Marine Biologist, and when I stepped outside of the airport there was an underwater mural complete with reef sharks adorning the walls of the airport.
But the point is I needn’t have worried, Palau is an incredible place; the people are so warm, friendly and helpful, the land is lush and the Sea’s, Oceans and Lagoons vary from turquoise to emerald green in colour and literally teem with life. For this reason alone the diving is sensational, but add to this the abundance of underground caves, channels, walls and wrecks and you have yourself a diving location which is phenomenal.
Big Drop Off
Gordon and I dived with Fish N’ Fins who I would recommend to anyone diving in Palau, during our stay we did 12 dives at the following sites; Big-Drop-Off (Ngemelis wall), Siaes Tunnel, Ulong Channel, Virgin Blue Hole, New-Drop-Off, Blue Holes, German Channel, Helmet Wreck, Chandelier Cave and of course the infamous Blue Corner (this we did 3 times). All dives were amazing and I could dive them all again for the rest of my life quite happily, but really we just scratched the surface as there are so many dive sites that you would need ideally a year or more to get a true feel for the diving available here.
The rumours are true !! – If you don’t want to see a shark while you dive here then you will have to dive with your eyes shut! My wishes came true with an abundance of grey reef sharks, white-tip reef sharks and black-tip reef sharks, however the pièce-de-résistance was a single mind blowing encounter at German Channel; best known for its Manta rays which come into the cleaning stations in the channel, shortly after decent we saw a manta ray cruise by and then we went to explore other areas of the site. I was about to turn away from one area when I felt an urgent prod from Gordon as I turned I could not believe my eyes – a lone female Great Hammerhead around 3m in length was passing by! Only 3 of us in the group saw her and I felt the need to confirm what I had seen continuously by making the hammer shape with my arms and head – I honestly thought at first that I was “Narked” or that I had finally succumbed to some sort of fantasy shark hallucinations! I later found out we were very lucky to see such a sight with large sharks such as the hammerheads or tiger sharks only seen about once every 6 months, so I thank my lucky shark stars!!!
Grey Reef sharks off Blue Corner
Whitetip reef sharks
Big fish freeway at Blue Corner