Diving Chuuk

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Chuuk, Micronesia

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Country: Micronesia  Area: Micronesia

Water Temp: 27 - 30°C (81 - 86°F)

Visibility: 10 - 40m (33 - 131 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

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Steeped in history the floor of Chuuk lagoon is a wreck divers dream and by far the top wreck diving destination in the world.

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Chuuk, which used to be known as Truk is without question the top wreck diving location in the world. During World War II the Japanese fleet had a base in Chuuk Lagoon when the US undertook an aerial assault in repayment for Pearl Harbour. This sunk over a hundred ships, planes and submarines, which now lie preserved on the bottom of the lagoon and over the years have been covered in colourful coral and marine life and turned into excellent artificial reefs. These wrecks are Chuuk’s main attraction and what it is famous for.

The diving’s not all about shipwrecks though, most have now become vibrant artificial reefs covered in colourful soft corals and full of fish, and there is also the outer coral reefs of the lagoon where you may glimpse a shy reef shark. Even if you are not a keen wreck diver you will find it hard not to be interested in the unusual World War II paraphernalia around the sites such as gasmasks, torpedoes, bicycles, guns and pickup trucks. 

Lace coral, Credit

Climate & Sea conditions

Diving in Chuuk is year round as it has a stable, warm, pleasant year round climate, although it is still affected by a change in winds. These winds create a dry season from December to April and wet season from May to November with the worse rains being between July and October. During these rains the visibility may drop due to run off from the shore. T

The water temperature is pretty stable and averages 28/29C throughout the year.

Fish hovering, Credit

Marine Conservation

Conservation throughout Micronesia is largely unified under the Micronesia Challenge, an initiative that commits the region to conserve 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources by 2020. This ambitious goal was signed in 2006 and has attracted numerous scientists and non-profits worldwide. Shark conservation has recently been a topic at the governmental level in Micronesia, with numerous bills being passed by the various states prohibiting shark fishing entirely.

In recent years, researchers have also placed significant attention on the prospective release of oil from the rusting Japanese warships. Environmental protection agencies are currently monitoring the region, encouraging an eventual clean-up.

 
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Diving

Most of the dive sites off Chuuk are best accessed by boat, all of which are a short ride away from the island.

There is a huge selection of wrecks to choose to dive and something for all levels which can either be dived from shore or from a liveaboard. Both are a good options and the choice just depends on your situation and preference.

One of the most fascinating wrecks is the Fujikawa Maru which was a 132m armed aircraft ferry. This wreck is accessible to all levels of divers, with the deck at only 15m depth and has cargo holds, which can be penetrated, filled with spare aircraft parts and ammunition.

Regal angelfish, Credit

Another must dive wreck is Shinkoku Maru which is one of the most beautiful wrecks which used to be a large oil tanker, only 12 metres deep to the top of the bridge and 20m to the main deck. The bow gun and all of the exposed structures are overgrown with luxurious colourful corals and sponges and surrounded by swirling tropical fish schools. If you are experienced enough to penetrate the shipwreck at depth, the gallery still holds an interesting selection of dishes and utensils.

Anemone Fish, Credit

Liveaboard Diving

Many visitors to Chuuk opt to visit the sites from a liveaboard rather than staying on land. This is in large part due to the minimal tourism infrastructure on the island itself. The dive sites visited by liveaboard versus a day trip are by in large the same. The decision really comes down to price and personal preference.

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How to get there

Getting to Chuuk is usually a long journey for most visitors. Flights to Micronesia will usually require a change at Manila in the Philippines or Hawaii and then again in Guam. This can take a few days as there’s usually long waits in Manila and Guam for the transferring flights, but once you have reached Chuuk it is well worth the long journey

Underwater, Credit

A recommended option is also to team up the holiday to Chuuk with the relatively nearby Palau or Yap, this gets the most out of the long journey and partners amazing wreck diving with some of the world’s best wall diving.

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Where to Eat & Drink

Most visitors in Chuuck opt to stay on a liveaboard rather than on the island, given its limited facilities. For those that do choose to visit the island, there are a few local and international restaurants available. While most visitors opt to eat at their lodge, adventurous eaters may want to venture to the local vendors to try taro, yam, sweet potatoes and coconut, supplemented with fish, crab, clams and pork. Nightlife in Chuuk is limited, given that all alcohol is imported and subject to a 50% sales tax. The Blue Lagoon hotel does have a pleasant bar that is sporadically open and  generally quiet.

Corals, Credit

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Other Activities

Chuuk is mainly visited due to its amazing diving, but if you want a break from diving then this laidback beautiful island is also great to explore. A hike to the old lighthouse offers incredible views of the islands, the lagoons, the lush forests and white sand beaches.

Sunset on Chuuk, Credit

If interested in absorbing some of the local culture, it is best to head towards Weno – the district center. Here, guests will find a wide variety of local stores selling anything from kitchen appliances to handicrafts.

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Tips

Chuuk is a conservative society and it is best that all visitors work to respect cultural norms. Women should avoid wearing short shorts/skirts, and should wear a t-shirt when swimming in public beaches.

Cash and ATMs are reported to be unreliable on the island as well, and all visitors should arrive with ample cash for the entire duration of their stay.

Jellyfish, Credit

There is a hospital on Chuuk that allegedly has a hyperbaric chamber – though reports of its functionality vary. Yap and Koror also have hyperbaric chambers. For serious cases, it is possible to be transferred to the American Navy facility in Guam – however, this is not a public service.

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