Diving Palau

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Palau, Micronesia


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Country: Micronesia  Area: Micronesia

Water Temp: 27 - 30°C (81 - 86°F)

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

Grey Reef Shark Mating - Feb & Mar, Manta Ray Mating - Dec to Mar, Turtles Breeding - Apr to Jul

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Well known for its marine bio-diversity, spectacular wall dives and vibrant colourful reefs, Palau is a top diving destination which attracts divers worldwide to experience one of the most unique holiday destinations on the Planet.

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Palau is a group of over 200 remote islands in the west of Micronesia. Due to its remoteness in the waters south east of the Philippines it is still an area that has escaped the mass tourist industry so it has not yet had its natural beauty destroyed by development. Palau is positioned between three ocean currents which all converge in the surrounding waters and these currents are the reason for the huge concentration and diversity of marine life.


Climate & Sea Conditions

Palau has a tropical climate year round with rain throughout the year, although the rains are heavier in the months of July to October which reduces the visibility to an average of 15m and can cause weather conditions that may interfere with diving. The best time of year to visit is between December and April as these months have the best weather and therefore the best diving conditions and visibility. The water temperature is a lovely warm temperature year round without much variation and averages 28/29C year round.

Saddle Grouper,Credit

Marine Conservation

The Palau Conservation Society  is a prominent conservation-focused non-profit that works with local communities to preserve the environment. By fusing science with community values, the organization works to influence policy while
simultaneously promoting active conservation on the ground. Some of the PCS’s largest successes have included campaigning to have the endemic Palau Fruit Dove (Biib) protected and instituted as the national bird, and establishing a 5-year harvesting moratorium on the Hawksbill Sea Turtle.

The Palauan government has taken enormous steps towards further conserving the environment. President Tommy Remengesau Jr. recently declared that the waters surrounding the 250 islands will be a total marine sanctuary, with no commercial fishing. While there will inevitably be challenges with enforcement, this will establish in theory a protected marine zone equal in size to France.

Barakudas, Credit

External organizations and researchers have also become involved in the islands, with the Japanese establishing a research centre/aquarium that educates residents and visitors about the sensitive underwater ecosystems.

Sea Fan,Credit

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There are a great selection of world famous dive sites around Palau’s islands to explore, from walls, plummeting drop offs to caves, blue holes, channels and colourful reefs. Although a lot of the sites are deep with strong currents which are only suitable for Intermediate to Advanced divers, there are still many colourful shallow reef dives sites that beginners can dive. These sites can be visited either by day boats, with up to three dives a day possible before returning to land.

Napoleon wrasse,Credit

Nearly all of Palau’s most famous dive sites exist within a 10-mile stretch accessible from Koror. A moderate boat journey is required to reach these sites from the city, which does lead some guests to explore them via liveaboard instead.

Blue Corner is recognised as one of the World’s top rated dive sites and is a site that divers must dive when visiting Palau and is generally dived at the same time as the Blue Holes, which is a vast interconnected cave system next to the Blue Corner. One of the reasons this dive site has this excellent reputation is the high concentration of marine life, you can expect to see large schools of Grey, Whitetip and Blacktip reef sharks, large schools of barracuda and also the friendly sea turtle. The density of life is supported by plankton rich waters, which does mean that although the visibility is still good, it is less than other Palau dive sites. The wall at Blue Corner drops to hundreds of metres, so you need to be careful to watch your depth, not get so absorbed in the pelagic action or caught in the current and end up going dangerously deep. These conditions and depth mean that this is not a dive site for beginners. You will never tire of the Blue Corner, it can easily be dived again and again as every dive you will have a different experience.

Gray Reef shark,Credit

Another large pelagic dive site is the German Channel, which is a man made channel blasted away by the Germans in the early 1900’s and connects the lagoon with the outer reef. Now it is a top spot for Mantas to get cleaned and feed. The cleaner wrasse at these cleaning stations also come to the service of Grey Reef Sharks that pass through.

Palau like its neighbour, Chuuk Lagoon, is home to many WWII wrecks, although perhaps not in the same volume. These wrecks of military ships, Japanese seaplanes and zeros are mostly located in the lagoons around the Rock Islands. The Rock Islands are a series of limestone islands created when ancient reefs have violently surfaced and been eroded away over millennia to form strange mushroom shapes. They make up a stunning, unique landscape and it’s great to explore them above and below the surface.

Palau Unterwasser,Credit

Liveaboard Diving

For more dedicated divers, there are numerous Palau Liveaboards that will carry you to all the best sites in the region, offering higher levels of exclusivity than the boat tours. While they will explore many of the main dive sites previously listed, they will be able to dive before or after the groups of day boats go, thus avoiding the crowds. Liveaboards will also take you to some of the lesser-known reefs and sites further afield. Liveaboards also enable you to participate in night dives, which are not permitted otherwise.

Palau's famous Jellyfish Lake

For a break from Scuba a visit to the world famous Jellyfish Lake and snorkel in a lake surrounded on all sides by thousands of the non stinging jellyfish. This lake is also located at the limestone Rock Islands and close to many other dive sites so lots of dive centres include a visit to the lake after a dive. To reach the lake a short hike over a steep limestone path. The lake is full of two types of jellyfish who over millennia have lost their sting due to having no predators in the enclosed lake.  This surreal experience is unmissable and another unique phenomena of Palau.

Into the deep, Credit

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How to Get there

Palau has an international airport on the main island of Koror with flights to the Philippines, Japan, Guam and Australia. The main island has no dive spots, most are an hour’s boat ride on nearby islands. 

Rock Islands, Palau, Credit


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Where to Eat & Drink

There are a good number of restaurants in Koror. With a heavy number of expatriates from Taiwan, Philipines, Korea, Japan and the USA, there is a fair variety in the type of meals available. Japanese Bento boxes have become very popular recently. Palm Bay Bistro is a popular spot, serving up steak and pasta alongside inventive cocktails in the evening, and Kramer’s Café prepares fantastic fresh seafood. If craving a bit of variety, head over to Taj for authentic Indian curries.

Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel, Credit

Palau has a decent nightlife, with bars ranging from American pubs to Japanese-style karaoke bars. Surprisingly, there is a local brewery on the island. It brews Amber, Stout and three other beers, and offers brewery tours on request.

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Other Activities

When visiting Palau it is worth taking the time to see the stunning country above water as well as below. There is a lot to explore from the ancient Palauan village ruins, with stone paths and ceremonial stone podiums.

The islands that make up Palau are equally as stunning on land as they are underwater. Rich birdlife and crocodiles navigate their way through lush forests and mangrove swamps along the shoreline. The island of Peleliu is a quiet and charming island with very little to do other than lounge. The 37 basalt monoliths of Badrulchau are also an impressive sight. Historians are unsure of the origin of these 5-ton structures, though it is speculated they date back to AD 100. There are also caves to explore adorned with stalactites and stalagmites or you can take a kayak to explore the rock islands and areas only accessible by paddling under low tunnels or climbing over densely forested islands. Packed full of unique landscapes and wildlife Palau is a great destination for divers, nature enthusiasts and adventurers.

Rock Island, Palau, Micronesia, Credit

If interested in local culture, the Belau National Museum houses exhibits that display the many facets of Palauan life, from colonial occupation to present day. It is also worth visiting the Mother and Child Stone, which legend says developed after a mother looked in the forbidden men’s house.

For non-divers, the Palau Aquarium is a perfect way to experience the underwater magic without diving. As part of a Japanese-funded research complex, this aquarium recreates 17 different habitats that educate visitors about the unique ecosystem, and the associated threats.

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The most common suprirse/complaint from visitors to Palau comes from the prices. Given that essentially everything is imported to the islands, the cost of living is roughly four times that of the Philippines.

Palau is a fairly safe country, and requires the standard precautions.

Underwater plant, Credit

When in the mangroves, you should keep an eye out for the Saltwater Crocodiles. They generally avoid humans in Palau, given that they are hunted as a delicacy for islanders, but a watchful eye never hurts. While diving and snorkeling, you should also be aware of Bull Sharks in the coastal waters and estuaries.

Palauans are world renowned for their hospitality, and it is important as a visitor that you return the gesture.

While there are no hyberbaric chambers in the main city of Koror, the neighbouring states of Chuuk, Pohnpei and Yap all have functioning chambers. There is also an American military base in Guam which has facilities for severe emergencies.

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French Polynesia


Looking at a long winter break somewhere diving ... and reasonably warm...

Would appreciate some advice on where to go December/ January 2018.

Thinking Palau plus ?

Or French Polynesia

or Fiji...

Any pointers liveaboard vs land based ... any 2 centre suggestions ...



dive palau in May, or save for the optimal jan-april time?

(and wondering if it's been impacted by El Nino this year)


Hayden Hindley

2 votes

Save diving palau for Jan/Apri.. much better conditions!


Mike Bednarz

0 votes

Would agree with Hayden

where in south pacific to dive in November

going to Hawaii in November 2014 and wondering if it might be feasible to tack on a side trip to another south pacific destination. anyone got some advice on that? thanks

Showing 3 of 4 comments. Show all

Morgan Bennett

1 vote

The South pacific is huge! Wherever its still going to be quite a lot extra travel time from Hawaii. I have always wanted to go to the Cook Islands!


Desmond Metzler

0 votes

How long have you got after your Hawaii trip?


Edward Callahan

0 votes

Kiribati perhaps? Hawaii is a long way from other South Pacific destinations like Fiji or Micronesia.

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