Burstingly Healthy and Full of Marine Life – SCUBA Diving in Palau
Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the underwater world, SCUBA diving in Palau is FANTASTIC
We have done our fair share of SCUBA diving. From El Nido in the Philippines to the Gili Islands in Bali as well as throughout the Southern Atolls of the Maldives, we have had a good sample of diving in our corner of the world, and in spite of those incredible experiences, SCUBA diving in Palau blew us away! We would say it has been second only to our dive experience at the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park in the middle of the Sulu Sea.
Nevertheless, SCUBA diving in Palau is exquisite and is certainly some of the best in the world. The corals are thriving and are not bleached. From the moment we jumped into the water until the moment we finished a dive, the schools of fish were abundant, large and healthy, and the number of sharks, turtles and manta rays in the area was stunning.
No matter where you have dived before, SCUBA diving in Palau will surely impress you. If you’re already excited to dive in Palau, make sure you first check out our Palau travel guide for all the details you’ll need in order to get to this remote place. If you’re keen for some simple living on a tropical island, you ought to also consider staying where we did, at Carp Island Resort. We’re NOT affiliates of Carp, but we liked it quite a bit so, we wrote a Carp Island Resort review.
Getting to Palau
In a nutshell, to get to Palau, you’ll have to get to Koror (airport code ROR). There are a number of flight options which we discuss in our Palau travel guide, so check out those details to figure out which way is best for you.
Once you’re in Palau, your accommodation will likely give you a number of options regarding how to get from the airport to their location. The Carp Island Resort, the place we stayed, picked us up right at the airport, and it’s likely other accommodations will make your transportation experience just as convenient.
Times to go
If you want to save a bit of money on accommodations, BUT risk experiencing less than optimal water conditions, you can go SCUBA diving in Palau in their low season, April to November. If however you want the warmest and calmest waters, the best chance to see the widest variety of marine life, and you don’t mind paying a bit more for your accommodation, go to Palau between December and March. We went at the end of March, and we had a FANTASTIC experience.
If you choose to stay at one of the three main resorts in Palau (see them listed in our Palau travel guide), you won’t have to choose a SCUBA diving outfit, as each resort has its own dive operation. If however you are not staying on an outlying island, and your resort doesn’t have a relationship with a particular dive shop, below are the four main dive companies in Palau. We dived with Palau Diving Center, as they are affiliated with the Carp Island Resort, and we had a great time.
In talking to our dive guide, he gave us the impression that there really isn’t too much difference between each of the different dive outfits. They all will guide you to many of the same dive sites, they all will have functioning and safety-checked dive gear, they all will provide you with some sort of lunch option (if you do a two tank dive or more), and they all will certainly want you to have a safe and fun time. Moreover, from diving with our guide Beau, as well as seeing a few divers underwater (from other companies), it seems that the majority of the SCUBA diving companies in Palau have a keen focus on sustainable-diving and preserving the precious underwater world of Palau.
Below I’m providing you with the four major dive companies in Palau not to explicitly endorse one over the other, but instead so that many of your options are all in one place which will make it easier for you to make your own informed choice.
PALAU DIVING CENTER
At the time of writing, the Palau Dive Center’s website was under construction. To contact them about diving, your best bet is to email them at email@example.com. This is the dive company affiliated with Carp Island Resort, the place we stayed (Read our Carp Island Resort review here.).
We ABSOLUTELY loved diving with them as their gear was sufficiently maintained, as our dive guide Beau was highly experienced and highly knowledgeable about the sea life, and as unlike many dive guides we’ve had before, was NOT burnt out on diving. In fact, sometimes Beau seemed even a little more excited to go diving than we were!
FISH & FINS
Fish & Fins is another dive shop operating out of Koror, Palau. They also offer jungle tours, helicopter tours and sky diving tours. Get in touch with them if you’re keen for the extreme!
Neco Marine bills themselves as providing “ luxury SCUBA diving.” While we didn’t dive with them, it seems the luxury they provide is in their newer boats, nicer dive shop facility, and newer looking transport vans. If you’re willing to pay top dollar for your dives, Neco Marine seems to be the place to go.
Sam’s Tours claims to be Palau’s eco-adventure company. Their focus on environmental responsibility is stated on their website, but we have not dived with them, so we’re not certain how their eco-friendly ethic manifests in their day to day dive operations. Nevertheless, awareness is the first step towards action, so their attention to this important details is certainly notable.
What We Saw and (Maybe) What You’ll See Too
Palau is so overwhelmingly full with colorful corals, healthy and strong populations of fish and mammals, and even WWII wrecks that you could spend a lifetime diving in Palau, just as our dive guide Beau has, and still not see everything there is to see.
Also, instead of attempting the impossible, i.e. telling you what types of wildlife you may see while SCUBA diving in Palau at each specific site (they are listed below), I’ll just provide you with the following limited list to underscore the fact that Palau is TEEMING with marine life.
Palau is home to: 600 species of coral, 350 species of sharks, hundreds of species of sea cucumbers, 800 species of sea anemones, and at least 1500 species of fish. And this is a limited list. People have devoted careers to studying Palau and have written textbooks on its biodiversity. Our dive guide Beau shared this book with us, and it highlighted how much marine life Palau has.
When we were SCUBA diving in Palau we saw manta rays, sharks (of various varieties), more types of fish than we could keep track of, and corals too. There were turtles galore, eels, nudibranch, anemones, sea slugs, sea snakes, and the list goes on.
Suffice it to say, when you dive in Palau, you’ll most certainly see a TON of marine life, and you’ll most likely see a lot of stuff you’ve never even seen before. Palau is simply SPECTACULAR.
Must See Dive Sites
With all that said, do not miss any of the following dive sites when you’re SCUBA diving in Palau. Again, I’m not going to attempt to tell you what you’ll see at each site, so I’ll simply say, all of these sites are going to be fantastic. If you can go early in the AM, you’ll have a better chance of being the first one out to the site and thus not having to interact with other dive groups.
Arguably the most popular dive site in Palau, the Blue Corner is exactly what it sounds like – a corner shaped underwater wall. Bring a reef hook; however, (or borrow one) just in case the current kicks up.
This is a channel dive, and one you’ll definitely not want to miss. We saw manta rays here, and many folks report the same thing too, so keep your eyes peeled!
Big Drop Off
This is a classic wall dive, so if you like that feeling of “flying” over the edge of a cliff, definitely do this wall dive.
This dive starts out by descending into a hole in the top of the coral reef. At the bottom you’ll swim out of the cave and carry on along a wall.
SCUBA diving in Palau is AWESOME. If you dive here, short of being shut in by bad weather, you will NOT be disappointed. If you’re keen to dive here, consider planning your trip well in advance, as accommodations, especially during high season book up well in advance.
Check out our Palau travel guide for key details you’ll need to consider when planning your trip to Palau. If you want to make the most of your time in this part of the world, you should also consider diving at El Nido in the Philippines or Tubbataha in the Philippines which is also one of the best SCUBA diving sites in the world.
No matter what you do, let us know if you have any questions by reaching out to us here, or by leaving us a comment in the comment section below!