Dieter Kudler

Dieter Kudler

Saturday, 14 September 2019 15:19

Wreck of the Amatsu Maru Palau

Dive Palau - WWII Wreck Diving Palau

When wreck fans think about booking a trip to dive fantastic WWII wrecks it is usually Truk Lagoon which comes to mind. Many avid wreck divers are surprised to hear that Palau offers 30+ WWII wrecks. Unlike the wrecks in Chuuk most of the wrecks in Palau are relatively shallow and easy to dive - some are wonderfully overgrown with colorful soft corals.

This is why Fish’n Fins, knowing the locations of all the WWII wrecks in Palau, has been offering its unique WREXPEDITION Palau annually since 2009. In 2020, the 11th annual WREXPEDITION will take place from June 4-11.

Wreck fans are cordially invited to join the event and dive 14 WWII wrecks during 15 dives with Fish’n Fins Palau’s Pioneer Dive Shop.

As one of the wrecks in the program we’d like to introduce the ship wreck of the Amatsu Maru.

Amatsu Maru shipwreck Palau, ship animation, info graphic

Wreck of the Amatsu Maru Palau

Location: West Malakal Anchorage. 

Distance from Koror: 5-minute boat ride from most dive shops in Koror.

Visibility: Visibility will vary from 80 feet (24 meters) at the bow to 20 feet (6 meters) at the stern.

Level of Diving Experience: Advanced with deep and wreck diving experience is recommended.

Diving Depth Summary: The ship is resting upright at 130 feet (40meter). The deck is at 90 feet (30 meters). 

Currents: None.

Amatsu Maru Palau - History 

Nicknamed Black Coral Wreck for numerous bushes of Black Coral that adorn the ships guardrails and the superstructure. The Amatsu Maru is the largest shipwreck in Micronesia and the deepest Japanese wreck in Palau.

This oil tanker sank, like all other WWII Japanese wrecks in Palau, during the air raid Operation DESECRATE ONE on March 30-31, 1944. She was partially salvaged after the war. The bow is raised above the main deck with ladders on both sides connecting it to the deck. The anchor winch and anchors were removed during the unsuccessful salvage operation in the early 1950 s. Part of the anchor chain can still be found scattered on the foredeck. From the bow, moving aft, toward the bridge, pipes, hoses and large valves used for loading and unloading the oils and fuels are visible. The bridge is constructed of 3 decks, the uppermost is the navigational deck, some instruments can still be found.

The bridge can be entered from above between the support beams. The wooden walls and floor structures were destroyed by fire or have deteriorated over time. The main fuel storage area behind the bridge features a large piping system now covered with extensive marine growth. Square holes were cut through the deck during the salvage attempt. The Amatsu Maru was hit directly by several 1000 lbs. bombs. US Navy archive aerial photos were taken during the attack clearly show heavy smoke rising from the engine compartment. Diving through this section of the ship reveals huge piles of twisted metal, partly due to salvagers but mainly from a direct bomb hit.

At the stern, the twisted remains of a circular gun platform can be seen; the gun is missing. If the huge 4-bladed prop is of interest, begin your dive at the stern before visiting the rest of the ship. To really see this large and magnificent WWII wreck more than one dive is necessary. Salvage Operation After WWII: the Japanese were granted salvage rights in the Pacific. Through the late 40s and early 50s Japanese salvaging companies attempted to dismantle or raise many of the wrecks in Palau and Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon. The Amatsu Maru was a prime salvage target when the recovering world economy was craving for tankers. The salvage company originally sought to raise the ship, but later decided to dismantle the ship. During an attempt to cut through the plates, it is believed the flame of a torch hit trapped gases setting off an explosion that killed two men. The Japanese then abandoned the salvage attempt, believing the accident to be an omen of foreboding. 

Infographic of the wreck of the Amatsu Maru in Palau Micronesia

Length: 502 feet (153 meters) | Beam: 65.6 feet (20 meters) | Tonnage: 10,567 tons | Built: 1943 by Mitsubishi.

Reef Formation: 130 feet (40 meters) silt bottom, no coral formations around the wreck. 

Marine life: Various lagoon fishes.

Diving: The Amatsu Maru has no marker buoy; the dive guide will locate the wreck then tie the boat to an anchor line. The dive usually starts at the bow section of the ship. 

Fascinating Facts:

Many sunk and beached ships were salvaged in Palau after the war. The salvagers loaded the scrapped metal on some of the re-floated ships in order to tow them back to Japan. On the return trip to Japan the entire salvage fleet was hit by a typhoon in the South China Sea and sunk! Not one ounce of scrapped metal ever made it back to Japan. The ocean claimed back what belonged to it. 

Saturday, 08 June 2019 15:10

Biology of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Sea Turtles in Palau

We have two species of sea turtles in Palau, the Green Sea Turtle, and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, both protected by the environmental protection laws of Palau. Hence we have a lot of turtles and they are very relaxed around us divers. While you dive Palau you'll surely see a couple of them and will be able to take underwater photos home. To give you more information on the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles we've compiled the following information about this species. We hope you'll enjoy the read. 

Possessing a bird-like beak and distinctive overlapping scales and serrated edges of their shells, the Hawksbill sea turtle is one of the smaller and most agile of marine turtles, reaching ~75 cm long and weigh~ 50 Kg as adults.  A reptile in the Cheloniidae family, the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) is the only extant species in the genus Eretmochelys. Sea turtles are a group of reptiles that have been roaming the seas for the last 100 million years.

Hawksbill Turtles - Habitat 

Hawksbill sea turtles prefer the warm waters, and are circum-tropical; using different habitats at different stages of their life cycle, most commonly inhabit the top 20 meters of the water column. They are mostly found in coral reefs, lagoons, shallow coastal areas and in mangrove-fringed bays and estuaries. Once a Hawksbill has found a good resting spot, it will go back to it nightly. Having a tough shell, adult Hawksbills have few natural predators, including sharks and crocodiles, making them approachable by divers and snorkelers.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle almost touching the camera

Hawksbill Turtle Diet

Hawksbills have a varied diet, consuming seagrasses, sea urchins, barnacles, anemones, jellyfish and their favorite food is sponges. They close their eyes when feeding on stingers, and are resistant to the sponge’s toxins. Like other species of sea turtles, Hawksbills contribute to marine and coastal food webs and transport nutrients within the oceans. Hawksbills are important components of healthy coral reef ecosystems and have been found to support healthy reefs by controlling sponges and algae which would otherwise out-compete reef-building corals for space.

Hawksbill Turtle Reproduction

Hawksbill turtles are solitary for most of their lives and aggregate only to mate. Every two to three years females return to nest on the very same beaches where they themselves were hatched. After the two-month incubation period, ~5-centimeter hatchlings emerge as a group. Hatchlings use the bright, open view of the night sky over the water to find their way to the sea. Surviving females will not return for at least 20 years when they reach sexual maturity. 

Green Sea Turtle sleeping in a small cave in Palau

Protection of Sea Turtles

Hawksbills are Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red-List. Sea turtles are affected by a multitude of impacts. The greatest threat to hawksbills is the overexploitation of their shell often referred to as "tortoiseshell"; primarily by the European and Asian countries to make jewelry, hair decorations, and other ornaments. Coastal development degrades nesting grounds and causes hatchlings to mistaken the direction of the sea as attracted to the shining lights. As coral reefs are degraded world-wide there is a direct impact on habitat loss. Marine pollution and debris, watercraft strikes, and takes from commercial fishing operations all contribute to human-related hawksbill sea turtle losses.

Conclusion

Palau has imposed strict environmental protection laws and severe punishment awaits people harming the Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Palau is a role model in international marine life protection and many other countries should follow P Palau's example. It makes Palau to one of the last pieces of paradise on this planet.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 15:50

Falling in Love with Diving Palau

It was love on first sight - our Palau Dive Trip ...

Of the two dozen Palauan dive centers the largest, and perhaps the most famous is undoubtedly Fish 'n Fins, a long-term reliable partner of "Ultimate Depth Magazine Russia".

IANTD instructor-trainer and master of underwater photography (and much more) Anatoly Beloschin has almost traveled the entire world and dove almost all the World’s best dive sites. In his 20 years as a photojournalist, he made it to Palau in February 2019 for the first time. He did not only visit to bring this story home, but he also fell madly in love with Palau.

Since I have started traveling the world I have always been dreaming of visiting Palau - but it never happened until now - my editors sent me to Palau with a new assignment. Finally, I had to go to Palau - more precisely fly.

Even today there are not so many regular flights from our corner of the world to Palau, the choices are not too many. The most convenient route from Moscow is via Seoul, there are unfortunately no other options with only one stopover. Eight hours from Sheremetyevo International Airport to Seoul and then another five and a half hours to Roman Tmetuchl International Airport in Palau. Plus 11 hours layover in Seoul - 11 quite pleasant hours, as Incheon Airport is the most comfortable hub in the world. You can use the time, for example, to enroll in a free tour of Seoul and the surrounding area, from two to six hours. No visa required.

Meaning, we landed in Seoul, had a snack, a quick shower, enjoyed a great tour of Seoul, and before we knew it, it was time to carry on to Palau.

A day you would normally have to write off, suddenly became a fully-fledged, rich tourist event.

I think because of the six-hour time difference to Moscow my perception was different - it was almost like in a video - from a short scene in Moscow with taxi and airport - to a city tour in Seoul and finally the landing in Palau and the inspection by the customs officer - Cut :-)

Sunset over the Rock Islands Palau
Sunset over the Rock Islands Palau

LANDING IN PALAU

Officers were manually searching some of the bags, looking for cigarettes, alcohol, and food. Strict regulations are in place - so better check Palau’s customs website before entering the Republic of Palau.

The time was now well after midnight, in line at the airport and our bags needed to be checked - we wanted to go to bed … to start with I gave the officer a bag with the ordinary camera gear. The customs officer opened the zipper, and the “minions” that are living there, looked at him.

Yes, these guys are really living there wink

Followed by - Here is my permission from the National Aviation Administration to import my quadcopter - although a similar document did not help in Jordan, it was very hard to get my drone in there.

3 Minions on a coral in Palau
3 Minions diving Palau

CELL PHONES & INTERNET PALAU

Let’s check cell phone reception - of the four telephones taken with us (and not only domestic operators) to my surprise none was working in Palau - no roaming with any foreign cell phone provider worked. The second surprise - although the Russian website Yandex had warned that there is no internet on cell phones - with a local SIM you can buy 20 GB for US$ 45.00 valid for 30 days. By the way - speaking of US Dollars - Palau’s official currency is the US Dollar.

The majority of tourists come from Korea and Japan. I had heard that until recently lots of Chinese tourists were visiting Palau - a trend that came to a halt due to the fact that Palau has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, something China does not condone.

Photographer with underwater housing from Seacam in Palau
Anatoly checking his SeaCam Equipment

PALAU'S BEST DIVE OPERATION

Of the two dozen Palauan dive centers, the largest, and perhaps most famous, is undoubtedly Fish 'n Fins, a long-term partner of our magazine “Ultimate Depth”.

Many times have we featured articles describing how Fish ’n Fins founders Tova & Navot Bornovski had sailed in their own yacht from Florida to Palau to start their business. Today the Fish ’n Fins diving center has its own restaurant, there is a whole fleet of minivans waiting to transfer guests and there is even a helicopter for tours over the famous Rock Islands. The diving center has a capacity of 150 divers per day including tech divers from extended range to advanced trimix. And for recreational divers Nitrox 32 is free of charge.

Most importantly Fish ′ n Fins owns a whole flotilla of boats - at the pier - 11 speedboats for daily diving nicely lined up. We also saw the Ocean Hunter III liveaboard mooring nearby.

Navot Bornovsky is a marine architect & engineer, and the design of the speedboats is his brainchild. Usually, seats in speedboats are placed along the sides but Fish ’n Fins boats are way nicer - they offer pairs of seats, facing forwards, which is much more comfortable. Under each such seat is a dry box for equipment. Scuba tanks geared with BCD and regulator are fixed in tank holders between the seats.

Anatoly on a dive boat setting up dive gear
Anatoly getting ready for diving Palau

SCUBA DIVING PALAU

It takes the speedboat around 40–50 minutes to dive sites, and this is by no means wasted time - the boat takes you through the Rock Islands, exotic places of unmatched natural beauty.

Our boat had 250 hp twin engines and was very fast - at full speed, the thirty degree Celsius warm and humid air does not feel that hot. Furthermore, when it rains the boat’s roof will not fully protect from the rain - this is why I am recommending you bring a windbreaker or buy one at the Fish ’n Fins boutique. Plus a dry bag for your camera and personal stuff would be advisable, even though the boats have dry boxes under the seats. Another thing - there is no toilet on the boat - if you feel the urge the captain stops, lowers the ladder into the ocean and announces - “The Toilet is open” - a very healthy and eco-friendly approach :-)

Finally, we come to diving Palau. How many times have you read that this or that divesite is the best in the world - I have travelled the whole world and I could not point out “the best dive site on the globe”, what I can say with certainty is that Palau is definitely one of the very best places in the world. We dove for 10 days and every dive put a smile on our faces, my wife and I loved every minute of it and we fell madly in love with Palau.

These are some of the dives we did.

Fan coral in Palau with model in the background
Diving Palau with Anatoly

BLUE HOLES PALAU

Our first dive was the Blue Hole, and yes, there is also a Blue Hole in Palau.

Blue Hole Palau is a huge cavern inside the reef with a lot of vertical and horizontal holes. Dropping in from the entrance, the depth is about eight meters. The bottom is about thirty-five or thirty-eight meters. Fantastic light scenes! Direct sunlight fills the cavern through three openings at the top. Diffuse light comes from three other holes in the wall. The picture is completed by a huge arch connecting the cavern with the ocean. And here at the very bottom of the site, the guide shows us a tiny pygmy seahorse on the coral. A lionfish swims in the rays of light …

Suddenly, without any warning, a cold current comes from the ocean. It was even visible! Cold is of course relative. At our diving depth of thirty meters, we had blue water with a temperature of 29 degrees. We had water coming from the bottom, a little greenish and a couple of degrees cooler. This small difference is enough to keep the layers clearly separated from each other - a visible difference.


Scuba Diving Blue Holes Palau

Obviously following the cold current we see Silky Sharks and right behind them a Bull Shark. What kind of a place is this,  where you can see Pygmy Seahorses followed by big sharks … And all this in one single dive!

Inside the Blue Hole is a small cave, it is called the Temple of Doom, and is a cemetery of turtles. As shown fifty years ago in the Cousteau film about Sipadan, the turtles swim into the cave and don’t find a way out, this is how they remain in the cave. For the very same reason, divers try not to dive into the cave. I wanted to take a picture of turtle skeletons - but wasn’t lucky enough. Someone who was there before had stirred up the sediment from the bottom, which did not allow for a clear shot. That means the skeletons are postponed until the next time, which, of course, will certainly come.

Underwater model with sea turtle sitting in a cave
Exploring Blue Holes Palau

NEW DROP-OFF PALAU

The second dive was the site New Drop-off. The colorful wall is abundantly covered with all sorts of corals and drops down deep into the dark. On the left a colorful wall, and on the right - sharks in the blue ocean. Fantastic!

Shark and Diver at New Drop-off Palau
Shark and Diver at New Drop-off Palau

ULONG CHANNEL PALAU

The next day, the first dive was Ulong Channel. Sandy bottom. Small coral formations. Visibility wasn’t too good. I looked around. I did not understand, why they would bring us here? Depth of twenty meters. At first glance - boring. Hence I decided to have fun and photograph the minions, remember, the ones who like living in my equipment bag. Just when I put a minion under a huge sea cucumber, my wife Tatyana pushes me to point out a big group of sharks! Now while a big sea cucumber tries to crush the minion, I am distracted by sharks :-) - I just wanted to get angry as a Manta Ray appeared.

Another couple of minutes, and here comes a huge school of barracudas. So for a whole hour, I had to leave the minion be and concentrate on all those big fish. The guide told us that there can be as many as 30-40 mantas at one time - but we were not lucky enough to see that many - we saw mantas every other day - they seem to be quite common in Palau.

Minion toy under a sea cucumber during scuba diving
Minion in trouble :-0

SIAES CORNER PALAU

After an hour break, we jumped in at the Siaes Corner. Siaes Corner is Palau’s answer to the  Shark Reef in Sharm El Sheikh. We felt as if we jumped into the water and were magically transported from Palau to the Southern Sinai.

But the Sinai, probably, fifty years ago, because Siaes Corner is many times richer and more colorful than Shark Reef. Lots of sharks, schools of fish and stunning colors.

2 Sharks and Divers at Siaes Corner Palau
Sharks at Siaes Corner Palau

GERMAN CHANNEL PALAU

For our third dive day, we had planned to dive German Channel and Blue Corner - as it seems one of the most famous dive sites in Palau. German Channel is a very peaceful place. Like in a Disney cartoon. Shoals of small fish, manta rays, barracudas. And think of it - more than 100 years ago the Germans made this artificial channel by dynamiting it to optimize their shipping route to Koror, and today nature has taken back the channel and created a rich ecosystem with a stunning display of marine life.

Manta Ray at German Channel Palau with Model in Background
Manta Ray at German Channel

BLUE CORNER PALAU

Blue Corner reminded me of the Maldives in their most extreme form. In the Maldives, on an incoming current, you dive deeper to the very edge of the “Kandu”, about thirty meters, then you need to literally squeeze into the reef so that the current will not carry you away. Squeeze in, don’t move and watch the sharks.

In Palau, it’s almost the same. The difference is that sharks are coming very close - you can almost touch them, and the depth is only ten to fifteen meters. The current was so strong that divers were using reef hooks, which they attach to dead corals to stay in place. Without Reef Hook, no chance, especially with a bulky camera in hand. They are calling these hooks “Palau Hooks”.

School of fish with model in the background during scuba diving Palau
Schooling Fish at Blue Corner Palau

NIGHT & MACRO DIVING IN PALAU

Toward evening, we went for a night dive and I tried to take macro shots. Finally, I was able to use my macro lens and port. You can, of course, have your macro lens and port setup during the day too, but it would be a waste - better stick with your wide angle for all the big fish: -0

For a night dive, they are recommending their house reef right at the dive center. But my Macro shooting did not go as planned. I wanted to shoot “the kiss” of the Mandarin fish - I found some and they were mating - but my position wasn’t right … - so no photos of the kiss.

Due to battles in WWII, there are many wrecks in Palau, including two planes. The depths can be chosen, from fifteen to a hundred meter, or even deeper. Wrecks are a great background for shooting. Wreck, model, corals, and fish - everything needed for great wreck photos.

Minion toy next to a crab during a night dive in Palau
Minion and Anatoly Night Diving Palau

GENERAL INFORMATION FOR YOUR PALAU DIVE VACATION

Fish ′ n Fins is very well organized. All dives are made from speedboats. If you go on their liveaboard, you will also dive from a speedboat, similar to liveaboards in the Maldives - there they call them “Dhoni”.

The procedure begins with filling out forms in the diving center. Then - the payment of the Koror State environmental fee, which is, in fact, your ticket to all the Koror State dive sites.

There are two fees - one is the Koror State Rock Island Fee, which costs $53.00 and is valid for all the dive sites in Koror State for the duration of 10 days. And the second fee is the Koror State Rock Island & Jellyfish Lake Fee - this one costs $105.00, is valid for 10 days and includes all the dive Sites of Koror State plus the famous Jellyfish Lake.

Every morning your Fish ’n Fins guide will ask you if you have your Koror State Permit on you - if not, back to your hotel to get it - even though we see park rangers, we have never experienced an inspection of our permits.

Around eight in the morning, the diving center will send a minivan to the hotel to pick up its guests. From some hotels though Fish ′n Fins boat picks up guests directly from the resort’s dock.

Aerial photo of the Rock Islands Palau
Rock Islands Palau

In the late afternoon, Fish ’n Fins transport all guests back to their hotels by minivan. Transfers are very fast as there isn’t much traffic on the islands.

The Info Board at the diving center shows who is diving on which boat the next day. You can also make arrangements for special dives such as spawning dives or trips to Peleliu Island. You’ll also have to decide what you’d like to have for lunch the next day - Fish ’n Fins offers a menu with chicken, fish, pork and vegetarian - all in two versions - fried or grilled. On top of that burgers, sandwiches and vegetarian dishes, rice and salad. Lunch is prepared at the shop’s own restaurant - Barracuda Bar & Restaurant - packed in individual containers your meal is waiting for you after the first dive. It was delicious! If a beach is close to the dive site they will bring you there for lunch.


Upon returning to the diving center, the guides remove all equipment from the boats and immediately rinse it in special large tanks. There are separate tanks for wetsuits, regulators, and photo equipment. A very efficient system, there was not a single mistake in ten days. Respect!

If you decide to dive Palau you have generally two options - hotel-based or liveaboard. Both are having their advantages - what to choose is up to you. Fish ’n Fins offers both alternatives.

one photo of a coral and a model, the other of a sea turtle and a model under water in Palau
Dive Palau with Fish 'n Fins

HOTELS & RESORTS IN PALAU

There are high-end, mid-range and budget hotels available. The advantages of high-end resorts are obvious. Hotels and Resorts are generally cheaper than liveaboards and you can go out for dinner and visit bars and shops. To get a better impression of hotel standards we stayed in 2 hotels - our first choice was the mid-range Palasia Hotel, located in the center of Koror. This hotel is very convenient when it comes to spending your evenings in town, the service is very good, no complaints at all!

The second hotel we tried was the Palau Pacific Resort, which belongs to a Japanese Hotel group - it is considered to be Palau’s premium resort. We enjoyed the high standard of this magnificent resort, its exquisite cuisine, and the long white sand beach. The rooms have Japanese toilets - high-end technology - for a long time we tried to find who is smarter - I, Tanya or the toilet - we concluded after some time that we homo sapiens are loosing to the intelligence of a Japanese toilet in regards to hygiene ;-) - we found it reassuring that if ever there were a rebellion of the machines, it would least not be initiated by a Japanese high-tech toilet.

Palau Pacific Resort Sunset
Sunset at Palau Pacific Resort

JELLYFISH LAKE PALAU & ROCK ISLANDS

Although Palau is a small country there are lots of high-end attractions as for example the world-renowned Jellyfish Lake - one of 52 Palauan saltwater lakes, located in the Rock Islands, and filled with millions of non-stinging jellyfish.

Before we went to Palau we had heard that there were no jellyfish in the lake, due to rising water temperatures in the lake. When we were finally in Palau we learned that it was open again and more than 1 million of the yellow jellies were in the lake.

So - snorkel - flippers & mask and in we go :-) - the jellies are not stinging and you can move between them even without a wetsuit.

Other activities Fish ’n Fins is offering are Off-Road Jungle Tours, Kayaking and Skydiving.

This is what we managed to try.

2 photos of Jellyfish Lake Palau, both with Jellyfish and Model under water
Jellyfish Lake Palau

OFF-ROAD JUNGLE TOURS PALAU

We drove with 4x4 ATVs to remote parts of the island and tried to get stuck in the mud on more than one occasion - but we did not succeed - but you can imagine how we looked (liked like) full of dirt all over - however, it’s sooo much fun.

ATV 4*4 car from Off-Road Jungle Tours Palau
Off-Road Jungle Tours Palau

KAYAKING PALAU - A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR SPLIT PHOTOS

Kayaking is a great thing to do - you are paddling through the Rock Islands on an unsinkable plastic kayak - my editor in Moscow had to persuade me to try kayaking, as I did not want to. I am happy I gave in - kayaking turned out to be so nice that I tried to find some time to repeat it. If only the trip would have been a few days longer - we’d have done it again. It’s so nice to glide silently through the water between the cliffs and the lush green of the Rock Islands. We were just afraid of getting sunburnt, even having applied the most powerful sunscreen the pharmacy had to offer - Palau is very close to the equator it’s easily possible. But there is more than enough shadow under trees and overhangs.

Woman in a kayak in the Mangroves of Palau
Relaxed Kayaking Tour Palau

If you get tired from paddling, take a couple of minutes, jump in the water and go snorkeling - I was happy the Fish ’n Fins guide had recommended I take my underwater camera with me. There are trees rooting under the water - it’s ideal for split shots - I loved shooting there! We were so fascinated, we spent an hour or more in the water.

The opportunity to organize such tours easily is in my book another argument for a land-based stay in Palau.

If I dive for example the Maldive - I will go on a liveaboard - but Palau also has so many things to offer on land - however - different people have different taste …

Split photography half in water half out of model and tree roots
Split Photos during Relaxed Kayaking Tour

CONCLUSION OF OUR TRIP TO PALAU

To conclude my article I would like to quote my wife, who said: As a rule, at some point from any of our trips, I want to go home. Tolya, I don’t want to go home for the first time!

Jake Airplane Palau underwater photo with model
World War 2 Relict - Wreck Diving Palau

BOOK A TRIP TO PALAU

If you are planning on visiting this pristine paradise have a look at Fish 'n Fins Best Price Dive Packages - we are sure, you'll find the right dive vacation package for your dream trip to pristine Palau

Aerial photo of the Rock Islands in Palau
Rock Islands Palau
Saturday, 13 April 2019 08:42

The 5 Pillars of a Perfect Palau Vacation

The 5 Pillars of a perfect Palau Dive & Adventure Vacation

If you are planning a trip to the Republic of Palau this blog is going to be the most important and complete source of information you will find on the internet.

The following 5 Pillars of your perfect Palau Dive & Adventure Trip will leave no questions unanswered on how to get to Palau - the best Palau Hotel or Resort you can book with your Palau Dive & Adventure Package Deal - the best flight connection to Palau - the best time to visit and dive Palau - best activities you need to experience in Palau and last but not least taking photos, videos and using your drone in Palau.

For any additional questions leave us a comment in the box below and we’ll respond visibly to all interested readers. We are Palau’s Dive & Adventure Specialist and here to help you plan the best Palau experience possible. If you have inquiries to hotels and resorts and their prices please email us - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Table of Content

Pillar 1 - find the Best Price Hotel - Resort Dive Package Deal Palau
Pillar 2 - find the best flight to Palau Micronesia
Pillar 3 - Choose the best timing for your Palau Vacation
Pillar 4 - Enhance your Stay with The best activities Palau has to offer
Pillar 5 - check if you can take Photos, videos, and use your drone

Pillar 1 - Book the perfect Dive & Adventure Hotel & Resort Package Deal

Palau Pacific Resort - Luxury Dive Package

Palau Pacific Resort (Palau Pacific Resort Google Map) is the most luxurious resort in Palau and attracts visitors with the taste for excellence. Nested in a tropical garden the resort offers about 160 high-end accommodations from "simple" Garden & Ocean View Rooms to opulent Overwater Bungalows with butler service.

3 on-site restaurants, pool and a fantastic beach with views of Ulong Island and the surrounding hills of Meyuns Island complete the 5-star resort experience.

Palau Pacific Resort and Fish 'n Fins Palau have been inseparable partners for many years due to their dedication to upscale service and impeccable quality. Curious to learn more? Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and Google Reviews.

Palau Pacific Resort Photo Collage

Stay at Palau Pacific Resort and avail our - Dive Palau - Best Price Dive & Adventure Packages starting at US$ 2,370.00 for 7 Nights and 5 dive days including breakfast, 5 dive days, weights, weight belt, bento lunch, boat, guide and NITROX 32 for all Nitrox certified divers.

Palau High-End Resorts with Private Beach

The two best choices in the class Palau hotels & resorts with beach are the Palau Royal Resort and the Sea Passion Hotel, both with private beach and both in Malakal only a short distance from Fish 'n Fins dive & adventure center.

Palau Royal Resort

Palau Royal Resort (Palau Royal Resort Google Map) with its 160 rooms is a member of the Japanese Nikko Hotel Group. It offers all the amenities you could wish for. The resort features one restaurant, 2 bars, pool, fitness room, kids playroom, meeting & event space, SPA, ground golf, and tennis court. Furthermore, if I recall correctly, there is Yoga twice a week at the pool terrace.
As with Palau Pacific Resort, Fish 'n Fins enjoys a long-standing business relationship with Palau Royal Resort. Fish 'n Fins and Palau Royal Resort have been working hand in hand for many years to exceed guest expectations of excellent value for money. Curious to learn more? Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and Google Reviews.

Palau Royal Resort Photo Collage

Stay at Palau Royal Resort and avail one of our - Dive Palau - Best Price Dive & Adventure Packages starting at US$ 1,835.00 for 7 Nights and 5 dive days including breakfast, 5 dive days, weights, weight belt, bento lunch, boat, guide and NITROX 32 for all Nitrox certified divers.

Sea Passion Hotel

Sea Passion Hotel (Sea Passion Hotel Google Map) is one of my personal favorites - this hotel is a rather cozy place with only 74 rooms. The rooms at Sea Passion Hotel are spacious and offer amazing views of the surrounding Rock Islands - the private beach is unbelievably cute and seems to be embedded in the rock islands - making sure that days spent on the private hotel beach offer beautiful snorkeling right from the beach and produce the most amazing vacation pictures.

All rooms feature "open" bathrooms and free drinking water for all guests. The in house restaurant provides authentic Chinese cuisine. Sea Passion Hotel is only 120 meters from Fish 'n Fins and Barracuda Mediterranean Restaurant for guests who prefer western high-end cuisine and vegetarian & vegan dishes. Curious to learn more? Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and Google Reviews.

Sea Passion Hotel Palau Photo Collage

Stay at Sea Passion Hotel Palau and avail one of our - Dive Palau - Best Price Dive & Adventure Packages starting at US$ 1,198.00 for 7 Nights and 5 dive days including breakfast, 5 dive days, weights, weight belt, bento lunch, boat, guide and NITROX 32 for all Nitrox certified divers.

High-End Resorts with Amazing Pools

The Cove Resort Palau

The winner in this class is without question The Cove Resort Palau (The Cove Resort Palau Google Map). This newly built 70 rooms resort is close to Palau Royal Resort, Sea Passion Resort, and Fish 'n Fins Dive & Adventure Center in Malakal, Palau.
The rooms are very spacious and feature fantastic bathrooms. The breakfast buffet offers everything you'd expect and transforms Sunday's into a venue for Palau's most visited brunch - with very affordable pricing and live entertainment. Palau's biggest pool does not only invite swimming and sunbathing, but it is also the perfect place for a sunset cocktail after a day of diving and adventure - I personally love the resort's cheesecake - the BEST in all of Palau ;-) Curious to learn more? Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and Google Reviews.

Cove Resort Palau Photo Collage

Stay at The Cove Resort Palau and avail one of our - Dive Palau - Best Price Dive & Adventure Packages starting at US$ 1,738.00 for 7 Nights and 5 dive days including breakfast, 5 dive days, weights, weight belt, bento lunch, boat, guide and NITROX 32 for all Nitrox certified divers.

Your Perfect Palau Budget Dive & Adventure Package

If you do not wish to spend more than absolutely necessary on your accommodation but are looking for a nice budget hotel the following hotels in town are what you should book for your dive and adventure vacation.

Palau Hotel Koror

One of our absolute best sellers is Palau Hotel Koror (Palau Hotel Koror Google Map) - a 40 rooms property in a central location in Koror - Palau Hotel Koror is literally steps away from Koror's two main shopping malls and numerous restaurants and is our most booked budget option. Palau Hotel Koror offers very cozy rooms with private bathroom and free toiletries. The breakfast room is very cozy and inviting. Breakfast itself simple and nice. A stay at Palau Hotel is your fit if you are looking for a budget solution and/or a hotel in the center of Koror with lots of surrounding amenities.
Curious to learn more? Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and Google Reviews.

Palau Hotel Koror Photo Collage

Stay at Palau Hotel Koror and avail one of our - Dive Palau - Best Price Dive & Adventure Packages starting at US$ 1,235.00 for 7 Nights and 5 dive days including breakfast, 5 dive days, weights, weight belt, bento lunch, boat, guide and NITROX 32 for all Nitrox certified divers.

Palasia Hotel Koror

A step up from Palau Hotel and a few steps away from it is the more cosmopolitan Palasia Hotel Koror (Palasia Hotel Koror Google Map). A property featuring about 160 city and bay view rooms, an in house duty-free shopping center, café, bar, and restaurant. Groups and seminars find space in several executive board and seminar rooms. Palasia Hotel Koror also offers an outdoor pool, a SPA and Palau's best-equipped fitness center.
A stay at Palasia Hotel is perfect for larger groups, shopping enthusiasts :-) and people who love to be in town and free to walk about restaurants and shop once back from their daily adventure tours.
Curious to learn more? Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and Google Reviews.

Palasia Hotel Koror Palau Photo Collage

Stay at Palasia Hotel Koror and avail one of our - Dive Palau - Best Price Dive & Adventure Packages starting at US$ 1,440.00 for 7 Nights and 5 dive days including breakfast, 5 dive days, weights, weight belt, bento lunch, boat, guide and NITROX 32 for all Nitrox certified divers.

Ocean Star Hotel Koror

And last but not least Fish ’n Fins Palau offers Best Price Dive & Adventure Packages with Ocean Star Hotel (Ocean Star Hotel Koror Google Map). The hotel is located at T-Dock, maybe 5 minutes walk from the center of Koror with Shopping Malls and Restaurants. The property is small with only 31 rooms. The rooms are very very nice and provide some of Palau’s BEST value for money. Ocean Star Hotel rooms are spacious with fantastic bathrooms and great balconies and terraces, depending on the room category you book.
It is built right by the water and has no beach, but has a nice BBQ area next to the ocean - of all our budget hotels Ocean Star Hotel offers the highest standard of accommodations. So, if you want to keep costs reasonably low and don’t mind walking a couple of minutes to Koror center the Ocean Star Hotel is a match for you. Curious to learn more? Check out reviews on Tripadvisor and Google Reviews.

Ocean Star Hotel Koror Palau Photo Collage

Stay at Ocean Star Hotel Koror and avail one of our - Dive Palau - Best Price Dive & Adventure Packages starting at US$ 1,160.00 for 7 Nights and 5 dive days including breakfast, 5 dive days, weights, weight belt, bento lunch, boat, guide and NITROX 32 for all Nitrox certified divers.

All the above hotels and resorts are suitable for single travelers, couples and families.
For families traveling with 2 or more children, we'd recommend having a look at our Family Package Deals - especially created and priced for the needs and budgets of families with kids.

Pillar 2 - How to get to Palau and the best flights to Palau

Planning your flight to Palau is as easy as clicking one of the following links to airlines servicing Palau and following their online booking instructions. In this blog post, I will give you some tips on how to save time with your airline booking to Palau and describe in detail on how to book your airfare to Palau.

Coming from the Americas to Palau you have the following options.

Take United Airlines and fly from Huston, San Francisco or Los Angeles via Hawaii and Guam on to Palau

Flight times are about 6 hours from Los Angeles LAX to Hawaii - from Honolulu to Guam about 7:50 hours to Guam and on to Palau for about 2 hours flight time.

Another way would be to take any flight available to Tokyo, Japan and fly from there via United Airlines to Guam and Palau.

The third option, one that I like personally very much, enjoying the service of China Airlines, would be flying with China Airlines from Los Angeles to Taipeh, Taiwan and from there to Palau.
If you wish to search the United Website for the availability of a route go to.

United Airlines Flights to Palau

Coming from Australia

Best flight connection is hands down with China Airlines directly from Sydney to Taipeh and Palau.

Coming from Asia

Coming from Manila, the Philippines take United Airlines twice a week.
Coming from Taipeh, Taiwan take China Airlines three times a week
Coming from Tokyo, Japan take United Airlines - flights are daily
Coming from Seoul, Korea - take Asiana Airlines …

Coming from Europe

Coming from Europe you have lots of choices - you can make your way with any available airline to Tokyo, Japan - Manila, Philippines - Taipeh, Taiwan - Seoul, Korea and from there to Koror, Palau.

My favorite connection to Europe is China Airlines - great service, convenient connections, and competitive pricing. Direct flights with China Airlines from Vienna, Austria and Frankfurt, Germany are daily available. Note however that connecting flight to Koror, Palau is only provided three times per week - but who knows, you may like to add a couple of days in Taipeh ;-)

China Airlines flights to Palau

Pillar 3 - The Best Time for your Palau Vacation

When is the best Season for Palau?

The answer to question one is - the season for Palau is 12 months a year - we have always around 28 degrees air and between 26-28 degrees Celsius water temperature. As we are in the tropics we are getting frequent rain - the rain showers are usually short, and the rain is warm :-). There is no particular rainy and dry season (not anymore).

What season is the water the clearest?

The answer to this question is that underwater visibility does not depend on a season, like diving in a lake - it solely depends on tides and waves. Meaning in any season the visibility is the same and changes only with tides and waves. If tides are getting low, and you are close to sandy patches or channels the “outgoing current” will transport sediments and visibility will drop - the other way around if the tide gets high clear waters will push with “incoming” current towards the reef and allow for very clear visibility.
When do I see aggregations of spawning fish?

What is the best timing to see fish aggregation and spawning?

We dive with spawning fish twice every month - the best times to enjoy spawning dives are about 3 days before New and Full Moon. We usually leave early in the morning to see thousands of fish aggregating. If you wish to join us on a Spawning Dive please plan your vacation accordingly.

Pillar 4 - The Best 4 Activities to book in Palau

Relaxed Kayaking around the Rock Islands

Fish ’n Fins will bring you by boat to Nikko Bay, a very picturesque bay surrounded by Rock Islands. From there your guide will lead you through the Rock Islands of Palau, exploring overhangs and little caves.

Waterfall & Island Adventure Tour

This tour is the perfect last day after diving Palau. One of the Fish ’n Fins guides will pick you up from your hotel or resort in the morning and show you around Palau - you will see the big island, Babeldaob, visit Palau capital and hike along a river to a stunning waterfall. Don’t forget your camera :-)

The 4 best activities you should book in Palau

Jellyfish Lake & Rock Island Boat & Snorkeling Tour

If you are not a diver and you did not have the opportunity to snorkel with thousands of non-stinging jellyfish after a dive day, then book this trip - the trip to jellyfish lake will lead you through Rock islands along tropical sandy beaches and finally to Jellyfish Lake and it’s amazing Jellyfish - note, however, that you have to buy a Koror State + Jellyfish Lake permit to visit Jellyfish - this permit costs currently US$ 100.00.

Off-Road Jungle Tours

There is no cooler tour in Palau than the Off-Road Jungle Tour - you’ll get around the island in 4x4 ATVs and can drive one yourself if you want to. This tour will put a smile on your face and plenty of mud on your clothes ;-)

Pillar 5 - Photo,s Videos & use of Drones in Palau

Palau is a photo & video opportunity of a lifetime. Whether in the water or on land you’ll collect the most amazing photos and videos. Shooting during your island tour and cultural sites is permitted and included in your tour fee.

f you are considering bringing your drone to Palau, please be aware that a national permit is required as well as a Koror State permit. For more information, please contact our reservation This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Using Drones in Palau

If you wish to learn more about one of our fantastic offers, do not hesitate and contact our reservations department - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Monday, 25 March 2019 12:07

Shark Week Palau 2019 - An Amazing Event

Concluding a very successful Shark Week 2019

Yes, we did it again - to be exact the 17th time - we have concluded another very successful Shark Week Palau, an event we have been hosting from March 16 - 23, 2019 - this time at our new location at Pier 7 in Malakal.

As we reported earlier Fish ’n Fins has moved to a brand new and way better location at Pier 7 in Malakal - click here to see us on a Google Map. Although we tried very hard to have Dive Shop, Dive Boutique, Barracuda Restaurant and docks all dolled up for Shark Week one of our prestigious yearly events, we were not able to obtain all permits in time. Dive Shop and Dive Boutique were finished and are looking fantastic, Barracuda Restaurant and our docks were 90% finished and still in need of the final touch.

New Dive Shop and Boutique of Fish 'n Fins Palau

Nevertheless our 32 international guests enjoyed Shark Week at its finest. Fish ’n Fins offered a great program consisting of 2-3 shark dives daily followed by a rest at the hotel and evening presentations enjoyed with great food provided by Barracuda Restaurant.

Our sharks divers were asked to participate in a “citizen science” project to count the shark seen during their dives. This is a project, which our dive masters have been engaged in on daily basis for many years.

The winner of the citizen science project counted over 140 sharks during 10 dives with our team of Palau’s finest dive masters - see a short interview with the winner later in this post.

The highlight apart from the amazing shark diving was however the opulent Gala Dinner on the last evening of Shark Week 2019 - you should have been with us - the food was just AMAZING - Barracuda offered from vegan to crispy pork everything you could ask for - it was delicious …

To summarize the 2019 event we would like to invite you to watch Udi’s wonderful video - I think he really captured the essence of Shark Week - great diving - fun - friends - shark education and good food ;-)

As every year our event was organized by Fish ’n Fins and the Micronesian Shark Foundation - I guess you know who Fish ’n Fins is - allow us to give you a short introduction to the second partner though.

Micronesian Shark Foundation

The Micronesian Shark Foundation is a non-profit, Palauan based foundation whose goal is to research and monitor Palau’s sharks as well as to provide shark education for future generations and communities in the Micronesian region. In 2002, Tova and Navot Bornovski, together with Kenneth Johnny founded the Micronesian Shark Foundation. They started with small pilot research programs and

expanded to bigger programs, as well as monitoring, DNA collecting and education throughout the region.

Key questions that led to the foundation of the MSF in 2002: Are the sharks we see in Palau here all the time? If and when they leave, where do they go? Is the Palau shark population in decline or increase? Do sharks avoid dive sites because of divers? Is the shark behavior changing? What is the status of sharks throughout the region?

Fish 'n Fins Dive Master with Guest

Micronesian Shark Foundation Research and Education programs:

Monitoring abundance. Ecotourism operators recording numbers.

2. Tagging – Acoustic Receivers.

3. DNA sampling of shark populations in Palau.

4. School education programs and presentations in Palau and Micronesian islands.

5. MSF initiated the first study of socio economic analysis of sharks in Palau.

6. Photo-identification. Mark, recapture, and demography.

7. Special work-books created by Palauan college interns and high school students.

Micronesian Shark Foundation is partnering with Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, for continuing research and research programs. Scientific papers have been published with more to come. Educational programs are expanding with more islands in the Micronesian region gaining exposure to the programs. The Micronesian Shark Foundation is working closely with the Palauan government to enhance the protection of Palau’s shark population. The efforts of the Micronesian Shark Foundation were highlighted by the declaration of Palau’s President in 2009 of creating the world’s first shark sanctuary. (A documentary film of the Micronesian Shark Foundation work is scheduled to be published at the end of 2012.)

The Micronesian Shark Foundation future plans are:

To continue & expand the shark research & study in Micronesia. Create and maintain cooperation in other parts of Micronesia through educational material and regional workshops. Develop scientific tools to protect the prime dive sites of Palau. Expand education at elementary school in Palau  and Micronesian islands. Share data collected by the MSF with local agencies and government. Make Palau synonymous with shark research, protection and environmental awareness

For further information and donations, please contact:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.msfpalau.org Finny the Shark

Finny the shark is our Micronesian Shark Foundation Mascot and a good friend of all Palauan kids, the Palauan Rangers and of course all of Palau’s sharks. Over the years, Finny the Shark Rangers have visited the schools in Palau to create awareness regarding the importance of the ecosystem and the need for a healthy balanced ocean.

Blacktip Reef Shark

Shark Week Palau 2019 Program

Saturday, March 16, 2019   Arrival of participants, optional diving

—————

Day 1 - Sunday, March 17, 2019 Theme: Data collection and observation of shark movement patterns around Ngemelis Island

8:00 AM Hotel pick up & registration for those who are arriving late that night.

8:30 AM Opening of Shark Week

9:00 AM Boat Departure

Dive #1 New Drop Off

Dive # 2 German Channel Incoming current

Dive # 3 Optional: Blue Corner

7:00 PM Pick up from hotel, to Barracuda Bar and Restaurant at Fish ‘n Fins, snacks and drinks provided, hosted by Tova Harel-Bornovski of the Micronesian Shark Foundation.

7:30 PM Official opening of Shark Week 2019

The official opening and followed by an introduction to the Micronesian Shark Foundation by founder Mrs. Tova Harel-Bornovski.  Introduction of Finny the Funny Shark and visiting scientists and volunteers.

—————

Day 2 - Monday March 18, 2019 Theme: Sharks behavior during the Spawning of Bohar Red Snapper early morning dive before Full Moon

5:30 AM Departure

Dive #1 Shark City

Dive #2 Siaes Corner

Dive #3 (optional) – Ulong Channel

7:00pm  Evening @ Barracuda Restaurant and Bar, Fish ‘n Fins, with snacks and drinks

Lecture: Shark Tourism in Palau by Stephanie Nakamura

In 2005, Ms. Nakamura completed her Associate of Science in Travel & Tourism at Kapio`lani Community College then, quickly pursued her Bachelor of Science degree in the School of Travel Industry Management with an emphasis in Hospitality at University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2007.  Three years later, Nakamura graduated with a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in San Diego, California in 2010. She holds a three-year experience as an Instructor/Program Chair for the Palau Tourism & Hospitality School of Excellence at Palau Community College in the Republic of Palau. Currently, Nakamura is the Managing Director of Palau Visitor’s Authority and has been the PVA’s Managing Director for nearly two years. She is also now this year’s Chairwoman for PATA Micronesia Chapter.

Tova and Yarden serving Shark Bread

Day 3 - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 Theme: Shark Populations at Peleliu island

8:30 AM Departure

Dive #1 Peleliu Cut (outgoing current)

Dive #2 Peleliu Express (incoming current)

Dive #3 Turtle Cove Optional dive

7:00 PM Lecture- Evening @ Barracuda Restaurant and Bar, Fish ‘n Fins, with snacks and drinks.

Lecture by Tova Harel Bornovski

Lecture: Micronesian Shark Foundation work in Palau and Micronesia: Shark Research, Data Collection, Education and Conservation by Founder Tova Harel Bornovski.

Tova Harel Bornovski is the founder and President of the Micronesian Shark Foundation, the general manager of Fish ‘N Fins and the Ocean Hunter Liveaboards. The realization of the mistreatment of sharks led to the Micronesian Shark Foundation in 2002.

Via MSF, Tova initiated the first shark research in Palau in order to collect, distribute and analyze data that could be used for shark regional protection.

Tova created the first shark count in Micronesia and the collection of DNA samples, the documentation of illegal shark finning in Palau.

School education in Palau and the Micronesian region has been in process since 2009 as well as publishing children shark books and drawing competitions.

Tova was indicted to the Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2013. A new project to research Oceanic Sharks that are depleting rapidly is in collaboration with Stanford University under the leadership of Professor Barbara Block.

Shark Bread at Fish 'n Fins

Day 4 - Wednesday, March 20, 2019 Theme: Shark behavior at West Passage

9:30 AM Departure

Dive #1 West Passage North

Dive #2 West Passage South

Dive #3 (optional) – Short Drop Off

 Graceful Shark has been seen twice by Shark Week participants at West Passage. It was never sighted elsewhere.

7:00 PM - Evening @ Barracuda Restaurant and Bar, Fish ‘n Fins, with snacks and drinks.

Lecture: Right Timing for Video & Diving by Noah Perdue & Udi Bornovski

Lecture: A dive guide and sharks stories, by Noah Purdue & Udi Bornovski, Fish ‘n Fins dive instructors.

Two chefs serving Pork BBQ

Day 5, Thursday March 21, 2019 Theme: Blue Corner at New Moon

8:30 AM Departure

Dive #1 Blue Corner outgoing tide

Dive #2 Blue Corner Incoming tide

Dive #3 (Optional) German Wall

7:00 PM Evening @ Barracuda Restaurant and Bar, Fish ‘n Fins, with snacks and drinks.

MOVIE: Shark on the Ledge by Micronesian Shark Foundation and Scuba Vision Productions

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Day 6 - Friday, March 22, 2019    OPTIONAL DIVING DAY FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS

7:00 PM Gala Evening at Barracuda Restaurant and Bar, Fish 'n Fins, with gourmet local food and drinks, raffle drawing for all Shark Week participants.

If you did not have the chance to visit us for Shark Week Palau 2019 - you'll have another chance for the 18th annual Shark Week Palau 2020 :-)

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 11:18

Adventure Diving at Blue Holes Palau

Mystical diving in Palau - Blue Holes

The Blue Holes are one of the popular ways to start your dive to Blue Corner. The holes form the top of a very large cavern. On the face of the reef there are two (2) exits. One is a small 15-foot (5 meter) diameter window at 45 feet (15 meters). The other is a large opening starting at 85 feet (27 meters). The bottom of the cavern is at 120 feet (40 meters). In the north end of the cavern, at 85 feet (27 meters), is a narrow entrance that leads to another cave.

This cave is appropriately named The Temple of Doom. Several people have perished in this cave, it not for inexperienced divers. Only divers with a Cave Diver rating and special gear should enter this area. Please stay out!!!

Important notice - Blue holes are a popular dive site. Many dive boats are usually circling around the site waiting for divers. On ascent, use a Safety Sausage and keep your eyes and ears open for boats.

The current that runs along the west coast of the Palau Islands hits the reef wall at Blue Corner and flows up and over the plateau bringing with an abundance of clean water, plankton and algae. This phenomenon occasionally creates very strong currents and down drafts. The currents change with the tides and reverse direction approximately every 6 hours. As a rule of thumb the incoming tide will flow from south to north and the outgoing tide from north to south. The current at Blue Corner and Blue Holes are strongest and hardest to predict during the half- moon. When swimming from Blue Holes to Blue Corner you may have to swim against the current for about 150 feet (50 meters). When you pass the second buoy, the current will reverse and carry you to the corner. The ambient light coming into the cavern from the large opening appears dark blue; this is an excellent backdrop for award-winning photos.

Distance from Koror - 30 miles (48 km) 50-70 minutes by a speedboat.

Level of Diving Experience - Novice, intermediate.

Visibility - 60-150 feet (20-50 m).

Location

Northwest of Ngemelis Island and north of Blue Corner.

Blue Holes Palau photos by Anatoly Beloshchin

Reef Formation

A vertical wall runs from north to south and merges with Ngemelis wall at Blue Corner. Four holes on top the shallow reef 3-6 feet (1-2 m) deep, about 1000 feet (305 m) north of Blue Corner marks the ceiling of a very large cavern. There is a huge opening stretching from 85-140 feet (26-42 m). A window, 15 feet (5 m) in diameter at 55 feet (17 m) is an alternative way to swim out. At 85 feet (26 m) on the north part of the site, there is a narrow entrance at 80 feet (24 m) that leads to an even larger cave called “The Temple of Doom”.  Special preparation and gear is needed in order to penetrate this cave. The wall outside the cavern is vertical and ends at Blue Corner.

Marine Life

Inside of the cavern you will find many soft corals and Tubastraea decorating the walls, along with many species of nudibranchs and shells that can be found on the sandy bottom. Schools of fish patrol the large opening (with dark blue ambient light as a background). On the way out, the wall is vertical and offers just about any type of coral and fish you can imagine! The 7-10 minutes swim to Blue Corner is rewarding.

Diving Blue Holes Palau

Diving

Probably the second most popular site in Palau, the dive at the Blue Holes usually starts with swimming over the shallow reef and descending through one of the four holes on top of the reef. Occasionally if the tide is very low or the swell is high, the dive commences down along the wall and into the cavern. Swimming through the hole, you will discover a very big cavern. Flooded with rays of light, each hole on the ceiling is light blue and the very large opening to the west is dark blue. Spend some time in the cave and enjoy the sight of it before swimming out toward Blue Corner. Do not attempt to enter Temple of Doom unless you are prepared for cave diving and accompanied by a guide who knows the place! On your way out from Blue Holes, keep the wall to your left and kick toward Blue Corner, you will pass through beautiful canyons and crevices. The wall is colorful and rich with marine life. At the corner, hook yourself and watch the sharks playing in the current.

Sea Turtle sleeping in cave at Blue Holes Palau

Fascinating Facts

Recognizable from the air, early divers in the late 1950’s considered Blue Holes as one of the first dive sites in Palau.   

Blue Hole Dive Site Palau Info Graphic

If you want to see more of Anatoly's photos click here to visit his website

Book one of Palau's
Best Price Dive Packages
Book a Luxurious Dive Package with Palau Pacific Resort
Book a High End Dive Package with Sea Passion Hotel
Book a Budget Dive Package with Palau Hotel in Koror
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Monday, 11 March 2019 15:32

AQUA KIDS PALAU SCUBA DIVING

Scuba Diving for Kids - Fish 'n Fins' Aqua Kids

Fantastic NEWS from the BLUE BLOCK  department

The most exciting part of our BUILDING BLOCK SYSTEM - AQUA KIDS PALAU - are our scuba diving lessons …

Add for each day of program one BLUE BLOCK and advance from PADI SASY - PADI BUBBLEMAKER  to PADI SEAL DIVER

 

Fish ’n Fins is Palau’s only PADI 5 Star Instructor  Development & Diving Center - offering highest quality since 1972 - Fish 'n Fins where quality and competence matter 

BLOCK

ADULT

5-12 YEARS

Blue Block

USD 140.00*

USD 110.00*

Red Block

USD 110.00*

USD 75.00*

Green Block

USD 175.00*

USD 88.00*

 Fish 'n Fins' Aqua Kids Palau - Seal Team 

The PADI Seal Team is for young scuba divers who are looking for action-packed fun in a pool by completing exciting AquaMissions. Have you ever wondered what it's like to dive with flashlights, take digital pictures underwater or float effortlessly like an astronaut? Beyond learning basic scuba skills, there are specialty AquaMissions, such as wreck diving, navigation, buoyancy, environmental awareness and more. PADI Seal Team includes doing some cool stuff in the pool, meeting friends and sharing in the adventure of the underwater world. To join the PADI Seal Team, a child must be 8 years of age or older. No prior experience with scuba diving is necessary, but kids should be comfortable in the water. Parental approval is required. 

The PADI Seal Team program teaches responsibility and respect for the aquatic realm. It’s broken into two parts.

Part one, AquaMissions 1 - 5, covers basic scuba diving skills, such as breathing underwater, clearing a mask of water, recovering a regulator and swimming around experiencing the sensation of being weightless. Each session takes about an hour. Complete these AquaMissions and become a recognized PADI Seal Team Member. Your experience may also count toward the PADI Open Water Diver course when you’re old enough to participate in the course.

Part two, 10 specialty AquaMissions, includes adventures like creature identification, search and recovery diving, and skin diving. Complete all of these and you’ll become a PADI Master Seal Team Member – joining an elite group of young scuba divers.

In the PADI Seal Team program, you learn to use basic scuba gear, including a mask, snorkel, fins, regulator, buoyancy control device, dive gauges and a tank.

Visit your local dive center to ask about gear and get advice about how to prepare from your PADI Seal Team Leader (a.k.a. PADI Instructor).

Fish 'n Fins' Aqua Kids Palau - Bubble Maker

Experience scuba diving under the direct supervision of a PADI Pro. Take your first breaths underwater in water shallower than 2 meters/6 ft. For children who are at least 8 years old.

Bubble Maker is as fun as it sounds – a chance for kids to blow bubbles by scuba diving. Children who are at least 8 years old can use scuba gear to breathe underwater and swim around in shallow water. A child must be 8 years old or older. Kids must be comfortable in the water, but no prior experience is necessary. Parental approval is required. 

Bubble Makers get a chance to:

  • Experience scuba diving under the direct care and supervision of a PADI Pro.
  • Take their first breaths underwater in water shallower than 2 meters/6 feet.
  • Learn about and use scuba diving equipment made for children – not adults.
  • Have lots of fun.

In the Bubble Maker program, participants get a basic introduction to how to use scuba gear, how to clear a regulator and mask, and an overview of breathing do’s and don’ts. Your local dive shop will advise you about anything else you need.

Fish 'n Fins' Aqua Kids Palau - SASY 

SASY Program (5yrs+) 

Can’t wait to turn 8 to try Scuba?  No problem!  Aqua Kids Palau offers kids as young as 5 years old their 1st breath on scuba with the Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth (SASY).

In the SASY program, kids 5-8 yrs old wear a “BCD” and scuba equipment just like the older kids, but they stay on the surface, and experience breathing from a regulator while floating and without going underwater.

The BCD is like a life preserver, and it holds a real scuba tank with a functioning regulator and air gauge. However, the BCD is not weighted, so the child remains positively buoyant at the surface of the pool.  Kids wear a mask and fins just like the older kids, and they can practice “scuba” on the surface.

How Long Does It Take?

The SASY Experience takes a couple hours – it can be done in one fun, exciting afternoon!

The Learning Materials Your Child Needs

  • Just your child’s willingness and undivided attention!
  • To enroll in SASY, you must be at least 5 years old.

What are the Condition to Book Family Packages?

Booking Conditions:

Package rates are exclusively for families with children not older than 17 yrs. of age | Minimum booking - Book Accommodation with Fish 'n Fins and a mix of 8  Blocks - RED, BLUE or GREEN. 

Booking Period from February 01 until October 24, 2019. Travel Time from June 01 until October 31, 2019

Fish 'n Fins - Always one idea ahead

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Accommodations | Aqua Kids Scuba Brochure | ECO RANGER Program | Adventure Building Blocks

Monday, 11 March 2019 08:33

AQUA KIDS PALAU ECO RANGER

Fish 'n Fins' Aqua Kids Palau - Eco Ranger Program

Fantastic NEWS from the BLUE BLOCK  department 

We have added an amazing BLUE SUPER BLOCK - put 3 BLUE BLOCKS together and be well on the way to earn Palau’s most prestigious AQUA KIDS title ever - the title of  E C O  R A N G E R  PALAU

E C O  R A N G E R S are independent adventurers - explorers who seek the special experience …

Far from their diving parents this elite group works on solutions for the future of our planet. 

Gaining first hand knowledge in multiplying corals, reef ecology & trash recycling E C O  R A N G E R S spend three full days with their instructors, experienced marine biologists to achieve the unthinkable and to finally be awarded with highest honors and the title E C O  R A N G E R 

Regular Blue Blocks: Scuba Diving with Fish ’n Fins at  Palau’s world famous dive sites - click here to see the entire family program

Blue Super Block: 3 Blue Blocks combined to a 3 days kids super adventure and the title Eco Ranger Palau

BLOCK

ADULT

5-12 YEARS

Blue Block

USD 140.00*

USD 110.00*

Red Block

USD 110.00*

USD 75.00*

Green Block

USD 175.00*

USD 88.00*

Description of the E C O  - R A N G E R  - P A L A U  Program

After meeting at Fish ’n Fins our young E C O  - R A N G E R  - P A L A U apprentices will leave from our pier for a short trip to Dolphin Bay, an eco research center.

Dolphin Bay takes its name from the dolphins, which have been living there for the past 20 years - dolphins rescued from Japanese Taiji and brought to Palau to live free - to the surprise of the Japanese biologist team the dolphins came back after being set free - biologists have even taken the dolphins for long trips and were surprised that the animals would follow the boat out in the sea and back home. The head biologist suggested that the dolphins may enjoy safety and easy meals over exploring the ocean by themselves.

A sign of their content is that they have made babies -  E C O  - R A N G E R S will see adult dolphins and their babies and be able to feed and of course be in photos with them.

Here is our great program in detail …

Day 1 Coral Reef Ecology, Coral Planting & Dolphin Challenge

08:30 Check in of children & boat ride to Dolphin Bay Facility

09:00 Participation in the “Close Encounter Program”*

10:10  About our Ocean and corals - stories, lecture & coral planting

11:30 Lunch - provided by Barracuda Restaurants for booked children

13:00 Watching Dolphin's Show and playing the “Nature Game”**

14:30 Snorkeling

15:30 Back to Fish ’n Fins

Day 2 Recycling Challenge 1, Swimming and Snorkeling

08:30 Children meet at Fish ’n Fins and walk over to Dolphin Pacific

09:00 Tour of Recycling Center in Koror - learning about recycling

11:00 Visit to Long Island Park

11:30 Lunch - provided by Barracuda Restaurants for booked children

13:00 Children & Instructors will “clean the island”  

14:20 Wash the collected trash and recycle the item

14:40 Swimming & Fun at the Long Island Beach

15:30 Back to Fish ’n Fins

Day 3 Recycling Challenge 2, Building photo frame from recycling materials, Ecology, Snorkeling

08:30 Children meet at Fish ’n Fins and walk over to Dolphin Pacific

09:00 Boat Ride to Dolphin Bay Facility

09:15 Recycling program - children produce photo frames from trash

10:30 Break

11:00 Children and instructors will produce an original “Eco Bag” from trash

13:00 Children learn about the ecology of dolphins

13:30 Nature Game**

14:30 Snorkeling

15:30 Back to Fish ’n Fins

*Close Encounter (Definition)

This is one of the programs that Dolphins Pacific offers. The program includes a walking tour around the facility. At the end of the tour each kid will have the opportunity to touch the dolphin, do a handshake and signal the dolphin to jump. All procedures are done from the floating dock.

**Nature Game (Definition)

Together we will have fun and learn at the same time. We will teach about the environment, ocean and reef, how dolphins catch their fish and more ... 

Days of Tours

Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; every week; days can be moved according to flight schedule.

Inclusions in price

3 days program; 3 days insurance; Instructors/marine Biologists/Trainers from Dolphin Bay; all taxes and local fees.

Cancelation

No cancelation fee applies if canceled more than 24 hours prior to event. For cancelations less than 24 hours prior to event a fee of 1 blue block applies.

Minimum Number of Participants: 

Minimum number of participants is THREE  -  Age 6 yrs - 12 yrs. Maximum number of participants is TWELVE  -  Age 6 yrs - 12 yrs. Fish ’n Fins will provide one of their employees to support Dolphin Pacific staff members in their efforts during the program for 5 and more participants.

Lunch

Lunch for the children is supplied by Barracuda our in-house restaurant. Please let us know dietary restrictions ahead of time, we are happy to accommodate your needs.

Booking Conditions:

Package rates are exclusively for families with children not older than 17 yrs. of age | Minimum booking - Accommodation booked with Fish 'n Fins, a mix of 8  Blocks - RED, BLUE or GREEN. 

Booking Period from February 01 until October 24, 2019. Travel Time from June 01 until October 31, 2019

Family Vacation Example Package

7 Nights Double Occupancy including breakfast, all transfers & local taxes at the hotel/resort of your choice - parents sharing one blue package and buying RED and GREEN Blocks according to the number of children.

Day 1 - Both Parent Diving - Kids in ECO RANGER boot camp

Day 2 - Both Parent Diving - Kids in ECO RANGER boot camp

Day 3 - Both Parent Diving - Kids in ECO RANGER boot camp

Day 4 - Off Road Jungle Tour for the whole family 

Day 5 - Rock Island Tour with Milky Way for the whole family

Day 6 - Relaxed Kayaking Tour for the whole family 

Day 7 - Walking around Koror and relaxing at the beach/pool

All activities include transportation, guide & lunch/snack/water. Activities do not include state & national park fees.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Fish 'n Fins' Aqua Kids Palau Program | Accommodations | Eco Ranger Brochure | Scuba Building Blocks

--- Fish 'n Fins - Always one idea ahead ---

PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) and Instructor Examination (IE)

When: The IDC starts on 1st June and the IE is scheduled for June12 and 13.

Price: The price is $3100 and this includes Nitrox and EFR instructor as well as the PADI IDC and IE entrance fees.

"Fish’n’Fins has conducted IDC and IE over the last 8 years, with 100% success rate. All Our Candidates have passed :-)"

PADI OWSI Program

Course Prerequisites:
To enter the PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) course, you must

  • Be a certified PADI Divemaster and be in good standing with another training organization.

  • Completed and logged at least 100 dives as documented by your logbook.

  • Be 18 years old.

  • Submit medical clearance for diving signed by a doctor within the last 12 months.

  • Have proof of CPR and First Aid training within the last 24 months.

IDC Course Overview

During the course youll learn how to apply the PADI System of Education and Practice.

Course Orientation:

Dive Industry Overview, General Standards and Procedure, The Role of Media and Prescriptive Teaching, Legal Responsibility and Risk Management, PADI Scuba Diver and Open Water Diver Course, Adaptive Teaching, PADI Continuing Education Philosophy, Business Principles for the Dive Instructor, Adventures in Diving Programs, Specialty Diver Courses and the Master Scuba Diver Programs, Rescue Diver Course, Divemaster Course, How to Teach the RDP.

5 Diving Theories: Physics, Physiology, Equipment, RDP and ERP, Skills and Environment. *Emergency First Responder Instructor Course (EFR)
Open Water Teaching Development and Confined Water Teaching Development *Confined Water Skill Development

Time Requirement

You will need 12 days for both the IDC and IE.

FishnFins will run a Pre-IDC course (included) to prepare you for the IDC.
The IE takes place one day after the completion of the IDC.
There will be both a Chinese translator and a Japanese translator.

BOOK YOUR IDC HERE

Sunday, 24 February 2019 11:12

Scuba Diving Palau with Rose & Udo Kefrig

Diving Palau with Photographers & Journalists Udo & Rose Kefrig

We would like to introduce Rose & Udo Kefrig, two very good old friends who have been with Fish ’n Fins many time over the years and who have made many stories about Palau, Fish ’n Fins and our Ocean Hunter Liveaboards. I met them at the Fish ’n Fins/Ocean Hunter booth at Boot 2019 in Germany and I asked them if they would feel like being featured at FNF MAG and here we are.

macro photography palau by udo kefrig

Rose & Udo Kefrig are known in the diving scene as Team Oceanpics. For over 30 years, the couple has been traveling with the camera from native waters to tropical dream destinations. They have published various books and participated in television productions. In addition to underwater photography, they also shoot unique topside photography, which includes local highlights, people, cultures, and other feature themes.

Udo is a celebrated photographer, his photos have received many international awards. Rose is a writer and photographer, her reports and photos have been published in numerous national and international magazines. Both are permanent freelance editors of diving magazines like Unterwasser, online magazine HEINZ and Scuba Diver UK. Furthermore Rose & Udo are co-authors of various wreck, travel and diving guide books.

photos of colorful reefs palau by udo kefrig

Photographic equipment

Udo has been shooting with a Canon 5D MK III in the SEACAM housing since 2016.

Quoting Udo, After all these years using SEACAM equipment I have to say, SEACAM is the Mercedes Benz amongst the underwater housings, it’s the best system there is.

The housings are easy to use, the levers and switches are in the right place and are still very easy to operate even with three-fingered gloves. Camera installation, change of different viewfinders, ports and lenses, everting works perfectly. I believe SEACAM’s creed to using only best materials and producing premium quality is unmatched.”

As lighting Udo uses two Seaflash 150D from SEACAM. Udo mentioned he is very impressed by the strobes TTL functions - “it works exactly to the point”. The flashes offer all important information for the photographer, as well as flash ready and underexposure display, two-stage pilot light setting, slave flash sensor and a very good wide-angle coverage. The replacement battery system is masterfully designed to allow the system always to be ready.

Manat, Shark, Napoleon in Palau

Photo Gear

1 SEACAM Housing silver for Canon EOS5D MKIII; 2 SEACAM strobes Seaflash 150Digital and 2 SeaCam Strobe Arms; 2 View Finders, both SEACAM S45 and S180; 1 SD Super Dome; 1 MIP Macroport plus wet diopter system 2,5:1; Canon EOS-5D-MARK-III DSL Camera; Canon EF 16-35 mm 1:2,8L III USM; Canon EF 15 mm f/2.8 Fisheye; Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L USM Macro

Schooling Fish Palau by Undo Kefrig

Dive Equipment

Both have been using ScubaPro dive gear since the 1980s. They enjoy ScubaPro’s quality and longevity - some of their gear lasted for over 3,000 dives. Hence no discussion that Rose and Udo love their ScubaPro regulators and BCDs.

The couple was kind enough to send us an assortment of photographs to share - all taken in Palau, one of their absolute favorites - their all time favorite dive sites are Blue Corner, German Channel, Chandelier Cave and of course Ulong Channel. While taking these amazing photographs Rose and Udo stayed at several occasions at Palau Pacific Resort, Palau Royal Resort and Palasia Hotel. If you wish to get in touch with Rose & Udo Kefrig here are their FIRST WEBSITE - FACEBOOK - YOUTUBE - SECOND WEBSITE

Did you like their phots? Leave us a comments …

Wreck Photography Palau by Udo Kefrig

Ready to pack your camera and come to Palau - check out one of the following great Hotel/Dive Packages - if you don't find the right package there, send us and email or call us on WhatsApp :-)

Book one of Palau's
Best Price Dive Packages
Book a Luxurious Dive Package with Palau Pacific Resort
Book a High End Dive Package with Sea Passion Hotel
Book a Budget Dive Package with Palau Hotel in Koror
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