Located on the western reefs of Palau, just 24 miles (39km) southeast of Koror, lies Barnum's Wall, a stunning dive site that offers an unforgettable underwater experience. As a novice diver, you will be mesmerized by the beauty and diversity of this reef.

Barnum's Wall is a sloping reef that runs northeast to southwest parallel to Ngercheu Island, sharing a corner and shallow plateau with Turtle Cove. The northeast section of the reef starts near the surface and slopes down to 70 to 120 feet (23 to 40 meters) before changing to a rough sandy run-off. Canyons and caverns cut through from the top of the reef, creating a beautiful landscape to explore. Before the reef reaches the corner, it changes into a sheer wall that drops down to 450 to 900 feet (150 to 300 meters).

The marine life at Barnum's Wall is nothing short of spectacular. As you descend, keep your eyes peeled for white-tip sharks and rays sleeping on the reef. The reef drop-off and corner are adorned with carpets of yellow and green tubastrea corals, and large clouds of Pyramid Butterflyfish and Red Tooth Triggerfish float in the current along the edges of the reef. If conditions are right, schools of Gray Reef sharks, Barracudas, Snappers, Jacks, Wahoo, and other predatory fish will dance around you.

The visibility at Barnum's Wall varies depending on the tide. During incoming tides, visibility can reach up to 120 feet (40 meters), and during outgoing tides, visibility can drop to 30 feet (10 meters). However, even with reduced visibility, you will still be able to enjoy the shallow plateau at the top of the reef, which is decorated with small coral heads and rock canyons. This is an excellent place to search for macro critters, such as the elusive Scorpion Leaf Fish.

underwater photo of a diver with a torch behind a red fan coral

One of the most fascinating aspects of Barnum's Wall is its unpredictable currents. Like other similar dive sites in Palau, including Ngdebus and Turtle Wall, it is often difficult to predict the direction of the current. The current here is not consistent and switches directions randomly. However, your dive guide will check the current and its direction before the dive, and then decide where and in which direction to start the dive. If the current is running strong, move up to the edge of the plateau (20 to 30 feet/ 7 to 10 meters), pick a good spot, and use your reef hook to hook onto a rock. Then, sit back and enjoy the show!

During World War II, a young US Navy Lieutenant named Barnum was in charge of keeping Japanese boats from reaching the inner lagoons of Palau. He strung huge floating steel spheres connected by heavy chain from Barnum's Wall across to Ngemelis Reef, effectively blocking the area approaching German Channel. Some of those steel spheres can still be found along the reef at Big Drop Off. Although the reef is not named after the famous Barnum and Bailey Circus, it still resembles a sea-life circus with its stunning array of marine life.

In conclusion, Barnum's Wall is an excellent dive site for novice divers, offering a unique and diverse underwater experience. From the stunning sloping reef to the sheer wall drop-off and everything in between, you will be captivated by the beauty of this underwater world. So, grab your gear and get ready for an adventure like no other at Barnum's Wall.