Palau Island is home to some world-class diving as it offers an abundance of dives with sea walls, caves, sheer drop-offs and a vast variety of marine life. It wasn’t until 1994 when it became a nation-state and established as the world’s first nation-wide marine reserve, labeling its entire ocean as an underwater sanctuary.
It’s no doubt why Palau is one of the best diving destinations in the world, and often reserves a place on bucket lists of divers all around the world. The beautiful island of Palau is a 100-mile long archipelago and is located on the southeast of the Philippines in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Best Diving in the World Palau Island, Micronesia
There are eight main islands that make up the bulk of Palau and all are inhabited, however, the archipelago itself, includes more than 200 islands. The majority of the islands represent two geological formations and are located within a barrier reef.
The biggest islands are rugged with jungle and are filled with grass terraces. The Floating Garden Islands, formally known as the Rock Islands, are made of a limestone formation and are simply breathtaking, making some of the scuba diving in Palau the best in the world.
The 5 Best Dive Sites in Palau
More than 200 volcanic and coral islands, many of which are surrounded by a single barrier reef, make up the northern Pacific nation of Palau. It truly is a divers true paradise island.
The island is located by a deep trench that attracts large pelagic species such as manta rays, bigeye tuna, silky sharks, swordfish and marlin which Palau divers are often lucky enough to encounter.
Palau diving truly is out of the world. Often enough, this island and diving Palau Micronesia appears in top-ranked destinations around the world, and for good reason. Here are 5 dive sites in Palau that should be on your scuba wish lists.
1. Blue Corner Wall
Blue Corner really is one of those dive spots that seems different each time you dive it and you will most certainly want to come back and visit again and again.
Blue Corner Wall is, without doubt, one of the most famous and most popular dive destinations in the island. Dependent on the currents, diving here normally starts along either side of the wall, it’s here where it’s possible to meet the odd reef shark or a cruising ray.
As you move closer to the coral shelf you will see that it drops. This is where you will begin to see even more beautiful soft coral and your scuba diving memories begin. The currents will get stronger and you will start to see more cruising sharks up above your head. If you are not prepared, the upcoming current can easily take you over the wall, so make sure you are ready to hook onto it with your reef hook.
Sit tight and get ready for the ride of your life! On a good day, the upwelling swirls from the depths cause these strong currents and the currents are what carry the smaller organisms which attract smaller fish, these smaller fish then attract the larger fish, who then attract the even bigger fish which bring the eagle rays, sharks and the very large Napolean Wrass.
All of a sudden, the tranquillity is disturbed by a feeding frenzy… This gets the entire reef jumping, including the odd and unsuspecting diver who may be too relaxed during the ride. Unless you have your camera on standby and ready, you will miss the best shots as everything here moves so quickly! And the best thing is, is that you are right in the middle of this Palau scuba diving action!
2. German Channel Wall
Back in the early 20th century, German miners created this channel, which has now become overgrown with beautiful coral formations making this a narrow channel where even liveaboards have trouble getting to at times. But a perfect Palau diving location for us divers.
It’s here on the German Channel Wall where the diving exceeds expectations. The sandy bottom greets you at around 17m where it gradually slopes to greater and darker depths. The main attraction of this Palau scuba diving site is a large number of manta rays and gray reef sharks that are often spotted here, alongside the colorful corals.
3. Ulong Channel
Considered one of the best drift dives on this planet, the Ulong Channel should confirm a spot on your scuba bucket lists. Especially if you plan on Palau diving. The entrance to the Ulong Channel is filled with astounding corals, it’s here where sharks take advantage of the incoming tides and feast on the fish that get caught up in it.
As you exit the Ulong Channel, you’ll come across even more sharks, gray reef sharks in particular, which can be spotted waiting to catch an easy meal from any straggling fish who managed to get past the sharks circling the entrance to the channel.
The currents at the Ulong Channel are known to be very strong and unpredictable. It’s not an uncommon experience for them to change abruptly midway through a dive. It’s important to stay close to your guide, as you may need to change directions. It is said that the best time to dive Ulong Channel is during an incoming tide when the current is at its strongest. This is also when the water will have the clearest visibility of up to 95 feet (30m).
4. Peleliu Wall
Peleliu Wall is known to be one of the most beautiful and deepest wall dives in all of Palau scuba diving. The Peleliu Wall is home to deep canyons and crevices, and it is often referred to as it is known for its large pelagic action, and where its steep walls are covered with large sea fans and beautiful colored corals.
It’s here at Peleliu Wall where you’ll be able to experience a wilder dive because this site is found off of the island of Peleliu, which is the furthest island away from Palau. Peleliu Wall dive is also one of the deepest dive sites, famous for it’s featuring canyons, caves, and crevices that shelter myriad marine species.
It’s the perfect place to experience the larger “blue water” species, such as pygmy killer whales, silvertip sharks, and other large fish.
5. New Drop Off
The New Drop Off is where two separate reef walls come together. Here, in this Palau diving location, you will be able to explore the many corals and fish that swim throughout this incredible corner under the sea.
It’s a great spot for spotting sharks. Whitetip sharks and grey reef sharks can often be seen here, as well as eels, turtles, and large schools of fish. Some popular sites of fish include wrasses, snappers, angelfish, and others. This Palau scuba diving site welcomes all levels of divers, including those who are inexperienced as there is often little to no current.
NOTE: Ongeim’l Tketau Jellyfish Lake
If you have done some of your own research on scuba diving Palau, you may be wondering why the famous Jellyfish Lake does not feature amongst our best dive sites in Palau. There are a few reasons for this. The most important one is that it isn’t actually a dive site. Only snorkeling is allowed here in order to preserve the delicate ecosystem of the lake.
Unfortunately, the lake has been gravely disturbed by drought, which has, in turn, eradicated many of the jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake. After being closed for over two years to allow the diminishing golden jellyfish population to recover, Ongeim’l Tketau Jellyfish Lake – one of Palau’s most famous attractions – has now reopened.
Scuba Diving Conditions
So diving Palau Micronesia is on your list, but what are the diving conditions like? Diving is nice all year round, there’s no doubt about it. However different diving seasons can bring different experiences. During the high season, Palau diving is usually at it’s best. The high season runs from December to March, where the waters are calm and warmer and the island experiences less rain.
Obviously, it’s during the high season when the hotels are a little pricier than normal and dive sites are at their busiest. We recommend if you are planning on diving during these months you should book your accommodation well in advance.
May, June, and September are the months that experience the most rain and wind, but on the upside, both airfares and accommodation will be a lot cheaper. Most Palau dive sites will be less busy during the low season due to the fact fewer people decide to visit at this time. Diving is still excellent, and the majority of dive sites can be reached without a problem!
Just like most dive sites, scuba diving in Palau the currents are often frequent and we recommend you always pay attention to your instructor or dive professional, after all, your safety is the most important part of the dive.
If you’re after the best diving in Palau, Blue Corner is an action-packed scuba dive location and promises at least 13 different species of sharks which circle just beyond the reef wall. Blue Corner Wall is often a dive location that experiences very strong currents, especially where the sharks are known to swim off of the edge of the slope.
When is the Best Time to Dive Palau?
Palau’s wet season is known to be from May to November. For the best diving in Palau and to see sharks would be to dive during the months of March and April, with fewer sharks turning up in May, October, and November. The currents and temperature are the key environmental factors that affect the shark numbers, the faster the current and the cooler the water the more sharks will be around.
Water temperatures are known to be very stable throughout the year with most months averaging between temperatures of 29°C and 30°C. It is only likely to dip below that range slightly in the months of February and March. Palau divers most commonly wear 3mm full-length wetsuits and hoods during the cooler months of the Palau diving season.
Air temperatures are normally within the 20s (70 to 85F). Surprisingly for a destination with such nutrient-rich water and a strong current, the visibility is quite often magnificent. It can drop to 15 meters – 20 meters from July to September, but otherwise, it is usually in excess of around 40 meters. During heavier rains and stronger winds the visibility drops a little.
Although diving is always going to be excellent, general wisdom shared is that the diving season and very best conditions exist between the months of November and May.
Where is the Best Place to Stay in Palau Island?
Palau is located in the Western Pacific Ocean and is between Guam and the Philippines. Despite its remoteness, today, it is more accessible than ever before with many more gateways, international airports and more airlines servicing the island, so you’ll have no problem in getting to Palau island.
It is an all year round diving destination and offers a number of liveaboards that operate every month of the year. Research shows that Palau approximately hosts around 41,000 dive visitors each year, many of which stay in liveaboard accommodation. Around 8,000 of these visitors visit the island specifically to dive with sharks.
We believe that it’s fair to say that accommodation options are relatively limited. There are very little budget accommodation options and at the other end of the scale, there are a few establishments that qualify as truly luxurious.
In between this mishmash of upmarket resorts and mid-range hotels, there are options of liveaboards, perfect for us scuba divers. There is also accommodation which offers serviceable and well-equipped rooms, many places enjoy excellent settings – either on a beach or on a hillside with awesome views – and there are good deals to be had to get you scuba diving in Palau in no time. What are you waiting for?