Home to some world-class diving Palau Island offers an abundance of dives. With sea walls, sheer drop-offs, caves, and wonderful marine life.
In 1994, Palau officially became a nation-state and established the world’s first nationwide marine reserve, labeling its entire ocean as an underwater sanctuary.
There can be no doubt why the Palau islands are one of the best diving destinations in the world and bucket list-worthy. Read on to find out where and why you should scuba dive the Palau archipelago.
Where is Palau Island?
The Palau Islands are a group of 340 individual islands situated in the western part of the Pacific ocean. With the nearest larger countries being the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.
Out of the main islands, the most populated and largest island of the group is Koror. But, because of Palau’s history, its capital Ngerelmud actually lies on a different island, Babeldaob. Although the Republic of Palau was part of the UN Trust Territory, from which it got independence back in 1994. At which time Palau gained a Compact of Free Association.
Comparatively, the environment and climate Palau has are similar to other Pacific islands, as they are limestone islands with tropical and humid weather conditions.
Best Diving in the World: Palau Island, Micronesia
Although the entire island nation consists of over 300 Pacific islands there are only 8 main islands. Located within a barrier reef the majority of the islands are made up of two types of geological formations, volcanic and limestone.
Palau’s environment in the higher volcanic islands has moist tropical forests, is rugged with jungle, and on some, filled with grass terraces. While the Floating Garden Islands, formally known as the Rock Islands, are made of a limestone formation that is simply breathtaking.
Below I have listed where you can find the dive destinations that are considered some of the best in the world.
6 Best Dive Sites in Palau Island
Thanks to its marine conservation and underwater landscapes created by volcanic and coral islands, Palau is a truly diverse paradise. The island of Palau features a deep trench that attracts large pelagic species such as manta rays, bigeye tuna, silky sharks, swordfish, and marlin.
Here are 5 dive spots in Palau that should be on your Palau island scuba diving wish list.
1. Blue Corner Wall & Blue Holes
Blue Corner really is one of those dive spots that seems different each time you dive it, making you want to come back again and again.
The wall is definitely one of the most famous and most popular dive sites on the island. Dependent on the currents, diving here normally starts along either side of the wall where you might meet the odd reef shark or a cruising manta ray.
As you move closer to the coral shelf you will see that it drops. This is where you will begin to see the even more beautiful soft coral and your scuba diving memories begin.
The currents will get stronger and you will start to see more sharks swimming above you. If you are not prepared, the upcoming current can easily take you over the wall. There be prepared and 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 strong currents that carry the smaller organisms. this, in turn, attracts smaller and larger fish. You might spot eagle rays, white tip reef 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 unsuspecting diver who may be too relaxed during the ride.
Unless you have your underwater diving 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 the action!
Depth: 20 m
Visibility: 30 m
Dive Level: Advanced
Best For: Wall diving, drift diving, corals, sharks
2. German Channel Wall
Back in the early 20th century, German miners created this channel. Today it is overgrown with beautiful coral formations that even liveaboards have trouble navigating sometimes. But for divers it is fascinating.
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 swimming alongside the colorful corals. Manta ray mating season is the best time to visit.
Depth: 10-40 m
Dive Level: Beginner
Best For: Manta rays, barracudas, mantis shrimp
3. Ulong Channel
Considered one of the best drift dives on the planet, the Ulong Channel should secure a spot on your scuba bucket list. The entrance to the Ulong Channel is filled with astounding corals.
Here the sharks take full advantage of the incoming tides and feast on the fish that get caught up in them. As you exit the Ulong Channel, you’ll come across even more sharks, gray reef sharks, in particular, waiting to catch an easy meal.
The currents at the Ulong Channel are known to be very strong and unpredictable. And, it’s not uncommon for them to change abruptly midway through a dive. Making it very important to stay close to your guide, as you may need to change directions suddenly.
Ironically, the best time to dive Ulong Channel is during an incoming tide when the current is at its strongest. This is when the water will have the clearest visibility of up to 95 feet (30m).
Dive Level: Advanced
Best For: Drift diving, reef sharks, clams
4. Peleliu Wall
Peleliu Wall is 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 with large sea fans and colorful corals attracting pelagics.
It’s the perfect place to experience the larger “blue water” species, such as pygmy killer whales, silvertip sharks, and other large fish.
But you do have to prepare yourself for a longer trip. Since the Peleliu islands, where the coral wall is located, are also one of the most remote island groups. While you are there, it is also possible to learn more about the nation’s history and visit WWII wrecks.
Dive Level: Advanced
Best For: Drift diving, soft & hard corals, whale sharks, sperm whales
5. New Drop Off
The New Drop Off is where two separate reef walls come together. Here, you will be able to explore the many corals and fish that swim throughout. This incredible corner under the sea is best known 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. It is a scuba diving site that welcomes all levels of divers. Including those who are inexperienced as there is often little to no current.
Dive Level: Beginner-intermediate
Best For: Suitable for any diver when currents are mild, reef fish, hawksbill turtles
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 Palau Island Jellyfish Lake does not feature in our top 5 places to dive in Palau. There are a few reasons for this.
The most important one is that the Palau jellyfish island lake isn’t actually a dive site. Only snorkeling is allowed on Palau jellyfish lake 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. 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.
Dive Level: Beginner
Best For: Lake diving, jellyfish
Scuba Diving Conditions
So, if diving Palau Micronesia is on your list, what are the diving conditions like? Diving is nice all year round, there’s no doubt about it.
During the high season, Palau diving is usually at its best. The high season runs from December through to March and the island experiences less rain. It is also when the waters are calm and warmer.
Unfortunately, during the high season, the hotels are a little pricier than normal. Along with dive sites being at their busiest. We recommend if you are planning on diving during these months to book your accommodation well in advance.
May, June, and September are the months with the most rain and wind. But on the upside, both airfares and accommodation will be a lot cheaper. Diving is still excellent, and the majority of dive sites can still be reached without a problem!
Many of the dive spots in Palau have strong currents. Making it important to always pay attention to your instructor and stay close to your dive buddy. The dive conditions can change very quickly and at any time.
A good example is the Blue Corner Wall, but the 13 different species of sharks may make it worth it for the experienced diver.
When is the Best Time to Dive Palau?
Palau’s wet season is from May to November which is also when you will see fewer sharks. The best time to dive Palau with sharks is during the months of March and April.
Despite the wet season, 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 around February and March.
Palau divers most commonly wear 3mm full-length wetsuits along with dive hoods during the cooler months of the diving season. However, regular warm water scuba gear will often be sufficient and air temperatures are normally within the 20s Celcius (70 to 85F).
Surprisingly for a destination with such nutrient-rich water and a strong current, the visibility is quite often magnificent. Although it can drop to 15 meters – 20 meters from July to September, it is usually in excess of around 40 meters. However, during heavier rains and stronger winds the visibility drops a little.
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.
You’ll have no problem getting to Palau island with its many international airports and airlines servicing the 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 hosts around 41,000 dive visitors each year, many of which stay on 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. Although there are very few budget accommodation options. 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 are also accommodations that offer serviceable and well-equipped rooms, either on a beach or on a hillside with awesome views.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Before you go rushing out to book your trip and go diving in the Pacific Ocean. Here are a few final facts that are good to know about Palau and its limestone islands.
What language do they speak in Palau?
Although most Palau locals speak English, the national language is Palauan. As an English-speaking tourist, you should have no problem getting around and booking your dive trips.
Is Palau safe for tourists?
Palau is one of the safest islands to go diving since crime rates are incredibly low. Residents are friendly and since most of the island relies on tourism, they are also very welcoming to divers.
Is it expensive to visit Palau Island?
Due to their remote location, Palau and the Pacific islands are generally more expensive diving locations. However, aside from your flight, you can still find affordable liveaboards and island accommodations on Palau.
Palau is a tropical island diving destination if there ever was one. And, thanks to the great marine life, wild coral formations, and strong ocean currents this is scuba heaven.