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Dive trip report, Ocean Hunter, Palau

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Boat      : Ocean Hunter
Dates     : 30:Th of January to 8:Th February 1999
Dives     : 40

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Why Palau? Because I have only heard good things about it, gray reef sharks and other large fishes is more or less guaranteed.

Diving:

Gray reef shark at Blue Corner, Palau (10446 bytes)We did most of the famous dive sites in Palau, Blue corner, Big drop off, New drop off, Pelelieu, German Channel, Chandelier Caves and they are good. At most dives we saw 1 or more gray reefs sharks and often we saw white tipped reef sharks. Turtles was much more common than I had expected, I think I saw a turtle on every other dive. At blue corner and in German channel there is a school of Big Eye Jacks and in German channel there is a cleaning station for mantas, we saw mantas 2 times there, once on scuba and once snorkelling. We did not dive jelly fish lake, we where told that it is not as nice there now because all the big jelly fishes of one kind died during the coral bleaching 1998 so we skipped that. The coral is preserved pretty well considering that Palau has 100 000 divers visiting every year and all dive blue corner at least once.

Currents:

My buddy using a reef hook (13886 bytes)Even though I had almost 200 dives, I was a bit scared about the currents in Palau. I was afraid that I would have trouble carrying a camera in them, and sure the currents in Palau is powerful, but using a reef hook makes life much easier. A reef hook is a piece of string strapped to your BCD with a hook in the other end, when you get to a place with current, take out the hook, hook it onto a piece of dead coral, inflate your BCD and enjoy the show ( see picture to get a feeling for the power of the current and how a reef hook works ). Of course a reef hook will destroy parts of the coral but I think I destroyed less coral using the hook than I would have done trying to grab coral with my hands to stay put. If you are uncomfortable with currents do not go to Palau but if you are a bit experienced do not worrie.

Day boat vs. live aboard diving, Ocean Hunter vs. other boats:

Napoleon Wrasse at Blue Corner, Palau(13645 bytes)If you do day boat diving with e.g. fish and fins, splash or some other operator you will do 2 dives per day, maybe some days 3 dives or a night dive. If you go to palau to look at the almost non existing sights on the island that might be OK but you are planning to go here to dive right? So make sure you can dive as much as possible and take a live aboard sure they are expensive but so is living in the hotel and having dinner at the hotel every night.

So what about Ocean Hunter vs. Palau Aggressor vs. Sun dancer vs. Palau sport, I have only been on Ocean hunter so I can not really say, but there are some obvious differences, if you do not speak Japanese do not choose Palau Sport, if you prefer big boats with many people do not choose Ocean Hunter. I prefer as few people in the water as possible so I choose Ocean hunter and I would do that again if I'm to go back. One more thing to consider is that the crew of Ocean Hunter is the same for a much longer time frame than the other boats.

Recommendation:

I would go back and I would choose Ocean Hunter again. The only thing stopping me is price, Palau is very expensive to go to and Ocean Hunter is not cheap ( although aggressor and Sun Dancer is almost as expensive but gives you more divers and less diving ). But I would not go back to do day boat diving in Palau. If you have not been in Palau and have the money do not hesitate, but choose a liveaboard. 

Highlights:

Blue corner, sharks, sharks, sharks, very nice eagle ray that allowed me to come close enough to take some bad pictures with a 20mm lens.

Disappointments:

To many people at good divesites, to few dives at more remote places like pelelieu, bad visibility some days.

Related links:

Other trip reports from Palau

Dive sites visited:

TBD

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Last modified: April 4:th, 1999
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© Stefan Sarin 1999