Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Blue Holes - Palau
The nation of Palau is located 960 kilometres to the east of the Philippines and about 7 degrees north of the equator. About an hour's run from the main town are the best dive sites Blue Holes and Blue Corner.
So, you might ask "What is the diving like?". From the small number of sites that I sampled I must say that the sites are good. Nearly all dives are drift dives and this provides a bit of an new experience for most Australian divers. The Blue Holes and Blue Corner are located next to each other, so close that if you dive the Holes you end up diving the Corner as well.
You drop into the water near the Blue Holes (four spectacular, large "sinkholes") and swim across the shallow reef top to the holes. You sink below the surface and drop down one of the holes to the bottom. At a depth of 30 metres you exit the holes onto the side of the reef. There is not much around the bottom of the holes themselves.
As the current grabs hold you are swept along the reef wall, normally towards the Blue Corner. The coral life along the nearby wall is not overly spectacular, but it is quite pleasant. However, the wall itself is quite something, dropping over 300 metres to the bottom. There are large numbers of barracudas (see photo), surgeon fish, snapper and jacks (kingfish) off the wall. The barracudas school in the area and their feeding can be quite dramatic to watch, especially if they are among sharks.
|A huge school of barracudas|
at the Blue Corner
Probably the best thing about this dive is the shark life in the area. I saw many sharks (white tip, black tip, grey reef), up to a dozen at a time. However, Ron Blake from Dive and Fishing Travel in New Zealand, who dived about an hour after I did, saw up to 70 sharks schooling off the reef's edge. You can really get among them by waiting along the wall and then moving out into their path as they approach.
The water was 29°C in November and visibility 30 metres plus.
In summary, Palau diving is not for everyone, but it would be excellent for a better off diver with a non-diving spouse and/or children. Both the Resort and the dive operation are of a world class standard but, although I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and the diving, in my opinion it is a bit too far from Australia to justify the expense and time of diving a coral reef.
Michael McFadyen travelled to Palau courtesy of Dive Adventures (02 9299 4633), Continental Airlines, Air Micronesia, Palau Pacific Resort and Splash.