Many people have asked us how we actually came to Palau as a destination. Well, the real reason were the breathtaking Rock Islands,which we had already seen on many pictures and in reports and of course the diving.
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Palau – The Islands in the Blue
Palau is considered one of the best diving areas in the world and has already met us in one or the other diving magazine. For example, in January 2017 there was a nice report about Palau in the diving magazine Diving, in which the islands are described as a dream destination. By the way, we have been getting the magazine in subscription for two years and can only recommend it as a source of inspiration to everyone 🙂
Diving schools on Palau
After booking our flight and our Hotel Palau Royal Resort, we went in search of a suitable diving school. On Palau there are actually only two large diving schoolswhere european and American guests dive: Sam’s Tours and Fish ‘n Fins. The predominantly Asian guests on Palau prefer the diving schools, which have Asian guides and are fully designed for Asian guests (e.g. also in terms of food). The choice for us quickly fell on Fish ‘n Fins, because the dive center is on the one hand a little cheaper than Sam’s Tours, has more positive reviews on the Internet and was also recently awarded in Germany with the Diving Award 2017 for the region Indopazifik.
The diving tour operator Schöner Diving
For the booking of our dives on Palau we contacted the diving tour operator Schöner Tauchen. In total, we decided on a diving package for seven days with Fish ‘n Fins.
About one month before our departure, Schöner Diving sent us the complete documents, the vouchers and helpful travel information. The portfolio was really very nicely prepared,there were even suitcase tags and two logbooks in it. Communication in advance with the agency was also smooth and very friendly. The employees of Schöner Diving are themselves divers, diving instructors as well as experienced travel agents and therefore know the most beautiful diving areas from their own experience. Our questions about diving on Palau were always answered super fast and we can therefore absolutely recommendBeautiful Diving for booking a diving trip !
The diving school Fish ‘n Fins
There are not many ways to get from the airport in Palau to the booked hotel or diving school. We had arranged a transfer via Fish ‘n Fins. When we landed at Koror airport, Doug – an employee of Fish ‘n Fins, who has lived here as an American for 25 years – picked us up directly from the airport and took us to the hotel.
The next day at 8 o’clock we were picked up again with a shuttle at the hotel and taken to the diving school to find out all our equipment and try it on. The pick-up from the hotels in Palau is includedat Fish ‘n Fins , i.e. you will be picked up by car and driven to the diving school or picked up directly by boat from the pier. For the first day it was with us by car, because we had to find out our equipment in the Dive Center. On all other days we were always picked up directly by boat from the pier of our hotel Palau Royal Resort, which was really very convenient 🙂
Once we arrived at the diving school, we had to take care of all the formalities that have to be done at the beginning: show diving passes, fill out questionnaires, etc. And then it went to the equipment. We always have our own fins & booties, mask and dive computers with us. Everything else, i.e. diving suit, regulator and camouflage vest, we always borrow in the diving centers on site. The diving bottle and the lead belt are always included in the price of a dive. And here at Fish ‘n Fins there is even Nitrox – breathing gas mixture of nitrogen and oxygen with a higher oxygen content (32 to 40) than normal air (21) – for free, if you like us have a corresponding certification for this.
After we had all the equipment together, we took a closer look at the diving school, as we still had some time until the boat had to leave. When you enter the diving school, you are first in the middle of the dive shop,where you can get information about the many activities or simply buy clothes, souvenirs or diving/snorkeling accessories. If you leave the shop through the back entrance, you will also be right in front of the harbour, from where all the diving boats from Fish ‘n Fins and also the slightly larger safari ships, such as the Ocean Hunter III, depart in the morning. Here you will also find some fresh water containers for washing out and cleaning the diving equipment after the dives, warm freshwater showers, information boards, sanitary facilities, the equipment drying room and the own restaurant Bar-ra-cu-da.
The different sized submersibles from Fish ‘n Fins are all very new and have enough space for the divers and their equipment. There are benches with seat cushions and underneath there are dry storage rooms, into which you can clean everything that should not get wet. The only shortcoming: The submersibles do not have a toilet.
Pick-up by boat directly from the hotel
The trip to the dive sites usually takes 40 minutes one-way, as the main dive sites are located in the very south of Palau.
At Fish ‘n Fins it was the case that – before the dive boat started – you didn’t even know which dive sites would be approached on that day. As soon as everyone was on the boat, the dive guides then mostly asked in the round which dive sites we would like to see. And depending on how the group decided, it usually worked out that way. We knew it from other diving schools so far that the day before we knew which dive sites were being targeted. At some diving schools there are even information boards, where you can enroll at the different boats/dive sites the day before. Since we were in Palau probably in the low season, there were often only one, maximum two submersibles from Fish ‘n Fins, which were on the water. In the high season, we were told, it looks a lot different. At some dive sites, however, you could have thought that we are there in the high season. At the most famous diving spot Blue Corner were with us times 15 (!) other boats on site. Real madness. Luckily, under water, you didn’t notice that much of it.
As described above, we were picked up every morning at 8.45am directly at our Hotel Palau Royal Resort by boat for our dives. Almost no other hotel in Palau offers this option. Perfectly 🙂
The Rock Island Permit
Palau is often described in the media as one of the best and most varied diving destinations in the world. As early as 2009, Palau declared its territorial waters to be the world’s first shark sanctuary. More than 1,500 different fish species and 700 coral and anemone species make every dive a spectacular journey of discovery into the underwater world. In addition to all kinds of reef and current dives, there are the well-known Blue Holes and also many wrecks from the Second World War. The most popular dive sites in Palau are located in the southern lagoon, i.e. south of the main island of Babeldaob. All our dives, which we had booked at Fish ‘n Fins, also went to this region. In total, Palau certainly has more than 60 dive sites to offer.
In order to preserve the World Heritage List for a long time to come, the government has introduced, among other things, the environmental fee on departure, as well as permits that everyone must obtain if they want to engage in activities on and in the water (e.g. diving, snorkelling). This money will help to protect this area. For us as divers, the so-called “Rock Island Permit” was relevant, which is valid for ten days after purchase and costs 50 US dollars. The permit was given in the form of a small credit card-sized card, which we should always have with us on the diving trips, because from time to time the rangers also carry out checks on the boats.
Our 17 dives on Palau
We have made our 17 dives in Palau at the following dive sites, which we will describe in detail in the next articles:4 x Blue Corner
1 x Blue Hole
3 x German Channel
2 x Peleliu Island
1 x Jake Seaplane
1 x Ulong Channel
1 x Ulong Sandbar
1 x Big Drop Off
1 x German Wall
1 x Clarence’s Wall
1 x Ngemelis Wall
Arriving at the respective dive site, there was a small briefing before going back from the boat to the cool wet with a roll. The group size was very different for us. Sometimes we were only five, sometimes we were twelve. So sometimes we had a diving guide, but usually two. The water temperatures were about 29 to 30 degrees each time – actually quite pleasant. It can only feel a little cold under water if you use the reef hook at certain diving spots and observe the passing animals for ten minutes without moving themselves. But there is definitely worse 🙂 Most dives have usually taken between 45 and 60 minutes. Then we went back to the boat together, they exchanged the empty bottles for a short time and the captain already took course to the next dive site, which was mostly not very far away.
There was then a delicious lunch, which we could choose the day before. At Fish ‘n Fins there was a choice between pasta, rice, burgers and sandwiches in all variations, i.e. with fish, meat or vegetarian. Everyone had their food in a beno box, which still offered space for a sweet and fresh fruit. During a diving trip we even stopped for lunch on one of the Rock Islands (Omekang Island) and spent the break between palm trees and the beach.
For the second dive we were also mostly under water for 50 to 60 minutes – depending on the depth and strength of the current. Afterwards we went back on the boat and through the Rock Islands back to the hotel or the diving center, where we usually arrived between 2 pm and 3 pm.
With the weather we were actually very lucky on all dive days – blue sky with a few clouds and sun full. Once, however, a rain shower on the way back to the hotel caught us violently. We had already seen the dark sky from a distance and we had guessed that something was brewing there. Of course, we had to go in exactly that direction. Since the boat has continued and does not offer proper protection, the heavy rain on the skin has really hurt. The best thing in such a situation is to just put on your diving suit again, put a towel over your head and wait for it to stop. Really madness. Half an hour later was the most beautiful sunshine again
A short interview with Tova from Fish ‘n Fins
Tova and Navot Bornovski are the owners and managers of the diving center Fish ‘n Fins and the Ocean Hunter safari boats. They have decades of diving experience and brought their extensive knowledge and skills to Palau. The travel-loving couple crossed the world’s oceans in a 4 1/2 year circumnavigation of the world in the 1980s, and during their palau stay they fell in love with the country and the people. In 1998, Tova and Navot Fish’n Fins took over and have been running the diving center as a family business ever since. Thanks to them, Fish ‘n Fins is today a modern and well equipped PADI 5 star dive center that offers every comfort. However, Tova and Navot not only lead a successful company, but are involved in and for Palau in countless projects. Especially in research expeditions and environmental protection actions, but also in the production of trade journal articles and numerous films (Skin Diver, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, Vox-Tours, etc.). They set up a shark protection organisation, which Micronesia SharkFoundation. This charitable foundation developed a long-term research program to protect, observe and research the world-famous sharks of Palau. Fish ‘n Fins also organizes the annual “Shark Week”, with the aim of attracting interest for these marine creatures and drawing attention to the existing problems. [Source: fishnfins.com]
1) Tova, you have been living in Palau since 1993. How did you get to Palau?
My husband and I came to Palau in 1993. We sailed with the Ocean Hunter III from Florida with our two older children (they were 3 and 4). We started in 1992 and arrived in Palau in 1993.
2) Palau is considered a destination that is mostly known in Europe only to divers. What can you tell us about tourism in Palau? How has this changed over the last few years?
Palau is mainly known for diving. However, there are many other tours that are nice and fun. At Fish ‘n Fins we also offer kayaking, snorkeling, land tours, off road jungle tours and helicopter tours. The government is a leading force in the conservation and protection of the underwater world. Palau was the first country to declare a shark sanctuary and one of the first to declare a complete marine sanctuary.
3) You have been diving in many countries of the world. What is special about diving in Palau for you?
Palau ranks as the number one in the world for its diversity in diving. In such a small area, a diver can experience world-class dives: amazing visibility, healthy reefs and a shark population, canals, blue holes, two Japanese wrecks from World War II, caves, lakes, large animals but also macro.
4) What is your favorite spot in Palau?
Ulong Channel and Siaes Corner.
5) We had different Dive Masters and Captains on the boat during our 17 dives with you. How big is your team at the moment?
There are currently 60 people in the Fish ‘n Fins team.
6) With so many dives you experience many extraordinary situations. What was your most impressive diving experience so far?
This was an exploratory dive in the northern part of Palau. In just one dive we saw 10 silvertip sharks, numerous grey reef sharks, 5 mantas (with a small baby), 4 mobula rays and at the end a large school of pilot whales and next to the boat hundreds of spinner dolphins. Pure magic!
7) Which countries are the main guests at Fish ‘n Fins?
Most of our divers come from Europe.
Dear Tova, we would like to thank you and your team very much for the cooperation and the beautiful diving experiences on Palau.
Our videos of diving in Palau
In total we did 17 dives with the diving school Fish ‘n Fins on Palau and here you can see some of our videos.
All travelogues from PalauThe islands of Palau, together with Blue Corner and the German Channel, are among the most beautiful and interesting dive sites in the world. And the fantastic pictures of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Rock Islands have certainly been seen by many on the Internet or in reports on TV. We spent a total of 12 days on Palau and got to know the island paradise both above and under water.
Palau – Travel Guide, Diving & Things to Do
Palau – Entry & Exit (Visa) at Koror Airport
Koror – The Palau Royal Resort on Malakal Island
Diving with the diving school Fish ‘n Fins
The Rock Islands in Palau & Infos about Jellyfish Lake
The Blue Corner – Diving with Sharks & Napoleon Lip Fish
The German Channel – Diving at the Manta Hotspot
Jake Seaplane – Diving at the Plane Wreck
Palau – Diving in the island paradise of Micronesia
Peleliu – Diving on Palau Island
Peleliu – Historical tour of the old battlefields in World War II
Palau – Our Self-Guided Day Tour of Babeldaob Island
Palau – Scenic Flight over the Rock Islands & Seventy Islands