Matt and I got certified for scuba diving at the beginning of August. We had originally planned a trip to go to the island nation of Palau in November during the APEC conference (Tue-Wed-Thu were declared non-working days by the city of Manila to accommodate the conference).
However, due to the fact that several national Heads of State were arriving in Manila, our flight was cancelled. We knew that we were repatriating back to the states at the beginning of January, so we had a very small window to be able to make this trip happen. Flights to Palau from Manila are only a couple of times a week. So we rescheduled for the last Tuesday in December, leaving around midnight and returned home Friday evening (New Years Day).
We had six dives and saw first hand what has made Palau famous as a world-class diving destination. We also felt like we were still in a part of the Philippines since there are so many Filipinos that work there. It is a slow pace of living there (island style), but that was a nice change and a relaxing time just before the craziness of moving started for us.
After getting only six hours of sleep, we were on the dive boat with about ten other divers. A dive boat is full of dive tanks and gear. All of the divers and boatmen were really nice, friendly and helpful as well.
Siaes Corner was our first dive site. I had problems with my mask fogging up, but Matt said that this was the best diving ever. Lots of fish and coral.
We hooked in and watched the marine life for a time at Siaes Corner.
So many sharks were here. Six are easily visible in this photo, but there were more. This trip exceeded expectations on the first dive.
Siaes Tunnel was our second dive. Can you see the shark?
Outside of the tunnel we saw a bunch of other marine life.
We found this turtle who looked like he was trying to hide.
Third dive of the day was at Chandelier Cave. No marine life, but cool stalactites.
Our couple photo inside Chandelier Cave
First dive of the day was to German Channel. We were lucky enough to see this manta ray that was near the surface while we were below.
This shark was not scared of us as long as we kept our distance.
We didn’t know why there were sucker fish on the sand until we realized that there was a stingray buried there as well.
Second dive of the day was to Blue Corner. We hooked in and watched the sharks and other fish swim around.
We went to another area and hooked in and watched more marine life.
As we were making our safety stop we saw this huge school of barracudas.
Our last dive was at Helmet Wreck. This was our first wreck dive and it was pretty cool to see a ship from World War II.
On wreck dives you need to be careful not to kick up the silk/sand that has settled on the wreck or else you can’t see anything.
Bottles from World War II
Since we were flying out later this day, we couldn’t dive. Instead we did an island tour and saw these stingless jellyfish in a land-locked saltwater lagoon.
It took us about 10 minutes to swim over to the area that they jellies were at, but it was pretty amazing once we got there.
Matt decided to do a dance with the jellies.
Our next stop was to see some giant clams.
Once that you touch the clams, they close up quickly.
Our last stop on the boat was to a place called “The Milky Way”. The water is a gorgeous milky blue color because of the limestone sediment that has settled on the floor of the water cove.
The milky sediment that was on the bottom of the cove floor.
A natural sunscreen and moisturizer that makes you look like a swamp monster.
After lunch we went to the Eco Theme Park.
We saw people riding a monorail that didn’t go very fast, but they didn’t have to walk uphill either.
The main reason we did the hike was to see the waterfall.
Our driver turned into our tour guide and took us to see a Palau Bai home. These homes were used like a city hall to discuss all matters for the villagers.
We saw some World War II machinery that is still laying around the island.
A Japanese bomb from WWII.
We were looking for souviner items to take home on New Year’s Day and many shops were closed. Our driver/tour guide took us to the jail to check out their gift shop.
Palau is beautiful with hundreds of these small islands in the middle of the ocean.
One day we were able to have lunch on the boat in this area that was secluded and peaceful.
On our way back from a dive our boatman took us over by the famous Rock Arch of Palau.
We had a great time doing six dives, seeing another beautiful country, and creating wonderful memories together.
More photo of Palau here.