Like the Apollo 8 US astronauts who were inspired to read from the bible after witnessing the beauty of the moon from their spacecraft, the splendour of the underwater galaxy in Palau’s pristine waters has been cited by many as the moment they truly fell in love with marine ecology and scuba diving.
An island country consisting of approximately 340 islands located in the western Pacific Ocean between Guam and the Philippines, Palau has rich marine life diversity and has been named one of the Underwater Wonders of the World.
Avid explorer, Ace Wu Yungsen, a 41-year-old award-winning photographer from Taiwan specialising in underwater photography, currently residing in Ho Chi Minh City, is just one of the many admirers of Palau.
“Palau has flourishing marine ecology due to the long-term benefits of environment protection enacted by its government,” said Ace. “The great varieties of fishes and thriving coral reefs are a diver’s paradise!”
The sixth-largest fully protected marine reserve in the world, the Palau government passed the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act in 2015, making 80% (193,000 square miles in size) of Palau’s maritime territory a No Take Zone (NTZ) – a Marine Protected Area (MPA) permanently set aside from direct human disturbance, where all methods of fishing and extraction of natural materials are prohibited.
Blessed with a tropical rainforest climate, you can enjoy scuba diving at Palau all year round and its clear, pristine waters enable visibility to up to 200 feet (61m) on good days. Part of the western chain of the Caroline islands in Micronesia, Palau’s reputation as a diver’s paradise is because of the wide variety of diving activities you can indulge in all around its islands. Palau is home to abundant schools of fish, healthy reefs, World War II wrecks, vertigo-inducing drop-offs, caves, caverns, manta rays and plenty of sharks.
“The grey shark and the many species of reef sharks are not only abundant in quantity, you are also swim very close to them,” said Ace. Attracted to the large schools of fish like fusilier and bigeye trevally found in Palau’s channels and drop-offs, schools of grey reef sharks can be found at Palau’s Blue Corner.
“One of the best known and highly rated dive sites in Palau is the Blue Corner,” Ace added. “It’s the mecca where divers make a pilgrimage to every year. The marine diversity is so amazing, it’s known as God’s aquarium!” A shallow coral shelf that projects out into the ocean with vertical walls on both sides, the Blue Corner is home to wondrous varieties of fish like barracudas, jacks, Napoleon wrasses, dogtooth tuna, eagle rays, manta rays, white tip and hammerhead sharks and turtles.
“I once spent eight days integrating myself among the schools of marine life in the Blue Corner, swimming along with them, recording the moment for posterity with a photo,” Ace revealed. “It’s one of the most unforgettable moments of my life.”
One of the best ways to enjoy the wonders of Palau is through a Palau liveaboard. “Liveaboards let you save valuable commuting time travelling from the mainland to the dive sites,” said Ace. Instead of living on the main island of Koror and then commuting by boat every day to a dive site, booking a stay on a liveaboard yacht enables you to enjoy more dives per day (up to five), not to mention the good food and cushy quarters available onboard.
Aggressor Liveaboards is the preferred liveaboard of Asian Diver magazine. You can find out more about their liveaboard stays for Palau on the Palau Agressor II and the Rock Islands Aggressor on their website, or read up more on the exciting dive sites in Palau here. Their contact information is listed below:
209 Hudson Trace
Augusta, GA 30907 USA
Phone: +1 706-993-2531
Toll Free: 1 800-348-2628 (USA/CAN)
Fax: 1 706-737-7690