Explore the Wrecks and Reefs of Chuuk & Palau
Micronesia may be well-known for wreck diving, but there is more to this tropical destination than meets the eye
Micronesia is made up of more than 2,000 islands and is one of the top places in the world for wreck diving, especially amongst World War II wrecks. There are also other scuba diving experiences to enjoy at Micronesia though, ranging from swimming with millions of jellyfish to riding swift currents during wall dives.
Being remote, and made up of numerous islands, the best way to explore Micronesia’s many dive sites is by Micronesia liveaboard diving. There are a variety of liveaboard vessels to choose from, including the SY Palau Siren yacht and Truk Master liveaboard. The SS Thorfinn is a good choice for tech divers, as this vessel offers special tech wreck diving packages and is geared up for tech diving.
Chuuk (or Truk) Lagoon, a Japanese naval base in World War II, has more than 48 wreck dive sites to explore and has consistently calm waters. The lagoon was attacked in 1944 by the United States during Operation Hailstone, during which more than 60 ships and 200 airplanes were sunk. The waters are now filled with historical artefacts and wrecks, including tanks, submarines and torpedoes.
Fujikawa & Sankisan Maru
There are a variety of wrecks to explore in the 18 to 40-meter (59 to 131 feet) depth range at Truk and these two popular wrecks have options for both technical and less experienced divers. They feature aeroplane fuselages, engines, ammunition and trucks, plus provide the chance to swim through different wreck compartments.
San Francisco Maru
There are also wrecks to explore in the 40 to 60m (131 to 196 ft) depth range, including the well-known San Francisco Maru. This wreck contains mines, bombs, tanks and trucks. The Shinkoku Maru is also worth visiting for a particularly good night dive.
Palau is made up of more than 250 islands and is known for wreck diving, caves, drop-offs, drift dives and healthy reefs. There are more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral in the area.
Iro Maru Wreck
This Japanese Navy oiler sank in 1944 and lies in an area of Palau with no currents, sitting upright and offering a full view of the ship. It is 143m (470 ft) long and the deck is at 25m (85 ft) below the surface. Structures, such as guns and king posts, can still be seen and wreck penetration is possible. The wreck hosts a variety of corals including black corals, mushroom, staghorn, brain and lettuce corals. The deck is covered with clams and oysters and there are numerous critters, including plenty of nudibranchs.
Blue Corner is a natural corner in the sea that borders the deep ocean and offers diving with changeable currents and visibility. The reef at Blue Corner has numerous soft and hard corals and abundant schools of fish. There is a sea wall at 10m (32 ft) depth that drops all the way down to 330m (1,082 ft) and the wall is covered in coral and sea fans. A plateau at 12 to 20m (39 to 65 ft) has numerous cabbage corals. Divers can dive with jacks, barracudas, snappers and Palau Napoleon wrasse. Sharks, eagle rays, wahoos, giant groupers, green and hawksbill turtles are also seen regularly.
This channel was created in the 1900s when the Germans needed to transport phosphorous from the lagoon out into the open ocean and it is now a popular dive site. The channel itself has extremely swift currents, but the dive site is at the southwest mouth and is a good dive site for manta rays. There are manta ray cleaning stations, plus schools of blacktip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, barracuda and tropical fish.
While this lake isn’t a dive site, it offers the chance to swim or snorkel with millions of golden jellyfish. This isolated lake was formed in the Ice Age and the jellyfish no longer have stingers, as they don’t have any predators.
This is good dive site for new divers, with a sandy floor at 13m (42 ft) and slopes down to 20m (65 ft). Divers can enjoy seeing batfish, groupers, stingrays, grey reef sharks and titan triggerfish. The channel itself is shallow and there are coral bommies to explore, plus a variety of corals at the channel entrance.
The Big Drop Off
This 285m (935 ft) drop-off is a great wall dive. The shallow waters are populated by reef fish, Gorgonian fans, leather corals and purple soft corals. Divers can also see nurse, zebra, whitetip and grey reef sharks during a dive here, plus nudibranchs and leaf fish. This wall can be dived from either end depending on the currents.
The Chandelier Caves system is made up of five caverns connected by cave channels. It is known for stalagmites and stalactite formations that resemble sparkling chandeliers when torches are shined on them. Four of the five caves are filled with water and have air pockets, making it possible to scuba dive these caves.
It is pitch black in the caves and divers need to bring a torch and be comfortable cave diving. There are schools of sergeant and cardinal fish at the entrance to the caves and divers may also see Mandarin fish. The visibility can be excellent, but the floor is silty, so divers need to take care when finning.
Peleliu Wall & Cut
This dive site provides divers with an underwater sea wall, plateau reef and strong current diving. It is located off Peleliu island and has some of the strongest currents in Palau, making it good for drift diving. The dive depths vary from 10 to 30m (32 to 100 ft) and it is the deepest reef structure in Palau. The visibility is generally better than at other sites, though it varies with the tide and currents. A variety of large species have been seen at this site, including tiger sharks, bull sharks, blacktip reef sharks, whale sharks, blue marlin and even sperm whales.
Experience Level for Micronesia Diving
Diving is possible for all experience levels in Micronesia, though some sites have strong currents and/or require divers to be qualified wreck divers.
Best Time to Dive Micronesia
Chuuk lagoon can be dived all year, given its sheltered nature, and has a dry season between December and April. Palau’s dry season and calm seas coincide with the high season of December to March. The low season months of May, June and September have more variable weather than the shoulder season months, but do offer quieter dive sites and the lowest prices. The water temperature is around 26°C (78.8°F).
This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAboard.com