Diving in Palau - Bluewater Dive Travel


A school of red fish swim by
A school of jacks on their way
A manta ray swims through the waters of Palau
A Napoleon Wrasse rests his head
A woman swims surrounded by hundreds of jelly fish

Scuba Diving in Palau

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Palau diving highlights

Palau diving is unique, thrilling and very diverse. Hook into the reef or drift through the channel as sharks, mantas, and large schools of fish coast by in the current. Explore historic World War II wrecks, or soak up the view as shafts of sunlight pierce the transparent waters of undersea caverns like Blue Hole…  And don't forget a visit to the world-renowned Jellyfish Lake to complete your trip.

An idyllic paradise above and below the surface, topside Palau treat scuba divers to the archipelago's emerald green jungle-covered Rock Islands surrounded by clear turquoise waters.  


M/Y Black Pearl

Black Pearl

The M/Y Black Pearl is a premium 46-meter yacht perfect for exploring the waters of Palau. Outfitted with the latest navigation, safety, and scuba diving systems and equipment, the Black Pearl and its crew provides state-of-the-art amenities paired with a pristine and luxurious design. 


When to Go

Palau scuba diving is great year-round, however, the dry season which lasts from October to May is considered to be the best time to dive Palau.

More on the best time to dive Palau


Palau liveaboards and dive resorts

Palau scuba diving can be done via liveaboard or resorts and dive operators. There are a good number of liveaboards to accommodate a range of budgets, and many resorts and dive operators to create your perfct custom package. Liveaboards often include up to 5 dives per day, while most land-based operators would offer 3 boat dives per day plus additional dives from their jetty. Land-based dive shops have access to all the dive sites liveaboards visit in Palau, so the choice comes down to your preferences.

Palau is often visited in conjunction with Yap and Truk Lagoon. Learn about getting to Yap from Palau with direct flights from Pacific Missionary Aviation.

View all Dive Resorts in Palau or Liveaboards in Palau.

Palau Aggressor II Palau Aggressor II

Images courtesy of the Palau Aggressor

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Diving Information

Marine life, diving conditions, and best dive sites.

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Intro to Palau diving

Palau scuba diving involves a lot of drift dives and reef hooks. After your descent, typically 50 to 60 feet, your dive will continue as either a gliding drift over the reefs and along walls as the current carries you, or you will stop and anchor yourself to a sturdy outcropping of rock and let the current bring the reef life to you. A reef hook is essentially a big fishing hook with the barb removed attached to a 3-5 meter rope.

The hook goes into a dead part of the coral reef and the other end attaches to your BCD. Reef hooks are fairly well accepted in Palau, but only at specified sites that have consistent current and an abundance of dead coral to hook into.

Perhaps the most popular of all reef hook dives are at Blue Corner, where a lot of current around the point brings in the big fish. Sharks, jacks, tuna, and resident Napoleon wrasse are often sighted. If mantas are what you seek, head out to the German Channel, where divers rest on the ocean floor while teams of mantas circle above. Palau has a lot of healthy hard coral and a good amount of wall diving.

A typical day of diving in Palau usually involves up to 5 dives a day including a night dive, whether you are staying at a resort or on a liveaboard. 

Palau Aggressor II Palau Aggressor II

Images courtesy of the Palau Aggressor


Marine Life & Photography Subjects

Palau's prolific marine life  includes big animals and macro life. The strong currents and variable conditions at many dive sites make underwater photography very challenging. It can be difficult to get reef sharks to come close to you while you are hooked in at Blue Corner. Unhooking and swimming down into or over the lip of the reef can get you closer to sharks, but you also risk the ire of other dive groups who fear your bubbles will scare away the wildlife. It's best not to chase sharks - instead, find a good spot where they can swim by you in the current. Photographing mantas in reduced visibility will test your post-editing skills.

Night dives are often the best time to put on your macro lens, as a wide range of reclusive creatures emerges from the reef after dark. This can also be a great opportunity to get close to otherwise skittish fish while they sleep.


Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperature: 81-84°F (27-29°C).
  • Visibility: Ranges from 50-150+ feet (15-45 meters). During the dry season, the visibility often exceeds 100 feet (30 meters).
  • Depth Range: 16-131 feet (5-40 meters).



Palau's Best Dive Sites

We've rounded up some of the best dive sites in Palau. These sites are typically usually included in most liveaboard itieneraries.

1. CHANDELIER CAVE - This site is a large cave with several “rooms”. You can enter the cave at 25ft, and surface in several different “rooms”. Underwater tunnels allow you to swim from room to room. This is a very cool place, and a good place to take a wide-angle photo with a diver.

It's a very adventurous dive that must be done at the right time of day with an experienced guide with whom you feel comfortable. Bear in mind that this is an overhead environment—there are places where you can’t see any light, visibility can drop to zero, and you can have trouble finding your way out. For all of these reasons, this dive should be taken seriously, and participants should be experienced divers, equipped and trained accordingly, preferably at least cavern certified. It’s also wise to come equipped with lines & reels as well as backup lights, unless you’re sure that the dive operator will provide them.

2. GERMAN CHANNEL - German channel is famous for its manta rays, but it has much more. This narrow pass separates Ngemelis and Ngercheu Islands, forming a connection between the inner lagoon and open sea. Shallow water, strong currents, and boating traffic make the narrowest portions unsuitable for scuba, but the large area at the channel’s mouth offers amazing diving opportunities.

Virtually every sort of tropical marine life can be seen here, but the site is most famous for mantas, eagle rays, reef sharks and many species of schooling fish. Often the best strategy involves settling in a lively area and waiting for the action to come to you. If the current is running, this can also be a great drift dive—just go with the flow and soak up the sights as you fly effortlessly over the reef. Be extremely cautious when surfacing, however, as boating traffic can be very heavy here—make sure that at least one member of your team sends up a safety sausage (SMB) on a line before your final ascent! 

3. JELLYFISH LAKE - While not a dive site, snorkeling Jellyfish Lake is a must-do in Palau. The lake is full of non-stinging jellyfish, creating a unique experience and photo opportunity. Accessed by a short hike on a well-marked trail over a jungle-covered ridge, this marine lake is largely isolated from the surrounding sea.

However, the water remains connected to the outside by a huge network of fissures and channels in the porous limestone, allowing the tide to rise and fall inside the lake as it does in the surrounding lagoon. Scuba is not permitted in the lake, nor is it needed, as snorkeling is perfect for observing and photographing the famous golden jellyfish, which stay near the surface to maximize exposure to the sun. Sunlight is critical to their survival since they obtain much of their energy from photosynthetic algae living in their tissues. In fact, the jellies actually migrate across the lake on a daily basis, following the sunlight and avoiding shade.

Contrary to popular belief, these jellies have not completely lost their stinging ability, but it is so mild as to be unnoticeable except on sensitive tissue like lips, or for individuals with unusual sensitivity. While the jellies are the main attraction, the mangrove-clad shoreline is also home to a healthy community of anemones, sponges, and tunicates, as well as gobies and other small fish. 

Read more about swimming and photographing Jellyfish Lake in Paul & Lisa Hogger's account.

4. BLUE HOLE / BLUE CORNER - These two sites are among the most celebrated in Palau, for good reason. Known throughout the world for its abundance of fish life, Blue Corner is the kind of place where it’s possible to see just about anything.

Situated on a current-swept corner of a steep drop-off, it’s a natural gathering point for reef fish of every description, dense schools of jacks, snappers and barracuda, and a healthy population of white-tip and gray reef sharks, as well as Napoleon wrasse and many other species.

Eagle rays, mantas, turtles, tuna and wahoo are also seen fairly often, and even billfish, whale sharks and whales make occasional appearances. Within easy swimming distance (depending on the current) is the sister site of Blue Holes. A large cavern with multiple entrances, accessible from the shallow reef top as well as deeper points on the wall. Illuminated by shafts of sunlight from overhead, the view from inside is a memorable experience of sublime beauty.

The spacious main cavern is appropriate for divers of all experience levels, but there’s also a narrow cave at 85 ft. that should only be explored by properly equipped and certified cave divers. The reef itself is another attraction surrounding both sites, with colonies of boulder and cabbage corals scattered over the plateau at 45 to 60 ft. Dropping over the wall, you’ll find a healthy mix of hard and soft corals, as well as sponges and massive gorgonian sea fans.

OTHER PALAU DIVE SITES - Other notable Palauan sites include New and Big Drop Offs, Ulong Channel, Peleliu Wall, and Cut, Mandarinfish Lake and WW 2 Japanese shipwrecks Iro and Sata. There’s also a Zero fighter plane in very shallow water, plus countless other reefs and walls.

 Palau Aggressor II Palau Aggressor II

Images courtesy of the Palau Aggressor



In general, Palau can be dived year round.

The best time to scuba dive Palau is during the dry season from October to May. The rainy season from June to September brings more wind and rain than usual, though much of it occurs at night. Palau is in the tropics so it does receive a fair amount of rain, but weather patterns here are fairly predictable. 

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travel information

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How to Get to Palau

Fly into Koror airport (ROR) from the US via multiple cities in Asia. There are no direct flights, and most routes require two stops.  From the western United States, it takes around 20-26 hours and from the eastern states closer to 36-40+ hours. We recommend you arrive a day earlier than you plan to dive so you can rest and rehydrate prior to boarding the liveaboard or heading on a day trip.


Other Things to do in Palau

Palau offers a host of exciting and adventurous non-diving activities including waterfall hikes at Ngardmau, rock island excursions, sport fishing, speedboat & kayak tours, city tours and more. If you seek nature, kayaking in calm blue waters among the islands is a must-do activity on your non-dive day. Palau is rich with World War II history. Explore Palau's diverseculinary scene if you're staying at a land-based resort.

For history buffs, a trip to Peleliu Island or the German Lighthouse is recommended. The Palau Pacific resort is convenient as a 1-2 day stop either before or after boarding a Palau-based liveaboard boat. It’s the islands biggest luxury resort with a lovely private beach.

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Liveaboards in Palau

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See the availability of liveaboards in Palau and book online. Best price guaranteed. No credit card fees.

The rates shown below are per person in USD some operators may quote in a different currency and the final pricing may vary depending on the latest exchange rates.

Please contact us for the latest availability of the M/V Discovery Adventure


Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: United States Dollar
  • Language: The official languages are English and Palauan
  • Main Airport Code: ROR
  • Time Zone: UTC+9
  • Electricity: 120 V 60 Hz; North American plugs.

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Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

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Reviews (12)

  • Reviewer
San Diego, CA
United States

I loved Palau !
The shark and Manta encounters were constant and we also did the jellyfish lake, which was an awesome experience that should not be missed if you are there.
Hooking into the reefs at Ulong Chanell and watching the sharks swim by grabbing the tangs for lunch was very exhilarating.
After hanging there and watching, the drift dive up the channel was an experience I will not forget.
This was a wide angle photographers dream trip with Manta's and sharks regularly within feet of me.
We saw Manta's every time we went to German channel and it quickly became our favorite site which we requested almost every day.
Chandelier cave was cool, but vis was limited and it was an overhead environment with pockets that you could pop up into .
It was important to keep sight of the guide and his light as you went through.

Blue holes/Blue corner has a cavern with sunlight streaming through the many holes in the reef and fantastic photo ops of divers with sunlight beams were available. After dropping through the cavern, we drifted over the Blue corner wall to the Ulong Chanell site and hooked in for the remaining bottom time , watching sharks.

Visibility was an average of 75-100 ft and I was very comfortable in the 80-85º water wearing a full 3mm wetsuit .
Some people wore less, but I don't like being cold after dive 2 or 3.

The coral was not real healthy, probably due to currents, but this was all about the big animals.
The boats seemed to know where we were and even if a few of us broke from the group (who? me??) they were in touch with all boats in the area and quickly found their divers.
We had an hour ride every morning to get from the resort to the dive sites and it was raining frequently.
This made a cold ride and I highly recommend bringing your rain slicker !
There were 3 dives only because we were diving off a land based operator, but they did offer night dives .
I would have preferred doing a live-aboard, and doing 5 dives a day, when I go back I will be on one !

Visited on 10/2012 - Submitted on 01/20/2014
  • Top Reviewer
Minneapolis, MN
United States

My first trip to Palau in late June of 2002 was a weather disaster. Two, not one, hurricanes hit and I never got to see the major dive sites.

First, Jellyfish Lake is absolutely amazing. It is highlighted in a major ad campaign right now and it always makes me want to go back. It is a hard climb to get to, so you will get good exercise to get there.

Blue Holes and Blue Corner are also great. Both of them live up to their world class status. I love the Blue Holes in particular although it was kind of crowded. I was a bit afraid of the Blue Corner given the current reputation, but it really was quite nice. The boat operators new how to get us to a great spot, we got hooked up with our reef hooks and then we were all set to watch gray tips patrol in front of us for 15 minutes.

German Channel was also a wonderful dive site. We saw mantas both time we were. One time it turned and did a barrel roll right over my head.

Peliliu Express was incredible the first time. We saw an annual aggregation of snappers that seemed to go on for miles. The second dive a few hours later was raked by currents and we pretty much held on to avoid being swept out to sea. Might be the scariest conditions that I have ever been in.

We had a very small cabin on our liveaboard boat because we booked late. The main living area was very nice with a great home theater where we watched violent HBO shows most evening.

The meals were great and the chef made beautiful carvings out of food that was very clever. I tell anyone who has only dived in the Caribbean, that Palau is the best place in the world to go to. You will see schools of fish, WWII wrecks, sharks, mantas and beautiful coral. I do recommend that you stay away in mid summer though. Being there during a hurricane is scary and no fun.

Visited on 03/2012 - Submitted on 02/07/2014

Palau almost ruined Diving for me.

I live on guam, and figured I need to take trips to some of the neighboring Islands before I leave here. I took a 7 day trip to Palau in the beginning of January, and WOW, it was so amazing that I almost don't want to dive Guam anymore because it pales in comparison. So, the flight into Palau was late at night, and the return flight left at 1am, so you really don't see anything as you arrive or leave. I only had pics to go by for seeing the layout of the archipelago. The hotel picked us up at the airport, and we checked in around 9pm. So, I like my technology, and palau is lacking in it seriously. we stayed at the west plaza Malakal, the only elevator was a tiny luggage elevator, the a/c was terrible, the bathroom would flood the room when we took showers, the room was very ...mildewy smelling there was no wifi, and it had a great view of a factory. If you don't care about 1st world amenities or the view, the location was great, it was within walking distance of both Sam's Tours and Fish and Fins (even though both companies pick you up every morning and drop you off when you want to leave.

We dove through Sam's Tours, and I loved the place. they have a small shop to get any minor gear you might need (such as reef hooks if you haven't been to Palau before, you kinda need one for lots of the good dives), and a bar/grill with well....bar food, and like almost every bar on Palau, they sell Palau's own local brew Red Rooster, which as far as national beers go is phenomenal! With 5 days of diving, I don't think we were on the same boat more than twice....they have at least 6 boats that each fit about 8 people w/up to 3 tanks each rather comfortably Plus the 2 guides.

The guides were VERY knowledgeable about each dive site, and they tried to keep groups of people together to the max extent possible day to day so you don't end up repeating the same dive site unless you want to. Most sites were about 20 min to an hour away from the shop, but it is through the rock islands with awesome views for the entire trip to/from the site.

Visibility was usually 100'+, with the exception of the wrecks we dove. On the note of said wrecks, I am used to Guam's wrecks which really have very sparse life on them....The wrecks in Palau were brimming with life lots of hard/soft corals, lots of color everywhere. Schools of Jacks, a few anemones, nudibranches, a couple of lionfish, lots of the fish you normally see on wrecks, but I feel that what really made them stand out was the coral growth.

Palau has AWESOME drift dives...New Drop Off, Siaes Corner, Blue Corner, Ulong Channel to name the ones we dove. Most of them were like riding a train, flying by in the current watching tons of pelagics...lots of turtles, and oh yeah the sharks I don't think we did a single (non-wreck/chandelier cave) dive where we didn't see at least a dozen sharks.

There were also 2 VERY unique experiences that so far as I know are Palau specific: Jellyfish lake, which is a neat experience swimming with Jellyfish that don't sting, and Sams offers a "Nautilus dive" where the night before, they drop a cage off into the depths and in the morning, they pull up some Nautilus to look at, play with and get pics with. then once you are done, you put it back into the cage and they lower them back down to eventually find their way back out, and you enjoy a nice wall drift.

And if you want to do something on the surface (or for the day you fly out), they have some great hiking/kayaking trips through the rock islands where you can learn a bit about the geology and history of the rock islands.

With such a myriad of options, ....sharks, Mantas (at German channel), Sharks, Jellyfish, Mandarinfish along the wall of the dive shop, turtles, WWII Wrecks... every diver should add Palau to their dive book

Visited on 01/2014 - Submitted on 02/13/2014

PALAU!! Just the name alone conjures up magnificent images in our mind that we all have seen spread throughout the various dive magazines that we have all drooled over. If there is a more hyped up place to dive you will be hard pressed to find it. However, it is justified!

Palau is not necessarily an easy place to get to nor is it a budget travel destination. My wife and I are a military family stationed in Guam so we were on the assumption that the flight cost would be more reasonable from Guam. They are, but only slightly so. If you want to dive and are pining about the cost of the flight, don't, it will not get any cheaper. The only real advantage we have living in Guam is that we fly for a total of 1.5 hours versus, well depending where you are coming from, a lot or a lot more.

No matter where you come from you will be traveling through Guam and will arrive in Palau between later in the day to later in the evening. The downside to this is you have to pay for a hotel day and you have little to no opportunity to enjoy your first hours on Palau. The same applies to your departure date. All flights back to the US through Guam will be leaving between 1am and /or 3am. Therefore, you get to pay for another nights’ stay in your hotel of choice without really enjoying it. This is where the negatives end depending on the dive operator you choose.

My wife and I have visited Palau twice so far and have booked our third trip for this February 2014.

There is nothing like diving In Palau. It is “world class”! Go during high season (February to May or October / November) not peak season (December and January) and you’ll save a few bucks and still get awesome conditions. If you want big pelagics such as huge Dogtooth Tuna, Mantas, massive schools of barracuda and jacks and as many sharks as you care to see, tons of fish, exceptional reef health and awesome drifts Palau is the place. I have dove all over the world with over 3900 dives under my weight belt and the single best dive I have ever had was the Ulong area and the Ulong channel. I can’t even describe it. You are going to have to put a bit of effort in planning your trip to do Ulong channel as you have to hit it on an incoming tide at the time that your boat will be out there. IF you like Mantas go to Yap not German Channel. Better yet, go to the Big Island of Hawaii and save yourself a boatload of money and have some of the most memorable Manta experiences ever. Palau is NOT a dive destination for the newly certified unless you can prove yourself to be a competent and confident diver. The drifts can be fast and the drop-offs substantial. Visibility has always been fantastic and it is easy to get deep fast without realizing it. Take your camera if you have one and if you don’t get one. These days they have very good housed point and shoot cameras that won’t set you back too much and you won’t regret it. All the rest of the spots are absolutely breathtaking with some better than others but all offering a unique taste of the underwater world that is Palau.

Visited on 06/2013 - Submitted on 02/13/2014

Ok, so Palau was my first dive trip ever. Seriously, I left Guam with only 19 dives under my belt and went to tackle Palau. Palau is what inspired me to be more dedicated to exploring the ocean. My trip was only for 5 days during the Christmas holiday. So, I did 4 dives, a kayak trip, Jellyfish Lake, a visit to the prison to check out the store boards, and either 1 or 2 hikes.

We went through Sam's Tours. Someone came and picked us up every morning at our resort. I dove the Siaes Tunnel, Ulong Channel, Blue Corner, and the German Channel. My first time doing a cave dive and my first time seeing a shark was Siaes Tunnel! It was a really cool experience for me. Ulong ended up being my absolute favorite dive of the trip! We reef hooked in and just sat and watched the sharks do their thing…AWESOME! Plus we ate lunch on Ulong island which is one of the places they filmed "Survivor". The Blue Corner was nice too. We saw a few sharks and other fish, but it wasn't like Ulong. Then the German channel is where I saw my first mantas! There were 2 big beautiful rays swimming next to each other…I'll never forget seeing all these wonderful creatures in Palau!

The kayaking trip was great too! The day we did it, it was calm and sunny. We rowed around and under some the Rock Islands. We could look below us and see sharks and other need animals.

Jellyfish Lake was unreal! Of course you are just snorkeling, no diving allowed. But you are snorkeling with hundreds, yay thousands of jellyfish that on't sting you! Again, just an unbelievable experience. One you can't have anywhere else as far as I know. Definitely a must!

The days we did the hike(s), our lunch was pre-packed for us. We had a guide to take us and tell us the history behind any war relics or features of Palau that we might find interesting

Palau does not have a lot of shopping or night life to offer, but I do remember there being a few restaurants to choose from. We did go to the prison and shop around for story boards.

I stayed at the Rose Garden Resort. It was very nice. The view from our room was impeccable! We had 2 beds, a small bathroom, and a nice patio out front. They had a special dinner prepared for us on Christmas Day:)

As I mentioned before, Palau was my inspiration to take diving more seriously. I went home to Guam and bought all my dive gear. Possibly the best investment I've ever made!

Visited on 12/2008 - Submitted on 02/25/2014


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