Palau Aggressor Charter Feb 28th– April 6th, 2016
Water Temp: 79-84 deg F
Air Temp: 78-86 deg F
Crew: Dan, Hector, Casey, Ronnie, Ernan, Jay and Ripon
On Sunday afternoon we welcomed aboard 18 new dive buddies from the USA and Canada. After an orientation to the vessel and helping them to set up their dive gear, we headed upstairs for a vessel orientation and safety briefing followed by a delicious dinner by Chef Ronnie. With appetites satisfied, it was early to bed in order to rest up before beginning a wonderful week of diving onboard the Palau Aggressor II!
Monday morning we fired up the engines and left the dock at Sun up. Only a short ride away was our first dive site; the Helmet Wreck. Not discovered until the ‘80s this wreck was not salvaged after the War like most of the wrecks in Palau. So not only is she home to all sorts of critters like Rhino Shrimp, Saw blade Shrimp and banded pipefish, divers also get to enjoy looking at some artifacts like rifles, depth charges, plane engines and gas masks. Our next dive was the Teshio Maru, another victim of WWII. Lying on her side a little outside the harbor this wreck offers usually better vis than the other wrecks, and divers can hunt for various species of Nudibranch, Mantis shrimp and Octopus to name just a few. During lunch we moved the big boat down to German Channel and the Ngemilis Island area. Our first dive on the outer reef was at Barnums wall and produced an Octopus, Feather Tail Ray and a Leopard Shark!
Our first dive on Tuesday morning was at German Channel, we were hoping to see Mantas at the cleaning station, but alas not today. The channel itself makes a very beautiful dive in its own right apart from the Mantas. Today we saw several Grey Reef Sharks, White Tips, Octopus, Nudibranchs, Clown Triggerfish….the list goes on! Dive Two was our first ‘hook in’ of the week at the World renowned Blue Corner. Lots of Sharks on the corner today, Dolphins cruising around on the safety stop…Palau at its best! Blue Holes was out third dive. Divers descend down through one of four large sink holes on the reef, which open up into a large cavern along the wall. Disco Clams in the cracks, Moray Eels and Nudibranchs, we usually find Pygmy Seahorses here too, but this week we couldn’t find them, hopefully they are not gone and just stayed hidden! As you exit the holes you cruise down the reef towards blue corner and drift the Plateau again before ascending. Ferns wall was our fourth dive for the day, a beautiful site with lots of soft coral, Nudibranchs and Turtles.
On Wednesday morning we motored down south in the gentle swell to Peleliu. Peleliu was the location of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII, when the US Marines came to take the Island from the entrenched Japanese Army. We headed out for our first dive at Purple Wall, an especially spectacular site with massive Sea Fans along the wall, and a beautiful coral garden bustling with life drenched in the morning sun. Dive two took us to West Wall, a very beautiful wall dive with everything from the big to the tiny! Some of the group opted to go on the optional land tour instead of dive two, to take in some of the islands history. Orange Beach is so named from its code in the Peleliu invasion, the dive site just out from the beach is an amazing hard coral garden bursting with color, and hardly a square meter of sand is visible between the corals. With great vis and so much to see everyone was all smiles when they came back to the skiff. After dive four at Ngedebus corner, where we saw several Turtles and a Sail Fish, we headed back up to the German Channel area, and did a night dive at German coral Garden. Tonight the guide found a Spanish Dancer which is very rare to see in Palau!
Our first dive on Thursday took us to Blue Corner and another opportunity to “Hook In”. A few Sharks and Jacks were putting on a show, but the current was mild so we hung around for a while and then we explored the Plateau. For dive two we went back to German Channel to try and see some Mantas, but we were unlucky again, however the channel itself is a great opportunity to see some other cool critters so we went exploring instead. Dive three was at New Drop Off, a mini version of Blue Corner, odd current had us turn around along the wall, but we were rewarded with some Turtles, Moray Eels and some more sharks! We went to Canyons for dive four was at the Canyons, which is another stunning hard coral garden, this one has deep cuts into the reef, forming canyon-like swim throughs and holes to explore.
On Friday morning the boat started up early and headed to Ulong Island, where the TV show Survivor was filmed! We began our day with a beautiful dive at Sandy Paradise. The highlights on this dive site are the Leaf Scorpion Fish, Mantis shrimp, Octopus, Cuttlefish and a Leopard Shark! Dive two was at Ulong Channel, one of the more famous dives sites in Palau. After watching a few sharks wile we were hooked in at the mouth of the channel, we unhooked and went for a lazy cruise down the channel, which is a spectacular hard coral area at the end of the dive are some huge Giant Clams and an enormous patch of lettuce coral. We went to Siaes Corner after lunch and saw some more sharks, Moray eels, and Barracuda. After dinner we sat down and watched the Video of the Week and recapped some of our amazing experiences form the week.
Snorkeling with the millions of Jellyfish at Jellyfish Lake, where we went on Saturday morning, is a truly surreal and mesmerizing experience. After a short hike, a swim in the tranquil waters of the lake is a great way to relax after a week of diving. We ambled back to the Skiff, where Casey was waiting to take us on a tour of the Rock Islands before meeting up with the big boat in Koror. Our last dive was at nearby Chandelier Caves where we explored the four chambers and stalactite formations inside, surfacing for a breath or two in the air pockets along the way. On the reef just outside the cave entrance mandarin fish scurry between the shallow corals posing for the final photographs of the week. After that, it was back for lunch and time to assist our guests with rinsing their gear. Later that evening, we all met for a few cocktails to look back on the week and share some diving stories before heading out to dinner at the nearby local restaurants. Some of the guests left on Saturday night so said our goodbyes and went to bed.
We said farewell to the rest on Sunday morning and helped our guests with transfers to their hotels and flights. It was yet another wonderful week aboard the Palau Aggressor II with fantastic guests that we look forward to diving again with soon!