Scuba Diving Photos
Live-Aboard: Palau Siren
Rock Island, Palau, can be seen from the live-aboard Palau Siren.
The Unfair Advantage
The Palau Siren, which began operating in the region in October 2012, is the newest live-aboard serving the Micronesian archipelago of more than 250 islands. It’s a traditional Indonesian Phinisi design, with graceful curves, a pair of tall masts rigged in bright blue sails and the romantic symphony that only a wooden vessel can orchestrate. At a length of 130 feet and with a wide beam of 30 feet, the yacht accommodates guests with its luxurious teak finishes, open-air ambience and ample space for everyone. Meals are served at an expansive U-shaped dining area on the breezy stern deck, and the dive deck at midship is equally user friendly, with plenty of personal space for gearing up, plus convenient storage for wetsuits and equipment.
The Siren’s dive operation benefits greatly from guides who come from the staff pool at Sam’s Tours, one of Palau’s longest-running operators, so they know when the best sites are prime and can show their divers the best of everything. Guests are chauffeured to dive sites in a pair of 30-foot fiberglass pangas, fully outfitted with ladders and large canopies, which increases the comfort level greatly. And they’re fast, which puts divers on Palau’s best sites well before the day boats from Korror have even left the dock. That’s one of the top benefits of a trip aboard the Siren — being the early bird. Because the captain can move the floating dive resort to the most advantageous moorings on a daily basis as determined by weather and tides, passengers are typically the first divers on the best sites each day. And that’s a very nice bonus, because Palau offers incredible variety to discerning divers of every breed.
Wreck lovers will discover an impressive amount of history on display beneath the surface of Palau’s waters. Near the end of World War II, the U.S. Navy struck a deadly blow to a group of Japanese warships hiding among the Rock Islands during Operation Desecrate One. The result is a ghost fleet of dozens of sunken vessels decorated with growth from more than six decades underwater. Most are massive hulks, heavily populated with marine life and loaded with compelling artifacts. A single dive on the famed Helmet Wreck yields massive sake bottles, gas masks, torn boots, used ordnance of varying calibers and much more, like a close-up encounter with a stealthy crocodilefish.
Jellyfish Lake is a signature Palau experience that’s a staple of the Siren itinerary. The isolated marine lake in the Rock Islands is world famous for the millions of virtually stingless golden jellies that thrive in the brackish water. Snorkeling in the dark water through throngs of gelatinous orbs is every bit as surreal as one would expect, and typically accompanied by a soundtrack of excited laughing from the other visitors.
Aside from the unique sites, WWII wrecks and other atypical attractions, Palau’s reefs deliver all of the South Pacific idyll that divers expect from the region. From the high-octane drift dives of Ulong Channel and Pelelui Express to the manta encounters at German Channel, and the plunging underwater cliffs at Ngemelis Wall and New Dropoff, the archipelago delivers big on the fantasy. Experiencing it all from the comfort and convenience of the Palau Siren seems like an unfair advantage — not that you’ll care.
Next Page: Reasons to Come Aboard