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Pristine Paradise: Epic Dive Adventures in Palau

Mind-blowing marine life, pristine reefs, high-octane drift dives and WWII wrecks await scuba divers in this award-winning western Pacific island nation.
By Terry Ward | Published On June 20, 2024
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Pristine Paradise: Epic Dive Adventures in Palau

Ask any diver who has been to Palau to describe the experience — both underwater and topside — and they may have trouble putting it into words. Even among divers who have traveled the world, Palau has a tendency to defy description. But one thing is certain: Divers who have visited can’t wait to return.

Dive into Palau's underwater wonders, explore its cultural trails, and venture beyond the dive sites.

Palau Visitor’s Authority

In the heart of Micronesia and the westernmost archipelago of Oceania , the Republic of Palau is made up of 12 inhabited islands and more than 700 islets scattered across a vast barrier reef system in the western Pacific Ocean. Among divers, it’s best known for plunging walls and pristine coral reefs absolutely covered with sponges, fans, gorgonians and hard corals that are nourished by nutrient-rich ocean currents. The most beloved dive sites here lie mostly within the relatively compact area of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Southern Rock Islands Lagoon. Picture the prettiest postcard image of a tropical wonderland, and Palau surpasses it with jungle-covered limestone islands that jut up vertically from turquoise waters. Tropic birds flit on the sea breezes and wild orchids push their delicate blooms out among the lush canopy of greenery. Underwater, some of the world’s most impressive encounters for divers await.

Palau is and will be a destination for those who want to experience the wild side of nature, one of the most amazing adventures you will find underwater today.

Palau Visitor’s Authority

Blue Corner: A Drift Dive Like None Other

This is where you’ll find Blue Corner, a legendary dive site that makes any diver who’s been lucky enough to giant stride off a boat here swoon at the memory (and those who haven’t been as lucky, dream about it). One tank is never enough on this vast plateau jutting into the open ocean that’s washed by currents that attract all the big, bucket-list marine life–think turtles, friendly Napoleon wrasse, and sharks and rays galore. Schooling gray and blacktip reef sharks are the regulars here, but divers often spot eagle rays and whitetip reef sharks whizzing past on the currents, too. Part of the adventure at Blue Corner comes in using a reef hook to stay put on the wall while admiring the marine-life blockbuster playing out before your eyes. And while Blue Corner is consistently ranked among the most wondrous dive sites in the world (it’s been likened by biologists to an underwater Serengeti, so rich and dense is the life here), it’s just one of many sites in Palau that keep divers coming back for more.

At German Channel, divers kneel in the sand near cleaning stations to watch massive manta rays wing by in the water column overhead. Ulong Channel, just north, is frequented by more pelagics and beloved for its towering walls of layered and pristine lettuce corals that look like an underwater condo for all the soldierfish peering out from the nooks and crannies within as you go flying past on the ripping currents.

Boxed Callout

“We have done thousands of dives all around the world in some of the most pristine areas, but in few places we have seen what we have seen here in Palau.”

Dr. Enric Sala

Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic

Witness the beauty and history of Palau above water.

Palau Visitor’s Authority

Wrecks, Caverns and Spawning Spectacles

Wreck divers get their fix in Palau, too, diving some of the 60 ships, such as the famed Iro Maru, that met their demise in these waters during World War II. And underwater photographers love the upright and still largely intact Japanese Navy Seaplane, The Jake, which is surrounded by brain and staghorn coral in only 45 feet of water and is a magnet for colorful fish life seeking shelter.

There’s even a world-class cavern dive on tap in Palau. Chandelier Cave in Malakal Harbor is just a couple minutes by boat from Koror’s dive shops and is packed with stalactites and stalagmites that will blow your mind with their fragile beauty.

Spawning aggregations in Palau’s waters create a unique opportunity to see a biological event few divers in the world ever witness. During the days leading up to the full moon each month, schools of red snapper aggregate in the thousands, creating a spontaneous buffet for lurking predators that arrive just in time to feast. For divers, it’s like watching a nature documentary in real time. In December and January, elegant black and yellow Moorish idols also congregate in these waters to spawn, creating an even more colorful contrast against the bright-blue backdrop.

Named as one of the seven underwater wonders of the world!

Palau Visitor’s Authority

Explore Beyond the Diving

You’ll never tire of time topside in Palau, either, whether kayaking or paddleboarding through a Rock Islands dreamscape, switching it up with a waterfall hike and freshwater swim on Ngardmau Island or diving into the islands’ fascinating culture while sampling traditional Palauan food made by women in a local village. You can even visit the islands’ oldest bai (the chief’s meeting house).

As remote as this destination is, it’s straightforward and easy to get to from the U.S., with regular connections offered by United Airlines from Honolulu via Guam. There are also direct flights from major cities in Asia, such as Tokyo and Manila, among others. The Palau Visitors Authority has useful travel tips that will assist you in your trip planning.

Dive into the adventure of a lifetime, where every aquatic moment is a revelation of beauty, tranquility, and awe.

Palau Visitor’s Authority

Explore Further

Liveaboards often visit Peleliu Wall, which drops nearly 100 feet off the southern reef of Peleliu Island. A favorite among advanced divers who can handle the hauling currents that attract a conveyor belt of pelagics, it’s an epic drift dive where you have the best chance of spotting tiger sharks and bull sharks, as well as bumphead parrotfish, turtles and so much more.

2024 Readers Choice Awards

Palau won 11 Scuba Diving Magazine prestigious Readers Choice destination awards in the Pacific and Indian Ocean region, including first-place rankings for Big Animals, Wall Diving, Advanced Diving, Health of the Marine Environment, and Cavern / Cave / Grotto Diving categories, in addition to a Top 10 listing for Best Overall Destination.


Visit Palau

[email protected]

+(680) 488-1930/2793