Two spaces opened on a fully booked Palau diving trip aboard Ocean Hunter III in November 2018. Escape cold and wet autumn weather and spend a week diving the spectacular reefs and wrecks of West Micronesia with Josef Litt, author and photographer! 

9–17 November 2018

 Price: 98,900 Kč (approx. £3,550)

The price includes:

  • Return flight from Prague, Munich or Vienna. The operator will book your flights from anywhere in the world.
  • 7-day trip aboard M/Y Ocean Hunter III with Palau diving according to the itinerary
  • Price is based on two people sharing the Standard cabin
  • Gourmet full-board with snacks, hot and cold drinks
  • Weights, weight-belts and tanks with air

The price does not include:

  • Additional hotel accommodation if required due to flight schedules
  • Travel and compulsory diving insurance (we recommend DAN)
  • Rental of diving equipment
  • Discretionary visits to the islands
  • Compulsory Palau entrance fees and National Park entrance fees
  • Tips for the crew and guides
  • Other not listed services

Palau Diving Expedition is organised by SPARK AIRTICKETS, s.r.o., Prague, Czech Republic.

Destination Details

Palau Diving Expedition

Seen from above, the islands of Palau look like green calligraphy on an empty corner of the sea. Over 470 miles east of the Philippines and locked in by the stretching Pacific Ocean, Palau is a rare oasis, a self-contained, isolated archipelago thriving with biodiversity and abundance. Palau is the westernmost island group of a region called the West Caroline Islands, which is part of a larger region called Micronesia. Nations in the Micronesia region include the U.S. Territory of Guam, The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (of which Yap is a state), and the Republic of Palau.

Koror

Koror is a charming, quirky small town. Of Palau’s approximately 17,500 inhabitants, including approximately 4,500 foreign workers mostly from the Philippines, half the population lives on Koror, a 3.5-mile long town stretching over four islands connected by bridge and causeway. There are paved roads, cars, shopping centres (though not more than four stories high) and more than 25 restaurants for any taste bud. One main two-lane road runs through the town. All the shops and neighbourhoods are built on either side of this mini-highway, similar to the layout of the Florida Keys in the US.

Koror is safe to walk about at night, though nightlife remains limited to a few bars, including Barracuda, which overlooks the Rock Islands on the Fish’n Fins dock. Other nightspots include the dockside Kramer’s, favoured by ex-pats, Riptide, with a dance floor and occasional live music located on Palau’s small public beach, and Peleliu Club, a local favourite that gets quite rowdy with Palauan cha-cha. 

Although the best action is on the water, for activities around the town of Koror, you will find they are very tourist friendly. A smile goes a long way here. There are two museums to visit (Etpison Museum and Belau National Museum), the Palau International Coral Reef Center (next door to us!) that houses an aquarium, a mariculture project where you can see a nursery of giant clams, a crocodile farm, an old Japanese shrine with a majestic view, WWII relics and monuments, traditional Bai meeting houses, a shop for traditional arts and crafts at the Senior Citizens Center, a public library with a rare collection on Palau, a center to swim with dolphins, and a movie theater.

You can take a dip in the water right off the rocky shore from underneath the KB Bridge, or on Long Island, a public cement dock and swimming area in the middle of town. To get around Koror you can rent a car, take taxis (2-4 dollars anywhere), bike or walk. Koror acts as a gateway to the other islands of Palau which you can visit by boat, plane or 4×4 vehicle.

Lifestyle

The lifestyle on Palau is very easy-going and laid-back for all. No one goes hungry here, as they can rely on family members or friends if they’re unemployed. Palauans are very family-centred, it seems almost everybody is related here, and clan ties still run strong. Though appearing Americanized, Palauans preserve much of their traditional culture – ceremonies, exchanges and councils – on land and in the sea.

Environment

The excitement of Palau diving sites is as amazing as the boat ride to get there. On our speedboats you will glide over glassy water, wind in your hair, through the labyrinth of our Rock Islands – jungled islands sprinkled over the cobalt sea like emeralds.

The Rock Islands are composed of porous limestone, jagged and primal as they cut out of the water and towards the sky, yet overgrown in rich vegetation due to the collection of minerals in the limestone crevices. The water and bacteria have undercut the islands to form a precarious, skinny base rising out of the water, giving the islands their mushroom-shape or green muffin-top look. The limestone, once the structure of an ancient coral reef, raised out of the water, leaving a skeleton of what this ancient underwater landscape might look like, with caves, marine lakes and waterways enfolded in the islands like a complex circulatory system.

No buildings are allowed on the Rock Islands by law, to keep them so purely startling to both Palauans and visitors. Further strict conservation laws are in place around this oasis, restricting fishing, travel over the reef, and travel to certain Rock Islands in order to leave undisturbed sites for birds and turtles. The most famous conservation area, no humans allowed, is the 70 Islands Wildlife Preserve – the part of Palau you see in all the aerial photographs.

A large barrier reef encloses the Rock Islands as well as most islands of Palau. Koror is the capital region, composed of four small islands connected together by a bridge. To the south of Koror lies Peleliu and Anguar, two other limestone islands, with mid-height profiles like Koror. All islands are strewn with WWII artefacts such as a rusting tank covered with the tropical grasses and flowers so robust they spring from any crack in the sidewalk.

North of Koror, Babeldaob is the largest island, totalling 153 square miles while the others together total a mere 37. The oldest island as well, Babeldaob is volcanic and holds the highest peaks and waterfalls, with the tall Mt. Ngerchelchuus at 713 feet above sea level. Babeldaob holds trails for hiking and mountain biking, with hints of Palau’s rich history nestled into the hillside in the form of a Yapese stone money quarry, sculpted terraces possibly used for agriculture in the BC era, and the oldest standing traditional Bai or Palauan meeting house used by the chiefs. Plans to move the current capital to Melekeok State on Babeldaob instigated construction of a new, all-island paved road, locally known as the Compact Road, which has made travel on the island much easier.

Kayangel island, the farthest north, is a raised coral atoll, surrounding a marine lagoon with its low sloping beaches. From Kayangel to Peleliu, the Palauan islands sprawl about 125 miles. However, 300 miles southwest lie more members of the Palau nation: 6 sparsely inhabited islands called the Southwest Islands.

Named one of the last “Living Edens” by PBS, and number one of seven “Underwater Wonders of the World,” by CEDAM International, Palau is etching its consciousness onto the world for its spectacular physical offerings, above and below the sea.

Biodiversity

With over 1,500 species of fish and 700 corals and anemones, Palau acts as a heart of biodiversity, pumping life outwards from the blood-warm waters of the Pacific to farther regions like Hawaii which only has 1/3rd as many underwater species as Palau. It is impossible to get bored on dives here when everywhere you look you see something new and different.

On almost every dive you see sharks (grey reef, black tip, white tip, and the occasional bull shark, leopard shark and hammerhead) and turtles (hawksbill, green, olive ridley, leatherback, and loggerhead), often so many sightings that you lose count. We have bumphead parrotfish and huge resident Napoleon wrasses that swim extremely close to divers. Experience close encounters with Palau’s abundant population of manta rays, lionfish and the usually rare, shy and wildly coloured mandarin fish. Other underwater highlights include cuttlefish, moray eels, lobsters, eagle rays, and dolphins, plus schools of barracudas, big-eye trevally (jacks), neon fusiliers, black snapper, and colourful anthias. Brightly coloured clown fish in pulsating anemones and large fish such as big-eye tuna and marlins are also common on dives. Palau is one of the last places in the world to spot a legendary and nearly extinct dugong (sea cow), a sea mammal, and seven of the nine species of endangered tridacna giant clams – larger than yourself and up to 100 years old! You can also find here saltwater crocodiles and sea snakes (non-aggressive). And of course, the biological wonder of Palau is Jellyfish Lake filled with millions of Mastigias species of jellyfish that have no sting, pulsing in a cloud-like hearts reflecting the sun’s rays through their pink bodies. The dives are truly a sensual feast.

As for life above the water, there are 142 bird species. The Palau Owl, endangered Palau Ground Dove, and beautiful Palau Fantail are some of the 16 endemic bird species in Palau. 1260 plant species include 109 endemic plants, with such highlights as the rare wild orchid and ancient cicada palm. There are 2 endemic bat species including the Palauan Fruit Bat.

The biodiversity of Palau is reflected in Palauan legends, which show a close relationship between the Palauans and the many creatures that inhabit their land. In the legends, often humans transform into animals, such as when a Palauan mother clutching her child turned into a dugong to explain the start of this marine mammal, and the theme of transformation is very strong. Visitors here will see how in Palau, the close relationship with such a thriving natural world opens up the interconnectedness of life and will not leave you untransformed.

Maximising your dives 

The Ocean Hunter III crew will use their knowledge and experience to bring you to the right dive site at the right moment. Diving off the Ocean Hunter means you get personal attention, reefs without a crowd, easy entry into the water and a maximum bottom time! Instead of waiting for 25 other divers to surface or have them wait for you, you and your buddy can stay underwater as long as you like, without any pressure. 

After giving you a briefing at least one divemaster will enter the water with you on every dive to guide, guard and assist.

Night dives are offered every night.

Our chaseboat is a purpose-built 35ft rigid hull boat designed specifically for divers, with ample room and dry storage areas. It is always prepared to bring you to the dive sites when weather conditions require it. It is a rigid hull, semi-covered chaseboat, 35 feet long, with VHF marine radio and equipped with twin 225 HP Yamaha four stroke engines.

Level of diving experience

Palau diving is for all levels of divers, from experienced to beginner. Our experienced instructors and divemasters will give you all the assistance and guidance you need. When your dive is over, you can climb back onboard and take a warm, freshwater shower right on the spacious dive deck before being offered a delicious snack such as cake or a fresh fruit smoothie. Where you live and where you dive is only a jump away.

Nitrox

Ocean Hunter III has two separate filling stations enabling both silver air tanks and yellow NITROX tanks to be filled at the same time. Our IANTD certified gas-blender crew will pump your tank to the required O2 content and then analyze it. Before the dive, you’ll analyze your own tank with a second analyzer and sign a sheet stating the O2% in your tank and your maximum depth. Then you’ll slip into the water with all the benefits of NITROX.

Pricing for Nitrox onboard Ocean Hunter depends on your requirements.:

Full Nitrox 32% for 7 day trip : …$199
Full Nitrox 32% for 10 day trip : …$285
Full Nitrox 32% for 12 day trip : …$340
Nitrox 32% per tank : …$10.50 per tank

Diving safety

The nearest hyperbaric chamber is in Koror, the main town of Palau. However, we maintain safe diving practices aboard the Ocean Hunter at all times. A divemaster will give a thorough briefing and get in the water with you on every dive. Our crew is highly trained and experienced in maintaining dive safety and handling diving emergencies. An Emergency Oxygen Kit is onboard the boat. We do require all guests to dive with a safety sausage, which can be purchased from our shop before boarding the boat. NITROX diving, available onboard, greatly enhances safety, increasing the bottom time as well.

Boat Details

Ocean Hunter III

Welcome to Ocean Hunter III, the latest and most luxurious addition to the Ocean Hunter Fleet dedicated to Palau diving. The boat represents 25 years of knowledge in the liveaboard industry and like all of our liveaboards was designed by divers, for divers. As usual with our fleet, you also have the knowledge and hospitality of our very experienced local crew.

Ocean Hunter III has 3 standard cabins, 3 deluxe cabins and 2 master staterooms all with private bath and a/c, and accommodates up to 16 guests with personal attention and plenty of space. There are a large dining room and a comfortable salon with sofas and an entertainment system. The salon also contains a high-quality espresso machine. Alternatively, you can relax in the jacuzzis on the spacious sun deck. Furthermore, Ocean Hunter III is designed for professional underwater photography, TV and Film production, with a sizeable working area, 110, 220 and 415-volt electrical outlets and extra storage space. Ocean Hunter III offers powerful PC’s for movie and video editing with download, email and cd burning services.

Technical diving support

  • Nitrox, TRIMIX and Rebreather support
  • Nitrox certification available onboard
  • Twin Bauer compressors, Nitrox membrane

Media production support

  • Twin generators for high voltage equipment demand.
  • 1.6 tons hydraulic crane offers lifting capacity for most ROV’s, underwater cameras and Mini-subs.
  • Enclosed and Air conditioned lab for scientific research and film productions.
  • Underwater Scooter
  • 1200 Watt HMI lights to back-light corals, UV Filters, caves and wrecks.

Ocean Hunter III offers the very latest of high-quality liveaboard experiences.

Our chefs serve fresh, low-fat gourmet cuisine.

Sample schedule of a day

06:30 – Gourmet coffee/tea and sweet rolls. Coffee is available throughout the day from our espresso machine.
07:00 – First morning dive
08:30 – Full Breakfast
10:00 – Second morning dive
11:30 – Snacks
11:45 – Third dive
13:00 – Lunch, 
14:30 – Fourth dive
16:00 – Fruit smoothies and cake
17:00 – Dusk dive
19:00 – Night dive
20:15 – Dinner (can be served before night dive if requested)

The Ocean Hunter liveaboard fleet is one big family. Unlike the larger liveaboards who change crews and captains every season, our family-run business gives you the same famous service presented by the same friendly faces since 1993. We add new discoveries year after year and are here waiting to share it with you! We are also fortunate to count among our family several local, experienced Palauan guides who have grown up on the reefs and act as ambassadors of goodwill between the visitors and Palauan culture and environment. Many of the crew members aboard Ocean Hunter III have families and children and we chose them because they are very responsible and have a broad view of life.

Safety remains a top priority at all times aboard the Ocean Hunter III. She has full safety equipment for all US Coast Guard requirements as well as an Emergency Oxygen Kit. A VHF marine radio and a cell phone maintain constant contact with land. Upon arrival, the crew will thoroughly brief you on safety aboard Ocean Hunter III, including the use of life jackets, fire extinguishers and emergency exits. The crew has been specially trained in Emergency First Response, and all boating and diving emergencies.

Boat specification

Length: 96 feet (29m)
Beam: 26.25 feet (8m)
Draft: 9ft (2.75m)
Speed: 11 knots
Displacement: 226 tons
Construction: Steel
Engines: Twin 375 hp each
Guest Accommodations: For 16 guests. 2 Standard cabins (Cabins 2 & 5: one queen size bed, one single), 4 Deluxe cabins (Cabins 3, 4, 6 & 9: one king size bed, one single) and 2 upper deck Master Staterooms (one king size bed, one single), all with private head, shower and a/c.
Crew Accommodations: 2 double cabins, private heads.
Leisure areas: Dining room seats 18. Cozy salon with couches, entertainment systems, Espresso machine, Icemaker, Mini-bar. Computer room with email and photo / video editing services. Washing machine / dryer facility.
Fun in the Sun:2 Jacuzzis on top deck.
Generators: 2 by 60 KW
Available Voltage: 110/240/415 VAC 12/24 VDC
Water Tanks: 4000 gals (16000 liters)
Twin 1200 gals/day water makers
Fuel Tanks: 6000 gals (24000 liters)
Electronics: GPS x 3, Satellite Phone, Cellular Phone, 72 mile radar, Depth sounder x 2, Fish finder, VHF, HF Radio, CD, DVD, VCD. TV and VCR with support for European PAL, SECAM and American NTSC.
Chase boat: 35 ft Rigid Hull with 2 x 225 HP Yamaha 4 stroke.
Dive compressors: 2 X Bauer Compressors. NITROX and TRIMIX onboard. Rebreather support available. 
Safety: Full safety equipment for USCG requirements, Emergency O2 Kit.

Typical Itinerary

Palau Diving Itinerary

Below is a typical schedule for your trip onboard Ocean Hunter III. Your actual schedule may vary as all our trips are based around sea conditions, tides, currents and moon cycles. We want to dive the right site at the 7-day time!

Typical day

Day 1

We will pick you up from your flight or hotel at 12:30 PM. You can get your gear ready and have lunch on board. 
2:30 PM: First dive on Helmet Wreck (WWII Japanese ship which is easy to dive and you can check your gear and weights) 
4:00-4: 30 PM- Ocean Hunter III will cross the lagoon to German Channel 
4:30 PM- Second dive at German Channel or Big Drop Off.
7 PM Night dive 
Dinner (can be moved before night dive at customer request on any day)

Days 2, 3, 4

Wake up at 6:00-6: 30 AM with coffee, tea and sweet rolls
The diving on these days will be at some of the following dive sites: German Channel, Big Drop Off, New Drop Off, Blue Holes, German wall, Barnum wall, Blue Corner, Virgin blue hole, Turtle Cove, Ngedebus coral gardens, Ngedebus wall, Fairyland, etc..
7 AM First dive
8:30 AM- Full breakfast
10:00 AM- Second dive
12 noon- Lunch
1:00 PM- Third dive
4:00 PM- Fourth dive
7 PM – Night dive
Dinner

Day 5

Ocean Hunter III moves to the Peleliu area and we dive at the following dive sites:
Peleliu Wall, Peleliu Corner, Peleliu Coral Garden, Orange Wall, Peleliu Expressway, White Beach, Yellow Wall, Peleliu Cut, etc
For those who are interested, we can offer a land tour on the island of Peleliu which was a major battlefield during WWII.
7 AM First dive
8:30 AM- Full breakfast
10:00 AM- Second dive
12 noon- Lunch
1:00 PM- Third dive
4:00 PM- Fourth dive
7 PM – Night dive
Dinner

Day 6

Return to Ngemelis area for another dive and then make our way to Jellyfish Lake (snorkelling and hiking) and then to on Ulong.
Places that we dive there are Ulong Channel, Siaes Tunnel, Siaes Corner and Shark City.
7 AM First dive
8:30 AM- Full breakfast
10:00 AM- Second dive
12 noon- Lunch
1:00-1: 30 PM- Third dive
4:00 PM- Fourth dive
7 PM – Night dive
Dinner

Day 7

A dive in the Ulong area and then as we approach Koror, a shipwreck dive (Iro or Chuyo Maru) and then Chandelier Cave. If time permits we can also offer a trip to Mandarinfish Lake. Arrive at the dock in the late afternoon. Guests can rinse their gear and start packing.
7 AM – First dive
8:30 AM – Full breakfast
10:00 AM – Second dive
12 noon – Lunch
1:00 PM – Third dive
4:00 PM – Fourth dive
7 PM – Night dive
Dinner

Day 8

Guests have breakfast at 7:00 AM and disembark Ocean Hunter III at 8:00 AM. We provide the transportation to the hotel or the airport.

There is hardly a better publication to learn about the sea surrounding Palau than the book “Marine Environments of Palau” by Patrick L. Colin. You can download it for free from the website of the Coral Reef Research Foundation.

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