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Micronesia Scuba Diving

Travel Guide Oceania Micronesia Micronesia Micronesia Scuba Diving

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Introduction

Micronesia is renowned for its world class diving and the majority of visitors to Micronesia come to snorkel or scuba dive. The tropical location and remoteness of these islands make Micronesia one of the world's most exciting dive destinations!Divers worldwide are drawn to the Palau's terrific drop-offs, the beauty of the Rock Islands, the underwater wreck museums of Chuuk, and to Yap, the home of the giant manta rays. The abundance of fish life, corals and the many wrecks from World War II make the area consistently voted as one of the worlds leading dive destinations.

Throughout Micronesia divers can encounter an abundance of marine life in just about every imaginable colour and shape. The pristine waters plays host to a variety of dazzling marine life and the seas are inhabited by hundreds of types of hard and soft corals, anemones, colourful sponges, countless varieties of shellfish, manta rays and pelagics.

Almost as dramatic as its natural features is Micronesia's history of colonial occupation and the WW2 activities where the region was the venue of many fierce encounters that are a constant, and now a colourful reminder, of its past. It is this combination of natural events, local culture and man-made conflicts that makes Micronesia one of the world's most unique and sought after diving destinations, as what this region lacks in land mass it makes up for in the water!

Micronesia began developing as a dive destination about 25 years ago with the fame of Truk Lagoon's sunken war fleet. Truk Lagoon is the ultimate destination for wreck diving enthusiasts.

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Dive Sites & Accessability

Palau Dive Sites

Palau offers world-class diving with sea walls, sheer drop-offs, caves and an exuberance of marine life. Palau (or Belau) is a 100-mile (160 kilometres) long archipelago, southeast of the Philippines. Palau is one of the most extraordinary dive destinations on this planet. Palau's fringing coral reefs provide home to more than 1,500 species of fish and 700 species of corals and sea anemones. The Blue Corner is among the world's best high voltage dive sites. Visibility can exceed 200 feet (60 metres), while currents range from nil to dangerously strong so use a reef hook and bring your safety sausage. Long day-boat rides to the best diving weave through calm waters and past magnificent rock islands, but there's the potential for rough seas on the outer edges. Most divers diving Palau prefer liveaboards. Marine biodiversity is among the greatest in the world, but coral bleaching and commercial fishing is taking its toll.

Dive sites include:

  • Blue Corner
  • Peleliu Express
  • Ulong Channel
  • Devil Fish City
  • Blue Holes
  • Condominium

Truck Lagoon (Chukk) Dive Sites

Most wreck dives, other than on the superstructures, exceed 80 feet (25 metres), but they're great even without penetration. The wrecks are starting to suffer and many artifacts that should have been left alone have been purloined, but the ships are festooned with coral, and most all the unique reef fish of the Pacific have made them home.

The turning battle of the Pacific War dealt a devastating blow to the Imperial fleet sinking over 45 ships, including armed cargo ships, huge tankers, small destroyers and a submarine. Several planes were also sent to their final resting place on the tranquil ocean floor of Truk Lagoon. These WWII wrecks were scattered across 77 square miles (about 200 squar kilometres). In the 56 years since most of the ships sank, their decks and sides have been transformed into vibrant coral reefs. Each of the wrecks has everything you would expect from a full blown reef such as pelagic predators like grey reef sharks, to colourful coral, reef fish & cleaning stations.

The wrecks of Truk Lagoon cover many diverse interests. The history buff can visualize the years that these huge ships sat intact and full of equipment, supplies and men working the thunderous engines. Divers can cruise the decks of the ships and see the colorful soft corals that cover the ships. The wrecks serve as artificial reefs to the many varieties of sea life that inhabit the lagoon and are an underwater photographer's dream.

Best wreck dives include:

  • Aikoku Maru
  • Amagisan Maru
  • Dai Na Hino Maru
  • Fujikawa Maru
  • Fujisan Maru
  • Futagami
  • Gosei Maru
  • Hanakawa Maru
  • Heian Maru
  • Kiyuzumi Maru
  • Hoki Maru
  • Hoyo Maru
  • I-169 Submarine
  • Kansho Maru
  • Nippo Maru
  • Rio de Janeiro Maru
  • San Francisco Maru
  • Sankisan Maru
  • Sapporo Maru
  • Shinkoku Maru
  • Unkai Maru No. 6
  • Yamagiri Maru
  • Yubae Maru

Yap Dive Sites

From drop-offs to gentle slopes, from channel drifts to the protected confines of the harbour, Yap offers a whole range of diving experiences. Most dive sites in Yap are less than 30 minutes from Colonia Harbour. Yap is almost completely encircled by a fringing reef providing a backdrop for some of the most colourful and diverse marine and coral life to be found in Micronesia. Dive sites include:

  • The Caverns

A magnificent drop-off. Grey reef sharks and a multitude of marine life patrol the magnificent wall adorned with a variety of coral, with water visibility usually in excess of 30 metres.

  • Mill Channel

Strong currents encourage up to 40 Manta Rays to make their home here. This dive is a must.

Phonpei Dive Sites

The diving around Pohnpei is diverse and pristine. The island is surrounded by a barrier reef with many passages that exit the lagoon into the open sea. The coral reefs with dramatic drop offs, are adorned with lavish fauna and ornamental reef life. You will encounter eagle rays, tuna, barracuda, and manta rays, sharks, parrotfish along with a myriad of brightly coloured fish species.

Divers will revel in Pohnpei's underwater spectacles, especially at Ant and Pekin Atolls. Surrounded largely by rich mangrove forests, Pohnpei's jagged coastline is intersected by numerous channels that carry nutrients into the vast lagoon. These nutrients attract all manner of marine life, making Pohnpei one of the most varied underwater environments in Micronesia. The island's hard coral reefs and colourful drop-offs are enchanting. Sea anemones, soft corals and colourful gorgonian sea fans dot the walls.

Pakin Atoll boasts some of the largest gorgonian fans in the world. The outlying islands are accessible by boat, and in the reef surrounding the main island, 18 passes offer a wide variety of coral and marine life viewing, including sharks and manta rays.

Kosrae Dive Sites

One of Kosrae's greatest attractions is the clear, clean ocean and its extraordinary living coral reefs that completely surround it. Offshore, the coral reefs slope steeply into the clear blue depths. Both vertical drop-offs and undulating profiles of cascading corals appear before you. The reefs comprise hundreds of densely packed hard coral species, attracting an abundance of marine life. This coral reef is unique in that novice divers can enjoy an easy diving experience, while their more experienced dive buddy will marvel at the marine life.

More than 50 dive sites have been identified by local diving pioneers and it is often said that the island is one large 20- kilometre (32 mile) dive site. Each site has been marked with a buoy to prevent improper anchoring, leaving Kosrae's reefs pristine and ripe for exploration. Beautiful hard coral gardens punctuate the eastern side of the island, whilst to the west, the gardens give way to plunging walls.

Sharks, dogtooth tunas, schools of barracudas and other exciting ocean creatures can all be encountered along the reef's edge. A diver could easily observe 30 to 50 species of fish in a single dive. Large numbers of turtles and rays inhabit the waters of this island paradise. A rainbow of colours can be found in the forests of tiny Christmas tree invertebrates that populate the large corals. Underwater visibility averages 30 metres (100 feet). Below are a selection of Kosrae's best dive sites:

  • Hiroshi Point
  • Blue Hole
  • The Leonora
  • Lelu Current
  • Yela Harbor and Wall
  • Malem Reef Shelf
  • Walung Drop-Off
  • Walung Coral Shelf
  • Shark Island

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Visability & Weather

'Best time' to scuba dive in Micronesia is 'anytime'! Micronesia's mid ocean location at 7 degrees North latitude is clear of continental monsoons and most tropical typhoons. Little predictable weather change assures a comfortable year round destination.

Air temperatures uniformly remain between 26 and 30 °C year-round and daily temperatures range from 26 °C to 32 °C. Water temperatures remain in around 28-30 °C F year-round.

For land travel, there's little difference between the wet and dry season, although January through March is considered the most comfortable season because of lower humidity and slightly cooler temperatures. Rainfall averages 4 - 6 inches per month. NE trades bring 10 - 15 knot breezes from December through April, with weak and variable winds for the balance of the year. Typhoons are most frequent between August and December but are rare in Palau.

Although visibility is slightly reduced by run-off during the July through October monsoons, the wind is also milder during this season, producing flatter seas. Visibility on Truk wrecks can vary from 40-100/12-30 feet depending on location and prevailing conditions.

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Choosing a Dive Operator

Palau, Guam, Yap and Chuuk are the better known destinations within Micronesia, each with long established dive operations offering totally unique diving opportunities. Other islands such as Kosrae and Pohnpei are following suit and offer great diving amongst lush tropical island settings but have far fewer local dive operators.

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Cost

Palau states charge small fees to assist with their Conservation programs. Koror State, Rock Island & Jellyfish Lake Permit valid for 10 days is US$30. Peleliu State Dive Permit valid for 14 days is US$25.

A dive permit costing US$30 is required in Chuuk. Dive operators supply tanks, weight belts and dive guide services. There will be an extra charge if equipment hire is required.

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Equipment

Sheltered waters of Micronesia provide one of the world’s most comfortable dive locations with water temperatures of 28-29 °C/83-85 °F, no thermoclines or currents and good visibility 40-100 feet (12-30 metres). Underwater light conditions are normally good with a white sand floor reflecting sunlight, assuring good light at most depths for photography and video.

Average water temperature is around 29 °C so a lycra suit or a 3mm suit is recommended. Light skin suits are recommended for coral or wreck protection, and light thermal gear is often used after a few dives due to gradual body cooling on multiple dive days.

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Tips for Diving in Micronesia

  • Strong emphasis is placed on the fact that all wrecks in Truk Lagoon are designated as historic monuments. Local laws forbids disturbance or removal of artifacts from these magnificent relics of war.
  • In Kosrae, missionaries have a huge influence and unfortunately there are a lot of restrictions for visitors. For example, there are no activities at all allowed on Sundays - this includes diving and snorkelling! you may wish to plan your fight out on a Monday morning to allow the Sunday for pre-flight time. Modesty to exposed skin is also a problematic issue in Kosrae, so dive boat operators will instruct you when it is appropriate to change into your wetsuit to ensure locals are not offended.

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This is version 10. Last edited at 8:10 on Oct 7, 11 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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