When Melissa and I decided to go to Palau we thought that would be a great place to do our first live-aboard. We knew that if we did a land based operation, there would be long boat rides to the dive sites which we both hate. It also appeared that we would have no shore diving or freedom to do more dives in a day. We did however have many apprehensions about doing a live-aboard--Closter phobia, seasickness, burn out, poor food, poor company. It turns out that all our fears were for nothing and the experience well exceeded our expectations. The boat we chose was the Aggressor. It came highly recommended. It is about a 100 ft catamaran with decent size rooms and lots of open space common areas. The cat configuration makes it less susceptible to roll, thus better for seasickness. We actually got to the point of enjoying the gentle rocking of the ship. We indeed never burned out of diving 4-5 dives a day; the area was just so beautiful to dive. Rose, the cook, was spectacular!! She always feed us well. My jeans fit a little tighter now..... The other guests on board were all very nice. We totally enjoyed their company.
The staff on board were all extremely professional and some of the most personable we have ever met. We were blown away by their hospitalities. Their skills in diving were humbling at times when we hit the big currents. Safety was always emphasized through comprehensive dive briefings and the equipment issued--a reef hook, a knife to cut your self free, a safety sausage, and a electronic beacon in case we were swept into the big blue. This was all a little intimidating but as we came to see, it was comforting.
The diving in Palau is mostly drift diving. The currents are extremely unpredictable and strong. This is not a place for a novice diver. It was not uncommon for the current would change mid dive multiple times. The currents were so strong that we had to hook our selves into the reef to be keep from being swept off into the blue as we watched the show of sharks cruising by. For me taking pictures it was challenging to say the least. One of my first hook ins I sat there with a regulator that was being purged by the current hitting it; I was holding on to the line with one hand, the camera with another, and to take the picture I would put the camera to my mask letting the current push it against my face to stabilize it; often this lead to a mask flooding problem. I never burned so much air as I did there.
In all we loved the experience. We both would love to do it again. The only problem is the amount of time needed take off for the trip. At some point we will make the "sacrifice" again.
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Unfortunately I had mishap with my housing in Yap: it dropped and broke! Therefore, I only had the opportunity to take pictures on the first day only. I am sickened by the images I could have had. There was some incredible things to record.....
When going to Yap we were told by all that Manta Ray Bay Hotel is the place to go. It was a nice hotel, but nothing special as hotels go. The dive operation is known to be one of the best on the island. We found the staff and local people there to be extremely friendly and helpful. The food was just ok. Rose spoiled us on the Aggressor.
In terms of diving. It was much different from Palau. The currents were not anywhere as strong. Unfortunately, the visibility was poor on the manta dives due to the timing of our visit. But we still managed to see quit a few. Mantas are some of the most beautiful sea animals to watch; they are like giant prehistoric birds flying. Watching them is a treat. Though Yap is known for Mantas do not over look their macro. Rainbow reef is chuck full of Mandarin Fish. These little fish are stunningly beautiful. If one dives at sunset, one can be treated to Mandarin Fish porn show.
One of my favorite dives of the trip was in Yap on a wreck of a boat carrying circus animals that was in the channel just few minutes from the hotel. I must have seen at least 5 nutabranches, an assortment of pipe fishes, beautiful translucent tunicates, and a handful of the most incredible Star Fishes I ever saw. I can't begin to express my disappointment in not being able to photograph any of it. Next time.....
When in Yap do not miss the opportunity to do land based tours. The local people are very interesting and extremely hospitable. They are a prideful people who still hold on to their classic culture. Don't miss out on it.
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This site was last updated 07/09/07