Palau – day 2

During our second day in Palau, we understood why it is a marine sanctuary. We were impressed when we dove surrounded by manta rays and sharks among corals and tropical fish.

Not surprisingly, our second day in Palau was also devoted mainly to diving. The Neco Marine team picked us up from our hotel, and we headed to the dive center. As we had already done all the initial preparations and paperwork the day before, all the equipment was ready, and we went directly to the ship. As the day before, thanks to the sunny weather we were able to enjoy the incredible colors of the ocean that surrounds Palau.

De camino a la primera inmersión

This time, our first dive was at the German Channel. It is a large channel built by the German during their brief occupation of Palau (if you want to know more about the history of the country, do not miss our post with 10 interesting facts about Palau!). It is the only artificial canal in Palau, and due to its location and topography, large amounts of plankton accumulate in it. Because of this, manta rays frequently pass through this area, which makes it one of the best spots to see them. These magnificent animals are the largest species of stingray, and, unlike other types of stingrays, their stinger is not poisonous. In fact, they primarily feed on plankton, which they are capable of filtering from seawater. We were definitely not disappointed! We were able to get a very close look at several specimens of manta rays as they approached their cleaning stations. The pattern that they have in the ventral area of their abdomen is unique to each manta ray. If you manage to photograph them, it is possible to check here if that particular blanket has been previously sighted. If not, you can even give it a name of your choice!

Manta ray

Additionally, we saw large schools of gray sharks (which never fail to impress us!). We also found white tip reef sharks, easily recognizable by the white tip of their dorsal fin. This species exhibits aggressive behaviors very rarely, and in any case only when provoked, although they are quite curious and often approach divers.

School of grey sharks

As usually in Palau, the German Channel has abundant corals and fish. It is easy to see large schools of crevalle jacks among others, and even sea turtles.

Our next destination of the day was the famous Blue Corner. Our captain took us again along the best route to let us enjoy us the spectacular Rock Islands.

Blue Corner is frequently listed as the best dive site in the world. It consists of a corner-shaped plateau, which ends in a deep wall. The intense currents make visibility very good, and also allow you to see a great variety of fish and sharks among its abundant and varied corals. However, the currents (really intense, to the point that sometimes the diving mask began to slip away) also make it usually necessary to use a reef hook to anchor to the rocks and be able to enjoy the marine life.

We carried out our first dive in the Blue Corner with incoming current, and we can confirm that it deserves the ranking as the best dive site. Throughout the dive, both along the wall and above the plateau, we observed endless tropical fish and sharks in incredibly blue and clean waters, with excellent visibility. Some of our favorites was the moorish idols. This elegant fish owes its name to the fact that the moors considered it a bearer of happiness. We were also able to see grey sharks swim closer than ever, just a few inches away from us!

Grey reef sharks

After an impressive second dive, we took a well-deserved lunch break at the Rock Islands. Our guide Iked Etpison, from the Neco Marine team surprised us this time with many fresh coconuts, as we had mentioned the day before that we loved coconut water. After enjoying their delicious water, they taught us how to open them with a sharp blow against diving cylinders. While we ate, we could see schools of Vlaming’s unicornfish approaching the boat, and a sea turtle coming out to breathe.

We finished our dives for the day by returning to Blue Corner, this time with an outgoing current. This dive was somewhat more relaxed than the previous one, partly due to a slightly lower intensity of the currents. Thus, we focused more on the details of its coral wall, where many colorful fish live. We were struck by the horned bannerfish, beautiful triangular fish of black or dark brown color that owe their name to a protrusion on their forehead. We also saw more green turtles, which we were able to get much closer to this time. These turtles owe their name to the green color of their fat, caused by their diet composed mainly of algae and marine plants.

After finishing our third dive, we started our way back towards Koror. Along the way, we stopped at a little sandy beach on the small island of Ngeanges. Sandy beaches are rare in Palau, although the few that exist are really beautiful and completely unaltered by human activity. They are mostly found on small islands, which can only be reached by boat. Fortunately, our captain was a native of Palau, so he knew perfectly all the little places like this that are hidden between the islands.

Once back at Neco Marine, we decided to stop at their Drop Off restaurant to complete our diving logs. While we were at it, we ordered a salmon poke as an appetizer. This recipe, originary from Hawaii (poke means “to cut” in Hawaiian), consists of a salad of raw fish marinated with soy sauce and spices served over rice. It became one of our favorite dishes in Palau!

The Neco Marine team brought us back to the Etpison Museum, named after Palauan President Ngiratkel Etpison and where various objects and artifacts related to the history and culture of Palau are exhibited. From there, we walked towards the center of Koror along its main street, stopping to see the different shops along the way. There is a decent amount of souvenir shops and restaurants, as well as a few shopping centers. Among them, the largest are the WCTC (West Carolinas Trading Center, so named because Palau constitutes the western group of the Caroline Islands) and Surangel’s. In the supermarkets of the shopping centers you can find a large variety of products, many of them imported from the United States or Japan.

We finished our day with a dinner at the Palau Pacific Resort, which was recommended to us by Iked Etpison from the Neco Marine team as a show with traditional Micronesian and Polynesian dances was going to take place. It is a large hotel with its own private beach, probably the best in Palau (if you don’t mind paying a high price!). On some days of the week, themed buffets are offered at its restaurant (which is also open to non-hotel guests). We went on a Sunday, when a Japanese food buffet is served. The price was about $40 per person, and all the food was delicious. They even have a bar where you can ask the chefs for the type of sashimi, sushi or tempura that you wish.

Summary

Visited places:
  • Neco Marine
  • German Channel (dive 1)
  • Blue Corner (dives 2 and 3)
  • Rock Islands
  • Sandy beach at Ngeanges
  • Etpison Museum
  • Shops at Koror
  • Traditional show at Palau Pacific Resort
Seen sea creatures:
  • Hard and soft corals
  • Giant clams
  • Manta ray
  • Reef grey shark
  • Reef white tip shark
  • Green turtle
  • Napoleon wrasse
  • Crevalle jacks
  • Coral hawkfish
  • Moorish idol
  • Pyramid butterflyfish
  • Vlaming’s unicornfish
  • Sabre squirrelfish
  • Horned bannerfish
  • Magnificent sea anemone
  • Yellowbanded sweetlips
  • Harlequin sweetlips
  • Abundant tropical fish

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Lara and Rafa

Lara and Rafa

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