After this trip, you might as well throw your dive away! This was awesome!
We arrived in Palau at night. Our hotel operator was waiting for us and took us to Lehns hotel www.palaunet.com. The room was pleasant and comfortable and the kitchenette was stocked with food. The hotel was walking distance from town. The people were very nice and will go out of their way for you. Everyone was very "family" friendly! ($65 US a night).
That next morning Fish n' Fins www.fishnfins.com,our dive operator, picked us up and took us to the shop to get our gear. They were relaxed and informal with the "local" atmosphere. Other dive operators were very big, and in turn, impersonal. The "local" attitude was not there. The larger operators have set schedules and dive sites that could not be compromised. Instead of spending the time enjoying the dives they wasted time talking a lot. If you like that kind of thing then go with Sam's.
Fish 'n Fins were great to us. We took a wonderful scenic route through the rock islands. They asked us where we wanted to go. I showed him from a magazine what I wanted to see and we were on our way! The dive master was very safety conscious and a very good guide! I felt very comfortable with him. Our first dive was Peleliu Wall. Wooo Hooo! The real soft corals everywhere. Gorgonian fans, tube sponges! Lots of colors everywhere! Red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, blue and more! This is the worlds' best diving, for sure! I looked down and saw gray and white tip reef sharks! Spectacular! This was supposed to be a drift dive, but there was no current. A slight current would have been awesome, for the wall dive, since the wall went on and on!
We took a break for lunch. We got boxed meals with sandwiches, fruits and a salad. The locals offered some of the fish they had cooked. Delicious. Tours were available during lunch for reasonable prices. ($12-16 US), but we chose to stay with the boat. One of the locals took us on a hike (Free of Charge) and showed us an old WWII Japanese Zero war plane that had crashed in the jungle. Later, we came back and snorkeled the bay.
After lunch we went to "Coral Gardens". This was a drift dive, we saw big Jacks and lots of hard and soft coral. This reef was out of this world! The current wasn't out of control but rather relaxing and steady.
We got back to the shop and went to our hotel and got ready to walk to town. It was about a ten minute walk to the heart of town. Remember there are not any McDonald's or fastfood. This is a very small, rural place. We ate at a place called Mingle's (very nice). If you show them your key from Lehn's, you get a 10% discount. The food and atmosphere was great! We looked around some of the shops for souvenirs, (most are from the Philippines). We headed home and went to bed.
The next morning Fish 'n Fins picked us up again. We went to the site called Big Drop Off. This was similar to the Peleliu wall we dove yesterday. It had its own style though. Very nice dive.
The next dive was the Grand Finale. Blue Corner. Blue Corner started as a wall dive; then the guide took us to the left. BIG sharks everywhere we looked! We were then guided into a huge school of Barracuda! After we got through that, the guide looked at us and his eyes got big and motioned for us to get down NOW! Well, if I did I would drift into the wall! He still kept motioning for us to get down. I trusted him and I paddled very fast to get to the wall. Before I knew it, this current came straight up and carried us up and over the wall. It was like an underwater tornado! I had to hang on to something. I grabbed my dive buddy's leg and held onto a rock. What a rush! Our dive master tied a line to the rocks for all of us to hang onto. This was a powerful current! I had to hold my mask; it felt as if the "wind" was in my hair! Other people were "flying" uncontrollably, head over heels past me. The dive master was keeping an eye on us and caught those who strayed and brought them to the rope. We held on to the rope and watched sharks and very big Pelagic fish swim over us, below us and around us. We'd sucked down most of our air from the excitement, we let go of the lines, drifting onward, we saw two eagle rays and continued on to a small reef. We all came up at the same time, and headed home. On our way home, I asked the tour operator if we could please stop off at Jellyfish Lake. Jellyfish Lake is a brackish water lake with millions of jellyfish that have evolved with no stinging cells!
We got into the lake, and swam to where the sunlight was, which is where the jellyfish congregated. This looked like an alien world. -jellyfish everywhere. The deeper one went, the thicker the jellyfish! It was eerie at first and I was really hoping that this was not some kind of sick joke that tourists fell for and would get stung. Whew! They did not sting. I would gently hold them and let them float away. A unique experience, a must do! Palau is the only place with non-stinging jellyfish lakes. We went back to the hotel, made a beeline for church and thanked the good Lord above for this awesome trip and sights!
The next day we had to fly out, so we could not dive. We took a Kayak Tour ($170 Us per Couple) We toured Nikko Bay and stopped to snorkel in places. (Snorkelling is awesome!) The guides took us to caves, and one they showed us had real bones of humans. Wow! We stopped for lunch on a little beach and continued on with our tour. The current was picking up and I was a novice kayaker soooo- the kayak was not going where it was supposed to. Luckily, the boat from the company was coming by and picked us up. I asked if they could take us by Soft Coral Arch for a few minutes to check it out. It was only fifteen feet deep. Soft corals of all colors were everywhere! Beautiful! After we got a few pictures, we were ready to leave and the Captain took us to "Clam City" to pick up some other people who were getting certified diving. We stopped at Clam City, and that is what it was, Giant Clams everywhere! The zooxanthellae of mussels were all spotted deep colors, maroon, teal, yellow, blue, green etc. This day was a nice ending to our trip in Palau.
As we got back, we saw a local with a story board. He was about to go into a hotel and sell it. I immediately ran over and talked to him. He said it was for sale for thirty dollars. Thirty dollars! I was not about to let that go by. Story boards run from $70-500. He explained the story(which I would have never figured out), and said it took him two days to carve. This storyboard was authentic; the detail was so precise! He had even carved his name and year. The hotel had others the size of ours for $150 and about to give up on getting one because of the cost. Thank God for that man coming along when he did! Thirty dollars. I can't get over that.
Well, our trip had come to an end. We were sad to leave. If you did not pick up any souvenirs in town, the airport has them at the same, if not cheaper, prices. You need to be there two hours before the flight, so you will have plenty of time to shop.
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