Brandon in Palau

Kathy in Palau

Brandon and Kathy

"Explorations"

Brandon in Truk

Brandon in Truk


Truk - the world's top wreck dives

Palau - sharks, the rock islands, and Jellyfish Lake

Kathy's Impressions of Palau

Yap - manta rays and stone money

Micronesia - Truk, Palau and Yap - April, May 2006

Three New and Different Places to Dive

On April 22 we left Houston for what would be our longest dive trip ever. We would visit three different islands (states) in Micronesia - Truk (now Chuuk), Palau and Yap. There are a few pictures and a brief description of each place below on this page. To see the (somewhat lengthy) details of each visit, follow the links on the left. At the end of this page are Kathy's impressions of the trip.

But before describing the islands, lets look at where they are and how long it takes to get there. On the map below, the three red dots below Guam are (from right to left) Truk, Yap and Palau.

Pacific Ocean Map

These islands are 8 or 9 time zones west of Houston and it takes a long time to get there! Here is the schedule:
Local Time Houston Time
Get Up 6:00 am 6:00 am
At IAH 7:30 am 7:30 am
Take Off 9:30 am 9:30 am
Arrive HNL 1:00 pm 6:00 pm
Depart HNL 2:30 pm 7:30 pm
Arrive Guam 5:30 pm +1 2:30 am
Depart Guam 7:30 pm +1 4:30 am
Arrive Truk 9:30 pm +1 6:30 am
To Bed 11:30 pm +1 8:30 am

So it's over 26 hours!! But I think that it is worth the trip to get to visit these places.

Truk Lagoon - Over 50 Wrecks

Many divers come to Truk to see the Japanese fleet that was sunk by an American air raid on February 17, 1942. The wrecks are interesting and many contain tanks, planes, ammunition, torpedoes, etc. But I am more interested in the soft corals that have encrusted the wrecks.

Soft coral on wreck

Kathy examining a gun

Growth encrusting a davit

Palau - Great Diving, Wonderful Scenery and Jellyfish Lake

Palau has some great dives, many with clownfish and lionfish, and many with strong currents at the edge of the ocean where large schools of fish (including sharks) congregate. But it also has some great top side scenery in the "Rock Islands" and a unique experience snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake.

Clownfish in Palau

Kathy and Brandon in the Rock Islands

In Jellyfish Lake

Yap - Manta Rays and Stone Money

Most divers go to Yap because you are almost guaranteed to be able to dive with manta rays. But Yap has other interesting diving as well as having stone money and some pre-missionary culture. (Modesty requires women to cover their thighs, but going topless is OK.)

Manta ray in Yap

Lionfish in Yap

Weaving baskets in a village

Kathy's Impressions

There are a few times in everyone’s life that they say “why me”? Oftentimes it is because of the inevitability of the problems that come up in our daily lives. But then there are those times when you feel so lucky to be the person to be experiencing something so magical and wonderful at this very moment. That was the feeling I had many times during my first visit to Palau.

I am 63 years old and am still having experiences that take my breath away. There just never seems to be an end to the wonders one can experience if you are willing to do a little exploring. It all began when Brandon signed us up for this trip to Micronesia a very long time ago. We were going to visit three islands – Truk, Palau and Yap. I had never heard of any of them but took his word for it that I would love the diving. All I knew is that it was very faraway. Well, to make a very long story short, he has never been more right. My first experience of diving in the Indo-Pacific Ocean was truly like nothing I had previously experienced. There were so many “firsts” for me. I saw my first lionfish and even found a baby one hidden in a dark crevice in a cavern. I “hooked on” at the corner edge of a reef to watch the show go by for the first time. The current is swift around these corners which is why you hook yourself to a strong piece of dead coral (I worried was it really strong enough). The strong currents bring lots of nutrients with it, which in turn brings tons of little fish, which the medium size fish like which the big scary ones eat. So, the whole show is pretty spectacular! I saw my first manta ray, first shark, and more barracuda than you can imagine.

Another first for me was diving the “Blue Hole”. I had heard a lot about this place, but seeing it for the first time was amazing. After swimming around the cavern walls which were abundant with the most beautiful marine life of all kinds – fish, soft coral, nudibranch to mention just a few, then you exit the hole at about 80’ onto yet another gorgeous wall.

It just kept going and going – next thing I knew I was in Jellyfish Lake, a lake that had thousands of jellyfish. They came in all sizes. They are very beautiful to watch move just a few inches from my mask. There color was a whole spectrum of a soft coral color to transparency. And they never sting! They don’t have any predators so they have lost their ability to sting. Days later you realize that these jellyfish are still in that beautiful spot following the sun across the lake everyday.

If the underwater world was not sensory overload enough, there were the days we just slowly moved the boat between the Rock Islands. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. There were miles of these beautiful islands of all sizes, shaped like mushrooms due to the erosion over time. I had seen pictures of these islands but to actually be in the middle of them moving in and around them was like nothing I had ever experienced or probably ever will.

Additionally, the sunsets and sunrises were an explosion of color. Seeing the “Southern Cross” is always an awe struck moment for me. I only saw it once on this trip but it was a thrill as I have only seen it three times in my life.

As I sit here reminiscing about my time in Palau it always amazes me to think that it is all still there just doing what it does everyday. There is so much to see and experience. I don’t think I can even fathom the immensity of what is out there just waiting to be explored.

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C. Brandon Jones
email: Brandon "at" cbjones.info
updated July 19, 2011