Diving in Palau, Yap & Truk
The Republic of Palau is Micronesia's western most island chain. The tightly
clustered Palau archipelago, consists of over 200 islands covering a distance
of around 125 miles. Palau is the home to one of the world's unique phenomena,
the Rock Islands.
The Rock Islands are Palau's crowning glory. More than 200 of these jungle-topped
knobs of limestone dot the waters for a 20 mile stretch south of Koror. Their
bases, having been worn away by tidal action and grazing sea creatures, are
narrower than their tops, causing them to look like emerald-hued mushrooms rising
from the turquoise sea.
Palau has three ocean currents converging in its waters to bring in some of
the most varied and dazzling marine life in the world. Palau is the last word
in underwater wonderlands: it offers an endless variety of sites to dive - from
caves to walls and major drop-offs, to tunnels, channels and shallow reefs,
where you can enjoy great visibility and an almost limitless variety of marine
life. Dive sites like Blue Corner and German Drop-off are known far and wide,
as some of the best dive spots in the world.
Palau also features some of Micronesia's richest flora and fauna, both on land
and beneath the waves, including the world famous Jellyfish Lake, which has
millions of non-stinging jellyfish pulsating through the water.
The weather is hot and humid, with annual rainfall around 150 inches. The flora
and fauna are tropical, but Palau is best known for its 70-mile-long barrier
reef which encloses spectacular coral reefs and a lagoon of approximately 560
square miles, a divers' paradise. Palau's water temperatures remain above 82°F
year-round, much to divers' delight.
Yap's famous manta rays and the diverse marine life that make their home in
Yap's coral reefs and tidal channels have made Yap one of the fastest growing
diving destinations in the world today.
The clear waters and sheer drop-offs make for a spectacular variety of diving
experiences, but the divers all come for one thing: Yap is the world capital
of manta ray diving. More than 45 individual mantas have been identified and
given individual names, each easily recognized by the distinct markings.
Mantas are by no means all that Yap has to offer divers. Yap is located below
the Pacific typhoon belt and for the same reason the mantas are on show year-round,
divers can dive all year in consistent conditions. Reef sharks and big oceanic
greys regularly patrol Yap's fringing reefs and have made several new sites
and walls popular on the east and southeast coast. These sites also offer caverns,
large gorgonian and fan corals, numerous varieties of reef fish and schools
of tuna and jacks. Eagle rays also school in several areas in shallow water
providing yet another exciting photographic and diving experience for divers
visiting these legendary waters.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A valid passport with 6 months validity remaining is required for Yap &
Palau. Other required items include a return ticket, confirmation of hotel reservation,
and another form of picture ID required.
Check Micronesia's entry and exit requirements here.
Vaccinations are not required Yap or Palau. Check with the Centers for
Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel here.
Culture and Customs
The people of Yap are proud and secure in their culture and traditions, which
have been incorporated into daily life in the 21st century.
Village life centers around majestic Men's Houses where the local Chief conducts
village meetings. Cooking is done over open fires with meals of reef fish, yams
and bananas as the staples.
Dance is a living art form in Yap with each village presenting dances to the
High Chiefs on Yap Day (March 1). Dancers in richly appointed costumes of hibiscus
and flowers perform exciting and graphic tales of the culture and history of
Yap. Stone money and Shell Money are still used in traditional exchanges and
a council of High Chiefs still yields great influence and respect among the
The name Palau may be derived from the Palauan word for village, beluu (Pelew).
Some trace the name to the Spanish word for mast, palao.
Palau comprises several cultures and languages. Ethnic Palauans predominate,
inhabiting the main islands of the archipelago. Descendants of the Carolinean
atolls, especially Ulithi, settled on Palau's southern atolls.
Most of Palau's important cultural symbols are derived from its chiefly past,
in particular the gable of the community meetinghouse, bai. This impressive
thatched building was the center of political, social, and artistic life. Today
the decorated bai gable is used in most national and state seals and to decorate
Respect toward elders and leaders is still pronounced. In particular the head
is considered sacred and should not be touched.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in Yap & Palau is 110 Volts, alternating at 60 cycles
per second. If you travel with a device that does not accept 110 Volts at 60
Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.
Micronesia has a modern, fully and reliable digital telecommunication system,
integrated with US facilities for direct dialing, including free use of 800
numbers. International direct dialing is available from your hotel rooms.
Several cybercafés are in and about the main square. Common operating
hours are Monday through Saturday from 10am to 8pm.
Yap's drinking water is safe to drink. The water system is tested
continuously to ensure the safety of the drinking water.
In Palau the water is mostly safe to drink in major hotels and resort, however
it’s always best to drink bottled water. A jug of drinking water is usually
supplied by hotels and bottled water is sold everywhere. In the tropics it is
always important to drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to avoid dehydration.
Language & Currency
There are four indigenous languages in Yap: Yapese, Ulithian, Woleian and Satawalese.
English is the official language of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)
and is commonly spoken and understood. Many elderly Yapese are fluent in Japanese.
The official currency in Yap is the US Dollar. Yap is famous for its Stone
Money which is still in use for traditional exchanges such as the purchase of
land or in village ceremonies.
There are two commercial banks in Yap, the Bank of the FSM and the Bank of
Hawaii. US currency is used. Credit cards are accepted by most hotels, travelers
checks are recommended for purchases at restaurants and for shopping.
The official language of Palau is English and Palauan.
Currency is the US Dollar (USD). There are banks in all the major tourist areas,
where credit cards are widely accepted.
Micronesia follows the American custom and tipping is an accepted practice
in restaurants, hotels, baggage handling.
Yap Standard Time is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+10).
Yap & Palau do not observe Daylight Saving Time.
Palau is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+9).
History, Art, and Culture
The Yap people share their culture, dances and history of their stone money.
Underwater, the Manta Rays draw divers from around the world.
Dance and handicraft skills are an artform on Yap. It is through dance that
the legends are passed down, history recorded and entertainment traditionally
created. The costumes and dances of Yap are lively, colorful and complex, and
children begin to learn these important Yap traditions from an early age.
Respect of local traditions and manners are expected and politely observed.
Womens' thighs should be covered.
Palau was initially settled more than 4,000 years ago, probably by migrants
from what today is Indonesia. British traders became prominent visitors in the
18th century, followed by expanding Spanish influence in the 19th century. Following
its defeat in the Spanish-American War, Spain sold Palau and most of the rest
of the Caroline Islands to Germany in 1899. Control passed to Japan in 1914
and then to the United States under UN auspices in 1947 as part of the Trust
Territory of the Pacific Islands.
Four of the Trust Territory districts formed a single federated Micronesian
state in 1979, but this eventually dissolved as the individual districts--long
culturally distinct--opted for more locally popular status. Palau approved a
new constitution in 1981, subsequently signing a Compact of Free Association
with the United States in 1982. After eight referenda and an amendment to the
Palauan constitution, the Compact went into effect on October 1, 1994, marking
Palau's emergence from trusteeship to independence.
Location and Size
Yap is located in the Western Pacific stretching from 6 to 10 degrees North
Latitude and 137 to 148 degrees West Longitude in the Western Caroline Islands.
Yap is one of four States that make up the Federated States of Micronesia and
is 450 miles southwest of Guam and 360 miles northeast of Palau.
Located in the western Pacific, the Palauan archipelago is the westernmost
portion of the Caroline Islands, which are in turn part of the Micronesian geographical
subdivision of Oceania. Palau is 722 nautical miles southwest of Guam. Palau's
three hundred volcanic and raised coral islands and atolls rise up from the
Philippine Plate, with the highest stone outcrops reaching about 720 feet on
the largest island, Babel thuap. The islands have a total land area of 191 square
The capital and major population center is Koror, the small set of islands
to the south of the main island of Babelthuap. In 2004 the capital will be relocated
to Melekeok on Babelthuap.
Yap = approx. 11,200.
Palau = approx. 20,842.