Macro Diving in Palau

Appearing on maps as a cluster of tiny specks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the island nation of Palau is the home of the reef hook and the world's first shark sanctuary. While the big currents and big fish grab all the attention, photographers should also pack their macro lenses for the smaller critters, which often get overlooked as they go about their daily business (often quite literally) in the shadows of the patrolling sharks.

Psychedelic mandarinfish, robust and ornate ghostpipefish, and languid crocodilefish will reward those who forgo their wide-angle lenses to focus on the macro diving in Palau. While Palau's signature sites-Blue Corner and German Channel-are best suited to wide-angle photography, the gentle wall dives and night dives reveal a delightful array of crustaceans and other cryptic critters.

If you are looking to give your macro lenses as much of a workout as your wide-angle lenses, we recommend staying on land (rather than a liveaboard) while in Palau. Staying in and around Koror and Malakal Harbour will put you on the doorstep of some of the best macro diving in Palau-Mandarinfish Lake, Helmet Wreck and the Jake Seaplane Wreck-while you will also have the option of heading out on a day trip through the Rock Islands to Palau's more famous and more sharky sites.

Madarinfish Lake

As dusk approaches, a short boat ride from your hotel brings you to one of the most famous macro dives in Palau. As the day's light begins to fade, the mandarinfish begin their mating ritual, and patience can reward macro photographers with the chance to snap the Holy Grail of macro photographs: a pair of mating mandarinfish cheek-to-cheek above the reef.

German Channel

One way to ensure the mantas come out in force is to dive German Channel with a macro lens. But fear not; after watching the mantas at the cleaning stations, the shallow sandy areas leading to the channel are a great place to spot spearing mantis shrimp, robust ghostpipefish and feather star shrimp. Keep an eye out for a resting crocodilefish in the channel, as their intricate eyelids make stunning macro subjects.

Jake Seaplane

The Jake Seaplane Wreck is a unique dive close to Malakal Harbour. The former Japanese Armed Forces plane is five minutes away from the harbour and sits in around 14 metres of water. The shallow water around the plane is good for nudibranch spotting, and you may be lucky to find a crocodilefish lazing on the wing.

Big Drop Off

Big Drop Off is one of the most beautiful wall dives in the world. The vertical reef faces are covered in a rainbow of soft corals, and the eagle-eyed can spot myriad shrimp hiding among the cracks and crevices. Check out the whip corals growing out from the wall for whip coral shrimp and xeno crabs, while feather star shrimp can be spotted loitering at the base of the many multi-coloured feather stars.

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Emily C and Eleanor are our 'Macro Diving in Palau' experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

Call us on 1-800-652-1972