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Cocos or Palau? which would you choose?


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#1 diver dave1

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 02:43 PM

My travels next yr will likely take me 1/2 way to Palau. I am considering going the other half and doing a 7-10 day liveaboard there. When adding up the pricing, its about the same as the 10 day trip to Cocos.
Never been to either place. Fair chance I will make one and not the other in this life.
Cocos visit could be anytime of year. Palau would be October.

Which would you choose and why?
Particularly interested in responses by those that have been to both but not exclusive to them.

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#2 eric black

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 04:59 PM

Been to both and they are quite different from each other- As for Cocos- if you don't like open water ocean crossings, the 30+ hours of rocking and rolling to get there could be a turn off. Lots and lots of sharks and not much reef to explore. Whale sharks seen on every dive- we were there in mid-July. A unique place where sharks are the feature. Palau is a place I repeatedly go back to- also good shark sightings, but no where near as many- but lots of great wall diving, reef diving, current diving and great underwater topography. My Palau trips have been in both the spring and fall and I enjoyed both seasons equally- my next trip will be this coming spring.

#3 Drew

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 04:45 AM

Been to both several times and can say that Cocos/Malpelo is mythical in status and probably a must do. I'd say it's been better sooner than later the way things are going with the overfishing and long lining in the area. As said by Eric, the pelagic life is awesome and with the seahunter, you can even jump in on the ROV for a deep sea look. The biodiversity isn't nearly as varied as Palau but the fish schools are eclipse thick!

Palau is a bit better protected because of the big dive industry. besides reefs and its denizens, there are also some WWII wrecks which are fun to do. I personally preferred doing Micronesia from land resorts so it's far more than just in water stuff. Melanesian history, WWII stuff and even the islands are awesome.
I say all serious uw photos should do both, but Cocos is probably the worst place not to go to if massive schools of pelagic is your thing.

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#4 Oceanshutter

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 04:07 PM

My travels next yr will likely take me 1/2 way to Palau. I am considering going the other half and doing a 7-10 day liveaboard there. When adding up the pricing, its about the same as the 10 day trip to Cocos.
Never been to either place. Fair chance I will make one and not the other in this life.
Cocos visit could be anytime of year. Palau would be October.

Which would you choose and why?
Particularly interested in responses by those that have been to both but not exclusive to them.


Never been to cocos, though everyone I seem to talk with that has been, it is their favorite place. However, given the circumstance that you are going to be half way there already, I would jump all over that. I'm big on maximizing travel time. Anytime I go somewhere for work I try to fit in some sightseeing, or something fun to do.

For me, Palau has been my all around favorite dive destination. Which includes travel to Komodo, lembeh, anilao, dumaguete, fiji, red sea and numerous Carib destinations.

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#5 scorpio_fish

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 04:15 PM

Cocos. Palau is good, but not extraordinary. Cocos are unique.
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#6 matt215

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 01:04 PM

Cocos. Cocos. Cocos. Go in July or August with any of the undersea hunter boats.
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#7 jonny shaw

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 07:46 PM

Cocos, cocos, cocos...... mind bendingly good ;) and yep same as above Undersea hunter

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#8 MortenHansen

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 09:22 PM

Another one for cocos!
Higher density of big fish, lets face it, you're probably not even going to think about putting on a 100mm in either of the two locations so go for the best WA opportunities! :)

Enjoy, Morten!

#9 John Bantin

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 03:06 AM

Both! Been to both several times. Just got back from Malpelo. It's quite extraordinary but not for those who suffer mal de mer! It's somewhat tough and the Portuguese Men-of-War are hard to take too but you get to see whalesharks past the hammerheads and Galapagos sharks, plus billions of other fishes too!

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#10 oneyellowtang

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 01:21 AM

Been to Palau twice, been to Cocos two times (and Malpelo once).

Will go back to Palau with my daughter in a few years when she's ready for it (about a year away from being certified).

Will go back to Cocos another 5+ times before they pry my fins away from me (or sadly, the sharks disappear).

The difference:
Palau provides consistently good diving with reasonably high bio-diversity, pelagics, and great diving infrastructure (and it's not that hard to get to with options from Japan, Philippines, and the US). It's a bit like "Disneyland Diving"... sign up for what you want to see and they'll likely be able to show you (mantas, sharks, mandarin fish, etc.)

Cocos is primal diving - it's the ocean as you always hoped it would be... one good dive at Alcyone will change your view of diving for the rest of your life.The diving is occasionally hard - currents, thermoclines, and swell can make for tough conditions - then add in the 30+ hour crossing to even get there.

The amount of hyperbole used to describe Cocos makes it seem too good to be true... in reality - that's how good it really is, when it's really good (water temp not too warm, etc).

Best line I've heard when describing Cocos:
- "You will run out of air before you run out of awe"

I knew the depth that Cocos had impacted me personally when I would wake up from dreams of diving with hammerheads months after returning from my first trip there - I thought the 2nd trip might cure me, but nope... just made me want to go back for more.

And as everyone has said - diving Cocos from one of the Undersea Hunter boats is the way to go - they are (by far) the best and safest operation diving Cocos.

Edited by oneyellowtang, 07 August 2012 - 09:59 PM.


#11 Aliens

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:17 PM

Go to Truk Lagoon. Great wrecks soft corals and a few sharks.
If you go Palau go with Siren fleet. Gorgeous boats

#12 jlyle

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 05:51 AM

We've been to both twice. Like many of the divers above, our vote is for Coco Island. Hard core diving with lots of big animals. Palau is nice and easier to get to, but I would jump at a chance to return to Coco.

FWIW - do NOT go to Coco during an El Nino event. Warm water is not good for fish life at Coco.
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#13 Drew

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 07:10 AM

I'd somewhat agree with Jim on fish life during El Niño. BUT while the colder water animals like the hammers will normally go deeper, other fish life seem to proliferate. My 90s trips were smack dab during El Niño, and the jacks and other fish were eclipse thick, and there were more mammals around like dolphins and whales. Even the ray aggregation was higher. And when you have more dolphins, there are higher chances of baitballs. I still remember my first baitball in Cocos. Rivals anything anywhere else, if you don't count the whales! :)
So if your mission to Cocos is for hammers, El Niño period isn't recommended. However, other life somehow picks up and there's always the white tip night feeding frenzy.
And bring at least a 50mm (FF) macro lens for stuff like batfish and frogfish. I recommend bring a 2nd P&S as a backup for such occasions.

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#14 pezgrande

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 07:23 AM

palau all the way. great variety of sea life, both macro and wide angle. Best I have ever seen.

#15 RWBrooks

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 02:26 PM

Palau is getting more and more popular each year and during peak season (Dec-April) it has at some of the more popular sites, too many divers. German Channel on some days is like rush hour on Coruscant.....

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