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Which Destination ? PNG, Palau, or Truk Liveaboard

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My wife and I started out with a digital camera to supplement my film

camera. After our first underwater trials we each purchased a better

camera and a strobe for each after fighting to use the first underwater

digital camera. We were looking for that special trip and went to Belize

on the Nekton Pilot. I sold her on the idea because the boat was

supposed to be stable. Although the trip was OK it was not a great dive

trip. We were very disappointed with the photography opportunities.

There was not a lot of life on this trip and the boat and crew was

pretty worn down. Most of our clear water experience has been limited to

the Caribbean. We are pretty experience divers. I have done about 200

dives and my wife has done about 100 dives. We are looking for that

special dive trip which will be really memorable. I read Eric Cheng's reports on

Mike Ball's Coral Sea trip and the Big Blue Explorer trip to Palau and he directed me to post this question on the forum. If

we could only choose one, which trip and operator should we choose?

When would be the best time to go? We like nice clean and well

maintained boats with good service. A crew that is enthusiastic and

safety conscious and provides excellent meals.


For the diving we would like easy diving with lots of life from macro to

large animals. By easy diving I mean that we don't like rough seas and

long hard swims against current.


What would you suggest? I'm also considering PNG and Truk. I do not want

to spend the money and find out that the area is not good for diving or

they are experiencing a die off (severe coral bleaching) when I get

there. Our hopes were high for Belize, maybe too high. I have started to

read mixed opinions on the forums about these places and wanted your

opinion since my wife and I share the same photographic interest of

photography underwater.


Thanks in advance


Patrick and Angel Lee

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Perhaps I can offer some opinions with my research for an upcoming trip to Truk in Sept.


Everyone's opinion may vary, but I've learned to go into every trip with some expectation on services, though a complete open-mindedness to underwater expectations.


My wife and I recently had a good experience aboard the Belize Aggressor this past January. (Sorry, I'm not real impressed by Nekton - seemed TOO big with the capacility of 30 divers, and not having Nitrox is a big down point for me with long bottom times. IMO, there are better liveaboards to choose from) We actually really enjoyed the smaller treasures of life we found on the reefs there, but like you, we are now looking with much anticpated excitement to see more action and variety for our trip to Micronesia.


We've been on many liveaboards (and some fairly rough seas - though nothing topped trying to get away from Hurricane Mitch on a boat in the open ocean - a story for a nice surface interval. Mitch made 30ft sea crossings for 36 hours in Cocos look like ripples at times! Ha, LOL!). Anyway, inside of Truk's lagoon, I think you'll find the seas very, very comfortable for you. Short of a complete surprise by Murphy, everything I read and people I spoke with who've been there many times have always enjoyed extremely calm conditions in the lagoon. The water is also very warm, but visibility can be lower than outside the lagoon. Knowing quite a few liveaboards, we chose the Truk Odyssey, and I can say I've never been more impressed with their service, enthusiasm, thoroughness, and willingness to help you enjoy a wonderful experience. In having booked many (10+) liveaboards, I can say that in my experience, some liveaboard customer service reps tend to promise you many things, and their brochures claim certain amenities, but only to find later than that may or may not be in working order or up to the desired expectation. I have had a thoroughly enjoyable experience with Cliff, Tiffany, and his crew with the Truk Odyssey. Their boat seems to have some most of the valued services and the size and comfort levels look to be quite impressive. Many people have come back from their experience with them and are very pleased by Lenny and Cara (I think that's her name), both Captains aboard the Odyssey. Reader polls for whatever value you place on them have consistantly ranked the Odyssey as the top liveaboard, best crew, and value. I'm also impressed with the variety of dive gear potential- single tank aluminums, large capacity steels, dual tanks, NITROX, and 80% deco stage bottles (for those qualitifed) at no extra charge. Plus the safety stop bars with outfitted octos. E-6 processing (which if a boat doesn't have seems archiac nowadays - expect in some remote areas). The charging station and photo tables look to be well layed out. I've seen AED on most boats and haven't checked with Odyssey, though I feel - and my money has booked, that I could not be more pleased in all I have found with the Odyssey.

Depending upon the time you leave, I could give you a report when I return in late Sept?


Hope you found some value in this, feel free to contact me for more details.


Though I've not always been so impressed by some of the Peter Hughes boats, I've heard very good reports on the Peter Hughes PNG experience. Mike Ball has always had a great reputation. I look forward to booking through them and venture into the Coral Sea (if offering) in a few years.

Perhaps someone here can add more to their experience with those destinations?


IMO, for future reference, you should try to gain some more experience and get those 'sea legs' under you. Right now Cocos and Galapagos, and Soccorro may be a bit much - but don't cross-off those destinations, their worth the trip! Ah...so many places, so little film and 1MB cards. :lol:



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I recently returned from a week in Palau on the Big Blue Explorer. It was truly a memorable experience. The boat is big and sturdy at 165 ft. Never felt crowded with 16 divers, more like 8 on one side and 8 on the other.


The staff was truly outstanding. The diving was truly outstanding. The food was pretty good. Nitrox 32 and 36. I could go on and on, but it was such a great trip. The itinerary was setup to maximize your diving experience. I think it was 25 dives plus Chandelier Cave, snorkeling at Jellyfish Lake and a 10ft dive at Mandarinfish Lake.


Our leader on the trip has over 4500 dives and owns a travel agency. He felt PNG not to be as great as some would have it. Truk is a great place if you like wrecks. His other favorites are Bali/Komodo, but you must do a 10 day trip. The diving is great in Bali and Komodo, but just fair in between the two places. His other favorite is Wakatobi in Indonesia.

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Having done Belize, Palau and PNG, I can say with conviction that Belize does not come near what's on offer in the Pacific.

Palau - Wide Angle territory; walls etc.


PNG - Milne Bay - Macro Paradise.


Mike Ball's Paradise Sport was one of the best liveaboards I've seen, and THE best for catering to the UW photo/video enthusiast.


Depends on what you want from your trip. Advantages of Palau - a Yap or Truk add-on.


Advantages of PNG, GBR add-on.


PNG was better value for money in no. of dives etc. But memorable diving available in both places.


Up to you!






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I have trip reports and photos on Palau, Truk and Fiji on my UW Photo website below.


Palau is a very high current area for the most part. But high intensity diving, you see everything on every dive. Wonderful, I want to go back. Go liveaboard or check out Peleilu Island. People friendly, dive operations good, can get crowded at times.


Truk is great, but deeper diving, no current to speak of, second the vote for Truk Odyssey. Don't try to shore dive, nothing but the hotel there to see.


Fiji is fun, laid back, grat reefs and critters, doable from either shore or liveaboard.


Do a 10 day trip, it's a long flight.



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Greetings from Bali...


Well I just got back from a 10 day trip on Komodo Dancer - This trip ROCKS!!!


The boat is great, the crew are the best, and the diving kicks ass!


3 different species of pygmy sea horse, manta rays, wrecks, dragons and a million other things in and out of the water to try and get your head around... Including the legendary "Ass Fish" out in the open!!!


Far cheaper than PNG too. :)

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Ass fish? Please post pictures!


Bali has some nice land activities and great hotels, so it's nice to unwind there after the liveaboard trip, too.

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I'd highly recommend wakatobi. The diving is superb, both for macro and wide angle reef scenics. Its not a destination for large animals,

but we did see some sharks, plus dolphins and pilot whales (fromn the boat).

What really makes it is the ability to do huge numbers of dives on the house reef day or night. You can easily get in as many or more dives as you

would on a live-aboard trip. And you can revisit the same photopgrahic subjects to make sure you get the shot, time your wide angle photos to the sun position, etc.


I'm heaed to PNG next week (lissenung, loloata, and Walindi) next week for my first big digital trip!

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I'll be posting full articles and photos on Bali & Komodo trip when I get back to UK. If I can beg a floppy offa the hotel I will post the Ass fish pictures.


Great place to celibrate my birthday and my 12,007th dive. These people are so friendly and sincere here in Bali that I am bringing the whole family next year to the Melia Benoa in Nusa Dua... Hope they can cope :)

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Holy crap Batman, you still log. You must need a suitcase to take your log book with you to prove your diving level.


I'll inform BC you will have added weight just for that log book! :)


So you are saying next year plan for Komodo. Brandon Cole had asked me to go this year in October. But, I guess Manado won out.


PM me when you are back on the dates for Manado and flights for BC so I can plan accordingly please. And, again Happy 98th birthday. :blink:

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