Palau is one of few places in the world very near and dear to my heart. This mystical group of more than 300 palm-covered rock islands in Micronesia shines likes sparkling green emeralds set in a sea of such saturated blue that the aerial view staggers the imagination. Add to this awe-inspiring vision the diving at famous sites like Blue Corner, Ngemelis Wall and Pelileu Corner and you will be overwhelmed by some of the most exhilarating and biologically diverse underwater experiences found anywhere. Six-foot gray reef sharks parade in a seemingly endless procession while barracuda swirl in dense schools near sheer walls and anthias dart along reefs covered with soft corals splashed in vibrant reds and oranges. Enormous golden sea fans project out from the walls amid healthy stands of black coral laced with long strands of wire coral.
Zooming to and from the dive sites of Palau, you'll pass between the mushroom-shaped rock islands, each a sculpture etched in limestone and topped with palm trees. The high-speed dive boats carve their way between these creations, presenting a visual feast to the eye and a rush of adrenaline that matches any opening sequence from a James Bond movie.
German Channel and Chandelier Cave
German Channel is the waterway that passes from the lagoon strewn with World War II wrecks to the crystal-clear waters that bathe the outer walls and reefs of Palau. Here, where nutrient-rich waters pass back and forth through underwater passages, you can dive with sharks and manta rays that come to hover in well-established cleaning stations. After a wild day of diving walls and reefs and the current-swept pass of German Channel, I look forward to making a penetration into Chandelier Cave, which is located in the inner lagoon's protected waters. After dropping down 25 feet and passing under a limestone ledge, you're delivered into an air-filled chamber 30 feet in diameter. Shiny white stalactites hang from the high ceiling, shimmering as they reflect the beam from your dive light.
Palau Pacific Resort
Now here is a dream resort. Situated on a 64-acre property surrounded on three sides by sparkling lagoon waters, Palau Pacific Resort has lushly landscaped grounds that abound in hibiscus, plumeria and whispering palm trees. The perfect white-powder beach stretches along the west side of the property and is a pebble's toss away from the swimming pool and the resort's Coconut Terrace Restaurant. For a more formal dinner, try Medu Ribtal. Or dine at your own private table on the beach under the stars -- the King and Queen special dinner for two. The rooms are spacious, immaculate, air conditioned and tastefully decorated in island decor a la Gauguin. The resort's PADI Five Star dive operation, Splash Dive Center, is just a two-minute walk along the beach. Here you can arrange daily two-tank dives and the staff will handle all the gear for you so that you can enjoy paradise unburdened. Next to Splash is Photo Palau, the resort's underwater photo and video shop where you can rent underwater camera or video equipmen or get tips from photo pros.