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Dive Review of Fish n Fins, Ocean Hunter III/Palau Pacific Resort in
Micronesia

Fish n Fins, Ocean Hunter III/Palau Pacific Resort, Nov, 2008,

by Max Weinmann, MA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 4556.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving PNG, GBR, FIJI, Sea of Cortez
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 85 to Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80 to 120 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Depth limit 120'
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments Every effort made to assist the needs of the photographer.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I just returned from 3 weeks away in Palau which I must admit was the trip of a lifetime thanks to the Fish n Fins team .

Diving

a) Land Based

We were picked up after breakfast and transported gently to the dive shop which is a bussle of activity from around 7am. The store is the nerve center of FNF, and is reflected by the the clanging of tanks, the excited chatter of new and old arrivals and the sad faces of those ending their trip. Tovah and Navot Bornovski were there to greet us. Relaxed and friendly, they are welcoming and warm to all who enter their "home". A cup of iced tea is offered and accepted gladly, stories and expectations exchanged and divers buddied up with similar experience and expectations. This is a multi national experience ; Aussies, Swiss, Germans, Americans...all brought together by a desire for adventure. FNF really shines here. Our dive gear was whisked away and organized on one of about 6 boat while we were being introduced to our new companions.
The divemasters worked relentlessly to ensure that all the predive requirements were taken care of while we relaxed, filled out the requisite paperwork and graduallly overcame the incredulity of having actually made it to Palau.
Once on board, the divemasters cajoled, joked and introduced themselves to us explaining what would take place over the coming days. Jet lag had yet to surrender it's grip upon us when we were already at the dive site with the dive master, and boat attendants already hoisting our tanks etc upon the seats and beckoning us to finish getting dressed. The pre dive briefing was concise and clear. Safety was the bottom line : period. There would be 2 dive masters and while we could dive according to level of comfort, they would be keeping a close eye on us. We were to discover that this was indeed the case, and it was never intrusive.
The dive boat was fast, clean and very well maintained. Tanks were efficiently stacked behind the seats and unobtrusive. Fist aid kit ,oxygen ,radio etc were all present and accounted for should any unpredicted emergency be encountered. Diving with inflatable safety devices was a must. Cold water was available for thirsty travellers as well as a water bottle which was provided for us from the dive store, filled with tea, water etc.
All care was made when tying up to buoys which marked the dive sites. This was about eco awareness, not exploitation, which we were reminded of constantly. This was in contrast to the behaviour evident on some of the other dive boats. Palau has an assortment of dive operators, and it became clear very quickly who are the professionals and who are in it for the "quick buck". Some boats were indifferent to any sort of ecological needs or etiquette, where divers were literally dumped at the site in the absence of any type of order or control wreaking havoc with the reef and any other divers present. We were to discover later, that this had culminated in the disappearance of some divers ; not all of whom were ultimately recovered. While the tropical waters are welcoming, they are not equally forgiving, with currents changing quickly and unpredictably at times. FNF is committed to being proactive in terms of safety.
As the divemasters became familiar with us, our levels of expertise, goals etc ( manta, sharks, wrecks , for example), they endeavoured over the ensuing days to fulfill them promptly and safely. The time we were there, mantas seemed to be extremely active and hence German Channel was a frequent destination. Divers seeking wrecks, were quickly matched up with other "wreckophiles" . None were disappointed.
For photographers, a rinsing tank was provided as well as life preservers to be placed deep within the seat tanks to allow "soft" storage for the photogs "babies".
Upon return, gear was rinsed off, a quick shower and videos reviewed. Chattering, "ooing" and "ahhing" replaced the mornings banter as divers reviewed the events of the day.

b) Live Aboard : Ocean Hunter III

Ocean Hunter III is a reincarnated research vessel, 96 ft in length and able to accomodate 16 divers in sheer comfort.
We were taken to FNF from our resort and shortly shuttled by boat to the Ocaen Hunter. Upon arrival, the crew again rapidly disappears into the background organizing cabins and luggage.
The design is purely "nouvea diver plush". Native timbers, comfortable furnishings, air conditioning, wide screen TV's, DVD players, music system (ipod compatible) greeted us. This is definitely not your gut wrenching, diesel stinking, bilge grinding, ex fishing boat, dive vessel. This has been built with tremendous attention to detail and pride in workmanship. Did I mention the upper deck twin jacuzzi's?
The crew is devoted to the divers. We had planned to dive hard and lose weight, returning home svelte and tanned. Well these guys certainly undermined that plan completely ! The food was simply gourmet ; and abundant.
The days were basically wake, dive, eat, dive, eat dive ,eat dive etc.
The guides could not have been more open to suggestions, desires and goals of one and all. Shark dive...sure, mantas...German Channel it is....wrecks...why not, night dive perhaps? Of course the photogs would review their pics or vids obsessively via the big screen TV. FNF also offers a personal DVD service to document your vacation. We opted for this and it has been a source of tremendous satisfaction and wonderful reminiscences for us since returning.
During the 7 day tour most of Palau's prime dive sites were explored and experienced from Blue Corner through to Pelilieu. The trip was extraordinary, leaving most of us wanting to call home with a mysterious illness so we could extend our stay.

Overall

Fish n Fins demonstrated remarkable professionalism and a sense of spirit little seen in todays competitive chaotic world. The Bornovski's committment to their staff, Palau and their guests verges on the familial.
There is no question that we shall be returning.
Thanks Tovah and Navot !
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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