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Dive Review of Ocean Hunter III in

February, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Steven M. Genkins, M.D., NC, USA (1 report)
Report Number 4702
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Wider Caribbean: Belize; Cayman Islands; Grenada; Honduras; St. Kitts;
Turks & Caicos; US (Florida; South Carolina); Virgin Islands (US &

Eastern Pacific: Cocos Island; Galapagos Islands.

Central & Western Pacific: Fiji; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Solomon

Indian Ocean: Indonesia; Maldives.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry  
calm, choppy, surge, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
82   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Maximum dive time of 60 minutes.  Maximum depth conforming to the MOD of
the gas being breathed.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 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  
Excellent on board facilities for underwater photographers. Spacious camera
tables, with sufficient and convenient 110 and 220 V outlets for battery
charging.  Dedicated camera rinse tank.  Cameras handled and transported
carefully by crew members.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
I first visited, and fell in love with, Palau ten years ago.  When I
returned this February, I was not disappointed.

Ocean Hunter III, a 96 foot spacious and well maintained world class dive
live-aboard, was my home this trip.  Its experienced crew is capable,
friendly, attentive, and helpful. Captain Kenneth, a native Palauan, sets
the tone.  He is ably assisted by Co-captain and Divemaster Siksei, his
countryman, and by their Filipino crewmates Gabby (Chief Engineer), Eddie
(Dive Director), Arlee and Roy (Chief and Assistant Cooks), and Richard and
Epi (Deckhands).

I occupied one of two upper deck master cabins, which opened directly onto
a covered sundeck.  My commodious digs included a queen sized bed, small
sitting area with desk, TV/DVD player, and en suite bath.  The cabins AC
worked flawlessly, and was easily adjusted.

The adjacent large sundeck, sporting two hot tubs, is a great spot to relax
between dives, or to enjoy the sunset after a full diving day, while
cruising through Palaus beautiful Rock Islands.

The dining room is well appointed and comfortable.  Hot coffee and tea are
always available.  Meals on Ocean Hunter III, served buffet style, are
substantial, varied, and delicious.  Cold breakfast is available before the
first morning dive, hot breakfast after the first dive, lunch follows the
second dive, and dinner the night dive.  Tasty snacks, including
fresh-baked cookies and brownies, and fruit smoothies, are proffered
between dives.  

An inviting lounge opens off the dining room.  It features several plush
sofas, an entertainment center with a nice DVD collection, a small library,
and a computer complete with a software program describing virtually all
Palauan dive sites, including 3D site maps, quite useful for predive

Underwater photography facilities are excellent.  Located in a covered area
between the dining room and the dive deck, the camera tables are spacious. 
Sufficient 110 and 220 V outlets are available for battery charging. 
Cameras are handled carefully by crew members.

The dive deck has ample space for gearing up for dives.  There are two
showers, two rinse hoses, and dedicated camera and dive equipment rinse

Five dives are offered each day.  All diving is done from a spacious, 35
foot covered rigid hull chase boat, aboard which tanks, BCs, fins, and
weight belts reside throughout the trip.  Both air and nitrox are
available.  Fills are consistently 3000 PSI, and nitrox a predictable 32%. 
Rides to dive sites are typically short, often 5 or 10 minutes or less. 
Dive briefings are thorough and accurate.  Dives are limited to sixty
minutes, with maximum depths conforming to the MOD of the gas being
breathed.  Dive entries are by backroll off the chase boat, and dive exits
via a sturdy ladder lowered over the side of the boat.  Chase boat drivers
are skilled and vigilant.  Surface wait times are typically 5 minutes or
less before pick up.

A pleasing variety of different types of dive sites is available in Palau. 
We sampled a great cross section, diving locations as far north as
Devilfish City off the northwest coast of Babeldaob Island, and as far
south as Peleliu Island.  Sites varied from World War II wrecks such as
Amatsu Maru, Teshio Maru, Jake Seaplane, and Iro; to sheer walls such as
Big Drop-Off, Ngedbus Corner, Peleliu Express, Ngerchong Wall, and Short
Drop-Off; to cavern dives such as Blue Holes, Virgin Blue Hole, Siaes
Tunnel, and Chandelier Cave; to healthy coral gardens such as Ngemelis
Coral Garden, Peleliu Coral Garden, and Wild West Coral Garden; to manta
ray cleaning stations at German Channel and Ngardmau Channel; to such
iconic Palauan sites as Blue Corner, Ulong Channel, and Mandarinfish Lake;
as well as a snorkel in Jellyfish Lake.

Water temperatures varied from 82 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.  Visibility
ranged from 30 feet at lagoon sites, to greater than 150 feet on some of
the outer walls.  Currents varied from nonexistent to ripping, and could
change direction during the course of a dive.  In Palau you learn to go
with the flow.  

My two favorite dive sites were Blue Corner and Ulong Channel.  With
current flowing, Blue Corner, a triangular submarine plateau jutting out
from adjacent vertical walls at a depth of 60 feet, provides a frenzy of
activity, including squadrons of cruising gray reef and whitetip sharks
just a few feet away, friendly humphead wrasses, schooling jacks,
barracuda, bumphead parrotfish, Moorish idols and redtooth triggerfish, as
well as an occasional wahoo, tuna, moray eel, or turtle.

At Ulong Channel you descend at the channel mouth to a depth of about 60
feet and watch gray reef and whitetip sharks patrol between resident large
schools of snappers and jacks, followed by an exhilarating ride down
channel with the current past large formations of lettuce leaf coral.

Wide angle photography was my main focus in Palau, and I was quite
satisfied.  Healthy hard coral seascapes with a smattering of soft corals
all colors of the rainbow, unique wreck and cavern scenes,  large schools
of fish, cruising sharks, frequent turtles, and an occasional manta or
spotted eagle ray, provided me with many terrific photographic
opportunities.  I didnt encounter the ornate eagle ray or the leopard
shark which I had hoped for, providing me with a great excuse to return to

After 10 days aboard Ocean Hunter III, I dove for two days with Fish N
Fins, its land-based affiliate, from boats similar to Ocean Hunter IIIs
chase boat.  Not surprisingly, Fish N Fins is also a well-run, first class
operation, with friendly and capable staff, and diving opportunities on par
with those of Ocean Hunter III.  Following in the footsteps of Palauan dive
pioneer Francis Toribiong, Tova and Navot  Bornovski have done a great job
developing and running these two Palauan gems.             
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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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