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Dive Review of Fish 'n Fins Ocean Hunter III in
Micronesia/Palau

Fish 'n Fins Ocean Hunter III: "A great week on the Ocean Hunter lll", Nov, 2014,

by Dave Helms, IN, US ( 1 report). Report 8073.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Palau is not an easy place to get to. Normally there are 5 flights to get there from Chicago. We cut that down to 3, but it actually took longer that way; something like 32 hours. Still, it is an ordeal that wears you out. I would recommend flying in a day ahead to acclimate and rest up.

I did have a gripe right off the bat. We wasted a LOT of time at the dock waiting to board the boat. After 32 hours of travelling, I could have been sleeping instead of spending 2 hours sitting in the heat waiting to board the boat. It was just as bad getting off the boat at the end of the trip. I felt a lot of that paperwork could have been completed via mail or the internet prior to arrival.

At first glance, the Ocean Hunter lll looks a bit like a squat tugboat. Gone are the sleek lines of most liveaboard dive boats. However, one quickly sees that the Ocean hunter lll is a very solidly built boat. All the doors close solidly and there are no squeaks, rattles, creaky floors, etc that one commonly sees on liveaboard boats. I didn't see the rusty areas one normally sees on boats, either. All the trim is clean and painted or polished. The dining area is open and most importantly it is air conditioned. The lounge is quite nice and had comfy couches and a TV. The cabins themselves are not all that large and there isnít a lot of storage. Liveaboard divers quickly realize that you donít need much except your dive gear and some t-shirts. Our cabin had bunk beds, but the premier ones had double beds. There were a surprising number of outlets in the room. If you are in the top bunk, you will find absolutely no storage for even an ipad or your glasses. One thing I really missed was a window in my cabin on the lower deck. The rooms were very clean with real air conditioning, not swamp coolers.

The weather in Palau is tropical; very warm and humid. Except for the dive deck most areas have some sort of roof including the dive tender to keep you out of the sun. No sun-worshippers on this trip.
On the main deck is the dining area/lounge with the camera area and dive deck outside toward the stern. The upper deck is the sundeck and premier cabins. The lower deck is the main cabin area.

The food was excellent. Donít expect huge American steaks, though. We had chicken, lots of fish, pasta, lamb, and tacos just to name a few. Many dishes are local, but all were good and varied. We had plenty of veggies and fruit with each meal. Typically they had some sort of sushi or sashimi, too. Arlee, our chef would make things if you asked him to. Some snacks were available like cookies and candy and fruit. I was not thrilled that we had to pay for pop and beer although the prices were not extravagant. $1.50 for pop, $3.50 for beer.

The dive deck is pretty well laid out with storage below the benches. Most gear stays on the tender. Fresh water showers and hoses are available on the dive deck. The crew handled and loaded our gear onto the tender except for cameras and wetsuits.
The camera area is quite large and there are plenty of outlets although they are near the ceiling which is a problem if you have a short charging cable. Bring an extension cord if you need one.
I dived nitrox all week and the fills were very consistent 3000 psi and 31-32% O2.

The dive operation and schedule were well set up. A wake up and quick light breakfast at 0630. First dive at 0700. Then a real breakfast at 830-0900. 2nd dive at 1030, followed by lunch at 1230 or so. 3rd dive around 1330 then snack, then 4th dive around 1600. Night dives were done most nights at around 1830 and dinner followed the night dive. There is not a lot of time to get bored on this boat.
All diving was done from a tender which had 2 huge outboards to move fast. Seating was adequate for 16 divers. Missing was a rinse tank for cameras although in most cases the boat rides were short enough that it was not an issue.

Palau has some very strong currents. Bring a reef hook if you have one. If not, buy one at the shop on shore. You will need it. Diving varied from deep ledges in strong current, to walls, to shallow coral gardens. We also dived some wrecks. The coral was very healthy and undamaged. No bleaching was seen. Some sea fans and gorgonians were present, but mostly hard corals on the plateaus and soft corals on the walls. We saw lots of tropical fish. Not too many eels, turtles, lobsters, crabs, or stingrays. Water visibility was 60-100 feet and the temp was 83-85F. Most dives were in the 40-60 foot range, but some of the wrecks were deeper. Palau is known for sharks and you will see them at blue corner. Along with huge schools of jacks, barracudas, and triggerfish. A large friendly napoleon fish hung out with us on each dive at blue corner. We made several manta ray dives and saw mantas on 2 of the three dives.
We did a dive in the chandelier cave the last evening which was really cool, but honestly I felt it may have exceeded the equipment and skill levels of some newer divers. The DM knew the cave by heart, though and no one had any issues. The divemasters were excellent. Quite happy to show us stuff and attentive to what the group wanted to see. Ken, Eddie, and Jed seemed to truly love diving and showing us around their reefs. They were quite willing and able to help newer divers on the boat.

Jellyfish lake IS all it is cracked up to be. It is amazing. A short but steep hike over the jungle path leads to the lake. Do not miss this. Snorkeling among millions of non stinging jellyfish is hard to describe.

Also not to be missed is the Peleliu battlefield tour. I am a history fanatic so perhaps I appreciated it more than most, but it was an interesting tour and worth missing a dive for, even in Palau.
If you are interested, take the helicopter tour. It is very expensive at $400 a person, but it is a very cool tour and a great way to see the island from a different perspective.

Overall, Palau is hard to get to and the Ocean Hunter lll is an expensive trip, but in many ways it is a much nicer boat than some other liveaboards on which I have dived. The staff and crew is top notch. The food was really good and the diving was great. I would recommend this boat.
Websites Fish 'n Fins Ocean Hunter III   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Belize, Bonaire, Curacao, Cozumel, Egypt, Komodo, Manado, Fiji, Maldives, Turks and Caicos, Florida, Texas, Australia, Philippines, St Kitts, Caymans, Puerto Rico, Revillogigedos, Sea of Cortez, Thailand, Roatan.
Closest Airport Palau Getting There Chicago-Narita-Incheon-Koror

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 83-85°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-80 Ft/ 18-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions very few restrictions were made. The DM would give depth/time recommendations, but no one checked computers. We were treated as adults.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Plenty of camera storage space. Crew very good with cameras. Big rinse tanks and we were told repeatedly not to put gear in camera tanks. lots of outlets for camera chargers. Great for video since large fish. harder to use still camera in heavy current at blue corner.
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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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