It has been 7 years since I last visited the beautiful Palau, and the seven year itch was calling me. So I headed back to explore this stunning island group 500km to the east of the Philippines. This place is like something out of a James Bond movie set, beautiful landscapes, limestone towers and seas in every colour of blue you could imagine. Even photoshop couldn t do better than nature here. Luckily for us, underwater is just as stunning as above with views that rival James Camerons Avatar!
I had booked onto a 10 day liveaboard with the Palau Siren. This boat is a beautiful timber boat, built like an old sailing pearl boat from the 19th Century and in the 10 days, they managed to squeeze in 32 dives without feeling rushed. A couple of standouts would have to have been the Blue Corner and the German Channel and nearly half the dives were hook in dives, watching the world go past on the currents. With sharks everywhere and oceanic mantas coming by for their daily clean, it was a sight to behold.
On this trip, I only had 2 lenses with me, the Canon rf14-35 f4 and the Canon rf100mm macro lens. Both got a good work out along with a trigger finger that needed a holiday after my holiday.
The very last dive of the trip was a save the best till last situation diving in just 5m of water in Palau harbour looking for mandarin fish. Due to the shallow waters, I was able to spend over an hour and a half with more mandarin fish that I could count, getting lucky enough to take some great shots of them and their behaviours.
The second half of my trip took me back to my favourite sharks, the threshers. After only a day s rest, I headed to Malapascua in the Philippines for my second visit this year. Although the main attraction was the sharks, the macro life is worth it on its own but still, my focus was a little bigger. I stayed with Evolution Divers and did 8 dives over the few days I was there. As with all thresher dives, the standard 4am wake ups were a little hard to manage, especially when the first few resulted in disappointing pictures. This was nothing to do with Evolution Divers though who know all the best spots and are always there first, but purely bad luck with only fleeting glimpses of the sharks.
The final dive of the trip however ranks as one of the best dives I have ever done. With visibility pushing 30m and surface conditions like glass, 6 thresher sharks decided to spend 88 minutes with us and would have been longer if I had smaller lungs! I can happily say that I took some of the best pictures I have ever taken during this dive and with nearly 6000 dives under my belt, this ranks in the top ten.