Diving With Neco Marine
Dive Trip Organization
Our dive trips typically run a full day with either two or three dives (2 tanks or 3 tanks), depending on your preference.
For safety and comfort, we try to plan our day trips with a maximum of 6 divers per guide, and always do our best to adapt to divers’ experience, comfort, interests and requirements.
We avoid mixing divers and snorkelers on the same boats, and make sure we create practical level groups; to make sure all divers have the best experience we can offer.
This focus on smaller groups, for safety, service and quality, is one of the trademarks of Neco Marine, and sets us apart from many other operators in the area.
Local law requires divers to be accompanied in-water by a Koror State certified guide.
All our guides are therefore certified, well experienced in local conditions, and of divemaster or instructor level.
We strongly believe in the value of training, feedback, and also that offering good working conditions for our staff will in turn allow them to offer our guests a better experience.
Dive sites are chosen on the day by the dive guide, based on tides and weather and also diver level and experience, and may change up to the last minute, depending on live conditions.
While we will do our best to accommodate requests, this also means that specific dive sites cannot be guaranteed in advance, unfortunately.
Most of Palau’s dive sites are concentrated in the Rock Island Southern Lagoon UNESCO reserve (Chelbacheb Islands).
It takes our comfortable, roofed speedboats roughly 45 to 60 minutes to reach the Rock Islands reserve and most Palau’s famous dive sites, but the journey can take longer if the sea is rough.
Departure times vary depending on tide conditions, the majority sites offering better conditions on an incoming/rising tide, when offshore water enters the lagoon.
On average, we leave the Neco marina between 7 am and 9:30 am (but sometimes earlier or later, aiming for best conditions), and are usually back at the marina by 4:30 pm at le latest, and always before sunset.
Our drivers will pick you up at you hotel and drop off at the hotel (or elsewhere) at the end of the day.
All our boats all have a roof to protect divers from the sun and rain, but we strongly recommend bringing a windbreaker of some kind, as it can get a little chilly when the boat is in motion, especially if it rains, which is quite common in a dynamic environment such as Palau’s.
Like most boats in Palau, our boats do not have toilets on board, but we do have restrooms and showers at the Neco Marine office.
This depends on sea conditions as well as location and schedule, but we can often take a lunch break on one of the island’s equipped beaches (where you’ll find picnic tables, toilets), or in a protected lagoon, and even hop in for a snorkel if there’s something catching our attention.
Dive profiles and style
Our dive profiles vary depending on the site, but in general the maximum depth for a reef dive is 25m (80ft), as there is usually no real reason to go deeper.
All our dives are planned as no-decompression stop dives, with a multi-level profile, so bottom times vary depending on air consumption, profile and dive site, ranging typically from 40 to a maximum of 60 minutes or 50 bars / 700 psi, whichever comes first.
We ask divers to monitor their air and have a reserve pressure of 30 bars / 500 psi at the surface, after a 3 minutes safety stop at 5 meters / 15 feet.
We do 1-hour surface intervals between the dives, and highly recommend diving on EANX Nitrox for increased safety and no-decompression stop bottom time.
Nitrox 32% is free for nitrox-certified divers, and we also offer a 50% discount on the certification course to all divers diving more than 2 days with us.
Should yu prefer to dive on air, keep in mind that diving on air sometimes requires us to do shorter dives, in order to to preserve bottom time, especially on sites requiring staying deeper a little longer (ex. Blue Corner, Siaes Corner, Siaes Tunnel, or WW2 Japanese wrecks …).
This is also true on a 3-dive day trip, where diving on Nitrox really makes a difference in terms of NDLs.
The majority of dives in Palau are drift-style dives, where the boat follows the divers, and comes to picks up them up after the dive.
As you might have heard, Palau has deep drop-offs and strong current, especially on more exposed sites (the “corners”, where the reef forms a ridge-shaped extension).
These sites can offer more challenging diving, with strong and sometimes complex currents at certain times of the lunar cycle – in such conditions, these dives are reserved for advanced divers, with good current experience to be enjoyed.
Our guides will do their best to brief and prepare divers for such dives,, but also have to put safety first.
The reef hook or current hook, now also seen on Indonesian pinnacle dives or on Maldivian thilas or elsewhere, was actually invented in Palau, in order to help divers stabilize themselves effortlessly on current swept, action-packed corners, and also protect the reef from impact fin and hand impact.
Current hooks are a useful tool, which we use on certain dive sites in certain conditions, to stay in the current without fighting it, and watch the show while hovering safely above the reef.
Neco Marine’s boats are all designed for back-roll entries, but we rarely require are negative entries.
Highly recommended gear
We highly recommend that all our divers use computers. This enables you to monitor your own dive profile and will help you stay safely within your no-decompression stop limits, and also check your Maximum Operating Depth when diving on Nitrox.
Given the drift profile of many dives in Palau, we recommend all divers to carry a surface maker buoy (aka SMBs, safety sausage, balloon, signal floats or markers), in the unlikely event that you are separated from the dive group.
Our guides always deploy their DSMBs at the end of the dive, during the safety stop.
The Reef Hook
The Reef or Current Hook is an incredible little invention, born in Palau!
It is a metal hook with a short line which, when fixed properly onto a rock or dead coral, allows divers to stay in position without effort, and hover safely over the reef without damaging it, if used correctly.
Divers hook-in to remain stationary and watch the show at the edge of the drop-offs, where the currents are strongest and marine life is the most concentrated.
Reef hooks can be rented or purchased from Neco Marine, and our guides will teach you how to use them. So just hang back, relax and let the dive come to you…
The water is generally between 28° and 30°C (84°F), allowing you to dive comfortably without a wetsuit or with a simple skin or 3mm suit for protection. A rash-guard is fine for most, especially combined with some kind of wind-breaker, boat-coat or poncho for the boat rides (even in the tropics, it can get chilly when the boat is in motion, especially if it rains….)
Please note that diving / snorkeling gloves are prohibited by local legislation (exceptions may apply for medical conditions or other).