Why dive in Truk Lagoon, Chuuk
Truk Lagoon in Chuuk, Micronesia is one of the best wreck diving sites in the world. Truk lagoon was the main base of Japanese army during the World War II. More than forty ships were sunk during operation Hailstone in 1944. There are reportedly almost 70 wrecks in the lagoon. During our trip we dove 16 ships, 2 airplanes and one submarine.
The wrecks are an underwater museum and are protected – propellers, guns, telegraphs – are in place. Most of the sunk ships were supply vessels and still have their cargo – trucks, airplane parts, guns, tanks, and bottles of beer and sake. Most of the wrecks we did were between 20-40 meters. Only one – San Francisco Maru was deeper at 50m deck upright – but absolutely worth it even if with short bottom time. There are more options for tech divers.
We dove on nitrox, single tank, no deco gas doing about 40-50 minute bottom time on each dive. Visibility was excellent on most wrecks. Many wrecks had their superstructure still in place but time takes its toll and you can witness its effects as ships are slowly breaking up. Every dive we had was excellent.
What to see
There is a choice of diving on a liveaboard or from shore in Truk. We spent a week on Odyssey liveaboard and 3 days at Blue Lagoon dive resort. In terms of purely cost, on a per dive basis land-based diving is cheaper. But considering the overall cost of getting to Chuuk, liveaboard has advantages in terms of convenience and overall experience especially if time is a constraint.
Odyssey does 4 dives a day plus night dive. On all wrecks we dove off the main boat. The boat has a submerged steel bar to hang on to for safety stop and even an elevator platform that moves you in and out of water – state of the art diving luxury! The food was excellent, cabins huge and comfortable and dive operation superbly organized.
Odyssey captain Mike Gerken had outstanding knowledge of history and his briefings were the best one could hope for. For every wreck we got a historical background, a brief video providing summary of the dive, in-depth briefing and tips on the best way to dive the wreck and what we could see. Not only did we have great diving – we learned a lot about the history of the place. Crew was fantastic and guides probably can dive each wreck with their eyes closed.
After completing our trip on Odyssey and given flight schedules we decided to spend another 3 days at Blue Lagoon diving with Blue Lagoon diveshop. Most of the wrecks are within 30 minutes or less by boat from the diveshop. Usually they do 2 dives before lunch and one in the afternoon. The schedule is flexible depending on the groups diving and if you are 4 or 6 you can pretty much have your own schedule. If you are 2 you have to accept to be flexible and adjoin other groups and hope that their choices of wrecks align with yours.
The hotel has all the necessary basics. Restaurant food is decent with service on “island time”. We were staying there right after new year and presumably not all staff were back to work yet and also restaurant was running out of supplies such as orange juice (as supply boat which brings most of the food for the island comes once a week). If time is not a constraint and more leisurely schedule is acceptable then staying at the resort and diving land-based is definitely a reasonable option.
Other than diving there is not much else to do on Truk. Apparently the island has a bit of a violence problem and tourists are advised not to venture out of resort at night (though the problem seems to be more of a local issue not directed at tourists). Since there is not much around based on what we saw on the way from the airport – we did not feel tempted. The resort itself is perfectly safe and has a nice bar area by the ocean where you can ask to have your dinner brought over from restaurant.
Truk lagoon is definitely a unique place with some of the most spectacular wreck diving in the world. Definitely worth it!