We had set the alarm for 6:30, but got up around 6 on our own. We filled our dry bag with stuff we forgot from the day before (e.g. suntan lotion), but we forgot to pack the Bonine again (not that we'd needed it the previous day). Breakfast was similar to the day before, but with different noodles for the noodle soup - thinner ramen-like noodles instead of the thick udon noodles. Even though breakfast was included in our package, diet coke was not, and $4.50 seemed absurd for one can, but that's the price of addiction. We waited again for boat pick up, but this time got picked up by a car. Thankfully the driver walked to the pier to get us. The German guy who was waiting with us had a similar problem the day before, but that day no one came to find him and he missed out on his tour - ouch.

Sam's was not nearly as busy as the day before, and had a nice rainbow to greet us. The boat was half similar to yesterday - Michelle, 4 of the same Germans, Chris, and us, plus 2 more Americans, 2 Chinese, their guide Nina, and a German guide Stefan. Our first stop was Big Drop Off (right where the reef meets the island in the lower center portion of the aerial shot above), not far past German Channel to the south, in the Ngemelis group of islands. The ride down to the Ngemelis was much the same as the day before. It was raining when we left, but the weather got progressively better as we went along. Big Drop Off was supposedly Jacques Costeau's favorite place to dive when he came to Palau way back when. It is a giant wall, almost vertical, with all kinds of odd-shaped coral protruding from the wall, plus lots of fish. We also saw couple reef sharks, a chubby star fish, and a clown fish. There was also a giant ball and chain under the water - groups of these were used to block the chennel during the war - how those steel balls ever floated is a mystery. After about 45 minutes, Justin was the first one out of air - again, but he was doing better than the day before.

Once back on the ship, the sun was out and it was gorgeous. We took a short ride over to a nice beach, Seksei (the boat captain) told us we could ride on the front - it was awesome, particularly as we went through German Channel. The beach, called Long Beach (and formerly Rat Tail Beach, because of its shape pre- big storm a few years back - you can kind of make it out in the aerial photo below) was phenomenal - all sorts of shades of blue/green, with crystal clear water. We walked all over the place, getting different photos and videos. The area combined all the best of Phang Nga Bay, Lord Howe Island, Amanpulo, Komodo, all combined in one place. There were also a couple of the endemic palm tree, Hydriastele palauensis. Justin tried to find some seed, but nothing was fruiting. We wish we didn't have to leave, but we had more diving to do.

Someone on the boat had requested German channel again - maybe the Germans? Our guess is that they really wanted to see Manta Rays, and German Channel is one of the best spots for that. We didn't care so much about Mantas - although they are awesome - since they can be seen daily in Kona on the Big Island. The visibility today at German Channel was not nearly as good, but on the plus side we did see a couple Manta Rays, including one close up. This led to Crystal clapping (in the picture below) and one of the other divers dancing (in the third video below). On the dive we also saw a couple giant schools of fish. On the dive, someone's dive computer going off the whole time, which was really annoying - we thought we were hearing things, like a phantom noise, but no, it was real. Justin and one other person were first out of air, so Justin tied for last rather than being last on his own - improvement.

The boat ride back very similar to day before, and it was raining in Koror just as we got back. We came during what was supposed to be dry season, but the seasons have not been as predictable the last few years. We had a drink with Chris and Marian. Marian works as a nurse on cruise ships, and has been all over, and gave us some good dive sites (and tour operators) to use in the future. Marian also said her favorite places she had been (not for diving, just generally) were Antarctica and New Zealand.

Back at hotel, there was a small reception with free drinks, and we got a free cocktail and talked with one of the managers. We talked about the hotel's expansion project (they're planning to build some overwater bungalows) and how the demographics of the guests have changed over the years. In the room, we realized we were both quite sunburned, apparently just from the time on the front of the boat and on the beach, which couldn't have been more than 1 hour combined. The rest of the time we were under water or in the shade on the boat. We commented "the f*cking sunburn was worth it." We watched videos, and tried to catch up on the trip log, since we were worried that unlike other trips, the days here could easily all blend together. We went down to bar for one drink and a small dinner, then came upstairs and crashed.