I’m picking out the footage I’ve gathered from New Drop Off, and it’s making me think just how incredible this site is. Just how many different aspects there are to it. It is like a more complex Blue Corner in many regards. New Drop Off is located about 2 miles South-East of Blue Corner; it is the first prominent reef jutting out into the ocean after the German Channel where Blue Corner is the second.
It gets similar currents as Blue Corner does, which means that the reefs are diverse, colorful and populated with a huge number of fish. Reef Hooks are needed. You can dive it on both incoming and outgoing tides, and sometimes you get both within the space of one dive.
The currents can be so strong that crazy down-steams occur as the water rushes over the reef and down into the depths. The currents and turbulence here are some of the most challenging I have experienced in Palau, so much, so they rival the great Peleliu for their ferocity.
Whether you jump in and start your dive from the incoming or outgoing side you are soon met by a large number of Pyramid Butterflyfish filling the blue void, countless numbers of fish and with them sharks and other predators like the Dog Tooth Tuna.
Hook and drift at New Drop Off
A gentle drift along the wall soon however turns to a hooking dive as the topography orientates to receive the full force of the current, and you gather along the wall crest and take in the view. The water at New Drop is often some of the clearest and bluest you can find in Palau and provides a backdrop for resident Blue-line Snappers. You can see Barracuda arriving and waiting patiently in a queue at a cleaning station or resting Green Turtles with their entourage of yellow shark suckers.
The reef plateau is convoluted and provides shelter in places for great macro opportunities, just watch out as Lionfish and Scorpionfish like to live here too. Along the wall Cottonmouth Jacks assemble with the Black Snappers riding the upwelling currents, through them the resident sharks fly almost effortlessly, circling out into the blue and returning to the wall for another ride.
It’s not just the regular plethora of animals here either. Now and then you are blessed by a passing Eagle Ray or Marlin. And at certain times of the year, (Dec- March) huge spawning aggregations of Orange-spine Surgeonfish gather for their annual life and death struggle to start the next generation.
Each animal is running the gauntlet as they are being harried and hounded by every Gray Reef Shark within 5 miles. While some people like to experience the sort of currents that leave your eyebrows permanently 3 inches further up your forehead, I prefer to experience New Drop Off when it’s in one of it’s less bullish moods.
While it might be fun to be hooked to a rock in a category five underwater hurricane, you can’t as a cameraman do anything other than just hang on for dear life. Even the sharks find it hard.
So I would rather wait, wait for the currents to die and especially to get this site as much to myself as I can. The coral life in the 20m range on this reef is incredible.
Large Gorgonians and anemones have flourished here, the schools of fish and lazy circling sharks share the reef with amorous Napoleon Wrasse and approachable Bumphead Parrotfish so rare in other parts of the World. Due to the insane currents and turbulence here most people stick to the areas of reef where these have the least effect, so by waiting for a slack tide suddenly new areas open up that are rarely visited.
Small groups and a flexible Divemaster will help you here, for this sort of thing, picking the very best times to visit and giving great pre-dive briefings.
I would advice diving new drop off more than once, you could easily dive it three times, incoming, outgoing, hooking or exploring the plateau, etc., there are plenty of different ways to do it.
Look out for Octopus in the shallows and also for rarities like Robust Pipefish in the sheltered gullies. Avoid the busy times and let the residents get back to their routines and resting places and you won’t be disappointed.
Would you like to dive New Drop Off with us? Then you should check out the different dive packages we offer. Please feel free to contact us directly if you would have any questions. We love to hear from you.