If you don't love wrecks, you will after you dive here seriously. The wrecks themselves are accessible in relatively shallow, warm and clear water.

There's history, great fish life and many of the wrecks are adorned with lush coral. There's something for everybody diving here but the scale of these ships and their history will capture your imagination.

Truk Lagoon

Destination Review: Truk Lagoon (Chuuk) Diving

First Thoughts

Operation Hailstone happened February 17-18, 1944 in Truk Lagoon in what is today the Federated States of Micronesia. The US Navy launched a massive naval air attack on Japanese naval and air bases in Truk Lagoon which was one of the most important bases for the Japanese Imperial Navy in WWII. The result of those airstrikes is over 40 dive sites consistently mostly of Japanese merchant ship with a few planes and warships thrown in. It widely is considered the MacDaddy of wreck diving in the entire world with good reason and only Scapa Flow or Bikini Atoll rival it. You can swim through many of the structures, wiggle down into engine rooms, cruise through galleys, hospital rooms, bathrooms and more. On many of the ships, many of the artifacts are still well preserved but these slowly are beginning to disappear. Even if you are not into wrecks trust us, you should consider Truk Lagoon. This underwater shipyard is a marine life oasis on a sandy bottom. The soft corals and fish life that has taken up residence on these ships are abundant.

Why We Think Truk Lagoon (Chuuk) Rocks or Doesn’t

This is wreck diving heaven did we already say that? It’s really that cool and as you move along the wrecks have a real sense of the significant historical event that happened here only 50 years ago. It doesn’t get any easier than diving from the Odyssey.

Things that Rock

  1. amazing wreck diving
  2. easy diving
  3. great combo with Palau or Yap
  4. history at your fingertips

Things that Don’t

  1. not a whole lot to do on land
  2. it’s a schlep to get here
  3. Chuukese people are not warm

The Diving

The draw of the wrecks in Truk Lagoon (Chuuk) is that they are relatively shallow with some coming almost to the surface, the water is calm and relatively clear because it is in a vast lagoon, the vessels are well preserved, they have a number of artifacts on them and the diving is, in general, easy.

These are BIG ships with some exceeding 600 in length. There is plenty to explore. Remember that Maru means merchant vessel.

Halfway through the week, you’ll go outside the reef for a couple of dives to Pizou Reef where the Odyssey conducts a shark feed that draws in gray reef sharks and couple of large silvertip sharks. This is an interesting dive and a good break from the wreck diving.

You can dive Truk Lagoon either land based or from a live aboard dive boat. Our strong recommendation is to go on the Odyssey. The one decent hotel on land has gone through management again and again and its quality is questionable. We found the food there to be mediocre as well. The boats from the Blue Lagoon dive shop are small and the ride to dive sites is very wet, especially if the water is choppy. The run to wrecks in the outer lagoon is long.

The Odyssey is less a live aboard dive boat but acts more like a floating hotel. Its spends almost the entire week in the lagoon so motion is never an issue and it actually ties up to the wrecks so dive tenders or zodiacs aren’t even necessary. You simply step off the back of the ship. It really doesn’t get easier than that. The Odyssey was formerly a (very) small cruise ship from the Blue Lagoon fleet in Fiji and as such is large for a live aboard dive boat.

The wrecks of Truk Lagoon (Chuuk)

Hoki Maru– While the bridge and midships were destroyed but there is cool stuff in the holds including a steam roller, dump trucks, flat bed trucks and tractors. Stuff you’d never expect to be at 100 feet!

Nippo Maru- This ship has the most photogenic bridges, helm and telegraph. On board is also a battle tank, light anti-tank guns and trucks.

Shinkoku Maru- This is a very popular wreck because it’s very shallow so you can spend lots of time enjoying the immense amount of soft corals, anemones and other fish life this wreck has to offer with the superstructure at 40 feet and the deck at only 65. It has an errie sick bay with bottles still lined up on the shelves and a bow gun loaded with corals.

San Francisco Maru- One of the deepest dives in the lagoon, this dive should be done as a planned deco-dive with the superstructure at 150ft and the bottom at 200. Because of its depth it is one of the least dived and is often called the million dollar wreck because of all the stuff still on it like mines, torpedos, bombs, aircraft engines, trucks and tanks.

Fujikawa Maru– The draws to this wreck are numerous including the abundant soft corals and fish life. As well, the stern and bow guns make great photo subjects and in hold #2 you’ll find Zero fighter planes….whoa!

Betty Bomber. If you start to jones for something besides ships, the Betty Bomber is a fun little plane in only 60ft of water. She’s in a few pieces but it’s fun to pick around the fuselage and get photos in the pilot seat!

Pizion Reef. Diving in Truk lagoon is the pinnacle of wreck diving. Visibility in the lagoon averages 60-70 ft. It’s fun once during the week to get outside the lagoon and dive on a lovely reef with exceptional visibility and lots of sharks. It’s a nice mid-week change.

Our Favorite Things to Do Out of the Water

We believe in Surf and Turf checking out the best of underwater AND on land. It just so happens that most of the worlds best SCUBA diving destinations have other amazing things going for them in addition to kick ass diving. Don’t miss it.
– on a number of the islands, there are former WWII installations, buildings and emplacements

Seasonality

The best time to travel to Truk (Chuuk) is in the dry season between December and April. During the rainy season the heaviest rains tend to fall between July and October. Water temperature is a balmy 82-84 year round.

Overall

If you like wreck diving, you’ll be in heaven here. There may be no better wreck diving in the world as the wrecks are remarkable intact and shallow enough to be accessible without technical diving skills. The relatively shallow depths also mean that you can spend some time exploring the wrecks. If you don’t like wreck diving, this probably isn’t the place for you. With that said, prior to coming to Truk Lagoon, I wasn’t much of a self proclaimed wreck diving fan (although I’ve dived on a lot of wrecks) but was a little blown away by how cool it really was in Truk Lagoon. Use the Odyssey as your floating hotel for the ultimate in convenience and plan on getting over to Palau, Yap or one of the other Micronesian Islands if you’re going to come this far.

Sharkman and Mantagirl give Truk Lagoon (Chuuk)

Two Fins UP

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The adventure life comes basically in diving in Truk. This location is a divers paradise with little land opportunities. Here are some of our favorite scuba diving in Truk Lagoon. Marud (meaning merchant vessel).

    1. Fujikawa Maru- The draws to this wreck are numerous including the abundant soft corals and fish life. As well, the stern and bow guns make great photo subjects and in hold #2 you’ll find Zero fighter planes….whoa!

    1. Hoki Maru- While the bridge and midships were destroyed but there is cool stuff in the holds including a steam roller, dump trucks, flat bed trucks and tractors. Stuff you’d never expect to be at 100 feet!

    1. Nippo Maru- This ship has the most photogenic bridges, helm and telegraph. On board is also a battle tank, light anti-tank guns and trucks.

    1. Shinkoku Maru- This is a very popular wreck because it’s very shallow so you can spend lots of time enjoying the immense amount of soft corals, anemones and other fish life this wreck has to offer with the superstructure at 40 feet and the deck at only 65. It has an errie sick bay with bottles still lined up on the shelves and a bow gun loaded with corals.

  1. San Francisco Maru- .One of the deepest dives in the lagoon, this dive should be done as a planned deco-dive with the superstructure at 150ft and the bottom at 200. Because of its depth it is one of the least dived and is often called the million dollar wreck because of all the stuff still on it like mines, torpedos, bombs, aircraft engines, trucks and tanks.
  2. Betty Bomber. If you start to jones for something besides ships, the Betty Bomber is a fun little plane in only 60ft of water. She’s in a few pieces but it’s fun to pick around the fuselage and get photos in the pilot seat!
  3. Pizion Reef. Diving in Truk lagoon is the pinnacle of wreck diving. Visibility in the lagoon averages 60-70 ft. It’s fun once during the week to get outside the lagoon and dive on a lovely reef with exceptional visibility and lots of sharks. It’s a nice mid-week change.

The dichotomy of life and death is everywhere in the wrecks of Truk (Chuuk) Lagoon. You can feel history as you swim through the ships. The gas mask next to an anemone or a broken tea cup with a chromis swimming in and out of it. It’s erie for sure, and fascinating. It’s one of the top wreck dive destinations of the world.

While it is possible to dive Truk land based, boat based is by far my preference for a number of reasons from everything from safety to convenience to luxury level. My yacht of choice is the Odyssey. Lenny and Kara Kolczynski put their heart and soul into this boat and it shows. They no longer run the boat on a day to day basis as they have just adopted two children and are enjoying life on land in Colorado but they are still at the helm of the company.

Diving from land at Truk involves long, wet rides to the dive sites and basic accommodations. Diving from a liveaboard allows you to stay on the wreck site all day for multiple dives, diving straight off the mother ship. For me, it really is the only way to dive the wrecks of Truk.

From http://www.trukodyssey.com/

Dive with Odyssey Adventuresto see the ghost fleet of Truk Lagoon, the worlds best shipwreck destination. That’s only the beginning of your adventure. You’ll see an abundance of incredible tropical fish, anemones, gorgonians and eagle rays.
The Odyssey, a 132 air-conditioned live-aboard vessel has spacious rooms, private ensuite facilities, and a large entertainment lounge. All meals and beverages are included and so is the nitrox. With small groups of only 16 guests, you’ll make friends quickly and forever.

Overall Feel of the Odyssey Liveaboard

The Odyssesy is a large vessel at 132 so having just 16 divers gives plenty of space. There is a large main salon with bar as well as a separate TV/movie room and camera area. Cabins are also quite spacious though the furnishings are not luxurious. The boat has a comfortable, welcoming feel and great public spaces.

Dive boat Spec Highlights

  1. 132 feet long for just 16 divers
  2. 24 foot beam
  3. Diving done from the mother ship
  4. Boat ties up directly to wreck so you’ll always find it!
  5. Separate entertainment area on board
  6. Spacious cabins and public areas
  7. 6 14x 8 cabins, 2 private single cabins and one double/bunk cabins 10 x 9
  8. Free nitrox

The Liveaboard Experience in Truk Lagoon

The wrecks of Truck lagoon were sunk in 1942 during operation Hailstorm. That means that they have been there for over 60 years rotting away. I think the time will come sooner rather than later that we start to see these ships deteriorate to a point of being unsafe to enter. At the moment there are many ships you can penetrate in Truk. My advice would be to go sooner rather than later.

As a diver, it is one of those must do places. I am not a wreck diver in my heart. I prefer the natural history to the human. On my first trip to Truk there was a group of testosterone boys who wanted nothing more than to get to the engine rooms. I kind of rolled my eyes and said, have at it, I’m going to see the fish. But after the first couple of dives, the ships themselves started to pique my interest and I found myself listening closer to the history lesson and paying more attention to where the trucks, planes and tanks were located. I started poking my head into engine rooms. I became fascinated with these wrecks. Don’t sell yourself short by saying you’re not into wrecks. I ate those words after my first trip!!!

The Boat

As mentioned, one of the Odysseys big advantages is size vs guest. At 132 she is quite spacious for 16 guests and has separate areas to get away. It can be quite annoying if you have a guy (sorry but it’s usually a guy) who wants to do nothing but watch bad movies at high volume when he’s not diving and there’s no way to get away from it and him! On the Odyssey, the TV room is separate from the main salon.

There are six large cabins and while they are not luxuriously appointed, the size feels good. They do not have large picture windows but that’s ok. The other three cabins are definitely smaller so be careful to book the cabin you want specifically.

The Odyssey had a refit in 2008 and I have not been on board since the refit.

Nitrox and alcohol is included in the still reasonable price of $2995 for 2010 with only $100 increase for 2011 and 2012. Do note that 5% tax is not included nor your $30 dive permit.

Food

The one disappointment for me on board was the food. I know that it is difficult to get a lot of supplies in Truk and I found myself wishing for things. For instance, I have no idea what is done with all the white meat chicken in Truk but it doesn’t seem to exist. Fresh veggies were also noticeable by their absence. However, for me, diving trumps all and I would rather have a great dive operation than haute cuisine. Of course both is nice!

The Operation

There are not many liveaboards these days that dive off the mothership. The Odyssey has a great advantage here. Except for one day of shark diving, all diving in Truk Lagoon is done….in the lagoon so it is mainly calm all the time. This means that the mother ship does not have to go and hide somewhere in a bay and run divers to the dive site by panga. They simply tie up to a mooring over the top of each wreck and you stay there for the day.

The water is clear enough that you can see the shadow of the wreck below you and as the boat swings over the wreck you simply giant stride off the back. You are free to dive on your own and explore the wrecks or ask a guide to take you. Profiles are simple as you work your way up and down the wreck and then up one of the mastheads into shallow water as your bottom time is used up. Then look up and wait for the Odyssey to swing over the top of you and grab the deco bar at 15 for your safety stop. The staff is on hand to help you at the dive deck with your gear and cameras when you surface. It just doesn’t get any better than this!

One day of the week, the Odyssey goes outside the lagoon into the clear blue water for a shark dive. It is well done and safe as the grey reefies and silvertips come in to feed. It’s nice to have one day in the clear clear water as the lagoon is typically in the 60 vis range.

Nitrox is included in your price and they blend to 30% to give you the MOD to get down to some of the deeper wrecks with longer bottom times. They are also set up for technical diving.

Briefings are very thorough on the Odyssey including the history of each wreck, where to and not to penetrate and where to find all the cool stuff.

Overall

If you want to dive Truk, dive the Odyssey. It’s a good, safe and honest company owned by a couple who have put their hearts into it. You are not going to find anything land based that’s comparable and barely suitable.