Location: Southwest side of Ngemelis Island and Northwest of German Channel
Distance from Koror: 24 miles (39 km). 40 to 50 minutes by speedboat.
Level of Diving Experience: Novice.
Diving Depth Summary: 3 to 120 feet (1 to 40 meters)
Visibility: 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30meters) depending on the direction of the tides.
Currents: Moderate to none.
General Information: Big Drop Off is a popular lunch and snorkel location, take care when surfacing and listen for the sound of speedboats overhead. Use a safety sausage for your protection.
Reef Formation: Big drop off is a sheer vertical wall, which runs along the whole length of Ngemelis Island. At extreme low tide, the entire top of the reef will be exposed. The edge of the reef drops straight down to 900 feet (274 meters)!
Marine life: Pyramid Butterflyfish, Square Anthias, Moorish Idols, Sargent Major's, Yellowtail Fusiliers are among the myriad of fish found all along the edge and top of the reef. Blue Face, Regal, and Emperor Angelfish are easily spotted. Dwarf angelfish, such as Coral Beauty, Keyhole, and Gray's dart in and around the coral heads at the top of the reef. Clarki, and Blue Stripped Clownfish with their host anemones are also scattered along the reef. Hawksbill Turtles like to feed and rest at the top of the reef. Turtles can be approach if you move slowly. White Tip and Nurse Sharks sleep on the sandy bottom.
Diving: The dive will start from one of two buoys depending on which direction the current is flowing. This beautiful wall should be seen from both directions. Drop down in the clear water to about 40 to 60 feet (12 to 18 meters) and drift with the current. Should the current should change simply pick another depth and continue back in the direction you started. Sea fans of all sizes jut out from the wall and make excellent background for spectacular photo ops. Soft corals whose colors range from deep violet to hot pink are everywhere. Schools of Pyramid Butterfly fish and Square Anthias forage for plankton just a few feet from the wall. Keep an eye out for Gray Reef, White Tip, and solitary Leopard sharks that patrol back and forth along the drop off. Leather corals are very abundant in some areas they hide the underlying reef substrate. If you have a good eye for details you may be able to spot Leaf fish, Stonefish and the venomous Lionfish, so ornately camouflaged that they seem to melt into the rocks. As you do your 15-foot (3 meter) safety stop, drift along the top edge of the reef and marvel at all the colorful reef fish that dart in and out of the coral heads.
Fascinating Facts: Big Drop Off, just what the name implies is “really big”. About 30 feet (10 meters) from the mooring buoy to the east at 35 feet (12 meters) a large chain connected to a 6 foot (2 meter) steel sphere can be seen. This chain and ball was used during WWII to prevent the Japanese from entering the waterway leading to German Channel. Lieutenant Barnum from the US Navy conducted the Operation. The chain and ball on Big Drop Off was a mystery for 40 years until newly appointed Admiral Barnum returned to Palau in 1986 and told his story.