I have been diving there for more than 30 years so if you don't find an answer please email me. Here's some general info on Chuuk for you, in no particular order:
-Water Temperatures: Identical to Guam. There are always tiny "no see-ums" (jellyfish or hydroids) so a full thin skin suit is highly recommended. This is particularly true when swimming through passageways or inner structures as there are many (like thousands) of hydroids that cling to the bulkheads (walls). They sting!
-Must items to bring: a good rain jacket and a dry bag. A good bright dive light with a wide beam is extremely useful when going inside the passageways and engine rooms. If you have a water bottle bring it also.
-Bring your c cards and nitrox cards. Nitrox is optional and most people only use it for the 3rd dive each day.
Additional fees? -There is a Truk departure fee of $20 payable in cash at the airport when you leave. There is a $30 dive permit and both of these will be paid there in cash. There is also a 5% general tax on diving activities but this has been included in your package. Any additional purchases you do there will be subject to this tax.
-If you are diving with Blue Lagoon you might be making a few land tours between dive and have your lunch on a small island. If you're diving with Truk Stop you'll return to the hotel for lunch.
-How long are the boat trips? The trips from the dive shop to the wrecks are about 20-45 minutes.
-Definitely bring a camera for both u/w and land. A good side angle lens wall do wonders here for u/w shots. Great mast shots.
-WILL MY CELL PHONE WORK ON PALAU(CHUUK, YAP, ETC)? The answer to this depends very much on your phone and your service provider. The easiest way to find out for sure if your phone will work at your destination - Call your service provider!
How much extra money to bring? Lots of travel tips are here..
DIVING THE SHIPS:
Dive Boats have dry wells and cold water containers with cups. You'll be diving in "open boats" that have a roof cover on them, but chances are very good that you'll get wet either due to a rain storm and/or when the boat is going into 2-3 ft waves.
The best wrecks in the 20-135' range are the Fujikawa Maru, Shinkoku Maru, Nippo Maru, Yamigiri Maru, Heian Maru and the Sankisan Maru. All of these except the Nippo have a heavy coral covering also. Most have "operating" dive depths are between 60-90 ft. The Nippo is a "purists" wreck dive. A minimum of 2 dives should be made on the Fuji and Shinkoku. The advantages to all the wrecks is that the boat are anchored right above them so minimal "swim time" is needed to get to them. See drawings of the wrecks here.
-The San Francisco Maru, considered one of the best wrecks in the lagoon, is 140-170' and is a deco dive. It can be done on a single 80 with about a 20 min bottom time IF you are reasonably good on air. They also have 100cuft tanks for this dive. A safety tank is taken down to the wreck, and other tanks are hung underneath the boat.
-If you want to dive on a warships there are only two within normal dive ranges. Neither of these can be penetrated. You can dive on the Fumitzuki destroyer for one dive and the Shinkoku Maru is very close to it. The I-169 submarine is also very close to the hotel and can be a first dive followed by another ship.
TIP: If you dive over the bow or the stern on the Fujikawa or Shinkoku Maru's you and go down to the sand (125') you can get some great upward shots. Do this at the start of the dive. Huge propeller at the stern, and you can swim UNDER the bow and stand on the bottom and "hold" the ship up. Makes a neat picture.
Between dives: -Bring a small amt of cash ($5) on the boat if you visit Param Island. This is close to the Shinkoku and Yamagiri/Kanscho/Kiosumi and they have many Japanese zeros in 3 ft of water that you can walk to. This is a neat little side adventure to go on. You can also take other land tours walking around Tonowas or climbing to the top of Eten island between dives. You can even visit Survivor island Truk. This little island can be done on the same day as you dive either the Fumnitsuki or the Shinkoku Maru.
-You can also snorkel between dives on a shallow Japanese Zero off of Eten island.
-Four wrecks on 2 tanks. There are two planes, the Emily Flying Boat and the Betty Bomber that are very close to each other. You can use only one tank and make a 10 min dive on the Betty Bomber (60'), and then move to the Emily( 30-45) 'and make another 10 min dive. This is normally done after you make your second dive of the day.
We have lots of videos from our TV series here to make you drool over the wrecks. Included in the videos are the Fujikawa, Shinkoku, Nippo, Fumitsuki, I-169 Submarine, and a shark dive on the Odyssey.
This will give you a good overview of the diving there
Don't be a "that's not the way WE do it where I come from" traveler! In other words, keep a low and smiling profile and don't draw attention to yourself. You are traveling to experience other islands, countries, culture and traditions. Coping an attitude is the fastest way to make your life miserable and very possibly all the others that are traveling with you.
Q: What should you generally plan on bringing? Remember that you're going to a warm climate.
-Raincoat for sure. When it rains and you're on an open boat you'll get cold.
-A light weight jacket. If you get sun burned you'll appreciate this on the boat or at night.
-If you're a coffee, tea, or soup drinker, bring along a heater coil (you can get em on Ebay) or a small coffee pot/water heater along with a packet or two of your favorite thing to heat up. Make sure it can handle the the voltage in the location you are going.
-A small first aid kit. Nothing fancy but make sure you have sun screen. A small can of powder. Tylenol and motrin. If you have a tender stomach bring something to keep it calm and peaceful. Nuff said
-Lots of T-shirts and shorts. A hat. Sun glasses.
-mask defogger and sudafed.
-A blow up travel pillow. Dirt cheap on Ebay.
-A few large and small trash bags. Very useful for packing clothes in dive bags and storing smelly things when returning. These also make emergency rain jackets (island style rain coats) by making holes for your head and arms.
Q: Do you have to have a passport? Absolutely. There are NO other options and they must be valid for 180 days after your trip return. Make sure, REPEAT, make sure that the name on your travel tickets exactly matches your passport and you're picture looks like you now. Some have been sent back because their names didn't match.
Q: What happens when you get to your destination? In Micronesia there will be a representative from the dive company and / or the hotel to meet you at the airport. If it's a hotel rep make sure that you call the dive company when you get there even if you have a travel voucher.
If it's to any other area it will depend upon who is booking your trip to get you this info. If you are doing it on line send them an email asking if there's airport service or not. Remember to get the local phone number of the hotel/dive operator and the name of the driver or transportation company that will pick up up.
Q: Can you use Frequent Flyer Miles? You may be able to use your frequent flyer miles IF you book far in advance. Check with the airline. A travel agent, such as MDA, cannot book your ticket using your miles.
Q: What about weight restrictions? This totally depends upon what airline you are using, what class your flying in and what their luggage policies are. Most airlines now charge for an additional bag and they also have a weight restriction on bags.
Also make sure you check to see if the airline has a "sports gear" allowance or program that you can join.
Cebu Pacific and Philippine airlines also have sports programs. If you're booking on line DON'T book the cheapest fares. These are non refundable if you want to cancel. Go one level up.
NOTE: Make sure your bags are clearly marked with your name and address with something else beside the luggage tag. A lot of bags look alike so make your's distinctive.
Q: Should you take your gear or rent it at the destination? If you have your own gear I'd take itbe cause you're comfortable with it and know that it works. A dive vacation is not the place to be familiarizing yourself with rental gear. However, most of the rental gear I've seen has been pretty good.
Don't take your weights unless you have some weird sized ones that fit your super customized private weight belt.
Q: Are there any extra costs that you should expect? Yes, but these will vary between destinations. Some charge dive permit fees, a specific activity fee (like whale shark expeditions) and some airport fees. If you're going to the Philippines you'll be hit up for domestic departure fees, airport use fees, and intl departure fees. All together, that's about $50. Bring enough green cash to cover these. And shopping. Almost everyone shops.
Q: What's the water temperature? Each island has its own special features that make it unique. Diving in the west pacific region is known for its abundance of marine life and the diversity of species, cultural appeal and usually have warm tropical temperatures ranging from 79 to 85 degrees. BUT you can also encounter lower temperatures down to 72 degrees.
At every island the water temps are lower from Dec-March (except Australia) so make sure you ask the dive operator that you're booking with what they are.
A skin (.5mm wet suit) or rash guard will usually do the trick for water temps above 80 degrees. For any temps between 76-80 a 2-3mm suit will keep you warm, but I'd also bring alone a slip over rash guard or something similar. Below that think 5mm. You DON'T want to get cold diving. Consider that you'll be making multiple dives in a very short time frame so KEEP WARM! Most dive operators also rent wet suits.
Q: What are "no seeums"? Diving in plankton rich waters has it's side effects. "No seeums" are very tiny, almost invisible, stinging organisms that you'll occasionally run into. If you are diving with only a swim suit your exposed skin areas are very susceptible. I highly recommend at least a skin suit or rash guard even if you don't get cold.
Q. What is the policy for "tipping" the guides and hotel staff? Tipping is up to each person and your personal experience at the location. No destinations in Micronesia or the Philippines require that you tip anyone. Some hotels or dive operators already have a built in gratuity in their price, particularly food, so it's best to ask the hotel manager or their rep what the policies are.
I recommend $7-10 per day for your boat crew and this includes the dive guide. It's customary to put your tip into an envelope and give to their supervisor prior to leaving the resort. You can get envelopes at the front desk.
At most places hotel staff tips are divided equally. Feel free to ask the front desk if you have any questions.
Q. How much cash money should you bring? It's best to assume that you are going somewhere very remote and access to ATM's and banks will be difficult. We recommend that you bring a minimum of $300 cash with you. Dive permits and entry or departure taxes are always paid in cash.
Not all restaurants / hotels accept credit cards, so please be prepared. Yap has NO ATM's. Pohnpei has ONE. So it is better to have cash with you. Do not rely on the hotel / resort for a cash advance, there is no guarantee that they can provide this service for you. Major credit cards accepted are Master Card and Visa, and sometimes American Express.
If you're going to the Philippines, you can convert dollars to pesos right in the airport.
Q. What about bringing prescription medicines or alcohol into a country or island? For medicines there is usually no problems. A good tip is to label everything you have and what it's for on a separate piece of paper to show customs if they have any questions. Some areas ban bringing in alcohol or cigarettes, however dive bags are rarely checked if you are going to a primary dive destination.
Q. What about bringing camera gear into a country or island? Again, there is usually no problem with this if you are not a professional photographer or videographer. If you are a professional at some areas you can expect to pay a "duty" or "photographers permit fee". It will be high.
Specifically in Asian countries, don't look like a photographer. A point and shoot is fine, but anything bigger could draw attention to you. Don't walk around any airport and take a lot of "general" pictures. Hi mom and dad shots are fine. Make a list of all cameras and lenses that you have along with their serial numbers. Put rechargeable batteries in your checked luggage, not in your hand carried bags. Wrap them in a zip lock bag.
Bring back up batteries as most smaller islands do not have everything you may need. Come prepared.
Q. What about the voltage and chargers? All of the Micronesian islands have standard 120vac 60 hz just as we do on Guam. In other countries they usually have 220-240vAC 50hz outlets. The Philippines uses the same wall outlets that we have here, but there is no 3rd ground plug so if you have a 3 prong cord then you can easily buy an adapter at any hardware store.
Almost all electronics will operate on 220-240 but look at the label on them to verify this. NOTE: A 120v charger strip will last about 2 seconds if you plug it into a 240v wall plug. You'll smell it when it happens! Most resorts in the Philippines have special adapters or charging areas that you can use at no charge.
If you have any questions at all please don't hesitate to call us and we hope you have a great trip.