Stuart and Michele Westmorland are a photographic team residing in Mill Creek, Washington. Their photo files are 70,000 pictures strong and have appeared in a variety of publications, including more than 100 magazine covers. Although Stuart and Michele gather images of all types, from travel to lifestyle, their first love and passion is diving and photographing the wonderful marine environment. From the cold waters of South Africa to dive with Great White Sharks to the gentle warm oceans of the South Pacific, the couple spends many months a year bringing interesting stories and photographs to readers. With a combined experience of more than 25 years, their curiosity to explore new diving territories never wanes. Find out more about the Westmorlands at

Day 1: Working Out the Kinks

Setting up the camera gear.
0800: After a late night arrival, we face the unglorified task of sorting through and setting up all the camera crap.

1200: Since we were waiting for our canoes to be delivered and the weather was fabulous, we chartered a small Cessna plane so we could get some aerial photographs of the islands. Michele hung the untethered digital camera (after all, it is borrowed) out the open door for a spectacular aerial view. It is easy to see why these unique islands were chosen for World Heritage Site status.

1600: We spent some frustrating hours trying to download software to unload images from the digital camera on our host's laptop computer. Plan B: We switch to a different computer and finally have some success.

1930: A full moon tonight, and the tides are favorable for one of the best night dives in Palau. We leave the dock just after dusk and are treated to a spectacular moonrise as we snake through the labyrinth of tiny islands on the 20-minute boat ride to the site. We arrive at a site called Buoy 6, where a small Japanese patrol boat rests in 80 feet of water. Sliding into wonderfully warm 83 degree (F) water, I can see the shape of the wreck clearly, bathed in dappled moonlight.

Michele makes friends with a macaque.
The soft corals rage luminously in shades of red, pink, orange and yellow. The walls of the wreck are adorned with fire-engine-red encrusting corals and Orange Cup Corals, which wave their brilliant tentacles to feed in the wash of the current. They seem to battle the soft and encrusting corals for precious surface space.

Michele gets to enjoy a fabulous dive, while five minutes into it my underwater housing water detector starts to screech. After cursing my way to a forced slow ascent, I spend my time salvaging my camera and trying to ignore the rave reviews from everyone aboard the boat. Fortunately, my water detectors sounded soon enough to avoid any permanent damage.

[Intro] [Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5]
Exploring with
Fish 'n Fins

Fish 'n Fins, the pioneer dive shop in Palau, offers a variety of activities: diving, snorkeling, hiking and canoeing. It offers a flexible itinerary and personalized service, as well as amenities on the dive boats, including toilet, shower and oxygen. Tova and Navot Bornovski are available every day to greet their guests and assure personal service.

Diving offers high voltage action at Blue Corner, gentle Giant Manta Rays at German Channel, historic WWII wrecks, mysterious jellyfish at Jellyfish Lake and the psychedelic mandarinfish at Fish 'n Fins Wall.

Tova and Navot with their outrigger canoe.

In between dives hikers can discover the rain forest's lush fauna, majestic waterfalls and historical and cultural sites. There is also good fishing available. Canoeing follows the traditions of old Palau, but with a western comfort. There are expeditions to Bat Caves, Yap's stone money quarry, an ancient sunken village, Rock Islands and mangrove channels.

For more information, please visit Fish 'n Fins' website at, e-mail or call (680) 488-2637, fax (680) 488-5418.

Staying at the Palau Pacific Resort

Palau Pacific Resort is one of the top-rated luxury resorts in Micronesia. Situated near a 1,000 foot white sand beach, it has every amenity you would expect of an award winning international resort.

Palau Pacific Resort.

The property features an array of leisure activities such as Splash, a PADI Five Star Dive Center, and Photo Palau, a full service photo and video center. Poolside is the center for watersports, including windsurfing, snorkeling, sailing or kayaking. There is a fitness center, outdoor tennis courts and guided hiking on a botanical nature trail.

For more information call (680) 488-2600, fax (680) 488-1606 or 1601. Check out the website at or send e-mail to