Is a dive liveaboard necessary to experience the best wreck diving in the world?
There’s nowhere else in the world where there are so many wrecks that are so tightly packed into a coral reef lagoon. Not only that, you’ll experience sharks, rays and turtles, plus corals and coral fish like you would in any other tropical coral reef dive.
Truk Lagoon – the history
Truk Lagoon’s name was changed to Chuuk Lagoon in 1990. However, many scuba divers and resort operators still refer to it as Truk Lagoon. This is the name that is synonymous with what created this Mecca for wreck divers.
If you want to find out more about what happened at Truk Lagoon in World War II in 1944, please read this article – What happened at Truk Lagoon in 1944.
What happened at Truk Lagoon in brief
But in brief, the reason why there are so many World War II wrecks in Chuuk Lagoon is because they were sunk by the Americans during Operation Hailstone in 1944. Chuuk Lagoon, or Truk Lagoon at the time, was being used by the Japanese Navy.
During World War II Operation Hailstone targeted these Japanese ships. Of all the wrecks, only three of them were actually battle ships. Two were destroyers and one was a submarine, the I-169 Submarine.
The rest of these ships were mostly troop and cargo carriers. Many of which still have their cargos inside their holds for divers to explore. The artefacts include ammunition and various wartime equipment and vehicles. This includes battle tanks and lorries, all of which can be seen by divers of Chuuk Lagoon.
These wrecks were first explored by Jacques Cousteau and his crew in 1969. Cousteau and his team created a documentary about the ghost ships of Truk Lagoon. They documented and filmed the human remains they found, which can still be seen today.
Truk Lagoon diving liveaboard
There are mixed views as to whether you need to dive Truk Lagoon on a liveaboard or not. To understand the arguments of resort diving Truk Lagoon vs a Truk Lagoon diving liveaboard, let’s take a look at the usual liveaboard diving vs resort diving pros and cons and apply them to Truk Lagoon.
Truk Lagoon or it’s current name, Chuuk Lagoon, is certainly not a dive liveaboard-only dive destination.
You can certainly get to most if not all the Truk Lagoon wrecks from the land-based resorts. This can be done almost as easily as you can from a liveaboard boat.
The reason why Chuuk Lagoon is so popular for divers who love wreck diving is because of the many wrecks there. But not only that, it’s loved even more because of the close proximity of these wrecks.
The close proximity of this ghost fleet is as a result of how many Japanese ships were sunk in such a short space of time by the American Forces. Most wrecks were sunk over a 36 hour window. Many of them were still at anchor at the time.
It’s this close proximity of the wrecks and how close they are to the Chuuk Islands where dive resorts are based, that make it possible to scuba dive the wrecks from land-based dive boats with ease.
You are a family
If you have a family or if your partner is a non-diver, then diving Truk Lagoon from a diving liveaboard may not be the right option. There’s no problem in checking into a resort like the Blue Lagoon Resort and enjoying the wrecks of Chuuk on day boats.
The reviews on Trip Advisor about the Blue Lagoon resort are mixed. It’s certainly not Five Star, but if you’re looking for somewhere to relax between dives it is good for that.
But as the main attraction is the wreck diving, the fact that The Blue Lagoon resort is at best Three Star doesn’t seem to matter to veteran scuba divers who are there for the wreck diving.
There’s not much too much to do on the Islands. There are also mixed messages about how safe they are too. Some recommend you don’t leave the safety of the resort, whereas others say it’s safe.
There is a museum to visit, which helps to provide extra background and history to what happened at Truk Lagoon back in February 1944.
Limited divers on dive sites visited by diving liveaboards
Whilst Chuuk Lagoon is known as the Mecca for wreck divers, it’s not a place where you’ll see an over-crowding of divers.
Unlike places like the Red Sea in Egypt where shore-based dive sites can get a bit overcrowded, this is not likely to happen with the wrecks at Truk Lagoon. This is even true with the wrecks that are easier to get to by day-boat.
This is because, whilst Truk Lagoon is a bucket list dive destination for many scuba divers, it isn’t the easiest of places to get to. Its also more expensive to dive and reach than most dive destinations. These factors make Truk Lagoon less accessible to many and keeps the numbers of divers lower than other more visited dive locations.
The usual benefit of getting to the more remote dive sites by liveaboard that are usually too far off shore for day boats to reach doesn’t apply to Truk Lagoon.
Relaxation between dives
The luxury of relaxing between dives on a liveaboard is certainly true at Truk Lagoon. Whereas if you’re on a day-boat, you are either zooming back to your resort for lunch or you’ll be staying out on the water in a smaller boat than all the liveaboard boats.
With a Truk Lagoon liveaboard you’ll be able to get up early for your first dive before breakfast. This will be followed by breakfast served on the boat.
Whereas with a day boat, you’ll have your breakfast at the resort and then be taken to your first wreck of the day after this.
The option to dive more times on a dive liveaboard vs resort diving
This argument is debatable, as some choose to dive 3-4 and I’ve even read some doing up to five dives per day in Truk Lagoon.
The Truk Lagoon diving depths are mostly very deep, with the deepest wrecks at well over 50 metres (164 feet). That means that you are probably unlikely to be diving without going into decompression stop time on at least one of your dives per day.
It is therefore not recommended to dive more than twice in a day where this is the case. I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing more than two decompression stop dives per day.
Some may argue this point with me. But I certainly wouldn’t do more that two really deep dives per day, as I value my life!
If your preference is to go all-inclusive, this is what you’ll get on the two liveaboards that are detailed below.
However, if you choose to stay at the Blue Lagoon Dive resort, meals are not included and are paid for separately.
This is what I love about liveaboard diving. You can get up early before breakfast and do your first dive. This is followed by a hearty breakfast. Then you get served lunch and dinner in between your other dives, relaxation and snorkeling time.
Mixing with like-minded people
There’s no doubt that diving from a liveaboard is the best way to go if you’re keen to mix with like-minded people. Whenever I’ve dived from a liveaboard, there’s always been a great atmosphere on-board, as nearly everyone is a diver.
Whilst you get a certain amount of this in a dive resort, it’s not the same as it is on a liveaboard boat.
Diving liveaboards tend to be more expensive
Many times liveaboard boats tend to be more expensive than diving resorts, although this will depend on the resort you stay at, and the liveaboard you choose for that matter.
However, what you need to consider when looking at this extra cost is that all meals are included on a liveaboard. There’s also the convenience factor of being close to the wrecks and not having the hassle of going back and forth to the resort each day.
Are these worth the extra cost? Only you’ll be able to answer that question.
Truk Lagoon diving liveaboards available for diving
The Truk Master liveaboard
Liveaboard dive boat the Truk Master is 37 metres (121 feet) in length and operates year round diving trips to Truk Lagoon.
The dive deck, which is located at the back of the middle deck, offers each diver an individual setup station. At each guest’s station, there’s an under-bench for storing your personal gear.
Like most liveaboards, there’s also a central camera station for setting up your gear with dedicated rinse tanks.
As you’d expect for these deep dives in Truk Lagoon, all of the dive tanks on the Truk Master are 15 litre steel tanks. However, if you prefer a 12 litre tank, these can be ordered in advance.
If you would prefer to twin-up two 12 litre tanks as a twin-set, which is my preference for deep diving, this is also an option too.
However, many divers who are keen to dive the deeper wrecks in Chuuk Lagoon use a rebreather instead.
The Truk Master liveaboard caters for up to a maximum of 16 guests. She has 8 cabins, each with individually controlled AC units and en-suite bathrooms. Some of the cabins are twins, whereas others have double beds with a single bed too.
Relaxation areas consist of an indoor lounge & bar with comfortable seating. There’s a plasma screen with an entertainment system, a spacious indoor dining area, and a shaded outdoor seating area with sundeck.
Truk Master reviews
The reviews of Truk Master rate her 9.1 stars out of 10. Mark from the United States rated his experience as 10 out of 10 – Exception:
‘Overall very good experience – Wrecks top notch, friendly crews.Mark from the USA rating the Truk Master
To find the latest prices and to book the Truk Master please follow this link: Truk Master liveaboard.
SS Thorfinn Liveaboard
The SS Thorfinn Liveaboard is 58 metres (190 feet) in length and a very comfortable boat to dive from. This diving liveaboard can take up to 22 guests and is crewed by 22, making it a 1:1 ratio of crew to guests.
It’s important to note that the SS Thorfinn liveaboard is permanently moored within a sheltered central wreck anchorage. Which means dives are able to dive the wrecks immediately around the SS Thorfinn. But to reach the other Chuuk Lagoon wrecks, this is done using twin engine 150hp 9.75 metre (32 feet) launches.
That level of service has to be paid for, so she’s not the cheapest liveaboard trip you can book. But then again, Truk Lagoon is a once in a lifetime bucket list trip for most, so why not do it in style.
There are 10 air-conditioned cabins on-board the SS Thorfinn, each of which have en-suite bathroom facilities. Each of the cabins is equipped with in-room facilities, TV and DVD player and a full length closet.
She has five decks, so there’s plenty of room for relaxation aboard the SS Thorfinn Liveaboard.
On the ‘C’ deck there’s a comfortable and spacious salon. Here divers can enjoy a 50” multi-system LED TV and DVD player, a CD player with iPod connection and 6 speaker surround sound system.
There’s a library on-board, which includes a range of Fish ID reference books, comfortable seating area and fully stocked bar make this a popular guest area. For further relaxation there’s also a sun deck for those sun-worshipers among you. But even better, there’s also a Spa deck, which has a 12 person Jacuzzi.
The dining lounge is on deck ‘D’ where you’ll be served a varied menu throughout the day chosen by the two on-board chefs.
SS Thorfinn reviews
Reviews of the SS Thorfinn rate this 9.4 out of 10 which is an overall ‘Superb’.
James from the United Kingdom rated his experience as 9.2 out of 10 – Superb:
‘The place to go for wreck diving – I stayed on the boat for 8 days diving 4 wrecks every day, and when I left there were still many we had not seen, I was Tech diving but other diver where mostly recreational level, the wreck are at all depth so OK for all diver but some of the deeper ones were 60+ m so having deco cylinder helped reduce the deco times. The boat was moored while we were on it, which worked well as she is mored close to the main wreck and has fast Dive boat to take you to the dive site, we were comfortably doing 4 dived per day with meals or snack waiting between dives. The captin Lance was a working history book of the area which added to the interest.’James from the UK reviewing SS Thorfinn
To find out the latest prices and to book the SS Thorfinn Liveaboard please follow this link: SS Thorfinn Liveaboard.
How to get to Truk Lagoon and map of the wrecks
If you want to know how to get to Truk Lagoon, this article will help: How to get to Truk Lagoon. Plus to see the location of the Truk Lagoon Wrecks on a map, please follow this link to: Truk Lagoon wreck map.
I hope you enjoyed this article about what is Truk Lagoon diving liveaboard
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Have fun and be safe!