Palau, in Micronesia, is one of the world's premiere diving destinations, yet when I first went there in 1973 only the efforts of a talented native named Francis Toribiong enabled me to dive there at all. He used his and a relative's boats and tanks, got a compressor to work (we never asked too many questions about the filters) and got us to the dive sites.
At the time, Continental Airlines was in the earliest years of serving these widely-scattered coral atolls. Many dubbed the airline's service "The Pony Express," and everything about it had that same pioneering spirit--and the unpredictability of being at the far end of the world with a slender supply line.
Palau's diving and scenery were a revelation, with its beautiful Floating Garden Islands eroded by the sea, its protected waterways, and the sheer splendor of its dive sites. Blue Corner, which Francis had found, ranks even today among the very most exciting places to dive.
Peleliu, which in those days was considered quite dangerous due to strong currents, has become another world-class dive now experienced by many thousands. Those of us who wandered out there then were like Astronauts exploring the Moon.
I began publicizing Francis' dive shop 'Fish n Fins,' and sent many groups there over the years. The advent of some well-organized and resourceful Israeli friends shifted the entire emphasis into live-aboard diving.
First one boat, then two, now a veritable Navy of dive boats enables visitors to enjoy as much diving as they can safely do. The walls, the caverns, the sharks, the schooling fish, the turtles, the soft coral colonies gleaming in the shallows as they are laved by the currents flowing in and out of the lagoon--justly famous, and a mecca for those who love marine life.
For more on what diving in Palau is like, here's a story on the first Ocean Hunter and a YouTube video on Micronesia.