Palau, Pacific Perfection. Dreams do come true. The country of Palau in the Pacific Ocean is a vision of transparent azure oceans, rainbow-colored tropical fish, and hundreds of green-dotted islands. It is fantastically beautiful.
Palau is series of 300 plus islands is located in the Western Pacific Ocean and is part of Caroline Islands in Micronesia. It was settled 3,000 years ago when intrepid adventurers from the Philippines arrived to settle Palau. Today, it is an independent nation but in a free association with the United States. That means the US provides substantial financial support which includes social services and defense funding. Only 20,000 or so people call this country their home, making it the third least populated nation in the world.
I arrived in Palau late at night taking the once weekly fly by United from Yap to Palau (this flight unfortunately will be discontinued). My Airbnb host met me at the airport and brought me to my two bedroom apartment at the quiet end of a residential street. Palau is not a bargain destination, and the high-priced hotels led me to my Airbnb options at less than $70 a night.
My apartment was located in Koror, the biggest town, and former capital of Palau. Nearly half of the island’s population is gathered here. Melekeok, the capital, has less than 400 residents. Not exactly a hot spot. Koror offers a collection of restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels making it the most convenient spot for travelers.
But my main focus in Palau were the oceans. In fact, I did not have any time to explore the island or Koror with the exception of a cheeseburger at a takeaway greasy grill manned by some Filipino expats.
During my visit to Palau, the must-see experience in Palau was no longer available. Palau’s best known experience was swimming with countless and thankfully stingless jellyfish. At the time of my visit, all of these jellyfish had disappeared with several competing theories attempting to explain their disappearance. But excellent news, the jellyfish are back, so check out a day trip to jellyfish lake. Looks like I will have to go back!
I ended up working with Sam’s Tours which was a well-organized company with great guides and staff. My only complaint was the mediocre lunches. I took two full day tours with Sam’s, Nikko Bay and Risong Bay. I also took a tour to Rock Island which was coordinated by Sam’s but offered by another company. The tours are a combination of snorkeling and kayaking. These tours will set you back $125 per person (not including tip) but are all inclusive (pickup, water, food, snorkel equipment). Make sure you bring the typical sundries– sunscreen, hat, towel, and camera.
Spending three days on the water was a travel highlight for me. The natural beauty was unparalleled. The ocean was unbelievably clear, the coral alive and colorful, and the variety of fish amazing. Simply riding on the boat was a treat, passing verdant island after island on fantastically beautiful blue oceans bathed in the warm sun. While Palau is much more visited than Yap, at times I had the ocean to myself. My two tours with Sam’s I was one of three guests. When snorkeling or kayaking we were the only ones on the water. The tour to Rock Island was more touristic, seemingly moving in a pack of a half-dozen or so other boats.
Another pure enjoyment was flying my drone in Palau. Taking pictures and video from above added to the overall awesome experience.
Palau was a pure Pacific treat, I hope to visit once again. Palau, Pacific Perfection