The international limelight brought with the tenth season of American reality television series Survivor has made Palau a holiday destination of choice. Often called the Jewel of the Pacific, Palau is rife with exotic plants and creatures, such as assorted birds of paradise, crocodiles, and orchids.
Palau’s 250 islands form a 643 kilometre-long island country; the western chain of the Caroline Island in the western Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Philippines. They are truly a breathtaking sight from the air, forming silhouettes of huge green mushrooms made of limestone coral reef.
Officially known as the Republic of Palau, it is freely associated with the United States, which oversees matters like defense and funding.
People & Culture
Palau is divided into 16 states with an individual clan system where Ngerulmud on the island of Babeldaob is Palau’s capital and Koror being the most inhabited. Palauans, a mixture of Melanesian, Micronesian, Austronesian, Japanese and Filipino descent, are hospitable and friendly.
Indigenous forms of ancestral and spiritual worship were replaced by Christianity when missionaries arrived on Palau. Today, 65 percent of the 21,000 Palauans are Roman Catholics while the remainder practise Christian denominations, Shinto, Buddhism and Chinese folk religions.
Things to do in Palau
Koror offers a selection of modern shopping facilities in Palau. Locally handicrafts can be found at markets and gift shops and storyboards, or carved portraits depicting historical or mythological Micronesian scenes onto pieces of wood, are Palau’s most well known art form. Wooden carvings of bai models, canoes and figurines called dilukai are also available as Palau souvenirs, together with hats and mats woven from pandanus leaves, baskets and jewellery.
The main island of Koror caters to a range of tastes, including Korean, Chinese and Western cuisine, which is preferred among the younger generation.
Palauan cuisine incorporates local foods like root vegetables, fish and pork. The nation’s Filipino immigrants spiced up the indigenous cuisine with their own. For a truly local mealtime experience, you can also partake in the chewing of betel nuts or try out refreshing alcoholic drinks made from the Kava plant and coconut.
What to prepare to go to Palau
Flights to Palau land at Airai, or Palau International Airport, which serves direct flights from Babeldaob to Guam, Seoul, Taipei and Manila. Tokyo-Narita has also been added to that list fairly recently, allowing connecting flights to many Asia-wide destinations and US cities. Chartered flights are available through various operators. A cruise to Palau would call at Malakal Harbour on the island of Malakal.