Palau's geography, land & climate-thumb

Palau’s geography, land & climate

Palau's geography, land & climate

PALAU’S GEOGRAPHY, LAND & CLIMATE

An archipelago consisting of some 340 coral and volcanic islands, Palau, Micronesia, is located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is 1,330 km from Guam, 650 km from New Guinea, and 890 km from the Philippines, with a huge barrier reef system encircling most of the archipelago.

The major populated islands are Babelthuap (Babeldaob), Koror, Malakal, Arakabesan, and Peleliu. The Kayangel Islands to the north of Babelthuap are sparsely populated, and the raised coral islands of Angaur, Sonsorol, Pulo Anna, and Tobi can be found south of Peleliu Palau.

Koror Island is the most densely populated of the islands, and home to Koror City. Koror City was at one time the capital of the country, and remains the largest population centre. It is located just 628 metres south of Babelthuap Island, home of Melekeok, the capital since October 2006.


The land

Most of Palau’s lands are contained within a lagoon, bordered by 115 km of barrier reef.
Babelthuap is the largest of the islands, at 396 square km of volcanic rock, mainly andesite. The landscape is thick mangrove forest, sandy beaches, and a mountain range (Ngerchelchuus) reaching as high as 242 metres. Babelthuap is a rolling upland of grassland and jungle.

Babelthuap and Koror are connected by a steel bridge, and Koror in turn is linked by causeway to Malakal Island, to Palau’s deepwater port, and to Arakabesan Island. This 18 square km connection plays a key role in Palau’s economy and infrastructure.

There are more than 300 verdant rock islands, uplifted reef structures of coralline limestone, in the 45 km lagoon linking southern Babelthuap and eastern Koror and Peleliu. Each of the islands is deeply undercut at sea level, with some towering up to 180 metres. A number of the islands have interior brackish lakes, connected to the lagoon by subterranean channels and home to unique organisms. There is plentiful plant growth on the rock islands.

The limestone islands have rich deposits of phosphate, and the more accessible of these have been mined. Both German and Japanese settlers extracted phosphate from Angaur, for example.

Coral islands sitting on volcanic substructures, the Kayangel Islands are 40 km north of Babelthuap, and Angaur is 10 km south of Peleliu. The tiny islands of Sonsorol, Pulo Anna, and Tobi are located 290 km southwest of the Palau archipelago.


The climate

Palau benefits from a tropical climate, seeing rainfall of 3,050 to 4,060 mm per year and fairly constant humidity, ranging from 77 to 84 percent.  Temperatures tend to hover around the low 80s °F (28 °C), with variations of plus or minus 10 °F (5.5 °C).  The monsoon season runs from June to October.

Despite lying just 48 km from the deep Palau Trench, the western boundary of the upthrusting Pacific Plate, Palau sees few earthquakes.

Palau is regarded as being among the world’s premier scuba-diving locations.


Plant and animal life

Palau’s tropical climate and marine environment play host to rich and abundant flora and fauna.  The country is home to more species of marine life than any other similar-sized region on earth.

Its marine life includes corals, fish, snails, clams, sea cucumbers, starfish, sea urchins, sea anemones, jellyfish, squid, and feather-duster worms.  Common flora includes beach morning glory, Polynesian ironwood tree, pandanus, and various species of palm and fern.

Beautiful exotic birds migrate through Palau twice annually, and on the ground are reptiles, amphibians, insects, and a unique frog that gives birth to live young.


 

PALAU’S GOVERNMENT & ECONOMY


A brief history of Palau

The ancient history of Palau, Micronesia remains visible on Babelthuap, with its large hillside terraces, stone ruins, and megaliths.  It is believed the islands were first settled between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago.

The islanders first contact with Westerners, however, occurred in 1783 after the shipwreck of the East India Company’s Antelope.  The islanders’ welcome was evidently warm and friendly, and the events were detailed in George Keate’s An Account of the Pelew Islands (1788).

For the next century, the islanders had many Western visitors, largely whalers and traders, some of whom left behind beachcombers and firearms.  They also brought with them unfamiliar diseases, some of which led to the deaths of infected islanders.  In addition, the firearms were utilised in intervillage warfare.

In the late 19th century, Britain, Spain, and Imperial Germany claimed ownership of the islands.  This dispute was mediated by Pope Leo XIII, who decreed that Palau should become part of the Spanish East Indies and economic concessions granted to Britain and Germany.

With this period of European colonisation came Roman Catholic missionaries and the beginning of Palau’s gradual transition from its traditional religions of ancestor worship and nature spirits to Christianity.

Germany was expelled by Japan at the beginning World War II, and then Japan itself lost control of the islands in World War II.  The Japanese administration is remembered as a time of economic development and order, albeit a period in which the native population was reduced to a tiny minority.

The Japanese expulsion was followed by a short spell of administration by the US Navy, before Palau joined the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands under US administration in 1947.

In 1981, Palau adopted its new constitution, modelled on the Constitution of the United States.  The country held its first elections and officially became internally self-governing the same year.  However, the first president, Haruo I Remeliik, was assassinated just four years later in 1985.  The term of his replacement, Lazarus E. Salii, then ended early, when Salii committed suicide in August 1988.  By the early 1990s, however, Palauan politics had stabilised.

The Compact of Free Association with the US was signed in 1982.  The Compact obliged the US to take responsibility for Palau’s external security and defense and to provide financial assistance.

However, it also gave the US permission to operate nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed vessels and aircraft within the islands’ jurisdiction, and further, to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of such weapons.  Following several failed attempts to revise the constitution and/or the compact agreement, the US dissolved the trusteeship in 1986.

In 1992, the islanders approved an amendment that declared a simple majority in a popular vote sufficient to override the antinuclear provision of the constitution.  The Compact was fully approved by referendum the following year.

Palau became an independent nation in October 1994 and joined the UN in December 1995.

In September 1996, there was a disastrous incident in Palau, when the bridge connecting Koror and Babelthuap Island collapsed, killing two islanders.  In addition, the incident left the capital city cut off from the international airport on Babelthuap, the rest of the country, and indeed the outside world in general for some time.  There were also major disruptions to telecommunications, water, and power.

Ultimately, the Japanese government contributed 25 million USD for the construction of a replacement bridge.  The new construction linking Babelthuap and Koror was of a suspension design, rather than a concrete cantilever like the original, and was opened some six years later in 2002.

Find a more in-depth history of the country at Everything You Need to Know about Palau.


Government

The highest elected offices in Palau, Micronesia are those of the president and vice president.  There is also a two-house National Congress and a judiciary.

The country comprises 16 states, each a group of historic village-states.  And each state is represented by a council of chiefs, which advises national government.  The Ibedul of Koror and the Reklai of Melekeok are the paramount chiefs of Palau.

The National Congress is named the Olbiil era Kelulau (House of Whispers), symbolising the process of quiet consensus rather than adversarial public debate.  And the judiciary comprises the Supreme Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Land Court.

There are no political parties.  All citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote.

Palau has no armed forces, and the country is protected militarily by the USA.  Some young Palauans are volunteers in the US Armed Forces.


Economy

The largest employer in Palau is the government.  The subsistence economy remains vital in the rural districts, with women farming taro, sweet potato, and cassava, and men fishing and tending pigs.

The government makes small sums from the sale of licenses for offshore tuna fishing and nearshore reef fishing.  Traditional carved storyboards are still produced by local people, and nowadays mainly sold to visitors.  Tuna and clothing are the country’s key exports, and the country relies heavily on financial assistance from the USA.

Outward migration has historically been higher from Palau than other countries in Micronesia.  As a consequence, there are large Palauan communities found on Guam, in Hawaii and on the west coast of the USA.

In the latter half of the last century, however, inward migration grew as visitors arrived seeking work on the islands.  Tourism also grew considerably over the same period, increasing from just over 23,000 in 1990 to almost 55,000 in 1999.  Tourism is the country’s fastest growing industry and has made huge contributions to the country’s economic growth.  Tourism contributed 65 million USD to the economy in 1995.

By the beginning of the 21st century, immigrants made up more than a quarter of the population and tourists outnumbered locals at high season.

Palau has earned a reputation as one the premier diving locations in the world, and thousands come from all corners of the globe every year to dive in Palau.  As a result, there is now a vast range of resorts in Palau, from the high-end to the cheap-and-cheerful.  You can get some idea of the selection here at Where to Stay in Palau.


Land tenure and property

Historically, lands, titles, and wealth were held by the clans and controlled by elders.  Each clan controlled taro fields, a named house plot, and other lands, with some lands reserved for sharing by the village — for example, the plots for chiefly meetinghouses.

The majority of the lands were alienated during colonial control, and only returned to the control of Palauans in the 1980s.  Today, land can only be owned by Palauan citizens.


Social welfare and change programmes

The constitution of Palau, Micronesia mandates a strong programme of health and educational support.

Education is free and mandatory and there are support services for those who do not graduate.  Private religious elementary and high schools are funded through a combination of school fees and government contributions.

Medical services are provided at low cost through the Belau National Hospital and several private medical clinics, and retirees benefit from both government and private retirement programmes.


 

PALAUAN SOCIETY


Demography

In 1995, the resident population of the country was 17,225.  71 percent of people were living in urbanised areas.

Prior to European contact, the population was closer to 50,000.  This had been reduced to just 3,700 by 1900.  Population growth accelerated between 1945 and the 1960s, though this was counterbalanced by outmigration.  Today, 7,000 Palauans live overseas.

In 1973, immigrants made up just four percent of the country’s permanent population.  By 1995, this had increased to 25.5 percent.  The largest group was that of the Filipinos (2,654), followed by other Asians (738), Americans (535), other Micronesians (467), and Pacific islanders (232).  By 1999, the number of Asian workers had increased to 5,250.


Ethnic Relations

The Palauan conceptualisation of ‘being Palauan’ is inclusive, incorporating long-term residents according to local custom.  Similarly, the nation’s constitution confirms the citizenship of all those of Palauan heritage, regardless of birthplace.

Having enjoyed a diverse population throughout its long history, Palauan culture is open and welcoming to foreigners.  The population has included Malays from Indonesia, Melanesians from New Guinea, Philippine natives, and some Polynesians from outlying Polynesian islands in Micronesia.

Since the end of the 18th century, there have also been visitors and migrants alike from Europe, Japan, and the USA.


Languages

The origins of the name ‘Palau’ are not known, but it is believed to either be derived from the Palauan word for ‘village’ (beluu, pronounced pelew) or the Spanish word for ‘mast’ (palao).

The Palauan language is complex, including many irregularities that make it extremely difficult to learn.  Luckily for its learners though, both Palauan and English are regarded as official languages in all but two states, and many islanders are also fluent in Japanese and Tagalog. (The official languages of Sonsorol and Hatohobei are Sonsorolese and Tobian, respectively.)

Palauan has incorporated a number of Spanish, German, Japanese, and English loanwords.


Religion

The indigenous religion of Palau is one of powerful ancestor worship and nature spirits.  This was largely supplanted by Christianity when European missionaries arrived, and today 65 percent of the islanders are Catholic.  A further 25 percent are Protestant, and the remainder are members of other Christian denominations, Shinto, Buddhism, and Chinese folk religions.

However, Palauans continue to recognise traditional gods and their totemic embodiments, and refrain from eating clan totems.  Major Christian rituals and holy places are recognised alongside indigenous village-based shrines.  Funerals remain a key Palauan ritual.

Visitors should note that the head is considered a sacred body part in Palauan culture.  So, it should not be touched, even as a sign of endearment for small children.


Class, castes and division of labour

Historically and up to the present day, men and women of all ages have taken responsibility for most basic productive tasks.  They then moved into senior positions in the clan and village as they aged.

Today, the main division of labour is along the lines of nationality.  Palauans and southwest islanders hold the key positions in the governmental sector, in management and the professions.  Workers of Filipino and Chinese ethnicity tend to work in production and service occupations.

In the past, the seniority of a clan tended to be related to its wealth, and members of the highest ranking clans would control state and village resources as well as those of their own clan.  Their leaders took responsibility for supporting descendants and dependents.

The chiefly system is now in decline and being replaced by systems of stratification based on education have arisen alongside increased participation in the world economy.

Historical symbols of social stratification might be along the lines of women wearing money pieces around their necks and chiefly men wearing dugong (sea cow) vertebrae bracelet or adze.  Today, these symbols have been replaced by expensive clothing, houses, speedboats, and four-wheel-drive cars.


Medicine and healthcare

Healthcare in Palau is provided by Belau National Hospital on Koror, with services supplemented in more remote areas by field dispensaries and private clinics.

Traditional interventions based on leaves, herbs, and massage are in common use, with Western medicine also fully incorporated.


Secular celebrations

A range of national holidays are celebrated in Palau.  Constitution Day occurs on 9 July.  An Independence Day is marked.  And there are numerous American holidays and an extended period of Christmas and New Year celebrations.


 

FAMILY, GENDER AND EDUCATION IN PALAU


Division of labour by gender

Historically, the division of labour in daily work was strongly gendered.  Men took responsibility for fishing and the construction of houses and community buildings, whilst women were in charge of farming and shellfish collection.

Today, men and women are active in wage labour, including the professions, although national political offices are rarely held by women.  Just one woman has been elected to the Palau Supreme Court.


The relative status of women and men

Traditional Palauan culture promotes complementary roles for men and women.  The governing village council was male, with a female chiefly counterpart council.  Senior women were integrally involved in leadership, with influential positions in clan decision-making.

The society has historically been matrilineal, with money, land and titles entering the clan through the woman.  Changes to the law of inheritance, however, are eroding this power.  Social security payments and intestate estates will now be transferred to a widow and her children, a major transformation of inheritance practices.


Marriage

Traditional Palauan marriages were arranged.  This has now largely been supplanted by ‘love marriage’, with individuals may select their own partners.  Divorce is increasingly common, particularly among young islanders.

Marriage is formalised by a court or church, with traditional ceremonies involving clan exchanges of prescribed foods and wealth.  Where traditional households tended to comprise three or four generations of family members, modern families tend to be nuclear families.


Child rearing and education

A special ceremony is held to celebrate the birth of a Palauan woman’s first child.  In this ceremony, the female elders gather and organise a series of hot baths, effectively presenting the young woman to the community.

Care of infants tends to be shared among female relatives, who bring the child to the mother for nursing.  Men are also involved in child care, particularly that of young boys.

A formal education system for children has replaced the traditional methods of learning by observing adults at work.  Education is mandatory and typically begins with kindergarten, followed by elementary and secondary schools.

Two-year vocational and academic courses at Palau Community College are available to students throughout the region, preparing islanders for the four-year systems of Guam and the USA.  There are no higher educational institutions in Palau, but there are government scholarships for those who wish to study abroad.

Teaching is in both English and Palauan and the country has near-total adult literacy rates.


 

CULTURAL LIFE IN PALAU

Traditional art forms persist in Palau, commonly in the form of chants and storyboards.  However, the carved storyboards are now designed and made for sale to tourists, rather than for decoration of men’s clubhouses.

The Belau National Museum was opened in 1955 on Koror and is home to a small but instructive collection of artefacts.  Etpison Museum, also on Koror, was opened in 1999 and has an array photographs, maps, and cultural pieces.  Palau has twice sent delegations to the Pacific Festival of Arts and hosted the 2004 festival.

The Palau Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs—which includes the Palau Historic Preservation Office, Belau National Museum, and Ministry of Education—operates aggressive programmes in cultural conservation, counteracting strong American influences in education.

Sporting activities are perhaps the strongest draw to Palau.  Many tourists come to Micronesia to dive in Palau, and there is a wealth of holiday resorts in Palau and diving tours, as well as the famous Palau Shark Week.


The Arts and Humanities

Poetry is the most developed of the Palauan literary arts, with poetry commonly created in both Palauan and English.  There are many well-known poets among the islanders, though little of their work is available in published form.

The graphic arts are also highly developed.  Historically, the village meetinghouse was the centre of visual and performance arts.  The end gables (bai) and interior beams were decorated with low-relief painted carvings, depicting the history of the village and its relationships with other villages.

Carved wooden storyboards are a highly developed art form, today primarily produced for sale to foreigners.  The carvers of these storyboards, as well as shell jewellery makers and weavers, are potentially able to earn substantial income from these practices.

Dancing is a popular art form, with traditional dances performed by village groups and informal dancing common in village meetings.  Similarly, oratory is a traditional form that remains highly popular.  Senior elders typically perform historical chants and pieces from a range of musical genres.  Contemporary Palauan music is composed for broadcast in nightclubs and on public occasions.


Design & architecture

The community meetinghouse (bai) was once central to Palauan politics, society, and culture.  Although this is no longer the case, the decorated bai gable, or canopy, still appears in many island buildings.  These include village properties and urban buildings.

A frequently spotted historical design feature is a quartered circle representing wealth.  There is also a half-shell symbol that represents Palauan lore of the creation of humanity from the sea.  Images of the mother and child symbolise wealth and fertility.

Palau’s symbols of nationhood include its national flag and anthem, and a full golden moon on a blue background.


The physical and social sciences

Palau, Micronesia has developed a reputation for marine biology research.  The scientific skills of Palauan master fishermen have been utilised in the field, and scientists at the Micronesian Mariculture Demonstration Center were the first to successfully spawn giant clams in a lab and to develop programmes to build stocks of endangered hawksbill turtles.

The Palau International Coral Reef Center for scientific research, coral reef management, and educational programmes opened in 2001.


Food in Palau

Food plays a central role in Palauan culture, being commonly used to express respect for elders, celebrate the birth of a child, and mark the death of a clan member, as well as in a wide range of social and spiritual ceremonies.  See Palauan Cuisine for a more detailed exploration of Palauan cuisine and food.

Food is the basis of a strong domestic economy in Palau.  The protein (odoim) is typically provided by the men and the starch (ongraol) by women.  There are food taboos in different clans, and traditions around eating for titled individuals and for pregnant and lactating women.

A basic meal in Palau comprises a starch food—perhaps soft or hard taro, tapioca, or imported rice—and a protein, normally fish or pork.  Breakfast typically comprises coffee and bread or cereal.

The breadfruit (ulu) is very common, and coconuts are used in a variety of ways.  Taro, yams, pumpkins, and other root vegetables are found in most meals.  Exotic fruits are plentiful, including passionfruit, breadfruit, dragon fruit, papaya and mango, soursop, and the superfruit, rambutans.

Local diets are today very multicultural.  Koror is home to an eclectic range of restaurants, offering Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Western cuisine, and fine Japanese sushi and sashimi.

Western food is often preferred by younger islanders, and branches of KFC and McDonald’s and USA-style barbecue pub and grills can now be found across all major population centres.

A drink of molasses created from coconut sap is served to chiefs and elders.  This is thought to offer medicinal benefits and is imbued with religious significance.


Palau’s Extreme Adventures By Fish ‘N Fins

PALAU HELICOPTERS INC.

Vast swathes of Palau are entirely untouched and uninhabited, and as such, the best way to explore its lush landscapes is often by helicopter.

Explore Palau in a 2012 Robinson R66 Turbine Helicopter with Palau Helicopters Inc, just one of the extreme adventures provided by Fish ‘N Fins.

The craft, owned and operated by Palau Helicopters Inc., is brand new, and flown by an experienced pilot with many, many years of escorting Palau’s visitors over the islands.

Passengers can take in the pristine landscapes of the Rock Islands from above, with the helicopter’s Bubble Windows and panoramic glass offering the very best visibility for both those seated in the front and those in the back.

Take a bird’s eye view of the world-renowned Jellyfish Lake, the WWII battlefields of Peleliu, and Palau’s rainforests, waterfalls and dive sites.  And bring home breathtaking photos.  (Scenic flights and photography tours for exactly this purpose are available.)  Passengers are welcome to take photos with or without open doors.


The Robinson R66 Turbine Helicopter

The Robinson R66 Turbine Helicopter was designed and built in the United States, using 21st century technology and adhering to all USA federal Aviation Administration Maintenance programme guidelines and regulations.

The helicopter’s lightweight structure and powerful Turbine Jet engine allow it to carry all the latest equipment, whilst flying higher, faster and further than other helicopters in its class.  The R66 also has a great safety record, meeting the highest level of safety standards.

The craft is luxurious too.  Passengers enjoy first-class leather seats, comfortable leg room, and extra personal space and shoulder room.  Two-way communication is possible between passengers and pilot, though flyers also benefit from Bose® aviation-grade noise-cancelling headsets.

The Robinson R66 Turbine Helicopter was the bestselling helicopter in its year of release.


Palau’s International Airport

The Palau Helicopters Inc. craft is kept at Palau’s International Airport.  Visitors can find the helicopter in a commercial hangar, and benefit from the modern office and air-conditioned waiting area.


Palau Helicopters Inc.

Palau Helicopters Inc. is the leading aviation service in Palau.  It is currently working with Search & Rescue and Medevac programmes and local government on projects to ensure a safer diving and boating environment.


The tours

There are some spots in Palau that simply cannot be reached without a helicopter.  This is where the R66 comes in.

Choose from a pre-set trip or design your own unique itinerary.


Scenic flights & tours

30-Minute Rock Island Tour

Prices: $1,400.00 ($350.00/person)

Visit: Ngeremdiu, Milky Way, Long Lake, Jellyfish Lake, the Arch, Pinchers, Koror, Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge


45-Minute Rock Island Tour

Prices: $1,800.00 ($450.00/person)

Visit: Ngeremdiu, Milky Way, Long Lake, Jellyfish Lake, 70 Islands, the Arch Pinchers, Koror, Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge


60-Minute Rock Island Tour

Prices: $2,200.00 ($550/person)

Visit: Ngeremdiu, Milky Way, Long Lake, 70 Islands, Blue Corner, Peliliu (Optional), Jellyfish Lake, the Arch, Pinchers, Koror, Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge


60 minutes with doors on: $2,200.00

60 minutes with doors off: $2,200.00 + $80 per door

Ground waiting (per hour): $400


Special trips

For more information about special trips, you can contact Palau Helicopters Inc. on 488-2637 or by email at [email protected].

Set lunches and BBQs can also be booked in advance.


Kayangel Tour

Price: $3,400.00, incl. one-hour waiting

Visit: Kayangel, Palau’s only Atoll.  Land at the Western Pier, and go for a swim or tour of the beaches with a guide.  Fly back over Palau’s rainforest and waterfalls, and see the Palauan capital of Melekeok.


Rock Island Swim

Prices: (contact the office)

Visit: The Rock Islands.  Land on the beach and enjoy a swim or walk on the deserted sands.


Waterfalls and rainforest

A helicopter tour is the ideal way to explore Palau’s breathtaking waterfalls and lush rainforest.  Some of these pristine landscapes are inaccessible by road or boat, and a bird’s eye view is simply astonishing.


Ngaremlengui waterfalls

Price: $2,400.00, incl. one-hour waiting

Visit: Ngaremlengui waterfalls.  This incredibly beautiful site is accessible only by helicopter.  Swim in the clear waters and savour the tranquillity and isolation.


Ngardmau’s cascades

Price: $2,500.00, incl. one-hour waiting

Visit: Ngardmau’s cascades.  West of the popular Ngradmau’s waterfalls, these extensive cascades are a long way from the road and accessible only by air.


Peleliu WWII visit

Price: $2,700.00, incl. one-hour waiting.  (Optional land tour.)

Visit: Fly to Peleliu for an aerial tour of the historic battlefield.  The dense vegetation prevents a full ground tour, with various relics and caves only visible from the sky.  Stunning views of the crocodiles in the swamp and Peleliu’s various reefs and dive sites.  Passengers have the option of landing at Peleliu’s WWII airstrip or the village north dock.  A WWII expert is available for a land tour and visit to historic WWII sites.


Angaur WWII visit

Price: $3,100.00, incl. one-hour waiting.  (Optional land tour.)

Visit: Fly to Angaur, and enjoy an aerial tour of the island and its WWII battlefields.  The dense vegetation on the ground makes an air tour the only way to view the island’s relics.  The island is also home to Palau’s colony of Macaque monkeys.  On return, passengers can enjoy a bird’s eye view of Angaur’s reefs and dive sites; and have the option of landing at Angaur’s WWII airstrip or at the village’s dock.  A local guide is available for a land tour of the historic WWII sites.


Big Animal Tour

Prices: (contact the office)

Visit: View some of the abundant marine life to which Palau is home.  Sharks, turtles, dugong, manta rays, dolphins and whales are all commonly seen in the crystal clear waters.  It can also be fun to fly over the dive spots and spot the divers enjoying the waters below.


Custom-made tours

Prices: (contact the office)

Visit: Design your own tour.  Palau is an astonishingly beautiful landscape, and passengers can enjoy aerial views of its vistas, mountains, rainforests and waterfalls from the helicopter.  Guides are available for various land tours, and there are countless deserted beaches and other beauty spots for swimming, diving, fishing, paddle boarding and kayaking.  Many of the locations are seldom visited by other people, and all are ideal for photos and videos you will treasure for the rest of your life.


Production support and commercial work

The powerful Robinson R66 Turbine Helicopter is ideal for a range of aerial productions.  Contact Palau Helicopters Inc. for details of its various services.  These include film and video production support, advertising productions, aerial surveillance and geological survey.

The helicopter’s pilot, Martin Pacheco, is available for all types of commercial work.  A highly experienced professional, he is happy to discuss under belly hook lifts, crop dusting, surveillance work and movie Productions.

Palau Helicopter Inc. tours are provided by Fish ‘N Fins.


 

OFF ROAD JUNGLE TOURS

Off Road Jungle Tours

‘You drive, we guide.’

Palau is a small island-nation of astonishing beauty.  Its pristine landscapes, lush rainforest, and unique culture attract in the region of 160,000 visitors per year.

But as expected of such a richly undisturbed paradise, transportation can be tricky.  The road network does not give access to much of the rainforest, and much of the vegetation is incredibly dense.

Palau’s biggest island, Babeldaob, located to the northeast of Koror, is one of the most undeveloped of the populated islands in the Pacific.  It is also incredibly beautiful and a real draw for visitors.

Off Road Jungle Tours from Fish ‘N Fins offer a solution.


Extreme 4WD expeditions

Visitors can explore the waterfalls, WWII relics, abandoned old villages rivers, and rainforests of Babeldaob with the Off Road Jungle Tours Polaris RZR 900 EFI: the world’s bestselling side by side ATV.

You can arrange custom tours of Ngatpang waterfalls, Palau’s capitol, Stone Monolith Overnight Camping, Peleliu and Angaur.  Some combine tours of the historic WWII sites with other exploration.  Half-day and full-day tours are all available.

A two-hour city tour can take visitors along hamlet dirt roads up to the top of Rock Island, for a stunning view of the bay.

This semi-military vehicle is designed for extreme terrain, offering all-wheel drive, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes, and a four-stroke twin cylinder 900 cc EFI engine.  With unbelievable power and refined ergonomics, it is ideal for Palau’s dirt roads and rainforest trails.


Your off-road route

Visitors might choose between some of the following day trips…


A Full Day in Ngardmau

Start at KB Bridge → along the rainforest trail → up to old Melekeok → along the Ngardmau dirt road → to Ngardmau Falls / Hunter Falls → Ngardmau Dock → enjoy Palau’s highest mountain view of Babeldaob.


A Full Day in Airai

Start at KB Bridge → from the CB camp onto the old road and up to Airai falls → see the WWII American tank → visit the Oykull New Dock → savour the panoramic views from Airai’s largest hill à head into Oykull village → visit the Oykull Old Dock


A Half-Day in Airai

Start at KB Bridge →  visit the Oykull New Dock →  climb Airai’s highest hill for a 360-degree view of the landscape →  head to Oykull village →  visit the Oykuul Old Dock


Malakal harbor

Start at KB Bridge → head to Malakal Harbour → climb Malakal’s highest hill for a 360 panoramic view → take a drive through the hamlets → visit the Ngermid Dock → finish at KB Bridge


Please note…

An international driving licence is required.  All drivers must be at least 21 years of age, though participants of all ages are welcome.  The vehicles accommodate a maximum of four people.

 

Off Road Jungle Tours are provided by Fish ‘N Fins.


 

SKY DIVE PALAU

Sky Dive Palau

For the ultimate in extreme sports, surely nothing could beat tandem skydiving.

Sky Dive Palau, provided by Fish ‘N Fins, takes thrill-seekers on the adventure of a lifetime, with tandem skydiving jumps above the famous Rock Islands.

Free-falling through the sky, above Palau’s tropical landscapes, turquoise waters and white sandy beaches is nothing short of truly unforgettable.


Experienced and safety-oriented instructors

All Sky Dive Palau instructors are trained, experienced and fully qualified, and safety is their first, second and third priority!

Your Tandem instructor remains with you throughout the whole skydiving experience.  They are beside you during the briefing on the ground.  They observe the views with you as you make your way to altitude.  You are together during the 40-60 seconds of free fall… and they are still right there when they safely land you at the Drop Zone at Palau International Airport.

Jumps can be from 10,000, 12,000 or even 14,000 ft, according to your preference.

The photos and videos of your jump will surely be mementos you treasure for the rest of your life.


Palau’s 2nd Boogie

Rich Grimm and Navot Bornovski organised the first ever boogie in Palau in 2014, and it was a roaring success.  Participants enjoyed a week of scuba diving from luxurious liveaboards, the Oceanhunter I and Ocean Hunter III; and then five days of skydiving from Cessna 182, Cessna 206, and Robinson R66 helicopters onto island beaches and into historic WWII battlefields.

The event was such a success, it is happening again in 2018.

Both fun jumpers and experienced skydivers are more than welcome.  A USPA ‘B’ licence (or similar water training licence) and a minimum of 100 jumps is required for solo skydivers.

Sky Dive Palau adventures are provided by Fish ‘N Fins.


 

FISH ‘N FINS – DIVE SITES – BLUE HOLES

Fish 'n Fins - Dive Sites - Blue Holes

The Blue Holes dive site is situated northwest of Ngemelis Island and north of Blue Corner, lying 48 kilometres northwest of Koror.  It can be reached by speedboat in 50-70 minutes.

This is an extremely popular spot, and the diving is ideal for novice and intermediate divers.  Visibility tends to range from 45 to 120 feet (15 to 40 metres) and the currents are moderate to strong.


About the cavern

The Blue Holes dive spot is a popular way to start a dive to Blue Corner.

The reef is a vertical wall, running from north to south and merging with Ngemelis Wall at Blue Corner.  Four holes in the reef form the entrance to a very large cavern, Blue Holes.

The holes open at a depth of 3-6 feet (1-2 metres), and there are two exits on the face of the reef.  These exits are a 15-foot (five-metre) diameter window at 45-foot (15-metre), and a second 85-foot (27-metre) opening.  The bottom of the cavern is at 120 feet (40 metres).

The Blue Holes is a very popular dive site, and as such there are usually dive boats circling.  Safety.  Safety Sausages should be used on ascent.


Currents

The currents here are usually moderate to strong, with down drafts.  The currents change with the tides and reverse direction every six hours or so, bringing clean water, plankton and algae.

Divers swimming from Blue Holes to Blue Corner may have to swim against the current for about 150 feet (50 metres), though the currents here are unpredictable (and strong) during the half-moon.


Marine life

Inside the cavern, there are soft corals and Tubastraea on the walls, and various species of nudibranchs and shells on the bottom.  Large schools of barracuda, tuna and snapper can be found patrolling the entrance.  The vertical reef wall is rich with marine life, and home to just about every type of tropical fish and species of coral native to this region.

Once out of the cavern, divers can hook onto the reef and observe the sharks.


Diving

Blue Holes is second only to Blue Corner in terms of popularity with divers.  A typical visit will begin with a swim over the shallow reef and into the cave through one of the four top holes.  At low tide, divers move down along the wall and in through the small ‘window’.

The spacious cavern is usually flooded with light, with pale blue lights through the top holes and deep dark blue light through the large west side opening.


Be aware!

At the north end of the cavern is ‘The Temple of Doom’.  This is a cave, entered at 85 feet.  This spot is dangerous, and a number of divers have died here.  Only those divers with a Cave Diver rating and special gear should enter, and only then with a professional guide.


 

FISH ‘N FINS – DIVE SITES – IRO

Fish 'n Fins - Dive Sites - Iro

The final resting place of ‘Iro’ (or, Deutsche Beschreibung ganz unten) is Urukthapel Anchorage, southeast of Koror, just a 15-minute boat ride from most dive shops in Koror.

Visibility is inexplicably varied around the wreck site, shifting between 100 feet (30.4 metres) and 30 feet (10 metres) for no obvious reason. Visibility on the forward half of the wreck is usually much better than at the aft section, but again it is not clear why this is.


About the wreck and diving site

Built in 1922, this 470-foot fleet oiler and supply ship was on her way from Philippines to Palau when she came under attack by a US submarine. She sank on 30 March 1944, when a bomb launched during Operation Desecrate One caused a massive explosion in her engine room.

Her sister ship, Sata, sank just 300 yards away.

Today, the ship is standing upright at 120 feet (40 metres), the deck is at 85 feet (28 metres), and the top of the forward tower at 25 feet (8 metres).


Diving

This dive is for intermediate to advanced divers, and wreck experience is essential if you intend to enter the wreck.  There are no currents here, but the dive requires careful monitoring of bottom time and air consumption.

Divers will typically begin by following the mooring line to the forward tower and onto the huge deck.  On top of the east-pointing bow is a gun with a seven-inch (17.8 cm) barrel and 14-foot (4.26-metre) length, aiming down at a 20-degree angle.  The gun is encrusted with corals.

The torpedo damage is visible at 80 feet (24.4 metres), with the hole now covered with black coral.

On the deck level, divers can explore the deck itself, fuel pipes, hoses hatches and portholes.  The fire damage to the vessel has left the bridge open and easily accessible; and further down is the large engine room, with easily recognisable boiler.  Follow the catwalks and railings to reach the stern, the loading tower and the aft gun.

The crew quarters can be located under the bridge.  Divers should not attempt to go through here unless fully prepared to penetrate the ship.

There are no coral formations around the wreck, but various lagoon fishes can be seen.


Be aware!

It is not uncommon to find live ammunition at Palau’s wreck sites.  Any bullets, bombs, mortars, etc., should be left exactly where they are!  They are likely to be unstable and at risk of explosion.


 

FISH ‘N FINS – DIVE SITES – PELELIU WALL & CUT

Fish 'n Fins - Dive Sites - Peleliu Wall & Cut

Peleliu Wall and Cut (or, Deutsche Beschreibung ganz unten) is located at the southern reef of Peleliu Island.  It is 34 miles (55 kilometres) from Koror, accessible by speedboat in 55-70 minutes.

This is a difficult dive.  There are extremely strong and unpredictable currents.  At times of strong current, this dive is suitable for experienced divers only.  Even in moderate currents, it is considered ‘advanced’.  Safety Sausages are essential.

Visibility ranges from 75 to 150 feet (25 to 50 metres), depending on the direction of the tide.  The total depth, from the reef to the plateau, is 30 to 90 feet (or, 10 to 30 metres).


Reef formation

Peleliu Cut is part of a vertical wall.  This runs along the western side of Peleliu Island, extending to Peleliu Corner at the southern tip of the reef system.  This section is the deepest reef structure in Palau.

Dropping from 30 feet (10 metres) in front of the WWII monument to 90 feet (30 metres), this is where the Peleliu Expressway and Peleliu Cut merge to create Peleliu Corner.


Marine life

Tropical fish can be found at the top of the plateau.  These will include Pyramid Butterflyfish, Square Anthias, Moorish Idols, Sergeant Major’s, Yellowtail Fusiliers, Palette Surgeonfish, Bumphead Parrotfish and Purple Anthias.  There are also bright yellow soft corals, long strands of cable corals, big bushes of black corals and sea fans on the wall.

Pelagic fish patrol the Cut and at the Corner, including Sperm Whales, Whale Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks, Orcas, Sailfish and Blue Marlin.


Diving

The boat will take you to the Peleliu Wall, which you will follow down to 80-90 feet (25-30 metres), possibly encountering counter currents.

At Peleliu Corner, you will need to stay deep.  You can hook yourself onto the top of the reef and observe the stunning reef and marine life, including Gray Reef and White Tip sharks, and huge schools of surgeonfish, snappers and jacks.

The plateau gets deeper towards the south, and you will need to stay 15 to 20 feet (5 to 7 metres) above the reef to avoid down currents.  When there is no current, divers can cut across the top of the plateau at 90 feet (30 metres).  At this point, you can begin ascending.


Peleliu Island

Peleliu is a tranquil island of just 600 people, and home to some fascinating WWII sites.

Visitors to the southern tip of Peleliu Island will see a monument.  This was erected by the Japanese after the war to honour soldiers on both sides of the conflict who gave their lives on the island.

A local guide can be hired for a guided tour of the historical sites.  Tanzy Hesus comes most highly recommended.  As the guardian of the local museum, he is extremely well informed and well regarded.  The tours usually take 1-2 hours and can be enjoyed between dives.


 

FISH ‘N FINS – DIVE SITES – FAIRYLAND

Fish 'n Fins - Dive Sites - Fairyland

Fairyland (Ngemelis Coral Garden) is located west of Ngemelis Island and German Channel, about 28 miles (45 kilometres) southwest of Koror.  It can be reached in 60-70 minutes by speedboat.

This is a beautiful spot with an easy dive, and home to a large variety of marine life – making it ideal for novice divers.  The reef is 20 to 120 feet (7 to 40 metres) from top to bottom, and there is usually good visibility and no currents.  An ideal location for a checkout or tune-up dive, divers routinely spend an hour at a time exploring the canyons and crevices.

Fairyland is a top spot for snorkelling, and dive boats often use this area for lunch break picnics.  Due to the popularity of this spot, divers should use Safety Sausages when ascending to alert the many boat drivers to their position.


Reef formation and marine life

Fairyland is a part of the reef that spans the length of Ngemelis Island – the Ngemelis Reef system.  Starting at the German Channel, it becomes the Big Drop Off and then Turtle Wall, and then New Drop Off.  Just a mile north of New Drop Off, the reef becomes Fairyland.

Starting in just a few feet of water, the reef is fully exposed during low tide.  The gentle coral slopes down to 60 feet (20 metres) and then becomes a run-off of broken coral and sand, with deep canyons and swim-throughs cutting through the slope.

The large variety of marine life here includes many types of tropical fish, including Butterfly fish, Triggerfish, Angelfish and wrasses.  There are also Crocodile Fish and Cuttlefish.


 

FISH ‘N FINS – DIVE SITES – MANDARIN FISH LAKE

Fish 'n Fins - Dive Sites - Mandarin Fish Lake

Mandarin Fish Lake is situated in Risong Bay, one mile (two kilometres) south of Koror, or just five minutes by speedboat.

A top spot for novice divers, the depth is just 3-24 feet (1-8 metres) and there are no currents.  Visibility tends to be 15 to 40 feet (5 to 13 metres).

A secluded lagoon, Mandarin Fish Lake is tucked between several of the Rock Islands.  In the middle of the cove, there are two large coral heads, with white sands at the bottom.

Only accessible by boat, the spot is particularly popular with snorkelers and divers, particularly those seeking stunning photo opportunities.


Mandarin Fish

Mandarin Fish (Synchiropus splendidus) reside at the sandy bottom of the lagoon, and they are probably the biggest draw for visitors.  The fish are extremely beautiful and very shy, so patience is both necessary and rewarded in photographers!

The fish are seen only at dusk and on very cloudy days, and then just darting among the corals.  They have a strong preference for still water and tend to hide among the rocks, their stunning colours contrasting beautifully with the white branches of the coral heads.

Other fish species and invertebrates can also be seen in the lagoon.


 

FISH ‘N FINS – DIVE SITES – ULONG CHANNEL

Fish 'n Fins - Dive Sites - Ulong Channel

The Ulong Channel (Deutsche Beschreibung ganz unten), or the Ngerumekaol Pass, is located to the west of Ulong Island, or 15 miles (24 kilometres) west of Koror.  It can be reached by speedboat in 30-40 minutes.

The reef is 10-40 feet (3 to 13 metres) from top to bottom.  Visibility is strongest at incoming tide, when the current is strong and the water clear.  In general, it ranges from 45 to 90 feet (15 to 30 metres).

Currents can be strong and unpredictable, changing abruptly, so the dive is best suited to advanced divers.

The Ulong Channel has beautiful beaches and picnic spots.  Its stunning historical sites include the petroglyphs painted onto its high cliffs by Ancient Palauans.


Reef formation and marine life

The reef runs from west to east, cutting only partially through the western barrier reef.  The sandy bottom of the channel is home to coral heads and coral formations, and plentiful marine life can be seen at the entrance.

These include Gray Reef Sharks, sting rays, schools of jacks, snappers, barracuda and batfish.  During full moons in April, May, June and July, groupers gather here to spawn and have been seen to school.


Diving

A typical dive starts at the northern side of the Channel.  Divers drop to 60 feet (20 metres), keeping the reef on their left, and approach the sandy run-off entrance to the Channel.

Sharks can be found here, in the strong currents.

Divers can hook onto one of the rocks here and take some time to observe the marine life.

Leaving this area, the powerful currents carry divers into the Channel, where there is an enormous section of lettuce coral growing from the bottom to a height of 15-20 feet (5-7 metres).


Be aware!

Titan Triggerfish use this area to nest.  These extremely territorial fish are protective of their nest sites and can be aggressive with intruders.  Divers should keep their distance to avoid being bitten!


Shark Week 2018 In Palau

Shark Week 2018 In Palau

SHARK WEEK 2018 IN PALAU

Situated out in the Wester Pacific, in the westernmost corner of Micronesia, is Palau.  This island-nation comprises 340 individual islands and is home to just over 20,000 people.

The Palauan economy, culture, society, traditions and identity are all deeply entwined with the oceans.  And a love of the sea, a gratitude for its gifts and sense of responsibility for its wellbeing are all pervasive in Palauan culture.

A glance at this pristine paradise – its white sands and turquoise waters, and lush tropical landscapes – are enough to infect any traveller with the same love of the natural environment.

Widely considered one of the world’s best diving destinations, Palau’s waters are home to 1,400 species of fish and 500 species of coral.  Around 160,000 people travel to Palau annually, mainly for diving, snorkelling, and other watersports.  And there are an array of unique ocean-based events hosted here each year, the two most important being Shark Week and Wrexpedition to Palau.


Shark Week 2018

March 2018 saw the 16th Annual Shark Week in Palau, drawing shark enthusiasts from around the world to Palau’s shores.

Hosted on the island every year since 2001, Palau’s Shark Week is a world-class combination of high adrenalin diving, fun day tours, eye-opening evening lectures for scientists and conservationists, and other presentations and documentaries.

And all hosted in one of the most beautiful locations in the world.

A genuinely educational, entertaining and exhilarating way to spend a week!

The week is run by the Micronesian Shark Foundation in partnership with Fish ‘n’ Fins.


Meet The Sharks

Sites like Blue Corner, Peleliu Corner and Shark City are routinely named the best dive sites in the world.  Attendees at Shark Week have the opportunity to dive here without any other divers around, exploring the breathtaking channels, corners and reefs, and encountering astonishing marine life.

Shark Week is scheduled in March each year to coincide with the mating season of the Grey Reef Shark.  These beautiful predators arrive in Palau’s waters to mate, affording Shark Week participants a rare opportunity to see them up close and contribute to ‘citizen scientist assisted shark counts’.

And it’s not just Grey Reef Sharks.  During the five days of daily guided scuba dives, visitors are likely to encounter other shark species, including blacktips, whitetips, silvertips, blues, tigers, and hammerheads.  Extra (optional) dives are also available, as are visits to the famous Jellyfish Lake.


Celebrating And Learning

Shark Week is also an educational event, with a stated aim of introducing visitors to the world of shark conservation and protection efforts.

Each nights, events are hosted by filmmakers, scientists and marine enforcement officials – including seminars, expert lectures and film screenings.  On the final day of Shark Week, participants are invited on a cultural tour on land.

The educational programme allows participants to contribute to shark monitoring, whilst studying shark biology, behaviour, and conservation efforts.  The material celebrates the different shark species, with nightly lectures, documentary screenings, and more.


Shark Week Itinerary

On Day 1 on Shark Week, visitors arrive on the island and are transferred to their hotels and accommodation.  Everyone has a chance to settle in and get comfortable.  There are no dives on the first day.

In the evening, there is an opening night event.  Snacks and drinks are served, and there is an opportunity to meet other people and get full details of the week’s itinerary.  The opening night’s lectures are hosted by the Micronesian Shark Foundation.

Day 2 is the first real day.  A typical theme would be ‘Grey Reef Shark nurseries’.  Visitors leave the accommodation in the morning and head to the German Wall dive site.  After a session here, divers move onto the New Drop Off site.  And for those who want more, there is an optional third dive.

There is then an evening lecture with a shark conservationist expert or other representative in the field.

The theme of Day 3 is ‘data collection’.  Today, participants will be involved in ‘citizen scientist assisted shark counts’, with observations of shark movement patterns in the Blue Corner dive site.

Divers will leave early in the morning for a diving session at Blue Corner; and enjoy two dives.  They can then choose to have some free time or a third dive in the afternoon.

There is then another evening lecture with an expert.

On Day 4, participants explore the shark populations of the Ngemelis and Peleliu Reefs.  Following an early morning departure, there are two dives at Peleliu and Ngemelis Wall.  In the evening, there is a lecture.

On Day 5, visitors explore themes around ‘shark congregation behaviour during incoming and outgoing tides’.  There is a morning departure to dive sites at Saies Corner and Ulong Channel, and a lecture in the evening.

On Day 6, there will be observation of the Silvertip Shark and/or East Coast Shark populations.  Divers will leave in the morning, and enjoy dives at the Short Drop Off and Ngerchong Outside sites.  In the evening, a movie night is hosted, where participants will get to see a shark-themed documentary or other film.

Day 7 is the final day of Shark Week, and participants can enjoy a Palau Cultural Tour on land, somewhere on the island.  For this, the final day of the programme, there is also an evening gala event, with a range of festivities and food, drinks and a raffle.

Visitors then leave the island on Day 8 and fly home.


Wrexpedition To Palau

The other very popular ocean-themed event on Palau is Wrexpedition.

Palau was used as a strategic military base for the Japanese during WWII, and in 1944 the US Navy raided a Japanese fleet and sank 60 ships in the lagoon.  65 years later, the wrecks remain, and the lagoon is the stunning final resting place of the ‘Japanese Lost Fleet of the Rock Islands’.

If you enjoy wreck diving, Wrexpedition is for you.

This annual event takes place over a week, and comprises five days of diving.  Participants see three tanks per day, and can enjoy seminars and informative documentaries about WWII in the evenings.

To keep participation costs as low as possible, event packages are available.  Packages include multiple dive days, accommodation, meals, transportation, seminars, and other events.  More information is available online at the Fish ‘n’ Fins website.


Find Your Accommodation

Palau is an extremely popular tourist destination, attracting annual tourist numbers eight times greater than its native population.  As such, there is an array of hotels to choose from.  Prices vary, and the best are of course likely to get booked up quickly – especially during popular events, such as Shark Week and Wrexpedition.

Popular hotels include Carolines Resort, Island Paradise Resort, Palau Central Hotel, Palau Pacific Resort, and Rose Garden Resort.  The top rated restaurant on Palau is Elilai Restaurant.


Palau’s Pledge To Protect The World’s Oceans

PALAU’S PLEDGE TO PROTECT THE WORLD’S OCEANS

Across the world, oceans are threatened by over-fishing, pollution, global warming and acidification. And this threat is felt nowhere more keenly than in Palau.

The Republic of Palau is a small nation in the Western Pacific, comprising 340 islands and home to just 21,000 people. The overarching region of Micronesia is home to most of the world’s coral biodiversity, and there are more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral in Palau alone.


Caretakers of the oceans

Palau’s cultural life, economy, identity, traditions and social practices are all entwined in a symbiotic relationship between the people and the seas. Palauan children are taught of their responsibility as caretakers of the oceans, and in wider society the adage is firmly held that, ‘we do not inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children’.

As a consequence, Palau has a strong history of environmental protection. And in recent years, it has risen to global prominence on the back of its work to combat the threats to marine life and the ocean environment.

Drew Caputo, Vice President of Litigation for Lands, Wildlife & Oceans, Earthjustice, said:

‘Palau is a world leader in marine conservation. No other country has done more’.

The recent El Nino event lead to the death of much of Palau’s soft and hard coral, and consequent departure of many fish: a devastating event for the country. Not only was the economy affected by these losses, but many Palauan people were left extremely dispirited, in despair at the possibility of upholding their caretaking responsibilities.

However, Palau returned to its roots, combining traditional approaches and modern scientific advances. In this way, it has developed new measures to protect its oceans.


A long history of world-firsts in conservation

Acting as ‘stewards’ of the ocean, Palauans have always sought to work within the limits of environmental protection needs. In recent years, the traditional conservation principles have been applied to new environmental challenges, and Palau has developed powerful, innovative responses to global threats.

Palau created the first shark sanctuary in 2001 in its national waters; and was the first country to ban the practice of bottom trawling. In 2015, it opened the Palau National Marine Sanctuary – one of the largest fully-protected, no-take zone in the world.

At the end of 2017, it was announced that all visitors to the country would be required to sign a statement of commitment to environmentally-responsible behaviour during their stay – a pledge underpinned by legislation and the risk of heavy penalty.

Facing climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and overfishing, Palau has sought to resolve these present challenges using the tools of its past, and in doing so is building a better future for all.


The Palauan tradition of ‘Bul’

Amongst these tools is the ancestral principle of ‘Bul’. This practice, in existence for many centuries, affords Palau’s traditional leaders the power to place an immediate halt to the over-consumption or destruction of any species, place or thing.

The Council of Chiefs may place reef areas off limits to fishing during known fish spawning and feeding periods, for instance. This identifies and acknowledges vulnerabilities in the ecosystem and ensures that there will be plentiful fish to catch during other times of the year: thus preserving livelihoods and strengthening food security.

This old practice has formed the basis for Palau’s new Protected Area Network (PAN) law and network of protected areas, and it forms the symbol of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary and the Palau Pledge.

The ocean has provided life for people on the islands for over 2,000 years, and these conservation measures are intended to ensure that it continues to do so for many thousands more.


The President on sustainability

The President of Palau, Tommy E. Remengesau Jr, is himself a long-time advocate for conservation and sustainability. He has stressed the importance of conservation for both Palau and the rest of the world:

While Palau may be a small-island nation, we are a large ocean-state and conservation is at the heart of our culture. We rely on our environment to survive and if our beautiful country is lost to environmental degradation, we will be the last generation to enjoy both its beauty and life-sustaining biodiversity. This is not only true of Palau. Human impact on our earth’s environment is one of the biggest challenges facing our world today. As a small country we feel the impact of these actions acutely.


The Palau Pledge

Perhaps Palau’s most innovative measure is the Palau Pledge. The world’s first ‘conservation pledge’, it calls upon visitors to the country to make a compulsory promise, directly to Palau’s children, to act in an environmentally responsible manner during their stay in the country.

A commitment to the pledge is required for a visa application, and then stamped directly into visitors’ passports.

There are signs and information packs around the airport and throughout the country itself – and fines of up to $1 million USD for breaches – all of which serve to stress quite how seriously this commitment is taken.

With a population of just 21,000 people, and annual visitor numbers of around 160,000 (and growing), the management of tourism in Palau in a huge project. Despite the best efforts of government, locals and industry, the sheer volume of the tourism – and thoughtless behaviour from individual tourists – has led to damage and decline on the islands. The Pledge has thus been deemed necessary in order to work towards responsible, sustainable tourism.

The Palau Pledge is striking in its focus on the children of the islands. Visitors pledge to protect the environment for the sake of the children, and the in-flight promotional video features an explanation of the pledge for visitors by local children. The philosophy of the Pledge is also to be included in the educational curriculum, with a focus on the children’s own role in environmental sustainability and conservation practice.

Developed by an Australian communications agency, the Palau Legacy Project (a group of local business and marketing professionals) and the Palauan government, this new immigration policy is aimed at preserving Palau’s own unique culture and natural environment; but it is hoped to be the first of many around the world.

Laura Clarke, of the Palau Legacy Project, said:

The Palau Pledge is about helping guests understand the vital role they play in protecting Palau for the next generation. Most visitors are unaware of the serious impact their actions have or even what they can do to help. The Palau Legacy Project team came together to help communicate these important messages in a way that all guests would understand.


Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act

2015 saw the launch of one of the world’s most ambitious ocean conservation initiatives. The Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act was a landmark piece of legislation aimed at protecting Palau’s marine resources and world’s tuna stocks.

The Act saw the opening of a no-take marine sanctuary, covering an area of 500,000 square kilometres – a full 80% of Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The world’s sixth largest marine sanctuary, the Palau National Marine Sanctuary is by far the biggest no-take zone relative to country size.

All fishing and mining is banned in the reserve, and the remaining 20% of Palau’s seas have been preserved as a Domestic Fishing Zone. This allows traditional and domestic fishing activities to continue to provide fish for the domestic market.

Environmental conservation is so often a question of balance. There is the need to balance growth with sustainability, the needs of the economy with the needs of the environment. The Palau National Marine Sanctuary has been designed to achieve and preserve this harmony.

The Act was passed after more than a year of debate and despite pressure from fishing and drilling lobbyists, and was welcomed by islanders, governors and traditional leaders. Thousands of Palauans demonstrated in favour of the Act and signed supportive petitions.

Upon the signing of the legislation, President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. declared,

Today is a historic day for Palau, proving that a small island nation can have a big impact on the ocean. Island communities have been among the hardest hit by the threats facing the ocean. Creating this sanctuary is a bold move that the people of Palau recognise as essential to our survival. We want to lead the way in restoring the health of the ocean for future generations.

Senator Hokkons Baules, the lead sponsor of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act, said that the sanctuary would

‘help build a secure future for the Palauan people by honouring the conservation traditions of our past’.

This bold action to protect the country’s valuable ocean resources has been praised by environmentalist and conservationist groups across the world. Large, no-take marine reserves are considered crucial to efforts to build marine resilience to climate change, and Palau’s efforts have provided evidence that positive outcomes are possible.

The Earthjustice organisation provided legal support to the government of Palau during the development of the legislation, ensuring that the government would still be able to meet the requirements of its international treaties following the implementation of the Act. The Earthjustice international programme attorney, Erika Rosenthal, described the sanctuary as,

a major contribution to healthy oceans and reef systems that are more resilient to climate change, both for the people of Palau and for the world. Ocean biomass conservation—through fisheries conservation and management and marine protected areas — is critical to maintaining the ocean’s function as an effective carbon sink.

The President assured the UN oceans conference in 2017 that Palau would remain open and welcoming to international visitors, noting that his country would continue to promote scuba diving, snorkelling and eco-tourism. The reduction in commercial fishing would be offset by growth in other areas, he said.

We’re not just closing our waters and throwing away the key. We’re closing our waters because we will do our part in making sure that there’s healthy stocks of fish in Palau that can migrate to other places, and that there are other options to grow the economy. These are important ways to make a living and at the same time preserve the pristine environment that we have been blessed with in Palau.


Thinking globally, acting locally

The unparalleled experience and expert knowledge of Palauan fishermen has been exploited to full effect in the development of the country’s legislation and conservation projects. Local knowledge is an invaluable resource, particularly in terms of identifying the areas in need of protection.

Since 2003, the Protected Area Network law (PAN) has designated 21 areas of the country for special protection, and discussions are being held with local leaders to identify other vulnerable spaces.

Scientists are of course also being consulted, and technology used where appropriate to gather the richest possible knowledgebase.

The legislation has been developed to respond to the needs of local ecosystems and to meet the country’s commitments under the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). It has taken to heart the environmentalist principle of ‘thinking globally but acting locally’, and has trained its sights of the local needs, whilst simultaneously seeking to constitute a model of best practice for other nations.

The ultimate goals of the PAN laws cannot be achieved without international partnerships. The ecosystem is of course global, and our knowledge of its vulnerabilities must be pooled and managed appropriately.

As Mr. Noah Idechong, Delegate to the House of Delegates, put it: ‘While there is much about the deep sea that we do not know, we know enough to understand that everything is connected’.


Opening the floodgates for global change

Palau has been setting precedents in conservation strategy for many years. It has also sent a message around the world that even very small countries – and Palau is the thirteenth smallest on earth – can make big differences to huge problems.

Measures already taken have made major contributions to international targets established by the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Plans for marine parks in Chile, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have all been announced, and Pew Charitable Trusts say that Palau’s sanctuary brings the total area of fully protected oceans to 1.9%.

However, this falls far short of the 30% needed to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks and the health of the ocean. President Remengesau Jr. has challenged the world to follow Micronesia’s example and to set aside 30% of nearshore marine and 20% of forest ecosystems for conservation by 2010.

Similarly, Palau has taken decisive action on bottom trawling – banning the practice altogether in its own waters and forbidding Palauans and Palauan companies from engaging in the industry anywhere else in the world.

Bottom trawling is considered a particularly destructive practice, as it targets deep sea fish as they aggregate around seamounts for breeding and feeding, when the fish are most vulnerable and thus at greatest risk of overfishing.

However, international cooperation is required for the legislation to achieve its aims, and the government of Palau has argued for an interim prohibition on unregulated bottom trawling in international waters.

Speaking to the UN in 2006, Noah Idechong urged UN members to work together to find global solutions, stating,

‘The Pacific philosophy that the oceans unite us rather than divide us is one which we hope will be borne out […] as we seek real solutions for protecting this most precious of resources’.


Welcome to Micronesia

Welcome to Micronesia

WELCOME TO MICRONESIA

Micronesia is in many respects a tropical paradise. A romantic, uspoiled destination for the world traveller, the islands offer culture, adventure, and breathtaking landscape. Micronesia has a long and storied history, and today is rich in both traditional cultural practice and diversity.


The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

A United States Commonwealth, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) forms the Mariana Islands archipelago. With a tiny land mass, the 607 islands are home to just 104,590 people. Micronesia comprises the four states of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk (Truk) and Yap. The capital city is Palikir, on Pohnpei Island, a town of 4,600 people. Guam is the largest and most populous island.


The landscape

Micronesia has a tropical climate, with temperatures remaining relatively high throughout the year. Visitors can expect to enjoy 80° F temperatures all year round. The rainy season runs from July to October, whilst November to June are considered the dry season.

The islands of the Federated State of Micronesia (FSM) formed as the result of volcanic activity that occurred millions of years ago. This explains the astonishing landscape we see today. The islands include mountain peaks thrust above the surface of the water, surrounded by fringing reefs. Others are sunken islands, giving just rings of coral barrier reef and tiny island islets encircling coral and sand lagoons. FSM is also home to high rigged islands, 2,000-foot mountain peaks, deeply gorged river valleys, and hills, grassland, forests, and sandy beaches.


Early history

Micronesia’s history reaches back several thousand years, and is preserved through the nation’s oral histories, as well as its ruins and archaeological record. People have been living on the islands for between two and three thousand years. The first settlers are believed to have been travellers sailing east from Asia and north from Polynesia, and were thus people of sophisticated maritime knowledge.

In general, in fact, the geographical challenges posed by the nation’s size and location have meant that all of its settlers have been obliged to be resourceful. The successful societies and settlers have thus each demonstrated incredible innovation. Early residents crafted stone tools for fishing and building. They developed vessels for traversing the ocean, and built homes that allowed them to thrive in tropical climes and survive the occasional typhoon.


European Colonisation

Europeans first arrived in the 16th century, and the islands were occupied by Spanish and British settlers at various times over the next three centuries, though sustained European contact did not occur until the mid 1800s.

Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed in 1521, and named the islands ‘Islas de las Velas Latinas’ (or, Islands of the Lateen Sails), and later to ‘Las Islas de los Ladrones’ (or, the Islands of Thieves).

Spanish settlers arrived less than a decade later, when Álvaro de Saavedra’s second attempt to cross the Pacific bringing him to the Marshall islands in 1529. In honour of King Charles II, Spanish navigators named Palau and Yap the ‘Western Caroline Islands’, and Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae the ‘Eastern Carolines’. Wake Island (Enen-kio, in Marshallese) was first sighted by Álvaro de Mendaña in 1567, but named after Samuel Wake, a British explorer who reached the island in 1796.

The islands of Kiribati were made a British colony in 1788, and named ‘the Gilbert Islands’ after the explorer Thomas Gilbert who reached them. John Fearn, a whale hunter, was the first Westerner to reach Nauru. He did so in 1798, and named it ‘Pleasant Island’.

The Marianas – named for Queen Mariana of Spain – were Spanish territories. However, in 1668, Guam became the first Spanish colony in Micronesia. The Spanish defeated the resistance of the people of the northern Marianas, moving them to Guam.
Spanish Jesuits opened a Catholic mission in Guam in 1668. They attempted to open further missions in Palau and Ulithi, but the priests were killed by the resistance and this mission was therefore stopped.

The global Pacific trade began in 1565, with the opening of the Manila Galleon Trade Route between Asia and South America/New Spain. In 1791, British East India Company ships were passing through the Western Carolines on their way to Asia. By the mid-19th century, the expanding whaling industry gave rise to the need for new ports to replenish ships and crews, and Kusaie (now Kosrae) and Ponape (now Pohnpei) were ideally placed.

German traders arrived in the 1860s, and had become the dominant presence in the region by the 1880s. Nauru became a German colony in 1886.

Under European colonisation, the islands’ populations declined significantly. The population of the Marianas prior to the Spanish arrival was approximately 50,000 people. This had been reduced to 3,500 by the beginning of the 17th century. The Marshallese population declined from 15,000 to 10,000 in the same period, and the Kosrae population from 3,000 to just 300. The decline can be largely attributed to disease and the loss of traditional ways of life.


Japanese Control

A League of Nations mandate took ownership of the islands from Germany after World War I, and granted formal control to Japan. Japan then made significant investments in agriculture, industry and commerce. Sugar cane, mining, fishing, and tropical agriculture became the major industries.

The Japanese government brought in huge numbers of labourers to work its newly developed phosphate mines and sugar plantations. At this time, the indigenous population numbered around 40,000 people. By 1935, there were 50,000 Japanese immigrants living in the islands, and by 1942, there were more than 96,000.

In 1941, Japan also took Guam and Wake Island from the United States, following heavy fighting. Japan also seized Nauru and the Gilbert Islands. Over a thousand people were forcibly displaced from Nauru, and sent to Chuuk to work as labourers. There were numerous bloody WWII battles on the islands, and many Micronesians suffered atrocities at the hands of Japanese soldiers.


United States trusteeship of Micronesia

Following World War II, with growing concern about the strategic military advantage the islands gave to Japan, the United States wrested control of the former Japanese colony. The UN Trusteeship of 1947 did not give the United States outright possession of the region, but allowed it to administer the islands and use them for defence purposes. It also made the United States responsible for developing the islands towards self-government or independence, according to the expressed wishes of the people.

The United States began conducting nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands in 1946. This continued until 1962, with over 60 devices detonated by the end of the period. The largest of these occurred in 1954, exposing hundreds of Marshallese Islanders to nuclear fallout. The tests had appalling physical and environmental effects, including illness that has lasted generations, displacement, social problems, and permanent destruction of islands’ landscapes, rendering them uninhabitable.

A UN report in 1961 harshly criticised the United States for its neglect of the islands, and JFK commissioned the Solomon Report in response. This report assumed that the islands would remain closely tied to the United States, and recommended increased economic and infrastructure development. President Kennedy also agreed budget increases and federal programmes.


Self-determination

This period saw rising demand from Micronesians for self-determination. In 1960, the UN General Assembly released the Declaration on Decolonization, recognising the right of all peoples to self-determination and calling for the end to colonial rule among the world’s non-self-governing territories.

In 1964, the Congress of Micronesia was established. In 1966, a political status commission recommended a move to ‘free association’. This was initially rejected by the United States, though it had relented by the 1970s. The partitioning of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) led to independence, albeit free association with the United States with special conditions.

The Organic Act of Guam was signed in 1950, and the island became an unincorporated territory. A civilian government, legislature, and judiciary were subsequently established. The people of Guam were also granted United States citizenship. Guam now has an elected governor and a non-voting representative in the United States House of Representatives.

The United States government retains strategic prerogatives in Micronesia, in return for its provision of financial subsidies and federal assistance, including weather service, aviation agencies, international postal service, and disaster relief. Different freely associated states in the region each have their own agreements, and these are detailed in the Compacts of Free Association (COFA). They each assert control over their internal and foreign affairs, with the exception of those issues affecting United States strategic interests. Though their people are citizens of their respective states and not the United States, they are also ‘habitual residents’ of the United States, meaning they are allowed to enter and work in the United States and its territories without visas or work permits.


Social systems and lineage

Micronesian social systems are generally based on complex ranking systems, and they differ from one island to another. Some islands may have a single individual with an almost kingly or chiefly status, whilst others have groups of high-ranking individuals governing the island. In the atolls of the Carolines, we find egalitarian social structures, with lineages ranked according to the order in which groups first settled in the district.

Micronesian communities are structured by lineage. Members of a lineage hold and work land together, interacting together with other lineages. Each community also comprises different clans, who can in turn be dispersed among different communities on different islands. Members of a clan are obligated to protect one another and the shared resources.

Inheritance is usually matrilineal, though patrilineal and mixed group lines of descent also occur. Matrilineal ties are viewed as more endurable than patrilineal ties, which are generally considered impermanent.

In the matrilineal societies, offspring take membership of their mother’s clan. Siblings are ranked by birth order, and then children within a lineage are further ranked by their mother’s birth order. The clans are also ranked according to a hierarchy, and the leaders of high-ranking clans occupy leadership roles for the entire community.


Currency

The United States dollar is the currency of Micronesia. However, the island of Yap is famous for its currency of Rai stones (‘stone money’). These large disks of calcite reach up to four metres in diameter, with a hole in the middle, and there are believed to be some 6,500 on the island. There are five types of coin (Mmbul, Gaw, Ray, Yar, and Reng), and they are not usually moved when traded.


Economy

Micronesia’s cash economy is almost entirely dependent on United States aid. The country receives approximately $100 million per year from the United States in Compact of Free Association funds and supplementary grants.

The country’s commercial production is very small scale and largely consists of subsistence produce. There are just two garment factories. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish are sold in roadside markets, and handicrafts made from local materials are manufactured for tourists. This latter trade remains limited, as the tourist industry itself does, due to the country’s remote location and lack of facilities.


Religion

Micronesians traditionally practised ancestor-worship, though today the nation is Christian. Half of the people are practising Catholics, and a further 47% are Protestant. The remaining 3% are of small Christian denominations.

European occupation brought Micronesia into contact with many European tools, practices and ideas, including Christianity and democracy. It also brought alcohol, gambling, and prostitution. American missionaries from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) arrived in the 19th century, seeking to counteract the negative impact of the Europeans, and promote Christianity in the region. They also brought Western medicine, and quickly gained influence in the society.


Historic sites

The Lelu ruins in Kosrae, from 1400 AD, and the Nan Madol ruins of Pohnpei (1000 AD) are just two examples of the historic sites on the islands. The ruined city of Nan Madol is another. Located on the island of Pohnpei, the historic city was the capital of the Saudeleur Dynasty until 1628, and consists of a series of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals.

We also find today the remains of the Catholic Belltower, a historic tower at the Catholic Mission in Kolonia, on the island of Pohnpei. The belltower and adjoining masonry apse are all that remain of a church built in 1909 by German Capuchin missionaries.


Languages

English is the official language of Micronesia. The most commonly spoken indigenous languages are as follows: Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaians, Chuukese, Pohnpeians, Kosraeans, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi. Many elderly Micronesians are also fluent in Japanese. The linguistic diversity is reflective of the country’s long history and resulting cultural richness.


Food

The Micronesian diet is largely based around rice, fish and seafood. Plentiful fruits also grow on the islands. Chickens and pigs are reared locally, though they are usually reserved for feasts, and not eaten on a daily basis.

Food has huge social and symbolic significance in Micronesian culture, and is the focus of most ceremonial occasions. Micronesians share food to express solidarity and validate kinship ties, and express respect for elder members of the community by ensuring they eat first at meal times. Rights, duties, and obligations are all acknowledged and reaffirmed by practices of eating and sharing and serving food.


The arts

Micronesia’s most treasured art forms are its songs and dance. These traditional art forms reflect and nurture notions of clan and community solidarity and pride. The stick dance is one example of a traditional dance which is still enjoyed today. The choreography sees lines of dancers execute complex movements whilst striking long sticks.
Flowers are commonly used as decorative items and body ornaments, strung together as garlands around the head or neck, or around ears. Men and women are often tattooed, with mature men not infrequently covering their entire bodies in tattoo art.
Textile weaving using threads created from the trunks of banana plants and fibres from hibiscus bark, and coloured with natural dyes, is common in the Carolines. The weavers, usually women, use looms to create fabrics for women’s skirts and men’s loincloths, typically with geometric patterns or stripes. Kosrae and Pohnpei are known for their production of decorated woven belts and sashes.
Wood and stone working are both common. Items from masks to ocean-going canoes are typically made from wood, and Palau is home to elaborate carvings in the designs of grand meeting houses (bai). As well as crafting stone tools, many Micronesians work with stone to build huge stone pillars (latte). There is a vast complex of islets and channels in Nam Mahdol in Pohnpei, which is an astonishingly grand example of Micronesia stone workmanship.


Everything You Need To Know About Palau

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PALAU

Located in the Western Pacific Ocean, the Republic of Palau comprises 340 islands and 16 states. A tiny country, its magical scenery includes natural wonders including pristine limestone and volcanic islands, emerald forests and shimmering turquoise lagoons.


The Origins Of Palau

Carbon dating suggests that Palau’s civilization begin in around 3,500 BC. The first contact by Europeans was in the 16th century, and the islands became part of the Spanish East Indies in 1574. Later sold to Germany in 1899, the country was then conquered by Japan during World War I, and then became a United States-governed Trust Territory in 1947. The islands finally claimed full sovereignty in 1994.


Palauian Society

Palau’s economy is dependent on tourism, subsistence agriculture, fishing, and foreign aid. The Palau currency is the US dollar. Visa and Mastercards are generally accepted, and American Express is generally not.
The Palau culture is a rich mixture of Micronesian, Melanesian, Asian, and Western elements. The two official languages are Palauan and English. Japanese, Sonsorolese, and Tobian are recognised as regional languages, and Filipino is widely spoken in hotels, restaurants, and shops.

The society is organised around matrilineal clans, with strictly defined roles for men and women.

The Palau people are fierce about the preservation of their culture, and host regular cultural activities to celebrate its richness. The Palau Women’s Conference is held annually to discuss initiatives to strengthen Palau culture.

Just a quick note on cultural sensitivity.

Palauians are known for their hospitality, and they are largely very happy to welcome and show respect for foreign visitors and cultural differences. However, this respect should be returned.

Visitors to Palau should not violate historic areas, pollute the environment, harm the ocean, or denigrate the people or local culture.

The people of Palau have much experience in accommodating foreign visitors, and are tolerant of faux pas. So, a prompt apology for any inadvertent offence will usually be quickly accepted. In general, visitors will find the culture to very laid back and easy to adapt to.


Safety & Security In Palau

CRIME: Palau is a safe country to visit, and guns are strictly prohibited.

TRAFFIC: When travelling of foot, it is necessary to be careful as sidewalks are limited, even in the busier areas.

WILDLIFE: There are saltwater crocodiles found on the island, especially in Palau’s mangroves. They tend to be very small, and there are just 450 adults on the island. These pose almost no threat to people, with just one fatal attack in history – and that was in 1965. There are no reports of attacks on any of the many, many snorkelers or scuba divers who visit the islands every year.

Bull sharks are common in the coastal waters and estuaries, and it is necessary to be cautious around these.


Palau’s World-Class Waters

The number one activity in Palau is diving, and the islands boast some world-class sites. The seascapes and marine life are unparalleled, earning the region the appellation of ‘the underwater Serengeti’.

Blue Corner is perhaps the most famous dive site, and this is located just an hour’s boat ride from most resorts. German Channel, Ulong Channel, and Blue Holes are also highly recommended.

Popular dive shops include,

  • Splash, attached to the Palau Pacific Resort
  • Fish ‘n Fins, the oldest dive center in Palau
  • Sam’s Tours, which offers diving, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, and land tours
  • Palau Dive & Scuba, a small and personable service
  • Sara Guide Service, environmentally-responsible
  • Palau Dive Adventures, taking visitors on week-long trips, with comfortable, land-based accommodation

In addition, there are many ‘live aboards’, such as Ocean Hunter, which operate out of Palau. Expedition Fleet, is the largest privately owned live-aboard fleet in the Philippines.

The Palau islands are famous for the jellyfish lakes. These are home to jellyfish which have evolved without stingers, due to the absence of predators in their locales. A number of tour companies take snorkelling groups into the jellyfish lakes, usually charging around $100. Visitors will also need to purchase a $100 permit for the jellyfish lake, which is valid for ten days.

IMPAC (Imperial Palau Corporation) is one option. They provide day tours to Rock Islands, with jellyfish tours and kayaking.

Long Island Park is a decent option for snorkelling, and there are nice views from Icebox Park, at the southern tip of Malakal. Nikko Bay is also good for kayaking and snorkelling. The Palau International Coral Reef Center is educational aquarium with a good souvenir shop.


Palau’s Museums & Historical Sites

Palau is rich is WWII history, due to battles having taken place on the islands.
The Peleliu World War II land tour on Peleliu Island is just one of the history tours offered. This one is a good way to experience ‘Bloody Nose Ridge’ and ‘1,000 Man Cave’, sites of Marines battles and Japanese fortifications. Peleliu Island is also home to many tanks and other relics.

The island is 70 minutes by speedboat from Koror. The tours run every day and cost just $30.

The Belau National Museum in Koror offers rich insights into the history and culture of Palau, and is open every day.

The Etpison Museum is closed on Sundays, and comprises two floors of Palauan and Micronesian artefacts, displays, and photography. There is also a large gift shop, where visitors can purchase art, jewellery, books, and souvenirs.

A popular trek is to the Ngardmau Waterfall in Babeldaob. This is the largest waterfall in Palau, and the trail passes by key historical sites from the Japanese occupation, including an old locomotive and parts of a disused railway system.

The waterfall is also accessible by monorail and zip-line. Open every day, 9.00 am until 5.00 pm, there is a $20 entry fee.

The Stone Monoliths of Ngarchelong are another must-see in Palau. A series of 39 stone monoliths built in 100 AD, the stones are four-foot tall and the largest weighs five tonnes. They are open to the public every day, from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, and the entry fee is just $5.


Shopping In Palau

There aren’t a huge number of shops or shopping centres in Palau, and the country is not cheap. A low-end daily budget is around $100 per day.

WCTC and Surangel and Sons are the two biggest shops in the country. WCTC has a full-size grocery store, a chemist, digital photo printing facilities, and a full-service department store. And Surangel and Sons comprises a grocery store, a department store, and some smaller establishments.

Visitors will find a number of souvenir shops, convenience stores, and boutiques throughout Palau, and the largest concentration of these is in downtown Koror.


Eating In Palau

You can grab snacks in Palau, such as burgers and rice meals, for around $3. For meals, you will pay $5-10 in restaurants and cafés, or $20 and upwards in more high-end places.

The palettes of the large immigrant communities from Taiwan, the Philippines, Korea, Japan, and the USA are well catered for by the local grocers. Visitors will find plenty of international food in the shops. Japanese-inspired Bento lunch boxes, for example, are very popular.

The Rock Island Cafe in Koror serves American-style food; the Taj is an excellent Indian restaurant; Fuji offers reasonably-priced pseudo-Japanese food; and Keanos has an extensive, tasty menu of Italian cuisine.

Other recommended eateries include Kramer’s, on the wharf at Malakal. The food is good here and the nightlife is vibrant. Bem Ermii is located in a small trailer near the courthouse in downtown Koror, and serves great burgers and milkshakes. Carp is a good medium-range option, offering Japanese cuisine with a local flavour.

For ambience, there is Anathias Cafe, which plays American jazz in its enclosed downstairs section and open air upstairs space.

There are many licensed establishments in Palau, and the legal drinking age is 21.
Alcohol is available to purchase from most grocery stores, but public drinking is strictly forbidden and firmly policed.

Palau’s own brewery is Red Rooster Beer, providing Amber, Stout, and three other beers.

Next door to the brewery itself is Palm Bay Bistro, Malakal, an establishment serving local beers, and great steaks and pastas.

Other highly recommended bars include Q-Ball Club, a great spot to play pool and chill out, and Abai Ice in Koror, a small hut serving fresh fruit smoothies.


Hotels And Guesthouses In Palau

As you’d expect from a country so dependent on tourism, Palau has a variety of accommodation options, serving a range of budgets.

The Rose Garden Hotel is built into a hill side, and has an on-site restaurant serving large portions of good quality local, Japanese, Korean, and American dishes. Situated on the best view in town, a hotel shuttle is available for free to and from the city and the airport.

The Guest Lodge Motel is a decent option for smaller budgets. A little rundown in appearance, it is clean, friendly, and well-appointed inside.

Ms. Pinetrees Hostel / Bed and Breakfast is a hostel-style villa, with dormitory and private rooms and large communal spaces. Air conditioning and Wi-Fi are available. Guests are welcome to reserve a bed, a room, or the entire villa for up to 16 guests. The establishment is located just two minutes from the main street.

The Sea Passion Hotel offers many different types of room, including some with sea views and others overlooking the mountains. The rooms accommodate between one and four people each. The hotel’s on-site facilities include a dive shop (Palau Dive Adventures) and a watersports centre specialising in day snorkel and kayaking trips.
The Airai Water Paradise Hotel & Spa boasts the largest storyboard of Palau history, the largest water park with two water slides, and the largest Olympic-sized swimming pool in the country. There are a variety of rooms available, including standard rooms, honeymoon suites, and ocean view suites.

The Penthouse Hotel is located in downtown Koror, and provides a choice of rooms with two double beds and rooms with a single queen-sized bed. Each room has a refrigerator, television, bath, and iron. With meeting facilities and convention spaces, this establishment is popular with businessmen. The hotel restaurant serves American, Palauan, and Filipino cuisine.

West Plaza by the Sea offers 36 rooms, each overlooking the ocean lagoon and nearby islands. The rooms range from standard class to deluxe with kitchenettes, and there is a penthouse suite on the roof deck with a large private veranda, whirpool bath, kitchenette, and spacious living area. The Red Rooster Café is also based here, serving Japanese cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Happy hour every evening features Palau’s locally Red Rooster Draft.

West Plaza Desekel has 30 rooms, ranging from standard to deluxe to accommodate different budgets, and is conveniently located for museums, restaurants, and banks.

Caroline’s Resort is a unique establishment. Comprising several bungalows situated in the hills of the jungle, the resort is just outside downtown Koror. The charming bungalows are well equipped with satellite television and bar fridges, and external patios with ocean views. Guests have the option of being served breakfast on their private patio.

Among the high-end options are the Palau Pacific Resort. This world-class resort benefits from a beautiful beach and excellent restaurant. Alternatively, there is the Palau Royal Resort, one of the newest hotels in Palau and with a largely Japanese clientele.

The COVE Resort Palau is a waterfront haven designed for adventure and relaxation. The resort offers 71 rooms and three suites, each very well-appointed and served by room service and complimentary international daily buffet breakfast. Guests have the use of the largest lagoon pool in Palau, a relaxed island cocktail bar, and concierge assistance. The hotel restaurant is the Hungry Marlin Restaurant and Bar.


The Regions Of Palau

The key regions of Palau are,

  • Babeldaob (Melekeok): the largest island, with a population of 6,000
  • Koror: home to Koror City, the largest city in the country
  • Rock Islands: 300 mostly uninhabited islands
  • Peleliu: home to 700 people, most of whom live in the village of Kloulklubed
  • Angaur: just 200 inhabitants, and a highly regarded surfing destination
  • Sonsorol Islands: located in the southwest, and home to just 100 people

The Cities Of Palau

There are two key cities in Palau: Melekeok and Koror.

Melekeok is the capital, despite a tiny population of just 381 people. Located on the island of Babeldaob, it is a short drive from Koror along a road constructed by Daewoo.

Koror is the larger of the cities, and the former capital of the country. It is home to the largest area of shops, restaurants, and hotels, along with many dive operators.


Getting In And Out Of Palau

Travellers to Palau from the Marshal Islands, Micronesia, or the US or Samoa can stay in Palau for up to a year without a visa. Israeli citizens can stay for up to 90 days. Citizens of Bangladesh and Myanmar should apply for a visa before arrival, but all other visitors can obtain a free 30-day tourism visa upon arrival.

All visitors need a current passport and a return airline ticket to be granted entry to Palau.

Travellers should also note that, as of December 2016, there is a $50 embarkation tax levied on air travel passengers as they leave the country. This comprises a $30 green tax and $20 head tax. It is paid in cash as you move through immigration control.

For up-to-date information, contact the Palau Embassy in your own country before arrival.


Travelling By Plane To Palau

There is just one airport in Palau, and this is located in Airai on Babeldaob. The airport is small, dirty, and has few facilities. There is no Wi-Fi, no air conditioning, and very few seats. There is nowhere to purchase even a bottle of water, and there are likely to be no taxis at Arrivals. Be warned!

Your best option is to contact your hotel and arrange a taxi in advance. It is also possible to call a taxi to come from downtown to collect you. Taxis are expensive, charging $20-30 for the six-kilometre trip.

Car rental may also be available, and again this should be booked in advance via the hotel.


Other Means Of Transport To Palau

It is possible to get to Palau by boat, but not at all easy. Private boat hire, or the ‘government-run boats’, are cheaper alternatives.

Taxis and car rentals are available. When using taxis, note that they are not metered and fares are negotiable with the driver.

If you choose to rent a car, be prepared to drive slowly to accommodate bumpy roads and to meet the 40 km/h (25 mph) national speed limit.


Key Contacts In Palau

Palau Visitors Authority
Address: PO Box 256, Koror, PW 96940
Phone: +680-488-2793/1930
Email: [email protected]
Fax: +680-488-1453


Palau Postal Services

The official postal service of Palau is the United States Postal Service. USPS treats Palau as a territory, for the purposes of travel.


Palau Internet And Telecommunications

Almost all internet and telecommunications are provided by the Palau National Communications Corporation (PNCC). An international SIM card can be assigned a local number upon arrival, and this permits use of a mobile phone and SIM card without the $25 PNCC SIM card. The PNCC provides Wi-Fi services with prepaid cards available at $5 and $10 denominations.

Free Wi-Fi can be found in many hotels, restaurants, and coffee bars, but this is relatively slow and unreliable. The Wi-Fi reception is at its best in downtown Koror.


Your Guide to Travelling & Diving in Micronesia

YOUR GUIDE TO TRAVELLING & DIVING IN MICRONESIA

Micronesia is the ultimate tropical paradise. These tiny, largely uninhabited islands are home to a vibrant culture and welcoming society that plays host to travellers from around the world throughout the seasons.

Despite its long colonial history – having been occupied by Spain, Germany, Japan, and the United States – Micronesia has retained its own culture, valuing a relaxed lifestyle with simple, comfortable ways, and synchronicity with the environment.

Located in the Western Pacific, different ocean currents converge and the waters are warm throughout the year. The islands are far from major landmasses and the population remains small. The seas are clear, offering outstanding visibility, great biomass, and many pelagics.

Micronesia’s warm waters and always hospitable temperatures are amongst its key draws, and there is a wealth of activities for an adventure holiday. Stand-up paddling, kayaking, and snorkelling in Jellyfish Lake are popular pass times, and many visitors are attracted to Peleliu Island, the site of a key World War II battle and current home to an array of historical artefacts.

Nan Madol is another popular tourist attraction. A city constructed in a lagoon, the site consists of a series of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals on Pohnpei. More dramatic ruins can be found in the Lelu complex on Kosrae; and Yap, the island of the famous stone money, is also located here.
But of course, the biggest draw here is the diving.


Mind-blowing dives and the holiday of a lifetime

Micronesia provides many, many world travellers with the greatest diving holidays of their lives. The waters are home to some of the most majestic creatures any diver can hope to meet and the reefs are stunning.

Palau in particular is a diver’s dream. Part of an archipelago of more than 500 islands, Palau is located in the Caroline Island group of Micronesia. Just 12 of these islands are inhabited. Visibility tends to remain at 20-30 m, with water temperature a very comfortable 28° C/75-90° F. It is, in effect, a tropical remote dreamscape.


Abundant marine life

Palau offers pristine reefs, vertigo-inducing drop-offs, thrilling drift dives, and abundant marine life. Its waters are warm and clear throughout the year, giving outstanding visibility to enjoy the incredible marine life. With pristine reefs teeming with life, divers are sure to encounter large pelagics, mantas, sharks, eagle rays, turtles, and Mandarin fish.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says:
‘Palau’s rich marine biota includes approximately 400 species of hard corals, 300 species of soft corals, 1400 species of reef fishes, seven out of nine of the world’s species of giant clams, thousands of other invertebrates (many still to be identified), the world’s most isolated colony of dugongs (a relative of the sea cow) and Micronesia’s only saltwater crocodiles’.


Drift dives and reef hooks in Palau

There is a diverse range of dive sites to choose from. Some are shallow, whilst others fall to more than 40 metres. So, there is likely to be the ideal spot for all divers, regardless of their level of experience.

A typical Palau dive is likely to mean drift dives and reef hooks.

A drift dive begins with a 50-60ft descent, and then either becomes a gliding drift over the reefs and along walls as the current carries you, or you may stop and anchor yourself to a sturdy outcropping of rock, allowing the current to bring the reef life to you.

A reef hook is a fishing hook with the barb removed and attached to a 3-5 metre rope. The hook is attached to a dead part of the coral reef and the other end to your BCD. Reef hooks are well accepted in Palau, albeit only at sites with consistent current and plenty of dead coral.

Blue Corner is the most popular reef diving site, with the currents here bringing in the big fish. The site is home to sharks, jacks, tuna, and resident Napoleon wrasse. For mantas, the German Channel is an ideal spot. Here, divers rest on the ocean floor whilst the mantas circle above.

Wall diving is also popular, benefitting from Palau’s store of healthy hard coral.


An all-year-round diving destination

Palau is an ideal diving destination, with liveaboard safaris operating all year round. Visitors easily enjoy five dives a day, including night dives on liveaboards; and 2-3 dives per day are common for land-based diving.

The marine life is largely present throughout the year, with blacktip reef sharks, eagle rays, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, whitetips, and oceanic whitetips all sighted throughout the seasons. Other creatures are a little less common, with whale sharks and manta rays more likely between January and April, and green and hawksbill turtles most frequently between April and July period.

Despite its nutrient-rich water, visibility is excellent at usually more than 40 metres. With heavier wind and rain in July to September, this can drop to 15-20m.
Palau is generally most popular with divers between November and May. But to get the very best of your trip, you should also consider the price of accommodation and how busy the popular dive sites are likely to be.


Weather conditions in Palau

Situated in the tropics, Palau gets a lot of rain all year round, with an average rainfall of 3760mm. It largely falls at night though, and so is unlikely to cause of a problem for visitors and holidaymakers.

Water temperatures remain 29-30°C for most of the year, falling to 26°C briefly in February and March. Divers tend not to need anything more than a thin neoprene wetsuit.
Air temperatures are around 28°C, with 29-30° during the day and 24-25° during the night.
The Palau rainy season is between June and August. At this time, the trade winds shift, bringing more rain. February and March tend to be the driest months, with an average humidity of 80%. The rainy seasons still include lots of dry days though, and the dry days can still see plenty of rain.

As Palauan President Tommy Remengesau Jr once noted, ‘In Palau you can guarantee that you can catch a fish if you go fishing, but you can never guarantee what the weather will be’.

Fortunately, typhoons are rare as Palau lies beyond the main typhoon path. However, the typhoon season in the region is June to December, and occasional storms and high winds reach Palau during these months. Typhoons are least likely between February and April.


The ‘high season’ in Palau

Purely in terms of weather conditions, the best diving season in Palau is generally considered to be from December to March. During these months, you will enjoy calmer, warmer water and less rain.

However, of course, hotels are also pricier and the dive sites busier. If you are going to visit during the high season, book your accommodation well in advance.


The ‘low season’ in Palau

The low season, in contrast, falls in May, June and September. During these months, Palau experiences the most rain and wind, though it remains hospitable.

Owing to the relatively poor weather conditions, there are fewer divers, the dive sites are less busy – and airfares and accommodation are thus cheaper.

The diving is still excellent, however, and the majority of dive sites remain accessible throughout this period.


The ‘transitional months’

In the remaining months – April, July, August, October, and November – visitors can make a trade-off between prices/popularity and weather conditions.

Palau sees more rain during this period, but accommodation is usually cheaper and easier to find.


Costs to consider
  • Hotels in Palau are expensive, but divers can benefit from ‘room-and-scuba’ package deals with the local dive centres.
  • Quotes from dive operators will not tend to include equipment rental, and full-set hire costs US$50-75 per day.
  • A permit is required for diving and snorkelling. For Rock Island, these cost US$50 and are valid for ten days. The Peleliu permit is US$30. All permits can be purchased at dive shops.

Don’t forget…
  • Due to the risk of decompression sickness, your last dive should be completed at least 24 hours before flying.
  • Certified divers will be required to show proof before a reputable dive operator will take you out on a dive. So, make sure you bring your papers.

The best dive sites in Palau

The most popular dive destinations in Micronesia are Chuuk/Truk Lagoon, where visitors particularly enjoy the WW2 wrecks; Yap Island, with its mantas, sharks and macro marine life; Pohnpei, with its ‘Manta Road’, named for the resident community of Manta rays; the beautiful Guam; and of course Palau.

And Palau itself is home to a diverse array of dive sites. Let us introduce you to just a few of them.


CHANDELIER CAVE

Chandelier Cave is a large cave with five ‘rooms’ or chambers. Divers can enter the cave at 25ft, and swim from room to room through underwater tunnels. Surface in the chambers to look around and explore the stalactites and stalagmite formations.

An excellent spot for a wide-angle photo!

Mandarin Fish, crabs, and shrimps can be found near the entrance, as well as damsel fish and solider fish in the deeper water.

Needless to say, this is an adventurous dive. Both the diver and guide – a guide being essential! – must be experienced. You should all be properly trained and equipped, with at least cavern certification. You will need lines, reels, and backup lights.

In addition, there is minimal light and visibility can potentially fall to zero. In these cases, it is possible to become lost. Consequently, dives must be conducted at the right time of day and in the right conditions.


GERMAN CHANNEL

The German Channel separates the Ngemelis and Ngercheu Islands, forming a connection between the inner lagoon and open sea. Created over a hundred years ago, the manmade channel enjoys nutrient-rich waters brought up from the depths on strong currents, and today attracts both a wealth of marine life and keen divers.

Famous for its mantas, eagle rays, reef sharks and species of schooling fish population, the site is home to virtually every sort of tropical marine life. Fly effortlessly over the reef, or simply settle in a lively area and wait for the action to come to you. The Channel hosts a manta cleaning station, so hover in place and observe the cleaner fish removing parasites from the skin of the rays.

Boating traffic can be heavy here, so caution when surfacing is a must. A member of your team should send up a safety sausage (SMB) on a line before the final ascent.


ULONG CHANNEL

The Ulong Channel is one of the best drift dives in Palau, offering unparalleled opportunities to glide over white-sand valleys and sprawling lettuce corals. Divers can hook onto the reef and observe hunting sharks, jacks, barracudas, and groupers in their natural habitat, before riding the current along the channel.

The site has a depth of 5-20 metres, and is accessible to intermediate level divers (and upwards). Located in the northern Rock Islands, west of Ulong Island, it can be reached by a 40-50 boat ride from Koror.


SIAES TUNNEL

A large tunnel deeply undercutting a sheer wall, the Siaes Tunnel is certainly atmospheric. Its vast chamber boasts picturesque coral formations and gorgonians, and it is home to manta rays and whitetip sharks.


JELLYFISH LAKE

Jellyfish Lake is a world-renowned site. Home to a vast number of jellyfish, the lake is isolated from the sea, but connected to the outside by a network of fissures and channels in the porous limestone. The lake’s tides rise and fall, in sync with those of the surrounding lagoons. The spot is accessed by a short hike over a jungle-covered ridge.

The jellyfish stay close to the surface, migrating across the lake daily to follow the sunlight and obtain the energy they need from the photosynthetic algae in their tissues. Snorkelling is the perfect way to observe and photograph these famous jellies.

Though they do have the ability to sting, it is so mild as to be largely unnoticeable (except on sensitive tissue like lips).

Jellyfish Lake is also home to anemones, sponges and tunicates, as well as gobies and other small fish.


BLUE CORNER

The world famous Blue Corner is thought to have been the birthplace of reef hook diving. A ridge at 15-20 metres, it extends out into the ocean and then drops into the deep.

An excellent site for divers of all levels of experience, novices will particularly enjoy the abundance of hard and soft corals. When there is a current, the site is excellent for drift diving, which unfortunately should only be undertaken by experienced divers as the currents can get intense and change direction quite rapidly.

The site forms a gathering point for reef fish of every description. There are schools of jacks, snappers and barracuda, as well as white-tip and grey reef sharks and Napoleon wrasse. There are also eagle rays, mantas, turtles, tuna, and wahoo. Lucky divers can even meet billfish, whale sharks, and whales.

Located in the southern Rock Islands, northwest of Ngemelis Island, Blue Corner can be accessed by boat from Koror in 50-70 minutes.


BLUE HOLES

Within easy swimming distance of Blue Corner is the sister site of Blue Holes. This large cavern is accessible from both the shallow reef top and deeper points on the wall, and it is ideal for divers of all levels of skill.

There are four vertical shafts, reaching down 35 metres, and each opening on the top of the reef. The shafts lead down into a vast cavern, and the shafts of sunlight from overhead give this spot a genuinely sublime beauty. A dive here is genuinely an otherworldly experience.

Blue Holes is in the southern Rock Islands, northwest of Ngemelis Island, with a depth range of 5-25 metres. The spot can be reached by boat in 50-70 minutes from Koror.


CHUYO MARU

Situated close to Koror, Chuyo Maru is a shipwreck resulting from a bombing in April 1944. The site is now home to a range of fish life, and is covered with soft and hard species of coral. The remaining artefacts include a large anchor winch, stern gun, and the remains of a brass compass.


HELMET WRECK

Helmet Wreck is another popular shipwreck dive. This Japanese coaster was sunk during WWII and is today the site of various wartime remains and ship artefacts, including rifles, ammunition boxes and electrical pars. The site’s name comes from the many helmets found in the aft hold, melded together by decades of corrosion.


PELELIU WALL

For lovers of drift diving, Peleliu Wall is the ideal dive spot. The deepest reef structure in Palau, it is not without its risks, but dives at 80-90 feet are considered ideal.

There are huge coral fans on the face of the wall, with crevices housing marine life attracted by the nutrient-rich current waters. There are also sharks, barracuda, and jacks – all feeding on the Moorish Idols, Yellowtail Fusiliers, Bumphead Parrotfish, Pyramid Butterflyfish, Palette Surgeonfish and Sergeant Majors.


Where to Stay in Palau

Palau is a dream destination for many world travellers. And your choice of hotel or villa or private bungalow can really make or break the trip. So, it is a good idea to take some time and do some research when deciding where to stay in Palau.

Find a luxurious spot that allows you the right combination of natural surroundings and modern conveniences, tranquillity and easy access. See the guide below for some of the top accommodation options in Palau.


ISLAND PARADISE RESORT, PALAU

Located in Koror, the Island Paradise Resort is located just five minutes from Downtown and a 30-minute drive from the airport. A free airport transfer service is provided by the resort.

If your essential criteria when choosing where to stay in Palau is luxury, the Island Paradise Resort is a good choice.
Boasting an isolated jungle setting, it is home to the only private beach in Koror. Guests have praised its stunning views, calling them the best view on the island.

Guests have access to a swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness centre, and gift shop. And wifi is provided across the resort.

A treat for the senses and a sanctuary for the soul
The Island Paradise Resort offers modern luxuries and a wide range of facilities for visitors.
Its design is inspired by Palau’s own culture and serene charm, encouraging guests to slow their pace and better appreciate the gifts of nature. Comfort, spaciousness, and style are combined to facilitate relaxation.

The resort’s stated philosophy is one of getting back to nature, enjoying oneself and relaxing.

Elegant accommodation options
The resort’s villas and bungalows all offer air-conditioning, daily housekeeping, in-room safes, bathrobes and slippers, cable television and movie channels, a telephone, and bathing amenities. There is also room service and laundry/ironing services.

The elegantly decorated accommodation combines modern luxury with Palau’s cultural traditions: beautiful wooden villas with charm, comfort, and style. Private balconies allow guests to enjoy ocean views at sunrise and sunset.

The Deluxe View and Moderate Rooms are sumptuous suites, elegantly decorated in luxurious and tropical tones.

And the Presidential Suite is the jewel in the resort’s crown, providing stately comfort and a tropical ambience.

Ocean front bungalows
Just steps from the white sandy beach, the resort’s private bungalows are exquisitely luxurious. The designs are inspired by Palau’s own centuries’ old architecture, and their rustic design belies the entirely modern conveniences inside.

Each bungalow comes full equipped with a Queen-size bed, air conditioning, TV and VCR, refrigerator, mini bar, coffee maker, electric kettle, and hair dryer.

Nestled in a tropical jungle, and with ocean views, the bungalows even offer some privacy from neighbours at the resort, with each built into its own sizeable plot.

Breakfast can be delivered to the bungalow, and room/balcony services are available until 9.00 pm every night.

Ocean View Restaurant
Guests at the resort can enjoy fresh and exciting cuisine in the Ocean View Restaurant. The freshest and most exciting cooking is served here all day, to diners enjoying breath-taking ocean views.

Breakfast is lavish, consisting of freshly baked pastries and a mouth-watering array of fruits and vegetables, and hot and cold dishes. And there are à la carte menus for lunch and dinner.
Guests can enjoy a romantic dinner at sunset, with exciting menus cooked to perfection.

White Sand Beach Swimming Pool Bar
Chill out beside the pool, with light snacks, drinks and cocktails from the White Sand Beach Swimming Pool Bar.
Fine wines, fresh juices, and snacks are served throughout the day.

See the surrounding area
A key concern when choosing where to stay in Palau will of course be access to the surrounding areas. The Island Paradise Resort is conveniently located for local transportation, nature hikes, and trips to the WWII relics and museum. It is also situated just a short walk from Elilai, Palau’s number one rated restaurant.


PALAU CENTRAL HOTEL, PALAU

Palau Central Hotel is another top choice for where to stay in Palau.
Conveniently located in the centre of downtown Koror, the hotel is a historical landmark, offering great service, comfort and convenience. It is widely regarded as some of the best value accommodation in Palau.

The hotel boasts 82 newly renovated, modern designer rooms. There is an in-house café, pool with sun loungers, a bar, conference centre, spa and retail space.
And an excellent team of staff on hand 24-hours a day pride themselves on the hotel’s level of hospitality and comfort.

The hotel gives easy access to a variety of restaurants, shopping, and other activities in the surrounding areas. These include jungle boat tours and cultural land tours. Visitors also enjoy the diverse marine life, including the legendary Jellyfish Lake and world-renowned dive and snorkel sites.

All the modern comforts
Palau Central Hotel’s rooms all include in-room amenities, such as Keurig® Coffee Machines, complimentary Wi-Fi, cable TV, a selection of free movies on-demand, air conditioning, refrigerator, USB outlets, hairdryer, ice, beach towels, and toiletries from HydroSpa®.

Standard rooms
The standard rooms accommodate two guests, with one King sized bed or two twin beds. All of the rooms have the standard hotel amenities and most have balconies. The east-facing balconies provide spectacular views of Palau’s famous Rock Islands.

The standard rooms offer a rain shower, vanity, closet, reading lights, Serta® mattress, hypoallergenic pillows, microfiber comforter, and more.

Economy rooms
The economy rooms are clean, comfortable, and very reasonably priced. They offer all room amenities, except breakfast buffet.

They are slightly smaller than the standard room, and have partial windows and/or obstructed views, but include a Queen sized bed.

Double rooms
Most of the double rooms have two Queen sized beds, though twin configurations are also available.

The double rooms offer all standard hotel amenities. Guests can also benefit from a rain shower, vanity, closet, reading lights, Serta® mattress, Instant On EcoGreen® Water heater, hypoallergenic pillows, and microfiber comforter.

Quality, service and convenience
The buffet breakfast is served daily in the comfortable guest lounge, and local snacks and fresh fruits are provided throughout the day.

The hotel’s additional services include laundry and room service, classic car transportation, and tour packages.

The Palau Central Hotel is a great choice of where to stay in Palau if you are looking for simple, reasonably priced service.


PALAU PACIFIC RESORT, PALAU

Palau Pacific Resort, flanked by lush tropical gardens and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is the ideal spot for a private, tropical beach holiday.

Designed with a respect for its natural surroundings, the resort stands no higher than the tallest coconut tree. It sprawls in 1,000 feet of beautiful white sandy beach, and boasts a private lagoon declared a Koror State conservation area, due to its hosting a variety of corals, fish, and giant clams.

The perfect choice of where to stay in Palau if you are seeking something special, the Palau Pacific Resort has its own dive centre located in-resort, ideal for convenient diving trips.

The award-winning resort benefits from 30 years of service in hospitality, and has been awarded the title of Dive & Travel Awards’ Best Diving Resort on more than one occasion, as well as being named one of the Republic of Palau’s Leading Hotels by World Travel Awards.

Privacy, luxury, convenience
The resort’s 160 unique villa-style guestrooms each benefit from the amenities expected of a world-class resort.

The Water Bungalows offer privacy and luxury, overlooking the pristine waters of the lagoon and offering guests stunning views of the Pacific.

And the white sandy beaches of course come equipped with beach cabañas, umbrellas, and sun loungers.

Dining on the ocean
Guests can enjoy an exclusive private dinner for two under the gazebo on the pier. Savour the sounds of the waves under your feet, as your seven-course dinner is served by your personal waiter.

Elilai Spa by Mandara
Elilai Spa in Palau is a perfect hideaway in peaceful soothing surroundings. Located at the secluded end of the Palau Pacific Resort, the spa offers a range of exotic body treatments, utilising the wisdom of ancient health and beauty traditions.

Guests can benefit from an exclusive range of beauty treatments by Elemis, the market leader in aromatherapy, to renew the body, mind and spirit.

With the exotic aromas of spices and fragrant blooms, and gentle soothing music, the senses are bathed and guests lulled into a state of bliss.

Open daily from 10.00 am to 9.00 pm.


ROSE GARDEN RESORT, PALAU

The Rose Garden Resort is another great choice for where to stay in Palau. Set in the hills of Ketund-Ngerkebesang, the resort offers scenic views of the mountains of Babeldaob and of the Pacific Ocean.

Located just 20 minutes from Palau International Airport, it is also within convenient reach of downtown Koror.

Island-style experience
The nature-friendly resort has been designed and built using natural materials native to the region. Offering an island experience, the accommodation is settled high on the hills and overlooks the Rock Islands and surrounding waters.

At this quiet and cosy resort, guests enjoy a warm hospitality and lovely ambiance.

Luxury accommodation
The resort comprises 20 custom-built, air-conditioned cottages, each offering stunning views of Malakal Lagoon and the surrounding islands.

Family rooms accommodate up to three people, with one Queen sized bed and one single bed; double rooms have one Queen sized bed; and twin rooms have two single beds.
The cottages benefit from peaceful private balconies, and a range of modern amenities, including a flat screen TV, DVD player, in-room security, telephone, hot shower, and Wi-Fi internet access. There is also air conditioning, non-smoking rooms, toiletries, satellite/cable TV, and in selected guestrooms a seating area.

Guests also have access to safety deposit boxes, an airport transfer service, laundry service, and an on-site coffee shop and bar. Room service is available 24 hours a day.

Activities for adventurous travellers
In terms of where to stay in Palau, this resort is particularly well suited to adventurous travellers and those who prefer a holiday with recreational activities.
Koror, in the heart of Palau, is situated close by, and the public park is just a ten-minute walk from the hotel. Visitors are invited to explore the surrounding areas and enjoy the friendly culture of the island.

You might take a refreshing swim in the pristine waters of Rock Island lagoons, or go diving at some of Palau’s world-renowned diving sites. There are also opportunities for kayaking around the rock islands of Koror and exploring the sights at Babeldaob Island.

International and Palauan cuisine
The Rose Garden Bar & Grill serves a variety of cuisines and chef’s specialties, offering mouth-watering options of international and Palauan cuisine. All served in elegant surroundings, in sight of the sea.


CAROLINES RESORT, PALAU

The Carolines Resort is named after the Caroline Islands, and this exquisite resort certainly deserves the honour.

Planted atop an ancient limestone hill, the 30-acre property enjoys panoramic views over the Rock Islands. There are breathtaking sunsets and tropical breezes, and a lush tropical jungle: this pristine paradise is a world-class choice for where to stay in Palau.

The Carolines Resort is conveniently situated just a ten-minute drive from downtown, with its shops and tour companies.

The resort is also located just steps away from the best dining experience in Palau. Elilai Restaurant is renowned for its menu of local seafood, steaks and pasta.

Traditional, tranquil accommodation
The resort comprises an exclusive selection of just eight bungalows, each handcrafted according to the style of traditional Palauan architecture. Local materials such as bamboo, mahogany and mangrove were used in the construction, and the finished edifices are made almost entirely from wood.

Set some distance from one another, the bungalows have been designed to provide tranquillity and privacy. Guests are invited to enjoy their private ocean views, and take advantage of superior service and hospitality.

Perhaps you are choosing where to stay in Palau for your honeymoon. Taking you away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Carolines Resort is a number one choice.

All necessary modern conveniences are provided. The large bedrooms enjoy queen size beds, air-conditioning, TVs, refrigerators, mini bars, coffee makers, a hair dryer on request, and private bathrooms with bath amenities.

Relaxation and adventure
Not only does the jungle location of the resort make it an ideal spot for bird watchers, it is also perfectly positioned for access to some of the world’s best diving sites.

Divers at Blue Corner, Devilfish City, and German Channel are likely to see sharks, manta rays, and coral reefs. The stunning drop-offs teeming with marine life, WWII wrecks, and Jellyfish Lake are all the stuff of diver legend, and diving enthusiasts travel from all corners of the world to see them.

Adventurers can also enjoy various nature hikes in the surrounding areas, and pay a visit to some of Palau’s beautiful marine lakes.


indonesia bali nusa dua grand hyatt bali swimming pool

My Top 10 Luxury Escapes

Looking for a luxury holiday in Bali?

Bali’s range of luxury accommodation includes beach resorts that showcase the very best of the locale, the facilities, and the breathtakingly beautiful setting.

The villas and hotels tend to be mid-range and upwards, attracting families and couples. Bali is also a popular wedding destination and top spot for romantic breaks.

For longer stays in Bali, visitors might choose to head out of town and down to Uluwatu. There, you will find the Uluwatu Temple, and some of Bali’s most beautiful beaches on the Bukit Peninsula. You could also take in some traditional Balinese Kecak dance.

If you’re looking for more variety, Jimbaran is just 30-60 minutes from the area of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, close enough to visit every few days. Jimbaran has limited shops and restaurants, but visitors can enjoy a variety of commercial outlets here.

Situated on Bali’s west coast, Jimbaran is just 20 minutes from the airport and you’ll find a taxi stand at Arrivals. Uluwatu is just 15-30 minutes south of Jimbaran, as is Nusa Dua. Ubud is just over two hours away.

You won’t need a car as Jimbaran is best explored on foot. If you’re planning to go a little further afield though, there is Bluebird Taxis and private drivers are available for hire.


Escape to the Luxury Grand Hyatt, Bali

The crown jewel of Bali’s resorts, the Grand Hyatt Bali is a world-class five star hotel. Set on a stretch of luxury beachfront at Nusa Dua, there are glistening white sands and turquoise waters to welcome you to this resort paradise.

A village-style resort, the Grand Hyatt Bali’s 636 luxury rooms and suites are situated in 24 low-rise Balinese villas. The hotel is awash with gardens, ponds, waterfalls and a playground of sculpted rivers and pools. There is a private beach for guests, and five swimming pools on site.

The hotel is conveniently located for airport access, leisure activities, trendy hotspots, and a convention centre. An ideal spot for a luxury escape to Bali.

On arrival, you will find an expansive lobby overlooking manicured gardens, with sea views. In the evening, you can enjoy views of the Indian Ocean from the rooftop Salsa bar. There is a wealth of luxurious facilities in the resort, and more accessible by short taxi ride, all in an exquisitely beautiful setting.

The Grand Hyatt Bali provides bespoke wedding event packages. Each event is customised to thedesires of the client, with a professional wedding planner to the details. The hotel hosts wedding ceremonies, receptions, and pre-wedding events, and in-house chefs ensure world-class catering to suit all styles.


Escape to the Luxury Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort

The Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort is a palatial resort on the southern coast of Bali, offering exceptional views of the Indian Ocean in a setting of luxurious natural beauty.

The secluded resort comprises 72 suites with sea views, and villas with private pools.

The activities at the resort are unsurpassed. As well as a fitness centre, Anantara Spa, and breath-taking cliff-edge infinity pool, guests can also enjoy elephant trekking and river rafting. There are yoga classes and cycling, cooking and dance classes, and golf on nearby world-class fairways.

The resort is a dream destination for surfers and water-sports enthusiasts. A private elevator takes guests down the cliff side onto ‘Impossible Beach’, a beach renowned for its incredible waves. Here, visitors can enjoy a ride along Impossible Break, the Padang Padang Tube, and easy take-offs at Bingin and Dreamland.

And the cuisine is sumptuous. Guests benefit from the Splash Pool Cliff Dining Retreat, Dining by Design, 360 Restaurant and SONO Teppanyaki. Visitors enjoy world-class local, international, and fusion cooking, dining in plush restaurant surroundings or served poolside or in-room. The 360 Restaurant, as its names suggests, provides 360-degree views of the stunning landscape, the Indian Ocean being particularly beautiful at sunset.

Luscious, secluded and extravagant, Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort is a popular choice for romantic luxury escapes to Bali and destination weddings. The resort offers a glass-fronted sea chapel, and lawned gardens with sea views, as a setting for your dream wedding.


Escape to The EDGE, Bali

The EDGE is one of Bali’s most luxurious villa resorts, located in the village of Pecatu, on the cliffs of Uluwatu. oneeighty° can be found here at The EDGE.

An indulgent celebration of sophisticated beach culture, oneeighty° offers a genuine luxury experience.

The five-star villas are large and well-appointed. There are two private pools and tropical gardens and private sundecks. And the villas benefit from state-of-the-art entertainment systems, private home theatres, and free wifi.

Guests benefit from a personal villa butler. The butler can help with arrangements for travel and entertainment, as well as preparing and serving breakfast in the private villa kitchen.

For lunch and dinner, gourmet menus are tailored by the Balinese Executive Chef, Nyoman Suasa, previously Sous Chef at the Beverley Wilshire on Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles. Diners will also appreciate the extensive, award-winning wine list and stellar cocktails from the mixologist team.

Visitors can enjoy the world-class spa and fitness centre, with relaxing body treatments and steam baths. World-class golf facilities are located nearby, and the glass-bottom sky pool is a sight to behold, extending six metres over the edge of the cliff.

The resort boasts a cliff-side VIP deck, a terrace and sand lounge, and an enclosed bar with 180° panoramic views of the landscape. The resort also has a wine cellar and cigar lounge.

Very highly rated by visitors for its location, The EDGE is situated just 45 minutes from Ngurah Rai International Airport.


Escape to the Luxury Karma Kandara, Bali

The luxury beach resort of Karma Kandara, Bali, is ideal for a blissful escape from the mundane. Nestled in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Bali’s Bukit Peninsula is better known as ‘Billionaire’s Row’. The Balinese retreat offers legendary opulence, with its spacious villas, fine restaurants, and world-class Karma Spa.

The Karma Spa is the jewel of this resort. Founded on the principle of karmic philosophy that pleasure should always be part of one’s cure, the spa offers indulgent, sensuous treatments to relax, restore, and rejuvenate. The Asian-inspired therapies are holistic in nature, with a focus on health, beauty, and wellbeing. In a beautiful setting, the Karma Spa is a sanctuary, and enjoyed equally by solo travellers and groups.

For livelier entertainment, there are the Karma Beach clubs. There is beachcombing and water-sports during the day, ensuring fun-filled events for families. And then DJs, live music, cocktails and seafood feasts for chilled-out luxury in the evenings. For hedonism in a paradise setting, the vibe here is world-class and unique.

Karma Kandara, Bali, sits in lush green landscapes, and provides breath-taking views of tropical beaches. An ideal choice for romantic breaks and larger gatherings, the spirit of Karma Kandara means blissful, barefoot days and carefree, glamorous nights.


Escape to the Luxury W Bali, Seminyak

W Bali, Seminyak, is regarded as one of the very best resorts in Bali. It combines modern convenience with cultural authenticity, set in sumptuous surroundings and landscapes of outstanding natural beauty.

The resort boasts eclectic boutiques, galleries, world-class dining and nightlife, and an army of staff to cater to visitors’ whims. There are even beach ambassadors to wait on you while you sunbathe.

The AWAY® SPA is a particular delight of the resort. Begin your luxury spa indulgence with mediation in one of the three single treatment rooms, and then move onto a full body and soul revival. There are also two double treatment rooms with Vitality Baths, and two spa suites with Wet & Dry Treatment Areas. For beauty treatments, guests can make use of the hair salon or mani/pedi facilities, and there is also a hamam and a detox/oxygen room.

For a more invigorating afternoon, guests can make use of the state-of-the-art fitness centre, aptly-named FIT. Open around the clock, there is early morning yoga and a gym open for midnight workouts.

The huge 1,790m2 swimming pool, WET®, has a design inspired by the Balinese rice fields and is open 24 hours a day.

OASIS is a further ‘escape within an escape’: a secluded spot in the most traditionally Balinese section of the resort. There are two reflective ponds and a lush tropical garden, with a Wantilan (Balinese pavilion). This oasis is ideal for private events, including destination weddings, intimate parties, and romantic dinners.


Escape to the Luxury Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort

Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort offers an escape into luxury. This upscale beachfront hotel combines contemporary design with Balinese and Indonesian cultural influences, creating an exquisite backdrop for an indulgent break.

The 60 properties comprise 59 suites and a penthouse, with ocean views from spacious balconies. Guests also benefit from an infinity-edge swimming pool with sea views, and Jacuzzi terrazzo bath tubs big enough for two. Offering an array of rejuvenating and revitalising treatments, there is the Anantara Spa.

MoonLite Kitchen and Bar is a rooftop restaurant, serving contemporary Asian cuisine, whilst Wild Orchid provides Asian and Continental cuisines. Visitors can also enjoy Dining by Design in any of the resort’s glorious surroundings.

Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort is ideally located for access to other leisure and shopping facilities in the area. The nightlife in particular is very popular with visitors, as are the numerous elegant restaurants and cafes. There are key historical sites popular with visitors to the region, and the local beaches offer first rate surfing and windsurfing.

With its backdrop of tropical paradise, Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort is a world-class option for destination weddings. Each wedding package is created bespoke, and there are wedding and event planners to take care of the details.


Escape to the Luxury Kembali Villas

Kembali Villas offers seven luxury private Western-style villas: four two-bedroom, and the rest with three bedrooms. The villas boast spacious, contemporary design and modern comforts, and privacy and customised service.

Kembali Villas offer a luxury escape to Seminyak, in tranquillity and indulgence.

Each villa has a private garden and swimming pool, and benefits from the service of friendly professional staff. A room maid prepares breakfast for guests in their own villa from 8.00 am, and afterwards makes up the bedroom and collects the laundry, then leaves visitors to their privacy. A gardener and pool attendant service the pool and garden, and there are four security guards on site.

Guests can benefit from babysitting services, and staff are available for help with flight bookings, reconfirmation and other airline information, as well as luggage handling, secretarial services, wake-up calls, mail and courier services, internet and fax facilities. A complimentary airport transfer is provided.


Escape to the Luxury Maca Villas & Spa, Bali

Inspired by the notion of the tropical village, the Maca Villas are 25 private villas set into a lush Balinese landscape. The resort is located in Seminyak, a tropical sanctuary that combines contemporary design and high-end luxury, with the sensuality of the natural world.

Environmentally conscious in its design, the Maca Villas are aesthetically sympathetic to the setting, and leave the smallest possible carbon footprint.

The décor is striking. Built with organic structural materials, the villas weave customised furnishings and Bali-inspired pieces of contemporary artistry. Each villa benefits from LCD flat screen televisions with satellite channels, iPod docking station, and high-speed internet; and provides cool ocean breezes and an abundance of natural sunlight.

Breakfast is served each morning by a personal butler.

Offering an escape from the frenetic pace of mainstream tourism, the compound provides total privacy, security, and peace of mind. The seamless outdoor and indoor living spaces allow for luxurious days around the pool or in the spa, and evenings in one of the best wine bars on the island, Masé Kitchen & Wine Bar.

The Masé Kitchen & Wine Bar is a charming fine dining restaurant and wine bar. Guests enjoy international cuisine with a twist, and an extensive wine list. Open from 7.00 am to 11.00 pm, the restaurant is available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Maca Villas are a perfect base from which to enjoy island life.


Escape to the Luxury Viceroy, Bali

The Viceroy, Bali, is owned and operated by an Australian family, and the hospitality at this resort reflects a real understanding of the needs of international guests.

The surrounding villages in Ubud have played host to Balinese royalty for generations, earning the region the appellation of ‘the Valley of the Kings’. This opulence and sophistication is more than evident at Viceroy.

The Viceroy, Bali, is situated just a short distance from the village of Ubud. A charming destination for those seeking to explore outside the resort. Here, visitors will find local shops, galleries, and chichi cafés.

The resort comprises 25 luxuriously appointed private villas and places an emphasis on privacy and comfort. Offering a tropical sanctuary for travellers from around the world, there are breath-taking views of Ubud’s ancient tropical landscape.

All the villas are well-appointed, with state-of-the-art electronics, an espresso machine and full mini bar, in the height of comfort and chic design.

The leisure facilities include a valley-top infinity pool and complete modern gymnasium. Guests benefit from a restaurant and bar, CasCades, and a luxuriant spa and beauty centre, Lembah.


Escape to the Luxury Hanging Gardens Of Bali

The Hanging Gardens of Bali, known as the world’s first seven-star boutique hotel, is a luxury destination in the heart of the jungle.

Offering an escape into the centre of the magical Island of Gods, the Hanging Gardens of Bali is nestled among rainforests and rice terraces, on the edge of a breath-taking valley. The resort benefits from lush indigenous flora and fauna: a genuine tropical paradise of cocoa and coffee trees, bamboo, flame trees, and orchids.

The resort is situated near Payangan and overlooks the Ayung River and ancient Dalem Segara temple.

The villas have been carefully and sympathetically woven into their surrounding landscape, with 700 local craftsmen creating the structures using traditional materials and indigenous ideas. Each of the 44 villas boasts a traditional Alang Alang thatched roof and an immersive experience in a tropical environment.

Visitors are led from the reception by a winding path of 88 steps to the award-winning resort restaurant at the Hanging Gardens of Bali.

Beyond this is one of the resort’s famous and award-winning swimming pools. Suspended above the rainforest, the infinity pool was designed by a specialist architect and draws visitors from across the world.

Palau Pacific Resort Micronesia Seaside Dining

Palau Pacific Resort

Discover a tropical island dream like no other at Palau Pacific Resort

Palau Pacific Resort sits on 64 acres of lush tropical gardens and a white sand beach. The property boasts a private lagoon with excellent snorkelling right off its shore, and includes some of the best dining and recreational facilities on the island.

Relax in the privacy and luxury of your own room with a choice of accommodation options. There are 165 rooms including garden view, ocean view, oceanfront, suites and overwater bungalows, each decorated in an island motif with all the modern amenities expected of a world-class resort

The five overwater bungalows feature large living areas with a glass floor for a glimpse of the ocean below. Outdoors, a private furnished deck with sun loungers and steps down into the ocean, is the perfect place for romantic dinners as the sun sets.

Milad Gift Shop offers a wide range of resort logo and top name brands in apparel, footwear and gift items, local arts and crafts, jewellery and accessories, as well as food and beverages. Captain Wilson Gallery is an ocean-themed art gallery showcasing and selling Palau photo prints and unique ocean gifts. Customers will have access to various slideshows on Palau’s birds, marine life, scenery, culture and history, and books on Palau available for sale at the gallery.

The resort is the perfect place for honeymoons and weddings. Be surrounded by the gentle sound of the sea in an intimate setting as you make your everlasting vows of love.

With many romantic locations on the property, Palau Pacific Resort is sure to make your experience on this truly special day one to always remember.

Guests can enjoy appetising dining opportunities at Palau Pacific Resort’s Restaurants whether it is casual or fine dining whilst being entertained by local performers.

Elilai Spa by Mandara is a perfect hideaway secluded at the end of the resort which offers an exotic range of body treatments combining wisdom and allure of ancient health and beauty traditions, to renew your body, mind and spirit. An exclusive range of beauty treatments by Elemis, a market leader in aroma therapy is available. The exotic aromas of spices and fragrant blooms and the gentle sound of soothing music will bathe your senses and lull you into a blissful state of relaxation.

Palau Pacific Resort 

PO Box 308, Koror PALAU 96940
Tel: +680 4882600
Fax: +680 4881606
Email: [email protected]ppr-palau.com
http://www.palauppr.com