Palau, a group of islands in the western Pacific Ocean, is best known for its excellent diving. Situated near destinations such as Australia, Japan, and Indonesia, the quiet islands of Palau offer a unique tropical experience. The climate of Palau is tropical, but is situated outside the major typhoon zone. Americans will find Palau to be a very convenient international destination, as the national currency is the U.S. dollar, English is an official language, and visitor visas are not required from U.S. citizens.
While Palauans are inspiringly proud of their culture and heritage, the history of the Republic of Palau encompasses many nationalities, including rule by the Spanish, German, and Japanese. However, they were granted full sovereignty under the United States in 1994 and continue to govern themselves under their traditional government. Visitors to the islands can see many international influences throughout the islands, including remnants of World War II battles.
The most popular hotel in the Republic of Palau is the Palau Pacific Resort (pictured) on the western shore of Ngerkebesang Island within the state of Koror. This tropical resort is made up of 160 rooms nestled within tropical gardens along a 1,000-foot long white sand beach. The resort offers a pool and hot tub, a fitness center, concierge services, and its own five-star PADI-certified dive center. Comparable luxury resorts include the Palau Plantation Resort and Caroline’s Resort, both located on Koror Island. Smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts, such as the Landmark Marina on Koror Island, are also available. Bungalows and cottages are also available to rent through companies such as M&A Riverside on Koror Island.
Jellyfish Lake Image: tata_aka_T (flickr)
Jellyfish Lake is a small body of water nestled on the Palau island of Eil Malk. It is one of nearly 70 marine lakes located throughout the Rock Islands in the Southern Lagoon of Palau. Jellyfish Lake is very unique, as it is one of the few lakes in the world to be fed by the rising tides of the ocean through tunnels, yet its waters remain permanently stratified into two separate layers. The bottom layer of Jellyfish Lake is anoxic, containing no oxygen, rendering it uninhabitable for many organisms. This layer is high in hydrogen sulfide and almost entirely unaffected by the tidal activity of the ocean. The top layer of water is what makes draws visitors to Jellyfish Lake. Extending to approximately 50 feet in depth, this layer of water is oxygenated and mixes daily with the ocean tides, making it the perfect home for millions of golden and moon jellyfish. Each day, the jellyfish migrate horizontally across the lake, creating a stunning spectacle for snorkeling.
Koror is the most prominent island, the most populated state, the busiest commercial center, and the former capital city of the Republic of Palau. Koror is also connected by bridge to the Palau International Airport, located on the nearby island of Babeldaob. For these reasons, most visitors to Palau are based in the city of Koror. The city is well equipped with tourist services, including lodging accommodations, multilingual business centers, and dive operators. There are two sites within Koror that are especially fascinating. Visitors interested in swimming with trained dolphins are welcomed at Dolphins Pacific, the world’s largest dolphin research facility. Also, the prisoners of Palau’s only correctional facility, Koror Jail, are known for creating stunning woodwork. Their pieces are for sale at a shop on the grounds of the jail. The Rock Islands, home to many of Palau’s best diving and snorkeling sites, are also located in the state of Koror.