Published: June 15th 2008June 4th 2008
I am happy never to go to another country on holiday again, for me Palau was perfect.
The islands are green and lush, the sea is crystal clear and teeming with life, the sky is a Turner what more could I ask for.
Palau is about a two hour flight east of the Philippines, and has been occupied by the Americans and the Japanese at different points through history. Now the Islands are independant from America since 1994 (we were told, he didn't see too sure) although they still use the dollar most of the ties to America in terms of culture are easy to see. This is the same for the Japenese influences too.
We were collected a the airport by the manager of our guesthouse and her husband and given a necklace of fresh frangipanis (White Flowers) each, for me it was the perfect start.
Our guest house was our own private bungalow overlooking Koror and the sea, although we couldndt see that until the morning. The bungalow itself was beautiful and clean and very private, it would have been perfect if we were on honeymoon. There was a giant Geco (Not
Room with a View
This is where we wouls sit to have our breakfast everymorning on our private balcony - we can also see this view from the bed. It's a good life.
sure how to spell that) right outside and as we were set in the tropical forest all around us we could hear the place teeming with life.
Next day we were brought breakfast in bed ! how good is that, which we had on our balcony overlooking our breathtaking view. Then the boring stuff - hire a car, go to dive shop to get gear etc etc. After we had done that we went to The Palau Pacific Resort which was the 4* resort that we had access to ie Pool, Beach etc. So this 4* hotel was more like 6* it was so beautiful, but best of all the private perfect white beach with no waves whatsoever had it's own private coral reef right on the beach, I was in heaven (Oh and I forgot to mention the sea was like stepping into a bath) I could have happily spent the next 9 days snorkeling just on that coral reef. Another point to mention is that it was/is the low season so the hotel was basically empty only a handful of people staying there, so this added to the deserted island paradise feel of the place. We had
dinner at the PPR resrt that night and then the next day just spent the whole day snorkeling on our private reef. (Please see pictures to get details of al the fish we saw.)
The next day was a Saturday and time for our fist dive in Palau. The two dive sites we went to were Turtle Wall at Turtle Cove and Big Drop off. Both dives were truly magical with many turtles and many varieties of fish and some sharks too at Turtle Wall and at Big drop off more of the same except no turtles but huge beautiful fan corals and what felt like an eternity of sea below us - hense the name big drop off. It was one of the best experiences on our trip. We then stopped at a deserted island for lunch, just imagine pristine white sand, streching into crystal clear water that turned cyan, turquoise, sky blue and then deep blue, with stunning clifs rising from the ocean that are covered with lush vegitation. It is so picturesque I could hardly beleive no one lived there. so We had lunch and then a little snorkeling in the water while everyone else sunbathed
and finished lunch. The Dive master said if we went just a bit further out where it got a little deeper we should see sharks. We saw sharks, we saw about 5/6 of them all swimming together, circling us (But not in a predatory way) then we had watched so long the boat was ready to go and trying to signal us out the water - oops.
We had planned to go to the infamous Jelly fish lake, one of the main reasons I was so interested to go to Palau in the first place. The Jelly fish lake is a lake in the center of one of the islands in the misslde of the ocean, the lake at one point had been linked to the sea and then cut off from the sea, over thousands of years the jelly fish trapped in this lake had evolved and lost their sting as they had no natural predators in the lake and had no need to defend themselves. Now they swim from one side of the lake to the other each day, asorbing the light from the sun and feeding off microbes in the lake. The jelly fish in the
Palau - Turtle at Turtle cove
So while I was busily trying to take pics of turtles miles away, one swam right over my head, I didn't find out till we got back on the boat ! Doh.
lake are so abundant and group together that when you swim in the lake you are surrounded by them. It was a really peacful experience for me (Once a group of russians that had paid 20 dollars to go then and then decided to have a water fight with the jelly fish had gotten out, probably because they saw the vein in Grae's neck aout to pop because they were killing the jellyfish we had travelled so fr to see!) so once they left it was just me (It bummed Grae out a little) I was all alone surronded by thousands of jelly fish, what an experience.
The next day we decided to take a drive to a waterfall on the island which is one of the other only tourist attractions apart from the diving and snorkeling. We drove over to the largest isand (Most of the islands are connected by bridges) The largest island is going to be the capitalin the future and they have built a massive replica of the white house or some similar building to house their government, it is however one of the only buildings on this island, so it is really funny when
Nudibranch (I Think) Palau
The dive master said the bright yellow things were NudiBranches, but I hold my judgement, it looks more like coral to me.
you have been driving for 30 mins all round the island and see no buildings and then all of a sudden there is a gleeming tribute to America in the middle of nowhere. Anyway we finally find the waterfall or the entrance to the walk to the waterfall at least, as were not on a guided tour this was a feat in itself. We start the trek to this waterfall clmbing down steep steps in the rainforest, then we come aross a old overgrown railroad in the jungle, it was very reminicent of Indiana Jones, so it was quite fun. After about 10 more minutes walking through the jungle and then down a steep hill we come to the river, we then have to walk along the river to get to the waterfall, there were a few small waterfalls on our way but we carried on following the signs which led us back into the jungle. Except tis time the jungle has now turned into a mud bath and Grae and I only have flip flops on, we had to try to walk for about 20 mins in mud mid way up to our knees - there was no going
back now !, we then had to wade across a river and finally we come to the waterfall. Yes it was pretty cool, but possible the walk was more fun. So we discovered that the rest of the people there on tours had simply waded along the river for about 5 mins to get to the waterfall, we had really gone the long way round !, but well worth it for te sense of adventure we had.
After the waterfall we should have gone up to the top of the island to see the heads (Similar to what you find on the cook islands I beleive) but we felt prety gross so headed back to our resort.
The next day was more diving, we dived another two sites - the first was Virgin Blue hole and then Blue Corner. We couldn't go into the virgin blue hole (Long cave which pops you out at the end) as it was at a depth below 18 m (Our Limit) but we joined in after the rest of the group had come out and swam with thecurrent along the wall. We did get to do a couple of swim throughs though
which are supper cool, as it is like swimming into a cave but you ome out pretty much straight away, it just looks so beautiful. The second dive at Blue Corner was easily the best dive we have done and the most wonderful experience I have had on this trip. As the current is too stong to swim against and if you let it take you you would go too fast to see aything, you are hooked onto the reef with a reef hook (It doesn't damage the reef, and it is no where near soft corals) and watch the sea world go by. We saw about 15 sharks, white tip, black tip, grey reef sharks, a school of barracuda, nepolian wrasse, it was just really wonderful and I would recommend tis dive site to everyone !.
That is it for now, I will write more soon and add pics when I an get to a comp with a couple of USB Ports.
There are more photos below