Palau (or Belau) is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, 300 miles east of the Philippines and 325 miles north of Indonesia.
Palau is made up of six groups of more than 300 islands in total forming a north south archipelago at the westernmost edge of the Caroline chain of islands.
The islands of Angaur, Babelthuap, Koror (the most populated) and Peleliu lie together within the same barrier reef. These islands are high and hilly and covered in tropical forest.
Kayangel is to the north of these islands and is a coral atoll, low lying with fringing reefs.
There are around 70 uninhabited rock islands to the west and a remote group of five islands, the Southwest Islands.
The islands are limestone coral reefs which have been lifted above sea level and undercut by ocean currents to look like giant mushrooms.
Palau enjoys a tropical climate all year round with fairly high rainfall typified by sudden downpours followed by sunshine especially during the rainy season from July to October. Palau is outwith the main typhoon zone so typhoons are rare. If they do occur, they will do so between the months of June and December.
How to get there
Continental Airlines have daily two hour flights from Guam to Koror in Palau. They also fly to Manila twice a week (two and a half hours). Guam is well connected for onward travel.
Far Eastern Air Transport have twice-weekly flights flights from Taipei in Taiwan
Between the different islands there are passenger boats. Alternatively small sea planes, boats and yachts can all be chartered.
Where to stay
There is a wide variety of accommodation available in Palau especially in Koror. These range from international standard hotels and luxury resorts to economical motels and guesthouses.
Self catering traditional style bungalows can also be rented. These are usually located in stunningly secluded surroundings. Camping facilities are also available.
In places with no overnight accommodation, it is possible to ask to stay in a family home.
Restaurants cater for all tastes with the widest selection being found in the capital town of Koror.
What to see
There are few places in the world that can boast the underwater wonderlands of Palau. Three oceans converge here bringing with them a variety of marine animals. There are so many dive sites (Blue Corner, Big Drop Off, Chandelier Cave, Devilfish City, Jellyfish Lake, Turtle Cove and Shark City to name a few) that it is no wonder divers consider it one of the best diving spots of the world.
Dive schools offer a range of courses with certification at the end. You will be able to charter a boat, construct a personal itinerary with their help and guidance if necessary, and hire equipment including underwater cameras and videos.
Kayaking, snorkelling, birdwatching, sunbathing, fishing and trekking are also available for visitors.
An interesting trip is to the Rock Islands. Years ago the people of Yap travelled the 500 miles to quarry their stone money from the limestone rock. One piece of Yap money unsurprisingly never left the island - it is three metres in diameter.
Wallis and Futuna
The Federated States of Micronesia
Northern Mariana Islands
Torres Strait Islands
Papa Mike's Palau Islands Handbook
This is the only guidebook written devoted entirely to Palau, and is written in a relaxed style, full of helpful information, presented with a touch of humour and the author's personal opinions. With extensive, up to date lists of accommodations, website and email addresses, complete Inter-Island flight schedules and island ferry boat schedules and extensive coverage of activities on each island. Diving, Fishing, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Surfing, Tours and Cultural Events. Over 40 maps and pictures.
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