Next stop on the Pacifying the Pacific Tour is Palau, country 177! With four days to explore the beautiful islands and Palau top sights, we had a packed schedule to see the highlights of this magnificent country.
Most visitors are based in Koror, the largest state and city. Koror also use to be the capital of the country, until it was moved to the north western city of Ngerulmud. The majority of hotels and restaurants are in Koror. We stayed in Palau Royal Resort which is more of a large resort experience and we also stayed at Aliiibamou Resorts Carolines, which is much quieter in the mountains with great views.
You can easily spend a day exploring Koror and the surrounding area. The Belau National Museum & Bai gives a concise introduction into the culture and heritage of Palau. Etpison Museum showcases the area’s history and traditions with displays of artifacts and photographs. Don’t miss the impressive shop on the top floor. The Palau Visitor’s Authority is a good place to get some maps and ask any specific questions about your visit.
The main island named Babeldaob is the largest of the country and has a circular road that will take you by the interesting sights. We rented a car which was an easy and flexible way to explore. There are also tour buses making the trip to specific sights.
Going north from the west side, you’ll find the Ngardmau Falls which is at the end of a decent hike. You’ll pass lush forest, scenic panoramas, railroad tracks from WWII, and walk through a low river on the way to the falls. There is also a cart to take you up if you are too tired to walk.
If interested in WWII history, there are several areas where Japanese guns are left in their original location. Check the tourist map to find the guns. Many of them are unmarked and up some questionable dirt roads (though we made it with a regular car without 4 wheel drive).
On one of the side roads we found the Palau Community College Multi Species Hatchery where they grow and cultivate local crabs and fish.
At the northern end of the island is the Badrulchau Stone Monoliths. Nicknamed the “Easter Island of Micronesia”, these 37 mysterious stone pillars are dated AD100 thought to be the foundations of a temple. It is still unknown where they brought this basalt stone from and how they moved such heavy pieces with their primitive technology. This reminded me of the mystery of the ancient arch in Tonga.
Near the monoliths is another WWII site. The Japanese had built a communications tower on the top of the hill and it is completely destroyed from bombardments and gunfire during the war. There are some great views from the top!
On the east side you’ll find the current capital of Ngerulmud.
In the south of the island is the international airport as well as Kaigun Sho, a Japanese communications center destroyed by bombing during the war.
Some of the most famous sites of Palau are actually a boat ride away.
Jellyfish Lake is a must-do if visiting Palau. This lake has jellyfish that did not evolve with the ability to sting due to not having any natural predators in an enclosed area. Swimming around and having jellyfish bounce off of your body is really a memorable experience!
There are several tour companies that go to the islands. I went with Rock Island Tour Company which seems to be focused on Japanese clients. They had an excellent tour to the Milky Way where we covered and bathed ourselves in the mineral rich mud of the area. Then we went to the lake to swim with the jellyfish. A lunch was included on a picturesque island before heading to Long Beach. This long sandy bank appears at low tide and is ideal for photo-ops.
There are many day tour options. We spent a day on a combined snorkeling and kayaking tour of the Rock Islands. We found colorful reefs, crystal clear water and remnants of WWII structures.
For those interested in WWII history, Peleliu Island is a must see. This day long tour takes you to one of the bloodiest battles of the pacific campaign. The US had over 10,000 casualties (2,333 killed) while the Japanese’s entire force of 10,900 was killed except for 200 odd soldiers that surrendered. There were even three episodes of “The Pacific” focused on this battle.
On this tour you will visit the Japanese tunnels, defense guns hidden in the mountains, tanks, planes, guns, a bombed out Japanese Military Headquarters, the WWII Memorial Museum and graveyards. Walk across the airfield that so many lost their lives to control. Scale the infamous “Bloody Nose Ridge” where an active demining operation is still underway.
If seeking adventure, culture, and history in an exotic location, Palau is an ideal destination!
Check out the Facebook album for my set of Palau pictures!