Wow! Palau!

Trip Start Jan 15, 2008
Trip End Jul 17, 2008

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Flag of Palau  ,
Friday, June 27, 2008

Palau was AMAZING! I cannot wait to go back! I recommend this trip to EVERYONE! The diving was phenomenal, the people were great, and the beauty of the island was breathtaking. We were lucky enough to get a package deal with the airlines to stay at the Palau Pacific Resort. What a gorgeous luxurious spot!

Palau is one of the most extraordinary diving spots on this planet. Far to the southwest of Micronesia the Republic of Belau (the traditional name) consists of an archipelago of 343 islands, spread north to south over 100 miles form the atoll of Kayangel to the island of Angaur plus five tiny islands, known as the southwest islands.

Palau's profuse, unspoiled reefs offer a wealth of marine life, coral formations and wrecks. Dives begin in knee deep water and plunge straight down to depths of 1000 feet and more. Blue holes, huge caverns and an immense variety of rare and exotic marine species are easily accessible in clear water with visibility exceeding 200 feet. Vast numbers, not found anywhere else in the world, of large pelagic predators, sharks, turtles, dolphins and many species of migratory fish gather here at a unique crossroads of three of the world's major ocean currents. Land locked marine lakes, accessible from the sea through tunnels beneath the island's steep shorelines, are home to rare jelly fish, anemones and soft corals. Palau offers an enormous number of diversified diving experiences not duplicated anywhere else in the world. There are over 100 different dive sites in and around the 90 mile coral lagoon and adjacent islands. Palau was named the Number One Underwater Wonder of the World by CEDAM -- a group of marine scientists and conservationists. It's the best diving I've ever done! Over 1300 types of fish inhabit the region, including manta rays, barracuda, sharks and giant clams. We went with Sam's Tours, which I highly recommend to all of you divers out there. There were plenty sharks swimming with us... black tip and white tip. We also saw turtles and several extraordinary corals and fish. There was this one fish called the Napolean fish. They are huge and so friendly! The one we saw was my size and since they are so curious, they swim up to you and follow you around. We were able to pet it!

Palau's famed "Rock Islands" are a collection of rounded, foliage-covered isles which seem to float above the surface of the water. A boat trip through them revealed a number of magnificent white sand beach hideaways. Below the water's surface, divers and snorkelers are treated to a diverse technicolor paradise of fabulous drop-offs, blue holes , breathtaking reefs, crystal caves and World War II wrecks. My favorite dives were the Blue Corner and Ulong Channel. We also went to Jelly Fish Lake and visited the Clam Farm... with abandoned Clam shells way bigger than me.

Jellyfish Lake is a well-known dive site. It is one of the rock islands, known to Palau's natives as Ongeim'l Tketau, is one of over 70 similar saltwater lakes in the islands and contains over ten million jellyfish that have descended and evolved from a common ancestor, the spotted jellyfish. Jellyfish Lake is completely isolated, but in the distant past, it had an outlet to the ocean. The outlet was closed off and the high jellyfish population was isolated and started to feed on quickly-reproducing algae. Contrary to popular belief, the jellyfish of Jellyfish Lake do have small stinging cells, or nematocysts. However, because the stinging cells are so tiny, their sting is not detectable on most human tissue, so tourists can enjoy swimming with them much closer than would be possible anywhere else. So, we swam with the Jellyfish and it was incredible how many there were. You could not move with out touching one, so you just float and try not to hit them. It was the coolest, creepiest thing EVER!

At night, the jellyfish descend into a layer of hydrogen sulfide which is found below 15-20m of depth. SCUBA diving in the lake is prohibited to avoid disturbing the jellyfish and also to reduce the risk of hydrogen sulfide poisoning.

What else!?? We met some boys on the flight over and they decided to stay at the same hotel. So, we basically ended up spending our entire trip with them. We went to clubs, got scammed by Parker, a local "taxi" driver, and rented a car and toured the islands with them. It was such a great experience!

The whole trip was well worth it and I can't wait to go back one day!
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clark_14 on

I think Palau is so beautiful, and your journal is amazing. Jellyfish Lake is so amazing. I also want to dive in Palau. If I go to Palau someday, maybe I will follow the schedule in your journal. By the way, these photos are so gorgeous.

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