Palau. Description, photos, attractions, interesting facts

Palau’s 12 Best Sights

The state in the Pacific Ocean consists of more than two hundred coral and volcanic islands. Tourism in Palau is centered around fantastic beaches, diving and snorkeling. For lovers of architecture and antiquity, the archipelago has cultural and historical attractions.

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Noteworthy cities and islands

Peleliu Island

ostrov peleliu

Peleliu Island is the southern border of the Rock Islands. It was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1985 because of the role it played in World War II. Some of the fiercest battles in the Pacific took place in these waters.

Submerged military wrecks, fighter jets, rusted machine guns and hidden bunkers rest on the bottom as a memory of the thousands of men who lost their lives here. Scattered across the island are military artifacts: tanks, helmets, and bomb casings.

Peleliu is surrounded by coral reefs, where sea creatures live: anemones, crabs, bright tropical fish. Here are the best places for diving.

Ngerulmud

ngerulmund

The city of Ngerulmud, the capital of Palau, is on the island of Babeldaobe. Travelers here visit Del El-Bad-er-Beriber, the famous stone bridge around the ancient dock, and the Stone Faces of Odalmelech, sculptures of traditional gods skillfully carved from stone. There are also quite a few ancient buildings in the capital, such as the local Capitol, which is almost an exact replica of Washington’s.

Koror

koror

The largest city of Palau, a business center with many stores and boutiques, restaurants and cafes. Koror has a strong concentration of cultural sites, museums, galleries, and a vibrant nightlife with lots of partying and entertainment.

Dolphins are plentiful along the island’s coast and as such, the island has dolphin research and marine mammal observation centers.

Babeldob Island

babeldob

The largest island of the archipelago is 43 kilometers long and 24 kilometers wide. It is a tropical gem attracted by lush green vegetation, steep mountains, freshwater lakes and sand dunes.There are hiking trails, off-road bike trails and mountain biking trails.

Airai

airai

Airai, with a population of about 3,000, is the second most populous state in the archipelago with the capital of the same name. The town is best known for its traditional Palauan meetinghouse for men, the so-called Bai. In the old days, every village in Palau had its own Bai.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were still more than one hundred such buildings in Palau. Each was used as a meeting hall for the ruling elders, served as a social and center, and was located in the village square.

The bai were built of fine wood and artfully decorated with traditional patterns and flowers. Today, the airai hall is available to the public as a museum.

Natural attractions

Jellyfish Lake

osero medus

A popular lake in Palau is located on the island of Ail Mulk. It attracts fans of diving, snorkeling and swimming. The lake gets its name because of the millions of golden jellyfish. It is safe because it is cut off from the big water and jellyfish have no natural enemies here. Under such conditions, they have evolved and now do not sting at all.

Ngardmau Falls in Babeldob

vodopad

Ngardmau is the largest waterfall in Palau. It is 30 meters high and 37 meters wide. If you go downstream, you can find beautiful small pools and miniature waterfalls. Climbing to the top of the waterfall, tourists encounter the ruins of Japanese buildings from colonial times as well as parts of the old railway system.

According to Palauan legend, Ngardmau Falls is a spirit, a huge eel with one eye, who was considered a god. One day he fell into a deep sleep and could not wake up again. Then his body turned into a river, and his head became Ngardmau’s waterfall.

The Milky Way in the Rocky Islands

mlechni put

A beautiful bay with milky white water is located within the Rock Islands. The warm and silky water is very attractive, but the real attraction is the fine white sediment at the bottom of the lagoon.

For more than a thousand years, the tides have been bringing water into the lagoon enriched with particles of limestone and chalk that sink to the bottom, creating a thick layer of white mud. Experts say that after mud baths in the bay the skin becomes younger.

Kayangel Atoll

attol kayangel

Kayangel is the only coral atoll in Palau. Despite typhoon damage a few years ago, Kayangel still beckons with stunningly beautiful white sand beaches and large seashells.

The water around the atoll is an azure color. It’s the perfect place to sit in shallow water and contemplate the ocean. Sometimes wild dolphins come to the atoll.

Historical and cultural attractions

Belau National Museum

nac musei

Learn about the origins and rich cultural heritage of the people of Palau at the Belau Museum, which houses more than a thousand relics of the past, including money and traditional weapons. Exhibitions include photographs, artwork, sculptures and carvings.

Badrulhau Stones.

kamni badrulhao

Badrulhau’s 37 stone monoliths are concrete examples of Babylon’s early civilization. The basalt stone pillars weigh up to 4,500 pounds each date from about 100 AD. Archaeologists believe they may have been the support for a building. The stones are located in a field in the north of Babeldob Island.

Etpison Museum in Corora

musei koror

This small museum offers an eclectic collection of exhibits on the history and culture of Palau and Micronesia.

Exhibitions focus on ancient money and other means of payment used before coins were invented. There are also collections of canoes, photographs, sculptures, and an extensive collection of old Micronesian maps and prints. The museum oversees many of the region’s environmental and conservation programs.

Palau – a tropical archipelago of enchanted islands

800 kilometers east of the Philippines and 900 kilometers north of Indonesia lies the beautiful Palau Archipelago. It is located in the waters of the Philippine Sea in the western Pacific. Palau is a dream destination for tourists (especially divers) and a tropical paradise with hundreds of islands, lagoons with crystal clear waters and a rich underwater world.

Palau Islands

General Information

Palau, or more precisely the Republic of Palau is an island nation of 328 islands with a total land area of 458 km2 . According to other data, there are 340 islands and a corresponding area of 466km2 . The difference in numbers is due to the methods of calculation. That is, some people consider a small rock formation as an island (such as in the photo below), others do not.

Palau Archipelago

A lonely islet in the archipelago.

Or, for example, an island separated by a small and shallow sea strait to count as one or two.

The islands of Palau are diverse, there are high (like Babeltuap Island) and low, almost at sea level (Kayangel), limestone, coral and volcanic.

It is noteworthy that only 8 islands are inhabited by man. All the rest are a realm of nature, stunning landscapes, blue lagoons, and an incredible atmosphere of amazing Pacific paradise islands.

Palau has close ties to the United States of America. In fact, the republic is associated with the United States, although territorially it belongs to Micronesia. The economy consists mainly of tourism, subsistence agriculture, and fishing. The official monetary unit is the U.S. dollar.

One of Palau's fish farms

One of the fish farms

Palau Climate

The climate on the islands is tropical, with the classic wet and dry seasons, but they have little or no significant and drastic differences. The wet season is from May to November, while the dry season is from December to April.

The average annual temperature in the archipelago is about +28 o C. And its seasonal fluctuations are very small. We can firmly say that it is summer all year round.

The islands are located just 7.5 degrees north of the equator. They are characterized by high humidity of over 80%. Annual rainfall reaches 4000 mm. and is relatively evenly distributed through all months, ranging from 210 mm in May and reaching a maximum of 400-450 mm in June-July.

Palau Archipelago

Palau’s flora and fauna

Vegetation, which covers most islands in abundance, includes large areas of mangrove swamps, savannah, and, at higher elevations, tropical forest. Cultivated plants include taro, cassava, sweet potatoes, coconut palms, bananas, a variety of citrus fruits, and other tropical exotic fruits.

The marine life is extremely diverse. In the surrounding waters there are more than 1,500 species of beautiful tropical fish and about 700 varieties of corals and anemones. In addition, sea turtles, sea cows, sharks and moray eels live in the coastal waters.

Palau Underwater World

Underwater world of the archipelago

Many varieties of other living creatures live on the islands of the archipelago. Among them, some are endemic.

You can find the saltwater crocodile in Palau. They usually live in numerous mangroves. This type of reptile is considered extremely dangerous, but there has been only one recorded tragic case of a crocodile attacking a human being on the islands. This was back in the 1960s. The largest crocodile found here was 4.5 meters long.

A brief digression into Palau’s history

According to scientists the archipelago was settled about 4-5 thousand years ago, presumably by settlers from the Philippines or Indonesia.

It is believed that the first European arrived here (in 1543), Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos. But there is no reliable data on this.

In 1686, Spain declared Palau as its own archipelago, but did nothing to colonize it. The Spanish were so impressed by the beauty of the islands scattered in the equatorial Pacific that they called them the Enchanted Islands (Spanish: Islas Encantadas).

The Enchanted Islands of Palau

Palau – the Enchanted Islands

It’s been 240 years since Europeans discovered the islands, and it wasn’t until 1783 that links were established between Europe and Palau. This might not have happened if the English ship Antelope, commanded by Captain Henry Wilson, had not been wrecked near Koror Island that year.

As it turned out, the local population was quite welcoming. The chief of the island helped to restore the ship and sent his son to study in London. But, unfortunately, some time after his arrival in England, he fell ill and died.

Despite this, relations between the locals and the English developed positively. Trade and economic relations were established. England became Palau’s main partner until the Spanish invasion in the early 19th century. Pope Leo 13 recognized Spanish rights to Palau in 1885 and sent missionaries there.

In 1899, the archipelago was sold to Germany, which quickly developed the islands and began to exploit both the natural and human potential of the islands.

A striking example of Germany’s use of the resources of other countries, sometimes lying many thousands of kilometers away, is the ghost town of Kolmanskop in Namibia.

The islanders had lived isolated for a long time and were unprepared for overseas diseases. As a result, many Aborigines died from diseases brought in from outside.

Islands during the World Wars

Both World Wars unfortunately reached the islands. At the beginning of WWI, the Japanese occupied the archipelago, and even received rights to administer it from the League of Nations (then an international community roughly like the modern UN) in 1920. In World War II, the Americans wrested the islands from Japan and set up their military bases there.

Battle of Palau

This is how man merrily and cheerfully destroys not only his own kind, but also everything around him

In fact, Palau is still under U.S. protectorate to this day. Formally, since October 1, 1994, the country is independent, but at a referendum in 1993, residents supported the status of “free association” with the United States.

Palau’s Population and Religion

The total population is about 21,500.

Ethnic composition

(figures may vary within statistical error.)

  • Palauan Indigenous people – 73%.
  • Filipinos – 16%
  • Chinese – 1.5%
  • Vietnamese – 1.5%
  • Other Asian – 3.5%
  • Micronesians 2.5%
  • Europeans – about 1%
  • All other percentages are distributed among other nationalities.

The official languages are Palau (the local language), spoken by more than 60% of the population, and English. Filipino and Chinese are also spoken to a small extent.

Palau is not a wild country. The literacy rate is about 92%, and the Palauan national language and English are compulsory in school.

Palau’s most populous islands are Angaur, Babeltuap, Koror, and Peleliu. The latter three lie together in the same barrier reef, while Angaur is an ocean island a few kilometers to the south. About 70% of the population lives on Koror Island, although Babeltuap is the largest island in the archipelago. The area of Babeltuap Island is 331 km 2, which is 70% of the total territory of the Republic, and about 30% of the total population lives there. It is the second largest island in Micronesia (after Guam) and one of the most undeveloped islands in the Pacific.

Koror City on the Island of the Same Name

Koror, the largest city in Palau

Religious Composition

  • Catholics – 50%
  • Protestants – 23%
  • Modekntgei Indigenous Religious Adherents – 8.7%
  • Seventh-day Adventists-5.3%
  • Other religious movements account for the remaining percentage

The Republic is divided into 16 states. Ngerulmud in the state of Melekeok has been the state capital since 2006. Before 2006, the capital was Koror City, the largest city in the archipelago on Koror Island. But Ngerulmud cannot be called a city; it is only a complex of government buildings, the main one being the Capitol, which is very similar to Washington’s.

The Capitol of Palau

The Capitol in Palau

Palau’s Tourism and Attractions

Until recently, the amazing islands of Palau were off the radar of the tourist industry. Now, however, hotels are being built and all necessary infrastructure is being developed.

Beaches Palau Water Biking

Diving in Palau

The main attraction of the archipelago is nature, beaches, and an insanely beautiful underwater world. Not without reason, it is among the most popular places for diving. There are many diving centers, offering training and equipment, and a variety of diving options.

To describe all the underwater beauty makes no sense, it should be seen, well, at least in pictures (preferably in person).

Palau Diving

Diving in Palau

Besides the natural underwater attractions, you can see the remains of World War II aircraft and sunken ships in the surrounding waters.

Aircraft Wrecks off the Coast of Palau

Aircraft Wrecks off Palau

Chandelier Cave deserves special attention. This is a complex of grottoes, which is a system of five separate connecting caves, four of which are filled with water and accessible to divers. The maximum depth is about 10 meters. The total length of the caves is about 130 meters.

Cave Chandelier. Palau Chandelier Cave Schematic

Other sights in Palau

Jellyfish Lake

Jellyfish Lake is probably the most famous landmark in Palau. Millions of human-safe jellyfish live in this lake. It is the will of nature that there are no natural enemies for jellyfish, so their population is variously estimated to be between 2 and 15 million.

Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Jellyfish Lake

Rock Islands

The Rock Islands are an array of limestone and coral islands about 47 km2 in area and up to 207 m high, about 10 km southwest of Koror Island. The Rock Islands have been a World Heritage Site since 2012. They are sparsely populated and are famous for their beaches, blue lagoons and the distinctive umbrella shapes of many of the islands.

Palau Rock Islands

Rock Islands

Palau Rock Islands

Ngardmau Falls.

At the northern end of Babeltuap Island is Ngardmau Waterfalls. It is the highest waterfall in Palau and Micronesia. Its height is 30 meters and width is 37 meters. The cost of a visit is $5 per person.

Ngardmau Falls

Ngardmau Waterfalls

Milky Way Lagoon

The water in the lagoon has an amazing blue-white color that is due to the presence of lime sediments or, simply put, white clay.

Milky Way Lagoon is a natural spa resort in Palau. Locals and tourists alike enjoy rubbing their bodies with the white substance lifted from the bottom. The guides claim that the clay is extremely beneficial and can give you a youthful appearance. All together they say that this clay makes a person younger by ten years.

In addition to the natural spa, Milky Way Lagoon also offers stunning views of the surrounding natural beauty. It is the perfect place for a peaceful and relaxing vacation.

A visit to the Milky Way Lagoon is free. Only rented transportation is chargeable.

Milky Way Lagoon This is what tourists usually look like at Milky Way Lagoon

It’s not just in tropical latitudes that there are interesting spa resorts. Consider the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. There you can relax in a geothermal spring, cover your body with silica deposits as white as sour cream, and at the same time admire mountain peaks covered with snow caps.

Transportation on the Islands

There are 3 airports in the archipelago. Palau International Airport on Babeltuap Island and 2 small airstrips on Angaur and Peleliu Islands.

Once a week a plane flies to the island of Yap, famous for its giant stone money. So if you’re vacationing in Palau, be sure to check it out.

Palau International Airport has direct scheduled flights to Guam, Manila, Seoul, and Taipei and, since December 2010, Tokyo as well. There are also charter flights to Hong Kong and Macau.

The entire archipelago has only 61 kilometers of roads, 36 of which are paved. The islands of Babeltuap, Koror, Malakal and district Meings are connected by bridges.

Bridges in the Palau Islands

Bridges between the islands

The predominant means of travel in Palau are boats and motor boats. Hotels usually have their own buses to transport tourists. Cabs are also available, but there are no fixed prices, and you must negotiate everything on the spot.

Interesting Facts

  1. The coastline of the islands is 1,519 kilometers long
  2. In Palau at the moment a little more than 80 hotels, and only 2 of them have 5 stars and can satisfy the most demanding traveler. It offers its own landscaped beaches, gardens, parks, swimming pools in a large area, and of course, full service. These are not even hotels, but rather the entire tourist complexes Palau Pacific Resort and Palau Royal Resort

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