Palau (Republic of Palau, Beluu er a Belau) – a country without borders in the Pacific Ocean, 500 km east of Philippines and occupying western part of Caroline Islands of Micronesia in the Philippines sea. Palau is located on lofty islands Babeldaob, Koror, Peleliu and Angaur, low coral atolls Kayyangel, Ngeruangel and limestone Rock Islands, which count to total of two hundred. Almost all the islands are surrounded by separate barrier and coral reefs. Total area of Palau is 428 square km and the biggest island is Babelthaup.
The climate is equatorial. Average temperatures range from 26 to 32 ° C. Precipitation around 3800 mm per year, humidity averages about 82%. Rain season is from July to October, although during this time there are still many bright days. Palau is located outside the typhoon belt. The temperature of the water around the islands is comfortable – about 27 ° C all year round.
The population of Palau – about 19 thousand people, mostly white (Palau), Polynesians and Melanesians. Official languages – English and Palauan. Religion – Christians (Catholics and Protestants). Many local residents also practice local traditional religion based on belief in spirits.
Main attractions of islands are under the sea. If you are a vibrant diver, in the Republic of Palau, you will find an underwater wonderland. Palau Islands are well known, mainly due to the exceptional richness and diversity of the underwater world. There are 1500 species of fish, 5 species of turtles and 700 species of corals and anemones. You’ll see white, black, gray reef corals, leopard sharks, sharks hammers and rare fish – mandarin. Moreover, Palau is one of the last places in the world, where you can see the remaining colonies of the legendary and now almost completely extinct dugongs. It is not surprising that at present the archipelago is one of the most popular diving sites of the Earth.
What is interesting here? For example, a vertical wall Blue Corner, which is the outer edge of the underwater peninsula near the Rock Islands. Best time for scuba diving here is during high tide, when up to the surface comes plankton-rich water. Reef fishes quickly gather for lunch, followed by barracudas and tuna fish, while dozens of sharks patrol the wall, patiently awaiting a major production. Soft and fan corals are perfect – they almost shine, many beautiful sponges and hard corals. Stall starts from the shore and reaches 7 meters, then drops vertically down to 868 meters.
Cave Candelabra, or Chandelier Cave is one of the most famous dive sites of Palau. Its spectacular pictures went around the whole world, they can be found in magazines and photo albums. In the Bay near Koror there is a 130-meter tunnel, going deeper into the underground of the islands Ngerchaol. Diving underwater through this corridor, you’ll find yourself in a cavern filled with crystal clear, cool water. Three passes from here will take you to isolated caves, filled with water only a half, where you can swim without a mask and regulator. From the last cave you can get out of the water and walk along the rocky shore of an underground lake. The vaults and walls adorned with ancient limestone formations. You can clearly here in the silence the sound of dripping water.
Jellyfish Lake is located 40 minutes from Koror and is included in the category of natural phenomena and scientific mysteries. To get to the lake from the shore you will have to overcome a fairly steep hill. But the result is worth it – in pure saline water live thousands of white and orange jellyfishes. Surreal feeling, but the no danger overall – in the absence of natural enemies jellyfishes became very safe.
Another interesting place is the Siaes Tunnel. Passing deep into the reef near the west coast of the Ulong Island, you begin to dive along a vertical wall, when suddenly you see a massive hole in the reef rock. At first it seems a black hole and sinister, but when your eyes get accustomed to the darkness, you find out that before you is an entrance to the cavity associated with the 50-meter tunnel, cut parallel to the wall. Black corals and sponges cover the arches, resting on the bottom of skates. We exit fan corals wiggle around in the background of blue water, effectively covered with light – a perfect opportunity for photographers.
Palau is not considered a paradise for fans of wreck-diving. The honorary title traditionally is given to another Micronesia archipelago, though sunken ships, tanks, aircrafts and submarines are almost more than in the legendary Truk and many valuable artifacts survived the Second World War. The lost «Armada of Rock Island», as it is commonly called, has become object of annual research of underwater expeditions led by such «stars» of diving as Dan Bailey and the recently deceased John Bennett. During seven days, scuba diving team immersed into 15 wrecks and in the evenings thematic lectures and slide shows were organized. Participate could anyone with the necessary scuba diving skills; underwater photographers and operators are welcomed. Specialized expedition is also conducted for technical divers in the deep-sea vessels. Among the objects of research – Japanese destroyer Wakatake, resting off the coast of the island of Babeldaob, where you can find abundant marine crocodiles and rays, unidentified cargo ship carrying military helmets and other types of clothing, a large Japanese freighter Iro Maru which almost no one visited, and many others.
Things to know before leaving
The capital of Palau from 7 October 2006 is Melekeok, where it was moved from Koror, situated on the same island – the largest city in the Republic of Palau.
National currency is U.S. dollar. Banks are active in all major tourist areas, the use of credit cards and checks are widely distributed and do not cause any problems (when going to further islands of Palau is preferable to have cash available).
From the last week of April to first week of May Palau Sports Association holds annual Fishing Derby, attracting fishers from all over the world’s for great catch, and simply good opportunity to relax in one of the most exotic corners of the globe.
Import and export of foreign and local currency is unlimited. Allowed free passage of no more than 2 liters of wine, 2 bottles of alcohol, 200 cigarettes. Photo and video can be carried in a reasonable quantity for personal use. You need to get a permission before you decide to take your dog or cat with you. For the import of seeds, plants, meat and dairy products permission of Ministry of Agriculture is needed. In order to remove from the country of souvenirs made from coral or turtle bones, it is necessary to obtain a permit, otherwise the product will be confiscated and will be imposed a significant fine.