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Palau is a group of islands in the Micronesia area of Oceania, to the southeast of the Philippines.
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Palau has all of the gorgeous tropical tranquillity you could wish for in a South Pacific island state. Most visitor attractions are found on and around the The Rock Islands or Chelbachebover. These 250 rock islands -many tiny, uninhabited places- offer some enchanting views and are a World Heritage site. They are a silent invitation to kick back and enjoy a touch of paradise. Have a cocktail in one of the beach clubs on the country's perfect white sand beaches, admire the beautiful deserted bays and lagoons from a kayak or do as most visitors do: dive under to see the stunning and untouched marine life right under the surface. Popular dives include Blue Corner, Blue hole and the German Channel.
Head to Jellyfish Lake for the extraordinary experience of snorkeling between the countless and unique stingless jellyfish. The isolated location and lack of predators have led the jellyfish to develop this significant difference from the ones in the nearby lagoon. Take a guided tour along ancient stone monoliths and terraces while your guide tells you all about the legends that surround them. With just over 21.000 inhabitants, even the capital might feel like a village, but there's a handful of interesting sights and a few museums showcasing traditional Palau culture and the country's turbulent war time history. Again though, it's the sheer beauty -both above and under water- that make visitors rave about this small island nation.
- Palau International Coral Reef Center, ☎ 680.488.6950, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Very educational aquarium with a good souvenir shop. Emphasis of displays is on education. They include a topographical map of Palau; a recreation of a mangrove swamp, a seagrass aquarium; an inner reef aquarium; an exhibition of coral and another of the country's famed jellyfish; deep-water aquariums and a couple of salt-water crocodiles to end the tour. Easy walk from downtown Koror in the direction of Malakal
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Early Palauans may have come from Polynesia and Asia. Depending on the origin of a family, Palauans may represent many parts of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. However, they are not traditionally considered to be Micronesian. For thousands of years, Palauans have had a well established matrilineal society, believed to have descended from Javanese precedents.
Palau had limited relations before the 18th century, mainly with Yap and Java. Had it not been for shipwrecked islanders who took refuge in the Philippines, Europeans likely would not have found Palau until much later. Englishman Captain Henry Wilson was shipwrecked off the island of Ulong in 1783 and it was Wilson who gave the archipelago the name "Pelew Islands".
In the late 19th century, possession of the islands was claimed by Britain, Spain, and Germany. In 1885, the matter was brought to Pope Leo XIII for a decision. The Pope recognized the Spanish claim, but granted economic concessions to Britain and Germany. Palau then became part of the Spanish East Indies, along with the Northern Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands and the Marshall Islands. They were all administered from the Philippines. Spain sold the Palau archipelago to Germany in 1899 after which it was administered from German New Guinea, and a period of economic development began. German engineers began exploiting the islands' deposits of bauxite and phosphate, and a rich harvest in copra was made. WWI intervened and the German period lasted only 15 years after which the League of Nations awarded Palau to Japan. The Japanese presence made Palau a major target for the Allied forces in World War II, and there were several major battles in the area.
Palau enjoys a tropical climate all year round with an annual mean temperature of 82 °F (28 °C). Rainfall can occur throughout the year, averaging a total of 150 inches (3,800 mm). The average humidity over the course of the year is 82%, and although rain falls more frequently between July and October, there is still much sunshine. Typhoons are rare, as Palau is outside the main typhoon zone.
Palau is most famous for scuba diving. One of the most famous dive sites - Blue Corner, with constant sharks and a high current - is located less than 1 hour's boat ride from most resorts. Many live aboards like Ocean Hunter operate out of Palau. There are also tours to WWII battle fields on Palau.
The Blue Corner, German Channel, Ulong Channel and Blue Holes are all amazing dive sites. You can dive the same site again and again and have completely different experiences each time.
Palau is also famous for its jellyfish lakes. These lakes contain jellyfish which have evolved away their stingers in the absence of predators. There are many tours which will go to the jellyfish lake to snorkel. SCUBA diving is not permitted, nor is necessary, in the jellyfish lake. Palau Jellyfish Lake is included in the category of natural phenomena and scientific mysteries.
Expedition Fleet, is the largest privately owned live-aboard fleet in the Philippines. Their ships operate all over the Philippine Island and Palau. Expedition Fleet is known for experienced and professional Dive Masters as well as excellent service on board.
Splash, the dive shop attached to the Palau Pacific Resort is recommended. The equipment available for rental is of high quality, and either new or well maintained. The dive masters are also very experienced, responsible and know the dive sites very well. Angelo at Splash is highly recommended as a dive master especially if you have not dived in stronger currents. It should be noted that Splash runs a rather large, wide diveboat, containing 20+ divers.
Fish 'n Fins is the oldest dive center in Palau. They currently have two live-aboard vessels, as well as seven smaller (and faster!) dive boats, operating from the base in Koror. The guides are very professional and are more than willing to share their extensive knowledge of the ocean and the life in it. Divers can use Nitrox EAN 32 for the same price as air. Gas mixtures for technical divers are also available.
Sam's Tours is another dive shop in Palau that offers diving, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing and land tours. They have some great guides that provide educational and environmental information about the locales. Sam's Tours uses small, fast narrow boats which carry 4~8 divers.
- Palau Dive & Scuba. Small, personable service that brings together all the information on dive sites, conditions and dive centers for Palau.
- Sara Guide Service, ☎ 488 6856. Environmentally responsible professional sports fishing guides in Koror. They have experienced Palaun boat captains and Japanese and Western guides that make you feel welcome. Catch and release fish and have a great time! Great food too on their 8 and 10m boats.
- Almost everything. Palau has large communities from Taiwan, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and the USA and the local stores have evolved to supply their needs. So Koror offers an amazing range of foodstuffs in its stores, at a price of course. Japanese-inspired Bento lunch boxes are very popular.
- The Rock Island Cafe in Koror is a great place for a quick bit of American-style food. It is located a little west of the Court House on Koror Island.
- Kramer's - on the wharf at Malakal. A bit hard to find for the first time but food is good and the nightlife always interesting.
- Bem Ermii is in a small trailer near the courthouse in downtown Koror, and makes great burgers and milkshakes.
- Carp is a good medium-range option with generous portions and well prepared dishes of Japanese and local flavor, including coconut crab. It's located adjascent to the Palau Royal hotel next to the dock that takes you to the Carp Island resort.
Several other places of note in Koror are the Taj, an excellent Indian restaurant, Fuji, a reasonably-priced pseudo-Japanese restaurant or Dragon Tai on the way into Koror.
Red Rooster Beer.Despite its size Palau has a small brewery, to be found next to the West Plaza by the Sea hotel (see below). It offers Amber and Stout and three other beers. Abai Ice in Koror is a small hut that offers fresh fruit smoothies -- highly recommended.
Many licensed establishments in Palau -- from quiet little bars to "Japanese"-style karaoke bars complete with bar girls. For a decent affordable drink, try Sam's Dive Shop or High Tide behind Neco dive shop. Alcohol is readily available at most stores. Public drinking is not allowed, and the local police are more than happy to inconvenience you if you are caught.
- Q-ball club (koror), ☎ 4881832. you can play pool and chill out
- Palm Bay Bistro, Malakal (right behind West Plaza Malakal, south Koror, right before the Ice Box Plant), ☎ 488-3476. 7AM-9PM. Great steaks and pastas, and it has the best bartender in Koror with a jewel of a collection of signature drinks and coffees. Also serves Red Rooster Draft on tap and is located right next door to the Palau Brewing Company, Palau's own microbrewery. Brewery tours also available upon request.
Palau uses the US dollar as its currency.
- W.C.T.C. Shopping Center, Koror (Located at the heart of Koror), ☎ 488-1633/2394/1484. 7:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M.. This is the shopping destination in town. It has a full-size grocery store, a drug-store, digital photo printing, The Athlete's Foot, and a full-service department store with a broad selection of local souvenirs.
As you might expect from a remote island where tourism is the main industry, prices are comparatively high, and even a low-end daily budget would be around US$100/day.
Palauan storyboards are traditional wood carvings depicting Palauan myths and legends.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Palau on Wikivoyage.