Koror, Republic of Palau

With 584 islands, The Republic of Palau has limestone islands with lush vegetation ranging in size from tiny to moderate in southern Micronesia

With 584 islands, The Republic of Palau has limestone islands with lush vegetation ranging in size from tiny to moderate in southern Micronesia

 

Sailing north from Baluan Island in Papua New Guinea to Japan, we made a two-day SCUBA diving and snorkeling stop at Koror, The Republic of Palau.  Generally called “Palau”, the country is an archipelago of approximately 580 islands (some of which are quite small specks of rock on the Pacific Ocean), part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean.  Only eight of the islands are populated and the population of the entire country is around 18,000.  Koror Island is home to the former capital, also called Koror, and is the islands’ commercial center.  Babeldaob has the present capital, Ngerulmud, plus mountains and sandy beaches on its east coast.  The islands are renowned for having some of the best (and some say, the best) SCUBA diving and snorkeling sites in the world.  We can certainly affirm those accolades after two days and six sites.

As we motored around the archipelago from our anchorage at Koror, Palau, we discovered many scenic islands and excellent diving and snorkeling sites

As we motored around the archipelago from our anchorage at Koror, Palau, we discovered many scenic islands and excellent diving and snorkeling sites

 

In the center of the Coral Triangle, the reefs and ocean floor were covered with a spectacular array of varied corals – different species, colors, forms, shapes and sea life swimming a

In the center of the Coral Triangle, the reefs and ocean floor were covered with a spectacular array of varied corals – different species, colors, forms, shapes and sea life swimming around them, Palau

 

Politically, Palau is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, which provides defense, funding, and access to social services.  Legislative power is concentrated in the bicameral Palau National Congress.  Palau’s economy is based mainly on tourism, subsistence agriculture and fishing, with a significant portion of gross national product (GNP) derived from foreign aid.  The country uses the United States dollar as its currency.  The islands’ culture mixes Micronesian, Melanesian, Asian, and Western elements.” — Wikipedia

 

While not visible on the surface, this snorkeling site was full of sea life living in the corals, Koror, Palau

While not visible on the surface, this snorkeling site was full of sea life living in the corals, Koror, Palau

 

The limestone islands with lush vegetation reminded us of many of the islands in the northern portion of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, half a world away, Koror, Palau

The limestone islands with lush vegetation reminded us of many of the islands in the northern portion of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, half a world away, Koror, Palau

 

Being only about 400 miles north of the equator (in the Northern Hemisphere), the sun in Palau is intense and hot – as seen in the reflections of the ocean at the beach where we stoppe

Being only about 400 miles north of the equator (in the Northern Hemisphere), the sun in Palau is intense and hot – as seen in the reflections of the ocean at the beach where we stopped for a Bento box luncheon midday

 

From the beach where we stopped, islands small and large were scattered across the horizon, Palau

From the beach where we stopped, islands small and large were scattered across the horizon, Palau

 

In the late afternoon we sailed out from Koror, Palau, to the north and our next ports of call -- Japan

In the late afternoon we sailed out from Koror, Palau, to the north and our next ports of call — Japan

 

5 thoughts on “Koror, Republic of Palau

  1. Perhaps all of the oceans would look like this without pollution, trawling, etc.? What a gorgeous place.

    Presidential republic in free association with the United States? Wonder who came up with that “title”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Rich – have looked at every one of your blogs, but try to keep my comments to a few. Your recent stops in the South Pacific are incredibly interesting and places I will never be able to visit. Your pictures, particularly of the native children, are wonderful. Years ago Sue and I cruised on the Amazon and made stops in villages probably not unlike the ones you have been at except they have had more tourist visits. After a few days of doing this and enjoying them in their native dress and performances, I got the feeling that we were exploiting them and changing their culture in a negative fashion. Yes, I am fairly certain that they received money for our visit, which might help them in the short run, but in the long run is a negative in terms of the changes that it may induce into their native culture

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    • The issues of both exploitation and changing cultures among the native islanders we have been visiting was a topic of discussion with our expedition team over the past few weeks. We are in truly remote areas of the South Pacific where virtually no cruise ships go (and those few stop in the capital cities such as Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands). We’ve stopped at islands where the last (of the only 2 in history) ship to call was in 2009. At another, we were the first, ever. And one village noted that they see less than 1 ship per month, all smaller than ours. Note that we don’t pay the islanders on any of the small, traditional life-style islands that we visited. We do, however, contribute to their schools — boxes and boxes of school supplies from the U.S., including the usual staples (e.g., chalk, paper, pencils, workbooks, etc.) and unusual items they’ve never had, such as a number of laminated large world maps. [See my blog post on Ambrym Island School, Vanuatu, for example.] Many of us have instant film/print cameras and left behind dozens of pictures with kids who posed for us. Since many of these islanders practice sustainable farming, fishing and living off their islands, the money earned by selling us artisinally made jewelry, wood carvings, sculptures, fruit, vegetables, fish, lobsters, etc., is used to buy things to improve their lives, such as small solar panels that can then power the few small electric items they purchase in the cities — fans, cell phones, etc., along with used clothing. Net, net — we hope that our friendship and gifts help these islanders continue their traditions with a few modern conveniences added.

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  3. Hi, thank you for this article and the beautiful pictures! Palau is a really great destination – I’ve also been there a few weeks ago and had a hard time to get a hotel (there are just a few hotel in Palau, see e.g. http://palauvisitors.com/listing-category/lodging/) and actually all of them are really expensive compared to the quality they offer… But nature in Palau is beautiful, especially when you are a diver – then there is every day something new to discover! What I was surprised about is that it is hard to find a beach, particulalrly in koror, the main islands. All nice beaches belong exclusively to hotels (at least in Koror). There are of course free beaches, which are only accessible by boat (carp island for example!).

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