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Kayaking over to Secret Lake.
Kayaking over to Secret Lake.
Kayaking over to Secret Lake.
Palau Pacific Resort.
Catriona checks out the marine life.

Palau

Thursday, May 20, 2004
The clear calm waters and wonderful marine life are just the start of what you'll discover on this Pacific paradise.

Until recently, the secret of the Republic of Palau in the north-west Pacific was jealously guarded by divers. Snorkellers and scuba divers wanted to keep the area's wonderful marine life to themselves. The clear, calm waters hold tropical fish in a myriad of colours, platter and mushroom corals, tridacna clams with iridescent mantles of browns, greens and blues, World War II wrecks, hidden caves and tunnels. The locals eat the clam meat, the big shells are sold to tourists and the small ones are ground up to be chewed with betel nut.

Palau is made up of more than 300 islands and is the western-most point of Micronesia in the Caroline Islands. It is home to about 17,000, most of who live in the main town of Koror. The waters average around 27 degrees Celsius and visibility is around 30m.

The cluster of around 200 mushroom-shaped limestone islands, known as The Rock Islands, are the centre of attention. They are sprinkled for 30km to the south of Koror and are covered with green jungle growth. The water movement has eroded the underside of the rock and, over the years, the unique mushroom shapes have evolved.

Most of the islands are impossible to land on, but some are accessible and have white, sandy beaches. Others have caves dripping with stalactites, arches, channels and ancient rock paintings.

The waters around The Rock Islands teem with an astounding variety of marine life, and the islands are rich with birds, fruit bats and crocodiles. They hold around 80 marine salt lakes, and the variations in algae, soft corals, fish, sponges and jellyfish give them a wonderful variety of colour.

Sam's Tours have been taking visitors on tours around Palau for more than 10 years. They can arrange diving tours, fishing trips, land tours, or kayaking and sailing. On their staff, they have PADI instructors, marine biologists, naturalists, professional photographers and people to run the bar and grill. In 2000, Sam's was voted best dive operator and best dive staff in the world.

A spin-off company is Planet Blue Sea Kayak Tours, run by Ron Leidich, who is an Organismal Zoologist. He has single and double kayaks and offers 12-day trips, which include round hotel transfers, lunch, refreshments, bottled water, kayak orientation and dry boxes.

The only place to stay with a beach is Palau Pacific Resort, a 20-minute drive from Koror on Arakabesang Island. The rooms have rattan furniture, tiled floors, ceiling fans and private verandahs. There are ocean view rooms, garden view rooms, a beachside swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness centre and dive shop.

The Resort has two restaurants — The Coconut Terrace, offering alfresco dining and live music, or you can enjoy Pacific Rim cuisine in the air-conditioned Meduu Ribtal. The Mesekiu Waterhole serves drinks and snacks, or you can visit the Akoi Koi Bar and Lounge.

Location

The Micronesian Islands.

Cost

Continental Micronesia flies 3 times a week to Guam with connections to Palau.
Sam’s Tours offer a full day guided kayaking tour starting at around $125 per person.
Dive Adventures has 6 night packages including twin share accommodation at the Palau Pacific Resort, two full day kayak tours and return economy airfares departing from Cairns. Prices start at $1899 per person. Domestic flights to Cairns are extra.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Palau Visitors' Authority
Ph: 0011 680 488 2793
Fax: 0011 680 488 1453
http://www.visit-palau.com/
Sam's Tours
Ph: 0011 680 488 1062
Fax: 0011 680 488 5003
Palau Pacific Resort
Ph: 1800 252 900
Ph: 0011 680 488 2600
Fax: 0011 680 488 1606
ppr@palaunet.com
www.panpac.com

Dive Adventures, Sydney
Ph: 1800 222 234
Ph: (02) 9299 4633
Fax: (02) 9299 4644
Melbourne
Ph: 1800 242 724
Ph: (03) 9534 2700
Fax: (03) 9534 2055
www.diveadventures.com.au

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