The Republic of Palau
is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean 800km east of the Philippines
Kelly Landry's first visit made a lasting impression, and like most visitors, she spent much of her time underwater as Palau has some of the world's most spectacular diving and snorkelling sites. There are coral reefs, shipwrecks from World War II, caves, tunnels, blue holes and more than 60 vertical drop-offs. Coral, fish and rare creatures offer colour and amazement. There are clams weighing a quarter of a tonne and a lake filled with 21 million stingless jellyfish!
The southernmost lagoon has an incredibly spectacular group of small, rocky, uninhabited islands. Kelly joined a Sam's Tour of the Rock Islands and learned they were once old coral reefs on the seabed, uplifted millions of years ago.
It's quite a hike but once you go down the other side of your climb of Eil Malk Island, there is a mesmerising expanse of water, hidden from the world. Jellyfish Lake. It's one of Palau's best snorkelling sites, noted for the millions of golden jellyfish that make their way horizontally across the lake every day. It's something you won't see anywhere else in the world.
The 12,000-year-old lake was once open to the ocean, but something caused a collapse that trapped the jellyfish for eternity. Fissures and tunnels in the limestone reef allow the tide to come and go, refreshing the water.
The jellyfish are protected from natural predators such as turtles and barracudas, and they have multiplied most prevalently. They feed on algae and know to avoid snow-white anemones on the lake bottom.
Initially, Kelly thought snorkelling in the lake would be a bit creepy, but she actually enjoyed the experience, saying the jellyfish felt like soft, wet feathers, and unlike some of their species, they don't sting.
They bathe in the sunlight during the day and after sunset, drop to a layer of hydrogen sulphide, 20m towards the bottom of the lake.
Gentle swimming and snorkelling are allowed diving is not. Jellyfish are fragile organisms and bubbles from oxygen tanks can cause them serious injury. Jellyfish Lake has been declared a fragile environment.
The Republic of Palau, 800km east of the Philippines.
Sam's Tours Palau Rock Islands tours cost $115 per person. A government requirement is that a $35 Rock Island permit be purchased. It is good for 10 days. Transfers, snorkelling equipment, naturalist guides, refreshments and lunch are included. They start at 8.30am and return at around 3pm.
Prices correct at March 10, 2011.
For further information
Ph: +680 488 7267
Fax : +680 488 5003
Visas: Australian nationals require a passport valid for six months after intended date of departure. A 30-day visa can be obtained on arrival, which can be extended for an additional 30 days.
Electricity: 120V at 60Hz using American two-pin plugs.
Time zone: GMT +9.
Currency: US dollar.
International dialling code: +680.
It is recommended travellers to Palau see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.