Palau Photograph by LuxTonnerre creative commons
Outside of diving enthusiastic and environmentalist few have heard of Palau. It is a remote country with a lifestyle that has blended modern times with it cultural roots. It offers some of the best scuba diving in the world as well as other outdoor activities.
In this page you will find practical information to plan a scuba diving trip to Palau:
Where to stay?
I usually use this website to book in advance my hotels in Palau as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because it's free to cancel and change the dates.
Palau has a small tourism destination with limited accommodations. They do have a five star and four star resorts but most of the accommodations are simple lodges. Home stays and Bed and Breakfast establishments are also available. Divers also have the option of taking Palau liveaboards.
Activities and excursions in Palau
Palau culture Photograph by Matt Kieffer
In addition to having world class scuba diving there is much more to do and see in Palau:
- Ngarachamayong Cultural Center. Unlike most “culture” shows that tourist visit, the ones at this center are authentic. In fact, tourist are mere guest as the primary target of the shows here are the youth of the country. Many in the country still practice some of the old customs which are weaved into a more modern society. Many men and women still wear the traditional clothing at times. The purpose of the center is to insure that the youth have a place to learn the old cultures so that they to can pass it along to the next generation.
- Peleliu: Operation Stalemate II started on 15 September 1944 and was expected to last a few days. Three days of naval bombardment and airstrikes were expected to kill the majority of the about 11,000 Japanese soldiers stationed on the small island. Naval authorities stopped the shelling early saying there were no targets left. They were wrong, the bombing resulted in few causalities. The Americans landed a force of 47,561 mostly marines. The battle lasted until 27 November 1944 with over 10,000 American troops killed or wounded. The Japanese fought to almost the last man, losing 10,695 with only 17 Japanese troops surviving and 183 labors. Today visitors can see the remains of the military equipment and visit a small museum about what was the worst battle in Marine history.
- Rock Islands of Palau: These islands were once inhabited by the original settlers of the area. Some sites can still be found. Most visitors come here to explore the beauty of these islands.
- Kayaking: These are many area for beginner and advance kayakers. The rock islands is one of the favorite destinations. Some outfits offer multiple day kayaking excursions.
- Bird Watching: Many of the small islands are ideal for bid watching offer specifies found nowhere else in the world.
Kayaks by Zola Chen
Best time to visit Palau
Palau is an outstanding destination year round. The best diving in Palau is between November and April. These months have the greatest number of pelagics, and has incredible visibility. June and September brings rough sea conditions at times and the possibility of lower visibility.
Health and Safety
Overall the country is considered safe.
Palau has a curfew that has all businesses closing overnight. This is from 2:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., Monday through Thursday, and between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., Friday to Sunday, and on national holidays.
Koror where the majority of the tourist go is also the location of the nation’s only hospital. Belau National Hospital provides primary healthcare, emergency care, surgery, inpatient, pediatric and outpatient services. The hospital has basic diagnostic radiology equipment including CT scan, X-rays, and mammogram. There is a decompression chamber for diving related accidents. In severe cases, medical evacuation to Manila is possible. Travel insurance and dive insurance is highly recommended.
If you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to Palau, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this diving insurance as they offer worldwide coverage and focus on providing scuba divers a quality insurance and medical assistance service.
Where is Palau located in the world?
Palau is an island nation comprising of one of the island groups of the Caroline Islands of the Micronesia portion of the Oceania region of the Pacific Ocean. It shares the Caroline Island groups with The Federation States of Micronesia. It is the westernmost island group of the Caroline Islands about 550 miles from the Philippines.
How to get to Palau?
The Roman Tmetuchl International Airport (code ROR) is Palau’s International Airport, The airport is located outside the town of Airai, on Babeldaob island. Babeldaob island is the current capital of Palau. Koror island where most of the tourist stay is just a short drive from the airport, with the two islands connected by a bridge.
Most travelers to Palau arrive from either Guam or Manila. Guam is about an hour and a half flight to Palau. United Airlines has four flights in and out of Guam for Palau each week. Guam has onward connections to Hawaii for connections to the United States,and connections to other Asian cities.
Manila also has connections to Palau with a flight time of about two and a half hours, also with United Airlines providing Palau with four flights each week. Manila is a major international destination with multiple nonstop daily flights to the major destinations in Asia, Australia and the Middle East.
Palau has flights four times a week to Inchon South Korea,and Tokyo Japan. There are also seasonal flights to Taiwan
Do I need a visa for Palau?
For visits of 30 days or less, a visa will be issued at the airport upon arrival. Visitors are required to have a passport and onward travel documents. Longer stays can be arranged after arrival.
The island of Koror is fairly small and there is no public transportation except for an evening bus from the resorts to the center of the island. There is a bus that runs to the airport but most often it best to arrange an airport pick up from your resort. Between the islands there is ferry service. Some locations are served daily but many are connected only once or twice a week.
If you are the outdoor type and not into disco parties all night then palau may be the best place for you. A culture that respects the environment, a lifestyle that respects their roots and a tourism industry that welcomes you as a friend.
You will find all information about sea life, best time to visit, top dive spots, etc. in our review: Palau Diving