The Sunshine Islands of Palau

Exotic Countries, Part 2. Palau

The Republic of Palau is an American-associated island nation in the Pacific Ocean’s Philippine Sea, located 800 kilometers east of the Philippines and north of Indonesia.

It consists of 328 islands of a total area of 458 km² and belongs to Micronesia.

The Palau archipelago is made up of a number of small atolls formed on top of underwater volcanoes. Palau has a tropical climate with a rainy season from May to November.

Babeltuap Island

The capital of Palau since October 7, 2006 – the city Ngerulmud, where it was moved from Koror, located on the island of the same name – the largest city in Palau.

It is on Babeltuap Island, about 20 kilometers northeast of the former capital, Koror, and 2 kilometers northwest of the village of Melekeok. It is the largest island in Palau, with an area of about 367 square kilometers.

Babeltuap is a volcanic island with forested hills in the center and sand dunes on the coast. On the east coast, you’ll find the best beaches in Palau and great surfing conditions in the winter.

At the eastern end of the island, near the capital of the state is Lake Ngardok – the largest natural freshwater lake in all Micronesia with an area of 493 hectares. On its shores you can perfectly relax. The coastline of the western part of the island is covered with mangroves. In the northern part of Babeltuap is the highest waterfall in Micronesia – Ngradmau. Its waters fall from a height of 18 meters. Nearby is another waterfall – Ngatpang height of about 6 meters. The waterfalls are surrounded by dense forests, through which there are many hiking trails. Also in the northern part of the island of Babeltuap is a place called Badrulchau, where you can see the remains of the oldest civilization of the Palau Islands – rows of basalt blocks of impressive size. According to legends, these blocks were erected by the gods themselves to protect their main gathering place on earth. There are 37 well-preserved monoliths, some weighing as much as 5 tons. Badrulchau is surrounded by artificial landscapes – man-made terraces. It is believed that they appeared here around 100 AD. To the southwest of Babeltuap island is another place with the ruins of ancient civilizations – Imeungs.

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The city of Ngerulmud.

Ngradmaw Waterfall

The vegetation on Babeltuap island

Rows of basalt blocks

Ngatpang Waterfall

Eel Milk Island

One of the islands in the Palau archipelago, Eel Mulk, has a sea lake that is 12,000 years old! It is home to 13 million golden jellyfish. Divers can swim in the lake without fear of being stung by jellyfish. The lake is known as Jellyfish Lake, but locals call it Ongem’l Tketau.

This lake is unique: at first glance it is “cut off” from the ocean by a narrow strip of land, but it is actually connected to the ocean by a network of underground cracks and tunnels in the limestone. Because of this, the water level in the lake is not constant, there are tides and ebbs. But predatory creatures have not found their way into the lake – only jellyfish and a few species of fish live there.

There are no natural enemies to the jellyfish living in the lake, so the need for a defense mechanism is no longer necessary, and as the species evolved, the golden jellyfish lost their tendrils and stings. The jellyfish live close to the surface because they need sunlight.

In addition to golden jellyfish, the lake is also home to moon jellyfish, cardinalfish, sub-adults, gobies, and anemones. Jellyfish should be careful with anemones – any scattered jellyfish the anemone will gladly eat. But since anemones prefer dark places, and jellyfish reach for sunlight, this rarely happens.

Koror Island

The town of Koror is located on Koror Island. Until 2006, Koror was the capital of Palau. It is now the country’s main economic center and its largest city, and is home to about 70% of the population of the Republic of Palau. In Koror is a variety of hotels, restaurants, and souvenir stores.

The main attraction is the National Museum of Palau. Museum funds have more than 1000 exhibits, including the head of a 5-meter crocodile, the largest ever caught in the Palau Islands, beads and money from the shells, wood carvings and a collection of Japanese military equipment from World War II.

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There are several dive centers around Koror Island. On the south coast are interesting caves Chandelier Caves. They are three in total, at the top of each cave is unfilled with water space, where the ceiling hangs from the stalactites. The caves are home to the rare mandarin fish. Near the northwest coast of Koror Island are most of the ships that were wrecked near Palau during World War II. Each still has military equipment and weapons.

Nearby is the International Coral Reef Research Center with its enormous “Aquarium.” The center is famous for growing the giant clam tridacna. “The Aquarium consists of several halls that explain the history of the islands and their geological structure, as well as the inhabitants of the local waters, including such rare ones as the Golden Mastigias jellyfish and the nautilus.

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