Snorkeling Palau!

Snorkeling Palau’s Underwater Wilderness

Palau is a beautiful tropical archipelago and one that we visit on one of our Coral Triangle Adventures snorkeling toursThe Republic of Palau is a cluster of volcanic and limestone islands enclosed by a barrier reef, located along the western perimeter of the Caroline Islands in Micronesia. The origin of Palau is a classic example of an island archipelago born of fire. As the Pacific Plate submerged under the Philippine Plate (a process called subduction), magma was released and rose to the surface where it cooled to form an island (in this case, the main island of Babeldaob). Ancient limestone reefs flourish in the shallow water around Babeldaob, and a barrier reef develops as the Philippine Plate subsists (sinks) back into Earth’s mantle. After millions of years of growth, the once vibrant shallow reefs become exposed to the air after a series of interactions between the plates caused their uplift. Now exposed to air, rain, wind, and to a lesser degree, vegetation the relatively soft limestone ‘slabs’ erode away to create valleys, gullies, sinkholes, and island-pinnacles. During the glacier periods of the Pleistocene, sea water levels around the western Pacific were hundreds of feet lower than present day levels. As a result, more limestone was now exposed to the erosive power of freshwater and wind, resulting in deeper valleys and sinkholes and more isolated pinnacles. When the glaciers melted and sea levels rose, the lagoon was once again submerged with seawater filling in the eroded valleys and sinkholes and stranding pinnacles to create the present-day maze of islands, passes, bays, and marine lakes.
X
Located 7º north of the equator and bathed in warm, tropical seas, Palau is a must for all snorkelers. Within the barrier reef that surrounds the southern lagoon are hundreds of square kilometers of reef habitat that includes shallow patch reefs, reef flats, Acropora thickets, coral gardens, sheltered reefs, exposed reefs, and steep walls. Recent surveys found that the reefs of Palau support over 1500 species of marine fishes and with 486 species of reef building corals they earned honorable mention for inclusion into the Coral Triangle, A geographic term that describes the region that possess the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity.
X
Hundreds of mushroom-shaped limestone islands topped by a thick layer of vegetation that show greens in a variety of hues, create a magnificent backdrop to the private bays, quiet lagoons, wonderful marine lakes, and intimate passages that exist within the network of islands. It is not hard to imagine why the Rock Islands are considered to be one of the most stunning marine seascapes, and one of the best snorkeling destinations on the planet.
X
Our snorkeling tour revolves around many of these amazing marine habitats. From the steep outer reefs around the southern end of the Rock Islands where thousands of reef fish dance in the currents to the private marine lakes of Nikko Bay where shallow coral gardens host a variety of juvenile reef fish. Palau is truly a snorkeler’s dream.
X

ITINERARY

Map of Palau snorkeling itineraryOur snorkeling tour begins and ends in Koror, Palau. No internal flights. We begin the tour with a night at Palau Pacific Resort, transferring to the boat the next day for seven days on the boat, visiting many of the reefs and islands in the mid to southern part of the Rock Islands and Nikko Bay. Our final two days will be land-based at Palau Pacific Resort where we will have easy access to the reef and islands around Airai, Koror, and Risong Bay. Please note that the following is a general itinerary and that weather, tides, and other unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances may affect the schedule at any time.

Day 1: Koror, Palau
Meals provided: D
Meet in Koror, Palau at our group resort, the Palau Pacific Resort (PPR) for the expedition orientation and welcome dinner. Overnight Palau Pacific Resort.

Days 2: Nikko Bay / Rock Island Aggressor
Meals provided: B,L,D
Nikko Bay is a collection of stunning rock islands that harbor a variety of amazing fringing reefs, shallow coral gardens, and marine lakes. As such, we have a full day planned that includes visits to many of these habitats along with stops to see historical WWII wrecks left behind by the Japanese during their occupation of Palau. In the late afternoon, we will board our boat, the Rock Island Aggressor.

Day 3 – 5: Rock Islands / Ngemelis Island / Ngedebus Is.
Meals provided: B,L,D
In the morning, the Rock Island Aggressor sets off and we begin to explore some of Palau’s best reefs in the southern part of the barrier reef! Palau is famous for the variety and abundance of marine life that dwells along the vertical, seaward reefs. Schools of anthias, damselfishes, barracudas, jacks, snappers, and unicornfishes contribute to the thousands of reef fishes that can be found along the reef margins. Expect to see sharks and rays as Palau is one of the few countries in the world that affords them complete protection. Grey reef, blacktip, and whitetip reef sharks are common and with a bit of luck, we may encounter manta rays and spotted eagle rays. Some of our snorkel sites along the barrier reef include Big Drop-off, German Channel, Turtle Cove, Blue Holes, and Ngedebus Coral Gardens.

On one of the evenings we will conduct our night snorkel. Our goal, of course, is to see many of the interested reef creatures that are active during the night such as octopuses, corals, and other types of invertebrates.

Day 6 – 8: Rock Islands / German Lighthouse / Mandarinfish Lake
Meals provided: B,L,D
We cruise back inside the lagoon for the opportunity to visit some of Palau’s magical snorkeling sites. Jellyfish Lake, where millions of golden and moon jellies can be found. This is an out-of-this-world experience as we become almost encapsulated by these beautiful jellies. Millions of years of isolation and a food supply provided largely by their symbiotic zooxanthellae has rendered their stinging nematocysts impotent. We will also visit Giant Clam City where, you might have guessed, we will see dozens of colorful ‘centennials’, some weighing up to 400 lbs (181 kg)! The area also possesses a unique reef where the hard coral community is dominated by multi-colored massive corals. And it seems like no two colonies are the same color! Nearby is another example of an intimate marine lake that we can visit via snorkeling and we will visit Milky Way for an intimate experience with mud :-). We will also spend time around German Lighthouse and spend the late afternoon looking for the gaudy yet elusive mandarinfish in the aptly named Mandarinfish Lake.

On one of the evenings we will conduct our night snorkel. Our goal, of course, is to see many of the interested reef creatures that are active during the night such as octopuses, corals, and other types of invertebrates.

Day 9 – 10: Palau Pacific Resort / Risong Bay
Meals provided: B,L,D
Disembark the boat in the morning and head directly out into the Rock Island to spend the day snorkeling. After our tour, we transfer to our land-based resort, Palau Pacific Resort. Along with easy access to the house reef, we will use our chartered day-boat to go back into Nikko Bay and visit reefs and marine lakes we missed the first time through. We will also visit the Palau International Coral Reef Center where we will learn about on-going research and conservation projects. Overnight Palau Pacific Resort*.

*We have the hotel reserved for the entire night, though most international flights routing through Guam (and onwards to the United States) depart Palau around 2:00am. Thus, we will be departing the resort on Day 10 (midnight) to make our international connections on Day 11 (around 2:00am). 

Day 11: International flights or extensions
Please make flight reservations to depart Palau on Day 11 (unless you are extending your stay). Most international flights routing through Guam (and onwards to the United States) depart Palau around 2:00am

DEPARTURES

April 16 – 26, 2022←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: Rock Islands Aggressor, Palau Pacific Resort
Guides: Lee Goldman
Length: 11 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$7000 USD per person, double occupancy
$10000 USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
Oct 31, 2021: $3500 USD / $4500 USD single
Jan 1, 2021: $3000 USD / $5000 USD single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 10
  • All meals on days 2 through 10 (dinner on day 1)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information


Accommodations

Rock Island Aggressor is a vessel Coral triangle Adventures uses for their snorkeling tours in PalauThe Rock Island Aggressor, formerly as the Tropic Dancer, is a steel-hull, catamaran that measures 106 feet long with a 30-foot beam. She holds 18 passengers in 9 comfortable, air-conditioned rooms each with their own bathroom facilities. All of the rooms include picture windows, hair dryers, and plenty of storage space. Meals are served in the spacious salon and consist of western and Micronesian dishes. The sun deck has both areas for sunbathing as well as fully covered to enjoy the outside ambience without excessive exposure to the sun. She is equipped with state-of-the-art navigation systems and possesses a full compliment of safety features including 100% oxygen, AED (Automatic External Defibrillator), 406 EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), life crafts, jackets, and Fire and smoke detection systems.For more information about the Rock Island Aggressor click here.


PPR from the air

Palau Pacific Resort is the ultimate tropical getaway in Micronesia on the western shore of Ngerkebesang Island, Koror, Republic of Palau. The resort is nestled in 64 acres of lush tropical gardens with the great Pacific Ocean caressing its pristine white sand beach. This luxury resort features 160 rooms decorated in an island motif setting including amenities of a world class resort. The resort offers an array of leisure activities and resort facilities right on the property making it convenient for staying guests. Awarded “2012 Republic of Palau’s Leading Resort” by World Travel Awards and “Best Diving Resort” by Dive & Travel Awards for 14-consecutive years. Palau Pacific Resort is an island haven for divers and non-divers alike. It is truly like no other island dream. Our room-type at Palau Pacific Resort is the garden cottage.


DEPARTURES

April 16 – 26, 2022←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: Rock Islands Aggressor, Palau Pacific Resort
Guides: Lee Goldman
Length: 11 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$7000 USD per person, double occupancy
$10000 USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
Oct 31, 2021: $3500 USD / $4500 USD single
Jan 1, 2021: $3000 USD / $5000 USD single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 10
  • All meals on days 2 through 10 (dinner on day 1)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information


What to Expect and Bring

WHAT TO EXPECT

Palau is located 7º above the equator and experiences the classical Micronesian weather pattern: Sunny with a chance of rain (early morning or late afternoon showers are not uncommon throughout the year). Daily temperatures average around 86º F (30º C) and water temperatures around 84º F (29º C ). Cooler surface waters may be experienced within the lagoon if persistent rains result in a layer of freshwater as it trickles out from caches in the porous rock islands. Strong currents are a possibility on some of our snorkel sites. While we often schedule our session during a time when the currents are minimal, there will be planned drift snorkels. These types of snorkels take advantage of the water movement and allow us to float over the reef without having to actively swim. This activity usually becomes an instant favorite among our guests as it is very exciting and yet very passive at the same time! In some cases, however, the unpredictability of the tides may expose us to strong water movement. This may require a bit of effort though we will always have our dinghies standing by to help if needed.

We will have the chance to visit beaches and hike on established trails on the limestone islands. The most notable of these land excursions is our visit to Jellyfish Lake. The hike is on a well worn, well-established path but it does involve a twenty minute hike on an uneven, up and down trail. There are handrails for support, but please note that good foot protection is required.

Please read more about our daily schedule here.

WHAT TO BRING

The following list is a suggestion of things to bring and applies to almost all of our trips (specific items on a particular departure will be noted on the departure information).

-A good fitting mask, snorkel, and set of fins. If your equipment is brand new, please try it out in the pool. Determining the fit and function of your equipment in the pool includes doing several laps with all of your equipment on. Doing several snorkel dives is also very beneficial. It is also important to clean your new equipment, especially your mask. Cleaning procedures for your mask include light scrubbing with toothpaste or dishwasher soap to remove the light layer of silicon that is used to preserve the mask during shipping and storage. All areas of the mask, both inside and out, need to be addressed. Doing this greatly reduces the chances of having your mask fog. Not doing this, even when using mask de-fogger, usually results in a fogged mask.

-A wetsuit, rash guard, diveskin, or any type of clothing that can be used for thermal and/or protection form the sun. We suggest bringing a full 3mm wetsuit and some type of core insulation like a vest or shirt made of 1 – 2 mm neoprene (e.g., Lavacore or Sharkskin shirts or vests). These items will not only provide thermal protection but protection from the sun as well. For those who feel that a 3mm suit may be too warm, please consider a full body skin or rash guard to ensure protection from the strong sun. With regards to thermal protection, remember the saying: it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have. One that note…

-Head protection in the form of a wetsuit hood, a cap, or even a bandana. Anything that can keep the sun off of your head is extremely important. It is the most exposed part of our bodies when we are floating on the surface.

-Underwater Flashlight for our planned night snorkel. Palau has excellent opportunities for night snorkeling and we will take full advantage.

-Biodegradable sunscreen lotion. Okay, this is a tricky suggestion. Even many biodegradable sunscreen lotions have been shown to harm and even kill tiny larvae (baby marine life ranging from fish to all types of invertebrates especially coral). It is fine to wear on land, but we highly discourage the use of sunscreen lotions in the water. Having a full wetsuit or skin will do the job of protection from the sun much better than lotions and the suits also help with thermal protection. It is truly a win-win for everyone and the marine environment.

-Casual, lightweight, tropical clothing
-Sunglasses (and a spare in case you lose your main pair)
-Comfortable footwear such as active sandals (Teva, Keen, Merrell, etc.)
-Hats. We cannot stress the importance of a hat in the tropics!
-All of our boats provide items like shampoo, soap, towels, etc. We bring this up because these items represent added weight and if they leak, less-than-fun times during the unpacking stage of the trip.

Other items that may be considered:
-Lightweight rainwear to protect from the occasional afternoon shower

DEPARTURES

April 16 – 26, 2022 ←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: Rock Islands Aggressor, Palau Pacific Resort
Guides: Lee Goldman
Length: 11 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$7000 USD per person, double occupancy
$10000 USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
Oct 31, 2021: $3500 USD / $4500 USD single
Jan 1, 2021: $3000 USD / $5000 USD single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 10
  • All meals on days 2 through 10 (dinner on day 1)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information


Departures

Rock Island Aggressor is a vessel Coral triangle Adventures uses for their snorkeling tours in PalauApril 16 – 26, 2022 ←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: Rock Islands Aggressor, Palau Pacific Resort
Guides: Lee Goldman
Length: 11 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$7000 USD per person, double occupancy
$10000 USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
Oct 31, 2021: $3500 USD / $4500 USD single
Jan 1, 2021: $3000 USD / $5000 USD single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 10
  • All meals on days 2 through 10 (dinner on day 1)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost; 90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost. In any event of cancellation we will endeavor to find a replacements. In the case we find replacement guests we may be able to offer a partial refund or may transfer some or all payments to another departure.

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information

Trip Reports


mandarinfish photographed in Palau by coral triangle adventures
Palau Snorkeling Tour, April 2019 Trip Report Palau 2019 Trip Report. Palau is where it all started for Ethan and
soft corals and anthias - coral triangle adventures
Papua New Guinea Snorkeling Tour, Feb, 2019 Trip Report Papua New Guinea 2019 trip report. After a short flight from
typlical reef scene in Alor Indonesia
Fish frenzy in Alor We have yet to visit a snorkeling destination where the reefs possess literally thousands of fish
A colorful bristle worm at night in Palau
Snorkeling with bristle worms Ok, so I’m probably overemphasizing the density of worms in Palau’s inner lagoon waters but I
butterflyfishes of palau, a poster by lee goldman and coral triangle adventures
Snorkeling with butterflyfishes in Palau Butterflyfishes are some of the most popular reef fishes in the world. They are colorful,
Peach anthias school above a reef in Palau
Palau Snorkeling Tour, 2017 I had not been back to Palau for 10 years. Having worked and lived there for
Fluorescence in Acropora millepora
Snorkeling to see fluorescence Simply put, fluorescence is the ability to absorb light of shortwave lengths and emit it at
Juvenile zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatus)
Another sea snake mimic? Scientists, by training, are all about skepticism. It is an important part of the scientific process
Mastigias jelly reflection photographed in Raja Ampat
Banda Islands Snorkeling Tour, 2015 Trip Report Spice Islands 2015. Standing on Bandaneira it was hard to imagine the impact