Nestled in the Pacific Ocean, just east of the Philippines, is the independent country of Palau. Comprising many islands, a holiday in Palau means that visitors can really get off the beaten track. The main draw of this naturally beautiful country is the many stunning beaches and the water that surrounds them. It's a very sparsely populated country and even the largest city is home to only a few thousand people. While a little short on attractions, the scuba diving, trekking and opportunities for relaxation will keep you busy for weeks when you visit Palau in 2019 / 2020. Its location in the Pacific Ocean means that the country gets excellent weather all year round. Even though visiting in the wet season you’ll still enjoy hours of daily sunshine. The food here is influenced by its surrounding neighbours. Many of the dishes are served with rice and fresh seafood is always high on the culinary agenda.
While the primary draw for visiting Palau is its unspoilt beaches, the former capital city of Koror does have a small collection of what you might call typical attractions. Two museums worth visiting are the Etpison Museum and Belau Museum. Both have small collections of local artefacts covering subjects such as the history of the country and the marine life which surrounds it. Melekeok is now the official capital of the country and was designated as such only back in 2006. The city is home to the country's new government capitol building. A controversial structure among locals given the grandeur and expense relative to the small population. Melekeok is home to under 400 local people, so don't expect to get stuck in traffic here. Palau is well known for its exquisite waters and abundance of marine life. Snorkelling and scuba diving are incredibly popular with those who visit. There are many reputable dive shops around where you can hire equipment or even register to get your diving certification.
Palauan food is incredibly diverse and reflects that of the surrounding countries in South East Asia. It’s influenced by the spices and flavours of countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and also the United States. As is common in the Pacific Islands, root vegetables are incredibly common, especially the use of yams and pumpkins. Rice is also eaten with most meals in Palau. Some popular dishes which are regularly eaten are fruit bat soup, hola-hola – coconut with yams and plantain – and fish cooked with garlic and ginger. More typical dishes such as curries and salads are also served along with a selection of western foods that will be familiar to most visitors.
Palau doesn't have a great deal in the way of restaurant listings. Most eateries are local, family-run establishments. The quality of the local cuisine is generally excellent, and a dream for those who enjoy indulging in street food. However, there are a few notable restaurants in the capital which are worth checking out if you have the time. They are The Rock Island Café, Carp and Kramer's.
By its very nature, Paula is a very family-friendly destination. Given that much of the action here is centred around the pool and beach there's plenty of opportunities for children to play. It's also possible to swim with dolphins while on holiday in Palau. While this activity isn't one which is exclusive to children, it is one which they'll find thrilling and remember for a long time to come.
On the smaller islands, there are many bays which are safe for children to swim or even snorkel, though adult supervision is always advised. Many of the dive companies also specialise in family dive packages – perfect for those parents who are dive enthusiasts who want to introduce their children to the underwater world. There also many tours which you can take, many of which are child-friendly. Boat trips are an excellent way to explore the wider archipelago. You can opt for a full-day of half-day tour. You can also explore the island’s natural landscape. There are many walks which range from under an hour to several days, when camping is required.
Action & Adventure
Trekking, diving, kayaking. Palau has a great deal to offer for those into action and adventure. While many people spend most of their time on the coast, inland is also stunningly beautiful. Home to several species of birds and reptiles, you can discover the wildlife on a number of local treks and tours which can be organised upon arrival in Palau.
The waters, too, hold endless adventures. There’s a wide range of diving opportunities from beginner to advanced where you can explore marine life, ship wrecks and even participate in a night dive. If you don't want to dive but want to get a feel for the underwater world then snorkelling is also an excellent option. You can hire or buy the equipment from the local shops and amenities around town and take to the water to see what the waters of the grand Pacific Ocean have to offer.
It's no exaggeration to say that there are hundreds of beaches in Palau. Babeldaob is the largest island in the country and is known for its long stretched of beaches and lush landscape. Heading south you'll discover Rock Islands which are made up of over 300 uninhabited islands, while Peleliu is home to around 700 people. There are no major developments in Palau, but you will find many hotels of various guises scattered across the country. In beach localities where there are hotels, you'll normally find a smattering of amenities, though there often isn't much to see outside the immediate area where you're staying. There's always opportunities to take to the water. Scuba diving and snorkelling are popular activities, and the hotel staff will be more than happy to help you set this up. If you're not satisfied with one beach then there's plenty of opportunity to island hop. Beach life is integral to the way of life here. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of this unique country.
While there aren't any big clubs in Paula there are many places where you can enjoy a drink in the evening. There’s a range of establishments from karaoke bars to small bistro-style drinking joints. Red Rooster is the local beer and is cheap to buy. Wine is available but is more expensive because of the cost incurred when transporting it to the islands.
In most localities where you find hotels there’ll be at least one or two places where you can go for a drink in the evening. In the evenings nearly all hotels and resorts will have a place to relax by the beach, and some of them provide entertainment such as a live band.
If you're into scuba diving then a night dive here is a must. Explore the depths of the ocean by torchlight and see a whole different side to the underwater world. It’s worth remembering that the drinking age in Palau is 21 and is strongly enforced by the local police.
If you're a couple looking to relax, then the endless island beaches won't disappoint. However, if you prefer to stay a little active then the jungle trekking and diving opportunities are enough to satisfy even a hardened adrenaline junkie. Many couples might eschew the capital upon arrival but it's actually worth spending a few days here before heading off to the paradise islands. The accommodation here caters to a variety of tastes. If you're an adventurous couple, then you can camp or rent a beach hut. But if you prefer a little luxury, then there's plenty of high-end hotels where you can be pampered. This tranquil destination is the perfect place to spend some quality time with your partner, reconnect and make some great memories in 2018.
The multiple islands have been populated for over 3,000 years and have been in the hands of many rulers since they were first occupied. There are many relics which pepper the islands and demonstrate the country's history – including remnants of World War II, which are sporadically spread around the island.
There are a couple of museums in the capital and former capital of Koror. These include the Belau National Museum and the Etpison Museum, which both document different areas of the country's current and historic culture. The culture in Palau is very different in comparison to western ideals. While you should never insist that what they are doing is wrong, most locals will happily engage in an academic debate on almost any topic you can think of.