Palau is really a magical place. Once the setting for a season of Survivor, this tiny Micronesian island chain is home to a gazillion kinds of coral, sea life, and breathtaking rock islands. This was my second visit and working vacation. Read my full travel story.
Off the Beaten Path
The island of Pohnpei is the largest and tallest in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). An abundance of rain falls on its rugged mountain peaks, streaming into more than 40 rivers that feed the upper rain forest. Its waterfalls range from pleasant to spectacular, some with large swimming ponds. Although mangrove swamps surround most of Pohnpei’s coastline, nearby reef islands boast beautiful sandy beaches.
A day trip with Sam’s Tours (samtours.com) is an alternately thrilling and relaxing water adventure. Rise early to depart on a speedboat, whizzing through the majestic Rock Islands with their plumes of grass sprouting from limestone mushroom heads. Stop to snorkel and you may catch a glimpse of an elusive sea turtle or a family of black-tipped sharks, two- to three-feet long and as curiously cautious as you.
Babeldaob is Palau’s largest island — about three-quarters the size of Guam and Fish ‘n Fins (fishnfins.com) offers the only off-road eco tour of the island. Rise early for a wild ride off-road in a military-usage Polaris, which is a great way to see the island.
Palau is a destination like no other in Micronesia. The chain of islands is small and remote, but developed for comfortable, western style tourism. Palauans are strict guardians of the island’s pristine and delicate terrestrial and aquatic ecology. What has coalesced at 07°20 north of the Equator is nothing short of phenomenal. Locals are quick to boast about the island’s ecological charms, often rhapsodizing about its unique beauty.
People say that the best time to visit Saipan is when the flame trees are blooming—April through August. We somehow missed that memo. And while that sounds breathtaking, we are of the working class and found it far more convenient to go during the holidays. With that said, we were delighted with our four-day excursion.