Palau is a paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers. This Micronesian nation consists of about 250 islands that offer some of the most unique diving/snorkeling sights you’ll ever come across. Even if you’re a seasoned underwater explorer, you’ll want to grab your gear and make sure you don’t miss these amazing dives.
While the giant clam, or Tridacna gigas, may not be Palau’s most thrilling wildlife species, they have their own claim to fame as the largest living bivalve mollusk. The clams can live up to 100 years or more, and grow to be nearly four feet across. If you dive down to them you’ll see that they’re brightly colored with beautiful patterns, and make for a great photo op.
Yes, you read that right. Swimming with sharks is something many tours in Palau now provide. So dedicated is Palau to protecting sharks and educating people about them that they founded the world’s first shark sanctuary in 2001. As part of their ecotourism efforts, you can snorkel or dive with Palau’s various shark species at a number of dive sites, including the famous Blue Corner and the aptly named Shark City. I’ll admit that I was apprehensive before venturing into the water with sharks, but seeing the majestic black tipped reef sharks swimming below me turned out to be an incredible thrill.
This was by far my favorite of all the snorkel experiences, and it’s one that is unique to Palau. Jellyfish Lake is home to millions of jellyfish who, over thousands of years of evolution in an isolated, predator-free environment, have lost their sting. As a result, swimmers have the opportunity to snorkel in the lake, surrounded on all sides by jellyfish. Swimmers are able to see up close the two kinds of jellyfish that live in the lake: golden jellyfish (Mastigias papua etpisoni), and moon jellyfish, (Aurelia sp). The entrance permit is a bit steep, currently $100 USD. Before entering the habitat, swimmers must rinse their shoes to avoid bringing contaminants into the ecosystem, and then remove them before entering the lake. Diving is not allowed.
Sadly, this was not a dive I had time for on my trip. Because of the battles fought there during World War II, the waters of Palau are rich with the carcasses of downed ships and fighter jets. Over time, these man-made machines have slowly been taken over by sea life, creating a fascinating playground for underwater explorers. If you’re a history buff or simply looking for a change from all the incredible underwater wildlife Palau has to offer, then you’ll want to check these out.