The island nation of Palau could well be the most beautiful place you’ve never heard of, and therein lies its allure. Three major ocean currents feed this pristine archipelago in the western Pacific — making it a fertile marine garden whose turquoise waters boast quadruple the reef diversity of Caribbean waters.
As island idylls go, this tops our list for world-class sea kayaking and snorkeling in one of the world’s finest marine ecosystems. Boundless Journeys reveals all the visions you would expect in paradise — swaying coconut palms, silky sand beaches, and an underwater Eden. Discover inlets and mangrove forests by kayak. Duck into magical sea caves and explore hidden bays. Never heard of Palau? After this trip, you’ll never forget it.
Arrival in Koror
Upon arrival of your flight to Koror, you are met by a Carolines Resort representative and transferred to your hotel. As most flights arrive late in the evening, we meet as a group on the morning of Day 2.
Carolines ResortNgerkebesang, Palau
The Carolines Resort is an icon of peace and tranquility set on the hilltop locally known as Ketund. It’s eight bungalows are built almost entirely of local mahogany, mangrove, and bamboo. Amenities include A/C, Wifi, and private balconies with some of the best views in Palau of the Rock Islands across the bay.
After breakfast, our guide meets us in the lobby of the hotel for an orientation of the week's activities. Our introduction to Palau begins with a visit to the Belau National Museum in Koror. Here, we gain some insight into Palauan culture and customs by viewing displays and artifacts that share the story of Palau's history both before and after contact with foreign peoples.
On the museum grounds sits a replica bai, or men's meeting house. Each village in Palau had a men's meeting house which were elaborately painted and decorated with carvings of traditional stories and legends.
After enjoying lunch, we have the special opportunity to take a ride in a traditional Palauan canoe. This outrigger canoe is hand-carved and constructed in the same style as the canoes used by Palauans in centuries past to fish and explore the warm turquoise waters surrounding the Rock Islands.
Paddling Nikko Bay
After breakfast, we gather together for a kayaking instructional and safety briefing before heading out into the Rock Islands. Our first stop within Nikko Bay is at Disney Lake, which we enter by maneuvering our kayaks through a small marine tunnel exposed at low tide. In this hidden lake, we discover multi-thousand year-old reefs, protected from surrounding limestone walls that prevents wind and waves from disturbing the delicate marine environment.
After lunch, we paddle to Lettuce Coral Wall, a nursery of sorts for small reef fish who will eventually make their way to Palau's outer reefs. The remainder of the afternoon is spent exploring marine caves filled with hanging stalactites, botanical treasures, and an occasional sheath-tailed bat. These caves are some of Palau's greatest geological wonders with names like Cathedral Cave, Rolling Rock Arch, and Skylight Cave.
Our adventure today is no doubt among the highlights of the trip—the thousands of non-stinging jellyfish at Jellyfish Lake. Their existence in Jellyfish Lake is a fascinating evolutionary story tracing back 35 million years to the time when the Rock Islands were first created. A combination of colliding tectonic plates and the erosive forces of the ocean created these salt water lakes, where over time, the isolated jellyfish eventually evolved into the stingless variety we see today. We float gently in the water of the lake, surrounded by jellyfish, equipped with just our masks and snorkels. It is a truly special experience; one you will only find in Palau! Other highlights of the day include snorkeling in Cycad Lake and visiting Giant Clam Beach — a place whose name will be obvious when you see its inhabitants.
Dolphin Bay ResortPeleliu Island, Palau
Located on the island of Peleliu, Dolphin Bay Resort is close to some of the best snorkeling sites in Palau. Enjoy spectacular ocean views from one of the seven comfortable bungalows, built with natural materials and designed to blend into the tropical setting. Amenities include A/C, private balconies, and a private beach.
Outer Reef, Ngemelis Island, and Peleliu Island WWII Land Tour
Today, we snorkel along the Outer Reef. Big Blue Drop Off is a sheer vertical wall that runs along the whole length of Ngemelis Island, providing some of the most impressive snorkeling in the world.
Palau's most popular dive site, Blue Corner, is recognized worldwide for its high concentration of marine life. It is one of the most highly-rated dive sites in Micronesia, in part due to an upwelling created by the currents which attracts schools of fish to the top edges of the walls. Napoleon wrasses, dogtooth tuna, eagle rays, manta rays, white tip reef sharks, turtles, schooling barracudas, and groups of other reef fish populate the area.
In addition to today's snorkeling, we also tour Peleliu Island to learn of its role in WWII. The remains of old bunkers, tanks, and guns litter the island and are haunting reminders of its past military significance. It is difficult to imagine this tropical paradise was once the site of the bloody Battle of Peleliu where US and Japanese forces fought for three months.
With immense biodiversity and beauty, Palau provides unrivalled snorkeling opportunities, and the reefs surrounding Peleliu Island are some of Palau's finest. Peleliu is well-known for it's fringing reefs, coral reefs which develop adjacent to islands with little or no separation from the shore. From the surface, multitudes of colorful reef fish can be observed gliding among dense coral formations sprinkled with giant clams, sea squirts, and varieties of anemone. The outer barrier reefs near Peleliu are also exceptional for viewing a multitude of marine life. Turtle Cove is a particularly stunning reef system, which includes a beautiful blue hole, vertical drop-offs, and a current swept corner teeming with shy reef sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and schooling fish. Sightings of classic tropical reef fish, including clown triggerfish and palette surgeonfish, are common at this world class snorkeling and diving site.
West Ngeruktabel's inner lagoon environment offers many amazing snorkel sites, with endless varieties of bright, vibrant coral consisting of old growth hard corals and precious soft coral. These reefs are home to an abundance of fish and other marine creatures that thrive in this unique and exotic underwater ecosystem. We keep our eyes peeled for the well-camouflaged sea horses living in the shallow waters of Sea Horse Cove. But in Palau's Rock Islands, the fascinating aquatic creatures are not the only things waiting for you beneath the waves. West Ngeruktabel is also the final resting place for several sunken tanks, planes, and artillery from WWII, a chilling reminder of how this celebrated and pristine snorkeling destination was once a battleground. This wreckage has developed its own thriving ecosystems brimming with fish, corals, and other invertebrates not commonly seen along the outer reef.
Palau Pacific ResortKoror, Palau
Palau Pacific Resort is nestled among 64 acres of lush gardens with exotic tropical flowers. Surrounded by the blue water of the western Pacific, this luxury hotel features a private 1,000-foot blanket of white sand beach with excellent snorkeling and a freshwater outdoor beachside swimming pool. Palau Pacific Resort rooms are all thoughtfully appointed with a range of modern amenities for a relaxing stay.
With six isolated turquoise bays and two marine lakes, Risong Bay is a paddler's paradise. After kayaking through a marine tunnel, we arrive at Black Tip Lake, where female black tip reef sharks give birth to their young. The young sharks frequently swim alongside boats in an endless quest for tiny fish. Just outside of Black Tip Lake sits a reef flat known as Blue Devil Gardens, home to black spotted puffers, threadfin butterflies, and cryptic honeycomb groupers.
Each of the hidden bays within Risong contains a unique and distinctive habitat. As tidal waters flow out of an enclosed marine lake, they spill into Mandarin Fish Bay as a saltwater waterfall. The waters have been filtered by their artesian passage through the limestone, and thus the bay becomes crystal clear—ideal for viewing the pajama cardinal fish, sail-fin tang, and the enigmatic and brilliantly colored mandarin fish, all which inhabit this bay.
Our last full day in Palau is no less incredible than the previous ones. We depart for the island of Ulong. White sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and turquoise bays define this picturesque island. Ulong also hides some fascinating historic treasures including the site of an ancient village, hidden pictographs, stone terracing, and myriad artifacts from a lost culture of ancient Palauans.
At Ulong Arch, we enjoy a snorkel and search the coral for all four of Palau's colorful anemone fish. Next, we visit a historic site where Palauans had their first contact with the Western world. We enjoy lunch on the sandy shores of this protected cove before paddling on to the reef named Wilson's Channel. Colorful clams, spider conchs, and dancing damselfish grace this pristine coral garden.
We head to Ulong's most beautiful stretch of sand, where we learn of the Palauans' history and how their ancestors managed to cross vast distances to reach these remote shores. We walk through a thick tropical forest to a UNESCO World Heritage village site mysteriously abandoned over 500 years ago. Our return to Koror by boat provides us with breathtaking scenery as we cruise through a labyrinth of islands, bays, and arches on our return to Palau Pacific Resort where we have time to indulge in some of the luxuries of the resort and share a our last celebratory meal.
Return Flights Home
You will either be transferred to the airport in time to check in for return flights home, or you may opt to continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in Koror.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Oct 24-Nov 2, 2023
Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
From $6,995 Per Person
First two reserved:$1,095
See single supplement policy below.
MAKE IT PRIVATE
9+ Guests: $6,995 per person
5 to 8 Guests: from $7,495 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Palau: Snorkeling & Kayaking Odyssey is rated 2, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). No prior kayaking or snorkeling experience is necessary for this trip. Our guides will provide basic paddling and snorkeling instructions for anyone who needs it.
The sea kayaking and snorkeling, while not technically difficult, will have you active for good portions of each day. You can expect to kayak a minimum of twice during the tour, spending approximately 3 hours in the kayak, but not paddling that entire time. The kayaking is also split up with breaks for snorkeling and other activities. On a few of the days you will have the opportunity to do short walks to inland sites. These excursions will be relatively easy walks in the rainforest, but the paths may be slippery, rocky, rooted, and steep in small sections.
Most Convenient Airport:Koror International Airport, Palau (airport code: ROR)
Meeting Time and Place: Upon your arrival in Koror you will be met by a representative from Carolines Resort (our first hotel) and transferred to the hotel. Because of the late arrival of flights from the U.S., you will meet the group and your guide at 9:00 a.m. on the morning of Day 2 in the lobby of the Carolines Resort.
Departure Time and Place: Most flights out of Koror leave very early in the morning (at around 2:00 a.m.). If you are leaving on the final day of the tour, a departure airport transfer is provided for you. If you are spending some post-tour days in Palau and staying at Palau Pacific Resort, Boundless Journeys can assist in arranging your post-tour nights and departure airport transfer.
This trip is appropriate for both those with previous kayaking & snorkeling experience, or for those who are new to kayaking & snorkeling; no previous experience is required. Skills are quickly learned, and our expert guides provide instruction and tips throughout the trip.
It is hard to accurately rate the difficulty of the sea kayaking during this trip as much of the challenge is determined by the weather. We plan our kayaking routes and snorkeling schedule to avoid strong wind and to correspond with favorable tides. With the support of a speedboat, we have the option to motor through any difficult conditions and therefore ensure gentle and pleasant paddling. Still, it is important that you travel with a spirit of flexibility in regards to the weather and any challenges it may present.
The type of kayak used on tour is the open cockpit, sit-on-top style, making them stable vessels. We offer both single and double kayaks. All kayaks offer dry hatches, seat backs, and adjustable foot pedals. Life jackets are available upon request.
Palau enjoys a warm climate all year, with an average annual temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Given the tropical climate, it is very humid in Palau and rainfall can occur throughout the year, though sunshine is still prevalent. Palau is located outside the typhoon zone, so severe storms are generally not a concern.
You can obtain more detailed weather information on www.weatherbase.com.
Given Palau's consistent weather and temperature patterns, any time of year is good for visiting. Palau's water temperature averages 82-85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Boundless Journeys has chosen Palau tour dates to coincide with optimal tides for exploring the Rock Islands.
Palau has an assortment of restaurants. Many of the best restaurants in Palau are Asian, specializing in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean food. Palau'an food is typically comprised of seafood, chicken, and pork with tropical fruits and vegetables such as mango, papaya, watermelon, bananas, peppers, breadfruit, and taro. Sweet potato and tapioca are also important staples of the Palau'an diet.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Easy sea kayaking and snorkeling, 4-5 hours per day with access to support boat
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
By: Matt Snell
If you think using the word “odyssey” in our Palau: Snorkeling and Kayaking Odyssey is hyperbole, you haven’t been to Palau. This Micronesian island republic punches way, way above its…
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