Beautiful Palau

One question we ask other cruisers, and ourselves get asked frequently is “what was your favorite stop”. I had for a long time believed the answer varied based on where we were most recently. Then we found Niue and fell in love with the island, and that became a standard answer. But now there’s Palau, and it’s going to be hard to beat this as a favorite stop on the Pacific Loop. The main islands are beautiful, the harbors safe and comfortable, the water warm and crystal clear, the people friendly, the provisioning exceptional, the cruising fabulous and the diving spectacular.

Restored traditional meeting house called a Bai in AiraiWe came in with three other boats from Yap and decided to rent a couple of cars right after we arrived to do an island tour. The car rental company only had one large van, which conveniently sat 7 people – our exact number. So there we were, with Rob driving, Dave navigating, and myself, Linda and Lulu giving directions (all at the same time, usually to different places). It was hysterical. We were all amazed when we managed to accomplish our first stop, but ended up with a marvelous day touring nearly all the sights we set out to see. Rob has posted some nice pictures in the photo gallery of that tour.

After some rest and provisioning we applied for a permit for the Rock Islands, which is Palau’s premier cruising ground. Recognizing the value of protecting both their ecosystem and significant tourism economy, the leaders of Palau have passed a fair number of laws around the use of the Rock Islands area, and patrol it regularly to ensure those laws are obeyed.

We anchored first at the Omekang Islands, near what the map described as Palau’s most popular and famous dive sites. Luckily there were two other boats there at the time who told us about diving the area, which it turns out is like Cocos Island where you need a buddy boat to tend the dinghys on the surface. The currents can be swift and unpredictable, so it’s not always possible to leave the dinghy on the surface, swim one direction for a while then turn back and return to the dinghy. We were happy when they invited us to join them for two dives, where we found that Palau’s reputation for spectacular diving is well earned. Generally when you’re diving and want to stop and look at something or take a picture you can grab ahold of a dead spot on the reef and balance yourself. Not so at Blue Corner – there are no dead spots on the reef anywhere! Our second dive was a wall dive that had lots of absolutely gorgeous soft corals that Rob hasn’t seen anywhere in the world since the Red Sea. We’ll get some pix posted of the dive and anchorages when we get back to Koror.

On anchor in our little spotToday we’re anchored in a little island group call Mecherchar, where fans of Survivor will remember the reward trip to Jellyfish Lake. It’s a lake where the jellyfish have evolved to a state of exceptionally mild stingers. They eat algae from the water, then float in the sun while the algae photosynthesizes and nourishes them. I have absolutely zero interest in swimming with a few thousand jellyfish, stingers or not, but Rob joined our friends Linda & Dave from Irish Melody for a swim yesterday and enjoyed it enough that he’s going back again this morning with the camera. Tomorrow we’ll head north to another island group where there are several Japanese shipwrecks to explore and some good snorkeling. Then we’ll go back to Koror to renew our permit (only 10 days at a time allowed for each permit) and come back to Blue Corner for more diving.

Today on Yohelah the plan has been updated to stay in Palau as long as possible, then head north to Japan – Hong Kong dim sum will have to wait for another voyage…..