After three decades as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific under US administration, this westernmost cluster of the Caroline Islands chose independence in 1978, instead of joining the Federated States of Micronesia. A Compact of Free Association with the US was approved in 1986, but not ratified until 1993. Palau became independent on October 1, 1994.
Early Palauans may have come from Polynesia and Asia. Depending on the origin of a family, Palauans may represent many parts of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. However, they are not traditionally considered to be Micronesian. For thousands of years, Palauans have had a well established matrilineal society, believed to have descended from Javanese precedents.
Palau had limited relations before the 18th century, mainly with Yap and Java. Had it not been for shipwrecked islanders who took refuge in the Philippines, Europeans likely would not have found Palau until much later. Englishman Captain Henry Wilson was shipwrecked off the island of Ulong in 1783 and it was Wilson who gave the archipelago the name "Pelew Islands".
In the late 19th century, possession of the islands was claimed by Britain, Spain, and Germany. In 1885, the matter was brought to Pope Leo XIII for a decision. The Pope recognized the Spanish claim, but granted economic concessions to Britain and Germany. Palau then became part of the Spanish East Indies, along with the Northern Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands and the Marshall Islands. They were all administered from the Philippines. Spain sold the Palau archipelago to Germany in 1899 after which it was administered from German New Guinea, and a period of economic development began. German engineers began exploiting the islands' deposits of bauxite and phosphate, and a rich harvest in copra was made. World War I intervened and the German period lasted only 15 years after which the League of Nations awarded Palau to Japan. The Japanese presence made Palau a major target for the Allied forces in World War II, and there were several major battles in the area.
Palau enjoys a tropical climate all year round with an annual mean temperature of 82 °F (28 °C). Rainfall can occur throughout the year, averaging a total of 150 inches (3,800 mm). The average humidity over the course of the year is 82%, and although rain falls more frequently between July and October, there is still much sunshine. Typhoons are rare, as Palau is outside the main typhoon zone.
The southwestern islands of Palau are worth a visit if you have your own marine transport such as an ocean-going yacht. There are Sonsorol, Fana, Meriil, Hatohobei and Helen Reef, a conservation area. However be sure to take mosquito repellent if you visit Meriil as its local name is dancing island. Go there and you will find out why! If you intend to visit any of these islands it is a wise idea to make the acquaintance of the governors at their offices in Koror. If you are lucky you just might be able to take a trip on the island supply vessel, the Atoll Way. Sleeping is on a hard wooden platform along with the other souls who are either returning to their home islands or maybe the doctor from Peleliu Island Hospital who is making a routine visit to check up on the health of the islanders.
Visas are not required by citizens of any Schengen country (90 days), the United States (a year), Israel (90 days), the Marshall Islands (a year) and the Federated States of Micronesia (a year). Nearly all other visitors can obtain a 30 day visa on arrival, except for citizens of Bangladesh and Myanmar who must obtain a visa in advance.
Plane is the only realistic choice. There is only one airport, Airai (ROR), on Babeldaob. Visitors can take United Airlines' daily flights from Guam (~$600), which has connections to Japan and the United States, as well as directly to Manila, Philippines.
Delta Air Lines launched daily service to (ROR) from Tokyo-Narita (NRT) on December 2010 with connections on to many destinations throughout Asia as well as to its hub cities in the US (including Hawaii).
Asiana Airlines operates regularly scheduled flights from Seoul's Incheon airport.
Possible but not very easy.
Taxi and rented car. Lots of local taxis. If you rent a car, be prepared to drive slowly on some bumpy roads. Both left and right hand drive cars are present in Palau, which can cause some confusion. If you drive south, to Ice Box Park,the facility behind it is a sewage treatment plant. Any other diving will be from a boat, after an hour or more ride and cost around US$150 for a two tank dive. There are no dive spots or beaches on the main island - Koror. The road north is paved and is very nice... once you get past the airport.
Palau has all of the gorgeous tropical tranquillity you could wish for in a South Pacific island state. Most visitor attractions are found on and around the The Rock Islands or Chelbachebover. These 250 rock islands -many tiny, uninhabited places- offer some enchanting views and are a World Heritage site. They are a silent invitation to kick back and enjoy a touch of paradise. Have a cocktail in one of the beach clubs on the country's perfect white sand beaches, admire the beautiful deserted bays and lagoons from a kayak or do as most visitors do: dive under to see the stunning and untouched marine life right under the surface. Popular dives include Blue Corner, Blue hole and the German Channel.
Head to Jellyfish Lake for the extraordinary experience of snorkeling between the countless and unique stingless jellyfish. The isolated location and lack of predators have led the jellyfish to develop this significant difference from the ones in the nearby lagoon. Take a guided tour along ancient stone monoliths and terraces while your guide tells you all about the legends that surround them. With just over 21.000 inhabitants, even the capital might feel like a village, but there's a handful of interesting sights and a few museums showcasing traditional Palau culture and the country's turbulent war time history. Again though, it's the sheer beauty -both above and under water- that make visitors rave about this small island nation.
Palau is most famous for scuba diving. One of the most famous dive sites - Blue Corner, with constant sharks and a high current - is located less than 1 hour's boat ride from most resorts. Many live aboards like Ocean Hunter operate out of Palau. There are also tours to World War II battle fields on Palau.
The Blue Corner, German Channel, Ulong Channel and Blue Holes are all amazing dive sites. You can dive the same site again and again and have completely different experiences each time.
Palau is also famous for its jellyfish lakes. These lakes contain jellyfish which have evolved away their stingers in the absence of predators. There are many tours which will go to the jellyfish lake to snorkel. SCUBA diving is not permitted, nor is necessary, in the jellyfish lake. Palau Jellyfish Lake is included in the category of natural phenomena and scientific mysteries.
Expedition Fleet, is the largest privately owned live-aboard fleet in the Philippines. Their ships operate all over the Philippine Island and Palau. Expedition Fleet is known for experienced and professional Dive Masters, and for excellent service on board.
Splash, the dive shop attached to the Palau Pacific Resort is recommended. The equipment available for rental is of high quality, and either new or well maintained. The dive masters are also very experienced, responsible and know the dive sites very well. Angelo at Splash is highly recommended as a dive master especially if you have not dived in stronger currents. Splash runs a large, wide diveboat, carrying more than 20 divers.
Fish 'n Fins is the oldest dive center in Palau. They have two live-aboard vessels, and seven smaller (and faster!) dive boats, operating from the base in Koror. The guides are very professional and are more than willing to share their extensive knowledge of the ocean and the life in it. Divers can use Nitrox EAN 32 for the same price as air. Gas mixtures for technical divers are also available.
Sam's Tours is another dive shop in Palau that offers diving, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing and land tours. They have some great guides that provide educational and environmental information about the locales. Sam's Tours uses small, fast narrow boats which carry 4~8 divers.
English and Palauan are the official languages, although some islands also give official status to their own languages.
Palau uses the U.S. dollar as its currency ("$", ISO currency code: USD). It is divided into 100 cents.
As you might expect from a remote island where tourism is the main industry, prices are comparatively high, and even a low-end daily budget would be around US$100/day. An increase in visitor numbers in 2015-16 (including many Chinese package tours) has caused overcrowding; in 2017, President Tommy Remengesau proposed policy intended to reposition Palau as a destination of primarily "five-star hotels" (so fewer visitors, at a higher cost) to limit the negative environmental and social impact.
Palauan storyboards are traditional wood carvings depicting Palauan myths and legends.
Also, the Taj, an excellent Indian restaurant, Fuji, a reasonably-priced pseudo-Japanese restaurant, or Dragon Tai on the way into Koror.
Red Rooster Beer. Despite its size Palau has a small brewery, to be found next to the West Plaza by the Sea hotel (see below). It offers Amber and Stout and three other beers. Abai Ice in Koror is a small hut that offers fresh fruit smoothies — highly recommended.
Many licensed establishments in Palau — from quiet little bars to "Japanese"-style karaoke bars complete with bar girls. For a decent affordable drink, try Sam's Dive Shop or High Tide behind Neco dive shop. Alcohol is readily available at most stores. Public drinking is not allowed, and the local police are more than happy to inconvenience you if you are caught.
Palau offers a number of guest house style boutique accommodations. Some are close to or within Koror, some are not. These are available for international bookings via dive shops that offer holiday packages (such as Sam's Tours). Prices range from US$50 a night upward.
There are also a number of nice basic hotels available in Palau.
There are lots of reasonably high end resorts on Palau, most catering for scuba divers.
Palau Community College ( offers AS/AA degrees and occupational certificates. The campus library is open to the public, and offers computer terminals for community members and visitors to check email. The school is accredited through the Western Association of Colleges.
Palau is quite a safe country to visit. Walking in downtown Koror at night, even past midnight is quite safe. But as with any place in the world today, common sense prevails. Pedestrians should be careful, as sidewalks are limited even in downtown Koror.
Saltwater Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) still exist in Palau's mangroves and in the beautiful Rock Islands and can potentially be found anywhere on the island. Despite their fearsome and, in some areas, very justified reputation, here they rarely grow to the immense size that they do in Australia and New Guinea. There was only one fatal attack by a crocodile in Palau within recorded history and that occurred in 1965. The biggest crocodile in Palau's history was 15 feet in length- large, but this is an average size for saltwater crocodiles in most other countries. The rarity of attacks probably stems from the fact that there are no more than 150 adult individuals on the island. Snorkeling and scuba diving are very popular in Palau and there has never in recent history been a report of an attack on a tourist. Judging from a recent survey, it appears crocodiles are quite unjustly hated by the locals, in harsh contrast to the worship they are given by the indigenous peoples of Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The reasons for this are unclear.
Bull Sharks are common in the coastal waters and estuaries, so caution must always be taken while scuba diving or snorkeling
Palauans have been known throughout history for their hospitality. Many Palauans are very understanding, realize cultural differences, and easily give respect for foreign visitors. Be sure, however, to always pay respect to the local culture. As with any other ethnic group, rude remarks or any form of prejudice against the local culture is not taken kindly. Palauans can be just as angry and rude as they are kind. As long as you do not disrespect the culture, violate historic areas, pollute, or harm the ocean in any way, you will find the local atmosphere very laid back and easy going. Palau is a matrilineal society with very strict roles for men and women. Western ideas such as feminism are not standard to the Palauan population, and an overly zealous attempt at instilling such ideas is taken as annoying, ignorant, and obnoxious. Most Palauans, however, gladly engage in such debates and find intellectual conversations interesting. Locals do not expect foreigners to understand the national identity and local culture, so a quick apology for any wrongdoing is more than enough to satisfy a little friction.
There is a $100 Embarkation Tax (new rate as of 1. Apr. 2017) levied on most passengers departing by air. The tax is paid just before you go through immigration and is cash-only. There is an ATM in the airport lobby.
Palau is one of the world’s underwater wonders and Yap is both the most culturally intact isle in the region and a worthy diving and snorkeling mecca in its own right. This guide is new for 2016, with new images, more information on the outer atolls and updated dive site information. These two western Micronesian islands together offer the best diving in the Western Pacific. Both have stunning natural beauty, fabulous coral gardens and guaranteed encounters with big ocean marine life like sharks and manta rays. This guide introduces you to the most popular and sites of Palau and Yap, as well as some unique and more remote sites that are rarely visited. Although the islands are famous for their wide array of beautiful hard corals, abundance of marine life and big fish dives, there is also some great shipwreck diving in Palau. This new book has over 130 full color images and island maps. Dive-site locations are shown on maps and each site is introduced with general location, most frequently dived depths, the type of dive that can be expected, the dominant marine life to be found and logistical requirements. And it is not only about diving. There is lots to do on land in both islands and Yap, especially, is a fascinating cultural oasis, where life still goes on much as it has for centuries. And the people are incredibly welcoming! In short, this is everything you need to get the most out of your trip to Palau and Yap and also makes for a terrific souvenir of your visit.
A colorful guide with beautiful illustrations that will help you identify more than 100 species of coral reef creatures found in Palau's waters. Great for snorkelers, divers and nature lovers! This handy, waterproof reference is made of hard, laminated plastic with hole for lanyard. 4" x 6"
En-route to the Philippines, Palau makes a great place to break the passage while leaving Guam, Papua New Guinea or Micronesia for points west. Tours by land and sea, rustic museums with memorabilia spanning centuries and more than six countries, present with the stark view of the sport-diving capital of Pacific, the kingdom of coral gardens, a craft with mushroom-shaped limestone islets, and the station for most consuming global conflicts such as World War Two.
This map and guide is loaded with information for everything there is to see and do in the Republic of Palau. It is a map and a guidebook rolled into one. Enough info to help you plan your trip and a handy reference to carry and use in Palau. Dive and snorkel sites are located and described in detail. There are colorful illustrations of many of Palau's beautiful coral reef creatures. Side One focuses on scuba diving and snorkeling locations, and has a lot of information about Palau s states, and more. Side Two describes many of the resorts, tourist sites, and has close-ups of Koror, Babeldaob, Peleliu and Angaur. 18" x 27", folded to 4.5" x 9" and printed on waterproof, rip-resistant synthetic stock.
A brief yet detailed report on the country of Palau with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.
The Republic of Palau is the westernmost archipelago in Oceania; it is renowned for it's pristine lagoons and immense marine diversity. Palau's marine community features over 800 varieties of hard and soft corals, over 1,500 fish species and over 100 varieties of sponges. Its waters feature two species of endangered turtle the green and hawksbill turtles as well as the most endangered marine mammal, the dugong. There are over 800 islands within its territory with over 50 marine lakes within those islands, each supporting its own diverse marine microclimate. The skies above Palau teem with over 140 varieties of birds representing 41 families and 16 endemic bird species. Palau natural wonders are world-renowned and it's clear waters host an assortment of dive sites that are considered by experts to be among the finest on the planet. This guidebook is written in a relaxed style, full of helpful information, presented with a touch of humor and the author's personal opinions. You will enjoy the lighter side of this well researched guidebook as you discover the natural beauty of these islands.The only guidebook devoted entirely to Palau, allowing more in depth coverage than other titles encompassing all of Micronesia.The most extensive and up to date listing of accommodations of any guidebook of the region, including photos, Website listings and E-mail addresses.Complete Inter-Island flight schedules and island ferry boat schedules.Extensive coverage of activities on each island. Diving, Fishing, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Surfing, Tours and Cultural Events.Over 40 maps and pictures.
Micronesia and Palau have long been known to diving enthusiasts for some of the most intriguing and spectacular dive spots on earth. Yet as the reputation of these islands spread, more travelers are looking to escape the modern Western world and become transported to a calmer, slower pace of life. The writers of this guide all lived, worked and played on the islands which they write about. First-hand knowledge, cultural insight, and personal recommendations allow visitors to feel like locals while enjoying the indisputable beauty of these islands and people. - Learn the history and culture of the islands from writers who have each spent years living with local residents.
- Explore off-the-beaten-track locales relatively unknown to foreign visitors.
- Navigate on the islands and among islands, enjoying the best of Micronesia and Palau.
- Dive, surf, snorkel, and swim in some of the most stunning marine environments in the world.
- Choose the best places to eat, sleep, shop, and visit based on reviews of all the major islands.
"The Republic of Palau is the westernmost archipelago in Oceania; it is renowned for it's pristine lagoons and immense marine diversity. Palau's marine community features over 800 varieties of hard and soft corals, over 1,500 fish species and over 100 varieties of sponges. Its waters feature two species of endangered turtle the green and hawksbill turtles as well as the most endangered marine mammal, the dugong. There are over 800 islands within its territory with over 50 marine lakes within those islands, each supporting its own diverse marine microclimate. The skies above Palau teem with over 140 varieties of birds representing 41 families and 16 endemic bird species. Palau natural wonders are world-renowned and it's clear waters host an assortment of dive sites that are considered by experts to be among the finest on the planet. This guidebook is written in a relaxed style, full of helpful information, presented with a touch of humor and the author's personal opinions. You will enjoy the lighter side of this well researched guidebook as you discover the natural beauty of these islands.The only guidebook devoted entirely to Palau, allowing more in depth coverage than other titles encompassing all of Micronesia.The most extensive and up to date listing of accommodations of any guidebook of the region, including photos, Website listings and E-mail addresses.Complete Inter-Island flight schedules and island ferry boat schedules.Extensive coverage of activities on each island. Diving, Fishing, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Surfing, Tours and Cultural Events.Over 40 maps and pictures."
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Petty crime is prevalent. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Tourist facilities are available in Koror but are limited elsewhere.
Follow local safety advice when engaging in adventure sports, including scuba diving.
There are saltwater crocodiles in parts of Palau but no warning signs to indicate their presence. Follow the advice of local communities when considering water activities near mangroves.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Oceanic Pacific Islands. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Alcohol consumption in public places is prohibited.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Dress conservatively, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
The currency is the U.S. dollar (USD). Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels and tourist facilities. U.S. dollar traveller’s cheques are widely accepted. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are available.
The rainy (or monsoon) and typhoon seasons in the South Pacific extend from November to April. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, resulting in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and hampering the provision of essential services. Disruptions to air services and to water and power supplies may also occur. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.
During a typhoon or monsoon, hotel guests may be required to leave accommodations near the shore and move to safety centres inland. Travel to and from outer islands may be disrupted for some days.
Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.