The first time I heard about Palau, I was looking through a travel blogger friend’s captivating photos from her recent visit.
In one of the photos, she was covered in a bleach-white, pasty substance. I asked her what she was covered in, and she jokingly replied, “It comes from the Milky Way.” I was baffled for a moment… but the Milky Way she was referring to is a lagoon within Palau’s rock islands. Tour guides takes visitors there to rub this white mud that comes from the lagoon’s floor all over their bodies. The idea is that it exfoliates your skin, even though research says otherwise. Either way, I was sold on visiting Palau.
Palau is an archipelago of 500 islands located in the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines. Palau’s economy is built mainly from tourism, and the country offers a variety of activities to keep you busy. Scuba diving is a big draw, which brings divers from all around the world to explore the underwater playground sprinkled with World War II wrecks.
If the deep sea isn’t your cup of tea, Sam’s Tour can whisk you away to the rock islands for a kayak tour. I took their Long Lake tour on a serene voyage during low tide. The low tide allowed us to enter Secret Lake through an arch-like tunnel. Once we were inside, the circular, roofless cave created a echo when we bellowed a series of “hellos.” After exiting Secret Lake, we docked our kayaks on a small beach, which is also only accessible during low tide, and snorkeled the clear blue water, admiring the colorful and lively coral reef.
The next excursion I took was with Fish ’n Fins to the world famous Jellyfish Lake. In this lake, you can swim with jellyfish and not get stung. It’s a phenomenon thousands of years in the making, since the rock islands rose from the sea and trapped the jellyfish in the lake free from their predators. Jellyfish’s natural design is to use their stingers to defend themselves, but over time, they evolved and lost their stingers due to living in an environment which required no usage. Today, visitors are able to swim with these beautiful creatures and marvel at their daily routine of swimming near the water’s surface to feed. I swam to the middle of the lake with the mid-day sun shinning bright, swarmed by thousands of jellyfish ranging from big to small. I felt like I was welcomed into their home, and everyone wanted to say hello to their new visitor.
Another item on the bucket list was checked off, and the Palauans offered to add an unexpected entry to the list: fruit bat soup. I’m a professional eater and always up for a challenge to try something new, so I was up to give it a shot.
During the evening, I visited the Nature Island Resort and took their Rock Island Night Adventure to visit a limestone cave that was used during World War II to hide Japanese water planes. After the cruise, I returned to the island, and my guide and his co-worker, armed with a pellet riffle, took me on a night hike through the island’s forest. On the hike, the guide pointed out different types of trees and characteristics of the island. All the information was cool, but I couldn’t help but notice his co-worker kept looking up in the trees and shooting his rifle. After a walking more into the forest, we got separated from his co-worker. We reached the end point of the tour and turned around to head back to the resort for dinner. When we caught up with his co-worker, he was holding a dead fruit bat, and they asked if I wanted to try fruit bat soup. I took a long, hard look at the bat and said to them, “Eating a bat won’t get crossed off my bucket list tonight!”