My eighth day was spent enjoying the unique islands of Palau. I have heard my whole life how pristine and gorgeous these islands are, but nothing prepared me for encountering the lush jungle, turquoise blue waters, and rock islands. After torrential rains on the first day on Palau, the skies suddenly cleared in the morning and a perfect blue day emerged. With the help of our hosts, Judge Watford, his wife, and I went on a snorkeling trip that offered multiple stops in the rock islands. We then finished the day at a remarkably good Indian restaurant with Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong.
You have to buy a $50 permit to go to the Rock Islands, which are protected. The boat trip is another $80. The boat trip took us to four locations. It began at the “Milky Way,” which is the name for the white limestone that collects at the base of the rock islands. In a small cove, our guides dove into the water and brought up buckets of the substance which you are supposed to rub all over your body. It is known to do wonders for the skin and is actually sold commercially around the world. Everyone ends up looking like that scene out of Apocalypse Now with the white painted figures at the remote camp of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz. You then dive in and wash off the Milky Way.
We then did a stop at “Paradise” and “Fantasy” points. The water is crystal clear and the coral is stunning with blues, pinks, and other vivid colors. There is an abundance of every fish one can imagine (and many that I never heard of). There was also an octopus, a shark, loads of giant starfish and giant clams. The coral is deep with little caves and lower caverns.
The Rock Islands themselves are stunning. Arches and towers rise out of the ocean – covered in the lush jungle growth typical of Palau. We went by caves occupied by the Japanese during the war, including one large cave used as a fuel depot where the barrels can still be seen inside. There was also a cave used to hide a large shore gun.
It was an incredible trip that started around 8 am and ended around 4 pm. Unfortunately, the only flights leaving Palau are at ungodly hours in order to make connections in Guam or Tokyo. My flight to Guam left at 2:30 am so I had to leave my hotel at 1 am. That meant that I did not sleep after returning from the Indian restaurant. It was not just the lack of sleep that made leaving difficult. This is a true paradise. I am already plotting my return to Palau, which is truly one of the most unique places on Earth.