While Palau may be better known as one of the world’s top dive destinations, it also offers some of the best kayaking and snorkeling experiences anywhere in the world. Start with all the stuff that makes Palau’s diving experience so great. Palau’s weather is perfect. Palau’s water temperature, perfect. Water visibility is incredible. Visibility is generally between 50 to 200 of feet, depending on conditions and location. Sometimes water visibility measures hundreds of feet. Palau offers days and days of ocean kayaking while never having to venture more than a few hundred yards from shore to view the incredible sights. Palau is a kayaker’s adventure that immerses what is above and below the water line into an awing experience; an experience where these two seamlessly create an ocean journey that can’t be experienced on any other trip around the world.
Let’s start below: The diversity of marine life is unbelievable. NOAA estimates that there are over 10,000 marine species existing in Palau’s waters. While a kayaker will certainly not see anything close to this number, even experiencing a small fraction exceeds almost everyone’s expectations. There are eleven types of whales, around 20 types of dolphins, 350 types of hard coral and 200 of soft, 10 types of sea grass, over 20 types of sea lilies, roughly 300 varieties of sponges, 180 plus sea squirts, over 1300 reef fish and approximately 135 sharks and rays. The waters of Palau are the home and sanctuary for many threatened and endangered marine life such as the green and hawksbill turtles, saltwater crocodiles, the manatee’s relative the dugongs, tridacna clams and the world’s first shark sanctuary.
For those of you that haven’t been to Palau, how can I paint the portrait of kayaking in Palau. If you have ever been to Mt Shasta in the Spring, you have been to one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Looking at its white-capped peak mirrored on Shasta Lake you are looking at a majestic creation that could only honor God. Traveling the highway to Shasta is as much the experience as being in there. The highway is cut into the mountainside; the mountainside is covered with trees of a vibrant green and frosted with white snow caps, traversing above a white-capped river full with the rushing spring thaw. A train gracefully eases its way on the mountain’s track, also cut into the mountainside, much the same way as the highway.
Kayaking in Palau is about as much about what you will see and experience above the water line as marvels of what is below. Leaving Koror, the kayak journey begins headed toward the essentially uninhabited Rock Islands. The Rock Islands are a creation of three forces at work. Limestone pushed up from the seas form the Islands. After millennia of the etching forces from ocean waves, rain water and flora combining to create an acidic, incising brew and grazing fish and chitons nibbling away, the Rock Islands became a photographic treasure trove of mushroom shaped rocks rising from the sea. The islands, overgrown and verdant, coastlines deep with inquisitive explorations from caves to tunnels to arches to beaches, become launching points for their own adventures. Hike to hidden lakes and trails. When permissible, camp on secluded beaches. The islands are protected by Palau’s barrier reef.