So many families these days make going green a priority. If yours is among them, the beautiful island nation of Palau is an off-the-beaten-path water wonderland – where conservation tops the list of priorities.
Take the coral reefs, for example. With rare foresight, the people of Palau decided many years ago to preserve their reefs, prohibiting fishing and speedboats in many outlying islands and requiring dive passes for visitors. That means that the reefs are spectacular – multi-colored, full of sea creatures, and ever-changing, even as you swim.
Not a diver? Doesn’t matter. I saw more fish (and octopi and giant clams and manta rays) while snorkeling than I have in all of my previous snorkeling trips put together. (Think about it – I’m a travel writer. That’s a lot of snorkeling.) Love to dive? The scuba enthusiasts on my dive boat said that they had never seen anything like it, anywhere in the world, Hawaii included.
The reefs are pretty great . . . but then there’s the shark conservation effort. Oceanic currents and nutrient-rich up-wellings combine to create perfect hunting grounds for Palau’s resident patrolling sharks. The problem? Sharks are being killed in the Pacific at an alarming rate, largely for shark fins. That’s why Dermot Keane founded the Palau Shark Sanctuary in 2001; the effort achieved a major milestone in September 2009, when Palau’s President declared the waters around Palau a shark sanctuary. Many countries have followed suit, leading to a huge increase in the number of sharks in the reefs today.
And that’s not all! Tova Bornovski is part of the Micronesian Shark Foundation, which is involved in many types of shark conservation efforts, including starting a shark education program in the Micronesian region and counting the number of sharks still living in the waters there.
Add in caves and natural geological formations to explore, and you’ve got a pretty special – and sure to wow your friends – green vacation.
Travel assistance and some images provided by Palau Visitors Authority.