Fun Family Activities in Beautiful Palau

If my post on the environmentally friendly destination of Palau piqued your interest, boy, do I have more to tell you.  That’s because Palau is all about being outdoors, exploring the Rock Islands and the coral reefs, dipping into the tiny coves and marine lakes.  It’s the perfect place if your family (like mine) is always looking for activities that will tear the kids (OK, and the parents) away from TV and video games, online chats and Facebook.

Sunset in Palau. Photo by Lynn O’Rourke Hayes.

Take the jellyfish lake.  This marine lake – accessed by speedboat and a short hike – is the only one in the world with millions of non-stinging jellyfish.  Yep, that’s right – the jellyfish don’t sting (so kids with allergies are not at risk).  And there are millionsof them.  As in bumping up against you.  And forming clouds around you.  And showing you their pale orange beauty at all stages of their two-week life cycle.  I’m telling you, snorkeling with the jellyfish is mind-blowing.

A diver at Jellyfish Lake. Photo by Lorry Heverly.

Speaking of life stages, families can book a kayak tour with Palau-based Fish ‘n Fins (beginners welcome) to venture out to a natural, bona-fide baby shark nursery.  There’s an area off one of the tiny islands that’s very shallow and full of sea grass; when you paddle around there, you’ll spot dozens of the tiny guys (they’re about eight to sixteen inches long) darting through the rocks.  No worries, it’s safe here, too – sharks in Palau do not attack, and these tiny ones are way too small to do any harm.

Kayaking in the Rock Islands. Photo by Molly Blaisdell.

Loving the water, and want to take a dip?  As I explained in my last post, the coral reefs in Palau are second-to-none.  Sam’s Tours can book a custom snorkeling trip for the whole family and teach even tiny ones to put on a mask and breathe through a snorkel.  They’ll provide life jackets and keep a sharp eye out for little swimmers.  Best of all, the Sam’s guides know all the best spots to see fish, rays, sharks (remember, they don’t bite!), nautilus, and other sea life.

A cluster of grunts on a Palau reef. Photo by Lorry Heverly.

If you’re out in the Rock Islands, get your guide to show you Survivor Rock.  Fans of the popular reality show will be excited to know that several seasons (including French and Asian versions) were filmed right here in Palau.  When you see the gorgeous beaches where the tribes camped, you’ll feel jealous of the production crew (who, of course, had food and water and shelter).

My visit to Survivor Rock! Photo by Molly Blaisdell.

Feeling a bit soggy after all that water activity?  Head back to Fish ‘n Fins and sign up for an ATV tour through the jungle.  While kids without a driver’s license can’t drive, they can ride in a small jeep with Mom and Dad – and Mom and Dad’s driving skills will be put to the test!  Over about three hours, you’ll explore bumpy routes through the jungle beauty that is this tropical nation.
If you’re an adventure-loving family, don’t miss the brand new Palau eco-park.  It’s the only place to zip line in Palau (those guests who are more, well, relaxed, can ride a snazzy monorail instead), and the zip routes are outrageous, flying you above super-cool rock formations and a giant waterfall.

My turn driving the jeep. Photo by Lynn O’Rourke Hayes.

Heading to the airport?  End your trip with a visit to the Palau jail.  Think I’m kidding?  Nope.  The Palau jail has a real rehabilitation program, teaching inmates a trade and helping them build a bank account.  In the lobby of the jail (or the nearby Tebang wood carving shop), you can see (and buy!) a huge variety of classic Palaun storyboards, mahogany panels carved into works of art that tell the story of Palau’s traditional legends.  They’re beautiful and meaningful – perfect for remembering your Palau family vacation.

Tebang Wood Carving – Image provided by Molly Blaisdell

Travel assistance for this story provided by Palau Visitors Authority.

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