When I first ventured out in pursuit of a career in underwater film and photography, Palau was the one place I had my sights set on. However, in the fifteen years I’ve worked as an underwater photographer/videographer, having visited some of the world’s best locations for capturing the unique and awe-inspiring beauty of the underwater world, Palau has somehow always evaded me. Now, in April of this year, I finally get the opportunity to visit this fabled island nation as I lead a group of snorkelers. After years of drooling over photos of Palau and listening to stories of people’s underwater encounters, here are the top five reasons why I’m most excited to lead a Snorkel Venture tour to Palau.
The Rock Islands
If you type “Palau” into Google, stunning aerial photographs of emerald green islands set amongst turquoise waters will no doubt be the first things you see. These are the famous Rock Islands of Palau. I’ve spent a great deal of time around the karst Islands of Raja Ampat, which are of the same geological makeup, however, I’m really keen to explore the subtle differences of Palau’s Rock Islands and photograph them as we all enjoy a tour of this magical islandscape.
One of the things Palau is well known for is its abundance of big fish. It doesn’t matter how many times you see schools of bumphead parrot fish, Napoleon wrasses, or swirling masses of fish like jacks or snapper, it just gets the heart going faster!
Worlds First Shark Sanctuary
Palau is the world’s first shark sanctuary, which means every species of shark inhabiting the area is protected from fishing, which, if you have not heard, is having a devastating effect on shark populations worldwide. However, thanks to Palau’s protective measures, shark populations are thriving, and as a result, we can expect to encounter reef sharks like black tip and white tip reef sharks, and with a bit of luck some grey reef sharks as well.
Screensaver Worthy Reefs
Among all the amazing free-swimming creatures we will likely encounter, like sharks, schools of reef fish, and even manta rays, I am very keen to explore the vast coral reefs that Palau is known for. I loooove all the swimming types of marine life—things with fins, gills, and eyes—but one of my all-time favorite things about snorkeling is gliding over vast fields of coral. Palau’s reefs are so beautiful, that Apple (that modestly sized startup computer & phone manufacturer) sent a cameraman to film them so the images could be used as one of their new screensavers, which you can now access.
If there’s one thing Palau is most famous for, outside of its reefs, islands, and fish life, is its jellyfish lake. Situated within one of the many islands of Palau is a body of water that has miraculously trapped a number of jellyfish. With no real predators in this small brackish lake, the trapped jellyfish began to reproduce in vast numbers, and, over however many millions of years have evolved to not have any stinging tentacles. So, as snorkelers, we can safely and comfortably swim amongst the millions and millions of jellyfish for a truly one-of-a-kind experience! Just like the reefs in Palau, you can now set your Apple computer’s desktop or screensaver to showcase the mesmerizing visuals of the jellyfish lake.