Most interesting landmarks of Palau

Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Palau.

Natural landmarks of Palau

Marine lakes
Jellyfish Lake from air with swarms of jellyfish visible, Palau
Jellyfish Lake from air with swarms of jellyfish visible / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Highlight of the natural heritage of Palau is its unique marine lakes – lakes with marine water and weak connection to the sea. Since the geologically recent sea rise in these lakes there have developed unique biotopes.

  • Clear Lake – Rock Islands. Marine lake (3.9 ha) with its own subspecies of jellyfish Mastigias cf. papua salii.
  • Goby Lake – Rock Islands. Round marine lake (2.1 ha) with its own subspecies of jellyfish Mastigias cf. papua nakamurai.
  • Jellyfish Lake (Ongeim’l Tketau) – Eil Malk in Rock Islands. Unique marine lake with an area of 5.0 ha, has underground connection to the sea. Stratified in two layers which do not mix. Isolated from the sea 12,000 years and contains a distinct population of two species of jellyfish – endemic Mastigias cf. papua etpisoni and most likely endemic Aurelia sp. Millions of these jellyfishes make strict daily migration around the lake. Four more marine lakes with jellyfish in the nearby islands but Jellyfish Lake is the only one open to tourists. Number of jellyfish has reached up to 31 millions (January 2005), currently some 5 millions.
  • Uet era Ngermeuangel – Rock Islands. Marine lake (4.3 ha) with its own subspecies of jellyfish Mastigias cf. papua remeliiki and Moon Jellyfish Aurelia sp..
  • Uet era Ongael – Rock Islands. Small marine lake (0.9 ha) with its own subspecies of jellyfish Mastigias cf. papua remengesaui.
Caves under the sea level

When the sea level was below the limestone sediments of Palau karst processes formed numerous impressive caverns. Nowadays these caverns have been filled with sea water and are provide excellent diving experience.

  • Yikrel a Bub (Blue Holes, The Temple of Doom) – near Ngemelis, Koror. Unusual monument of nature created in times when sea level was considerably lower. Four deep holes in 1 – 2 meters deep seabed which unite in enormous underground hollow 40 meters below. Cave has two more openings to the side – through the submerged ancient sea cliff. Impressive blue light rays enter though the holes in the cave.
  • Siaes Tunnel – Koror. Impressive tunnel under the sea water, entrance 4 – 20 meters deep, bottom – up to 60 meters deep. Tunnel is lighted through 3 larger side openings and numerous smaller openings. Created by erosion processes in times when seawater level was lower than now.
  • Chandelier Cave (Iiel Temekai) – Koror. Limestone cave with dripstone formations, entrance and part of cave is located below sea level, below water. Four chambers.
Other natural monuments
Milky Way cove in Rock Islands, Palau
Milky Way cove in Rock Islands / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • The Arch – Rock Islands, Koror. Weathering has created an natural arch, which can be easily passed in a boat. Arch is 15 meters wide and 9 meters high.
  • Milky Way – Rock Islands, Koror. Cove with bright turquoise colored water. Bottom consists of bright white limestone mud believed to have curative powers although this has not been proven.
  • Lake Ngardok, Melekeok (Babeldoab Island). The only notable freshwater lake in Palau and whole Micronesia. Contains a population of saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus Schneider), important habitat for several endemic Palauan birds.
  • Forest at the foot of Mt.Ngerchelchuus – Ngardmau (Babeldoab Island). Ancient, largest forest in Palau with enormous trees, important habitat for endemic Palauan birds.
  • Rock Islands – Koror. More than 200 amazing small limestone islands, often mushroom shaped and covered with lush tropical vegetation. Unique landscape element, especially when looking from the air.
  • Tabecheding Falls – Ngatpang (Babeldoab Island). Some 6 meters high waterfall floating down a steep slope, located in beautiful setting.
  • Taki Falls – Ngardmau (Babeldoab Island). Largest waterfall in Palau, a beautiful, impressive 30 meters high and 37 meters wide waterfall.

Man made landmarks of Palau

Architectural monuments
Ngerulmud - Palauan Capitol
Ngerulmud – Palauan Capitol / Wikimedia Commons, Peter Binter, public domain
  • Bai ra Airai – Airai (Babeldoab Island). The oldest men’s meeting house in Palau, some 200 years old.
  • Ngerulmud (Capitol Building of Palau) – Melekeok (Babeldoab Island). One of the most iconic parliament buildings in region, a group of impressive Neo-Classicism style buildings, built in 2006.
Archaeological monuments

There are several intriguing groups of archaeological monuments in Palau. The most interesting ones are remnants of mysterious pygmy people in several burial caves as well as stone statues of humans found on largest islands.

Burial caves
  • Chelechol ra Orrak – Rock Islands. One of the burial caves in Rock Islands, contains skeletons of at least 25 humans.
  • Omedokel Cave – Rock Islands. 2,300 – 1,400 years old burial site of the early inhabitants of islands and some 1000 years old burials of newer inhabitants. Older burials belong to extinct dwarf people, possibly weighing just 28 – 47 kg.
  • Ucheliungs Cave (Ucheliuns Cave) – Rock Islands. Cave with entrance in shallow sea water. 2,900 – 1,400 years old burial site of the early inhabitants of islands. Burials belong to extinct dwarf people, possibly weighing just 28 – 47 kg.
Yap Stone Money, Airai in Palau
Yap Stone Money, Airai / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Quarry of Yap stone money in Airai – small rock island, Airai. Huge piece of the unique Yap stone money, unfinished pieces of stone money nearby as well as the metal toys for production.
  • Badrulchau – Ngarchelong (Babeldoab Island). Originally here were 52 mysterious stone monoliths (now 37), rough faces have been hewn in 6 of these stones. Location of former bai – men’s clubhouse, built around 161 AD.
  • Nbusala – Sonsorol. Ruins of monolithic stones, most likely dating before the arrival of present day inhabitants of Sonsorol in the 17th century (pre-Moro time).
  • Ngerbodel stone monolith – Ngerbodel village, Koror. Human statue, 85.4 cm high. The only unambiguous ancient human statue in Palau with distinct head with face and torso. There are tens of stone faces found around Koror and Babeldoab islands.
  • Odalmelech, Melekeok (Babeldoab Island). Six enormous, megalythic stone carvings – faces, roughly 1,100 years old.
Other archaeological monuments
  • Sculpted hills of Ngchemiangel – Aimeliik (Babeldoab Island). Relief of island has been sculpted and there have been created extensive terraces. Created in the 5th – 16th century AD.
  • Olechukl Iars (Ulong, Oolong petroglyphs) – western cliffs of Ulong island, Koror. Intricate red painted petroglyphs left by ancient Palauans on the walls of shallow grottoes.
  • Taberrakl petroglyphs – southeast corner of Ngeruktabel, Koror. Most abundant petroglyph site in Palau, includes many handprints.

Described landmarks of Palau

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Although Palau is small in size, it offers a surprising diversity of interesting monuments. Several of these monuments are true wonders and there are several unresolved mysteries related to Palau.

Palau in video

Lilian Pang, July 2017

Featured: Jellyfish Lake

Eerie reality in Jellyfish Lake, Palau
Eerie reality in Jellyfish Lake / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The most outstanding natural monument in Palau is Jellyfish Lake – small, meromictic (layered) lake with seawater. Lake is approximately 420 meters long – but here live millions of jellyfish of endemic subspecies. Jellyfish constantly migrate in the small lake to be both in sunshine and avoid of predators – sea anemones.

Recommended books

The Palau Guide: A guide to yachting and tourism in Palau

This book provides an in depth look at Palau for visitors by land and sea. The first half of the book delves into the culture and history of Palau with suggestions for tours, hikes, diving and cultural activities. The second half of the book provides a comprehensive set of information for the visiting yachtsman, from weather, parts and services, to charts, routes and anchorages.

Micronesia and Palau (Other Places Travel Guide)

Micronesia and Palau have long been known to diving enthusiasts for some of the most intriguing and spectacular dive spots on earth. Yet as the reputation of these islands spread, more travelers are looking to escape the modern Western world and become transported to a calmer, slower pace of life. The writers of this guide all lived, worked and played on the islands which they write about. First-hand knowledge, cultural insight, and personal recommendations allow visitors to feel like locals while enjoying the indisputable beauty of these islands and people.

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