References and Recommendations, Palau—February, 2012
This page lists places to stay, things to do, to see, or to
avoid that I picked up along the way. But first, here are a few
things that I learned for myself.
Two of the divers, Bobby and Ron, have been on this trip five
times now. Although Lori and I tend to explore new places on
each trip, we both agreed that this might be one of those trips
that might be worth repeating. The diving is world class, the
Aggressor II service is great, and the accomodations at the PPR
are excellent. The power is 110 volts so you can bring all your
electronics (from the US), the unit of currency is dollars, and
the official language is English. Like Bonaire and Roatan, it's
an easy and impressive travel destination.
Despite the general warnings from our doctors and the CDC, it
seems that the water in the restaurants and hotels, at least, is
safe to drink. While we skipped the water at the Penthouse upon
our arrival, we noticed that every other guest drank it. Because
other divers had drank the water at the PPR before the diving,
we decided to drink the water at the PPR. Heck, we did
everything they tell you not to: we ate salads, rinsed fruits,
and buffets. Palau, after all, has American infrastructure.
We didn't notice any sand flies at all. Mosquitos were rare on
the water and by the coast. Lori got a few mosquito bites during
the two weeks that we were there. I did not use any repellent
and didn't get a single bite. We saw a couple of mosquitos on
the boat, but only when it was moored near land; otherwise,
there weren't any during our dive week. We noticed more
mosquitos during our hike to the waterfalls, but they weren't
We ate at the Penthouse (for tasty local fare), the Taj (the
vindaloo was hot enough to get me to sweat, but Gary wasn't
phased), the Fresh Noodle (for large bowls of yummy noodle
soup), Kramer's (for European-influenced cuisine), Emaimelei
(for Asian fare), as well as the restaurants at the PPR. All
Smoking is prevalent, unfortunately, on the island. Smoking does
not seem to be allowed inside buildings, but smoking in outdoor
restaurants is common.
We checked out the Carolines cottages one rainy night as Wendy
and Gary were staying there. They are very charming little
cottages. They are located at the top of a hill and are very
private. There was a cacophony of nighttime noises: bugs, frogs,
geckos, bats. The resort has a shuttle to the PPR and an
agreement to share the beach, pool, and restaurant facilities,
so it could be a consideration for the future.
I'd suggest getting rooms on the 2nd floor of the PPR. Since
they are on the second floor, there is more privacy. You don't
have to keep your curtains shut, and you can leave your stuff
drying out on the patio. (Although the notes below mention that
you shouldn't leave your gear drying outside in general, I
noticed that guests on the first floor left their gear out.)
Another benefit of the second floor is that you don't have to
hear the goings-on of your upstairs neighbor. If you splurge for
the Ocean Front Rooms, you'll get vaulted ceilings and carved
furniture which is very nice. We were in building 11 and
building 12 was at the end These buildings were much quieter
than the buildings closer to the pool, beach, and restaurant.
But not far enough from the roosters who roamed freely and made
a racket. Buildings 13 and 14 faced the lagoon and would also be
nice, although you wouldn't be able to see the sunset from their
patio. Unfortunately, smoking is prevalent in the lobby and
outdoor bar area.
Here are the notes I collected from other divers and the web
before the trip. Star ratings are
- Aggressor II.
- 2 week option? Could have stayed a few more days. Staff felt
like family after that much time. Others were there for their
2nd or 3rd time.
- I'd do the February (over December) trip: manta mating
season. Others seconded February. Also in February is coral
spawning (mid-February) and huge Moorish idols and unicorn fish
spawning aggregations. Ask to see mandarinfish.
- In Palau the Aggressor and the Dancer are one and the same.
The boats are twins.
- Recommended sites: Chandelier Cave, Blue Hole, Blue Corner,
Ulong, Jellyfish Lake (early morning snorkel to avoid crowds
from 2-tank boats). Talk of reef hooks on the Blue Corner for
the current. “It would not be a sin to go back to the
great sites like Blue Corner and Big Drop Off numerous
- Fish 'n Fins does a GREAT job! Rumored to hire locals,
who will have better knowledge. Have gear lockers where you
can keep your
- Splash at the PPR is quieter and less crowded than
- Neco Marine is across the street from the Sea Passion and is
where the Aggressor
- Sam’s did a terrific job. At Sam's you get 3 dives
a day and pay a little less than half (diving and hotel along
with the extra meals). By the way, if you want 3 dives a day
you will want to prepay so they get you on the right boat,
most only do 2 dives per day. Complaints about foreign,
short-term, divemasters who aren’t so knowledgeable.
Sam’s and Sea Passion a popular
- The (7) WWII wrecks, Chandelier Cave (shallow), Lighthouse
Reef, Jellyfish Lake, Ngerchong inside/outside, Short
Dropofff, Jap Zero, Toratuga Cove, are some unpopular LOB
stops. Get a dive site map, go to Sam's or F & F and
ask them/tell them where your group wants to go diving.
- Hiking to Ngardmau Waterfall (Taki Nature Reserve).
- Kayaking among the Rock Islands.
- Helicopter tour of Palau ($75/15 minutes).
- For our topside time, we did 2 tours through Sam's
Tours. There was the kayak tour of Niko Bay which included
some tours of some of the rock islands as well as kayaking and
snorkeling. Then there was the waterfall tour which really was
a driving tour of the large island in Palau (starts with a B
and I'm not even going to try to spell it). In the
Waterfall tour, you visit large meeting houses of the Palauan
elders, you see Japanese ruins of when they occupied Palau,
you go to the "eco theme park" (that's what they
advertise it as) of the waterfall, you visit the new Palauan
capitol building (which looks a little like the US White
House), and you see the underwater city. Good tours. Maybe
this was the all-day tour mentioned in this review.
- Pohnpei probably not worth the effort.
- Devoid of culture.
- Avoid souvenirs made from endangered turtle shell or black
coral, as well as Palauan money beads which carry cultural and
- Crocodiles, monitor lizards, non-venomous snakes, bats, and
- Surangels Grocery Store or WCTC shopping plaza for
- Taxis about $5-$7 but more after 10. Consider making plans
with driver for a later pickup. Negotiate price before getting
in. Call 779-7730 and ask for Ray for a reliable and sober
- Kramers, the best place to hang out for bevvies at
- Restaurants: Penthouse Hotel (for local stuff), Taj, PPR,
Rock Island Cafe (cheap comfort food), Bem Ermii for burgers
at a local hangout, fish burritos at Bottom Time grill. Local
foods: taro, yam, banana (contains electrolytes against the
heat), breadfruit (high in fiber), soursop, papaya, plantain,
starfruit, crab apples, mangos, watermelon, pineapple,
coconut. May need to go to fruitstand or individual to find
- Endangered fish include Mangrove crabs, turtles, giant
- Local drinks: coconut milk (excellent for replenishing
liquids), sakau (like kava, but ensure it has been grown in
the arable coastal areas and not in the interior), tuba,
- Food does not come all at once, so sharing is common.
- Tips: 10% nice, up to 20% on Palau. $2/day for housekeeping,
but may already be included so check. Have cash; not all
restaurants take credit cards, or their machines aren’t
- Displays of affection in public inappropriate.
- Disrespectful for women to show thighs. Spaghetti straps and
strapless tops should be avoided. Cover shoulders.
- Don’t ask a Palauan their name; offer yours
- Patting the top of someone’s head is an insult.
- At cultural events, do as the elders do. Women should wear
knee length skirts and tops that cover their shoulders. Men
should wear collared shirts and clean shorts or pants. You may
feel overdressed but it is appreciated. Do not drink alcohol
unless it is a house party, and defer to elders first if
offered food. Speak softly.
- Re-read the culture section as a reminder of the social
events we may encounter.
- Delta SFO-NRT-ROR. But 36 hours?
- Continental. One more stop. 19 hours. Tight
- Korean from Seoul.
- Something from Philippines, but we should avoid due to
- Avoid transfer in Marshall Islands for Dengue fever
- Palau Pacific Resort (PPR) is the high end place to
stay. Cost a fortune. Internet. Most scenic (photos are
amazing). Private beach. Best snorkeling (giant clams).
Entertainment. Recommended by book. Free wireless Internet.
Get the Ocean Front or Ocean View rooms with king size bed.
Tour desks in lobby. ScubaBoard:
This review contains
lots of restaurant ideas, including the Penthouse Hotel
restaurant for local fare. Impress the waitress by ordering
the fruit bat! (Endangered?) Stayed there a week before and a
week after their dive trip. Splash dive center quiet and has
fewer people in boats. TripAdvisor: Taxi is 10 minutes into
town ($7), but sunsets from restaurants are great, although
the service isn’t. Great for couples. Suggest going
last. Another had been 8 times. Beach and snorkeling good. Get
water, beer, etc. at small store down the street. Toto in
bathroom. Massage at Melusch-Dil for $20 compared to $135 at
PPR. Arranged for airport service. Nature walk. $280.
- Carolines is top notch with amazing views and a getting
away from it all feel, yet a short taxi ride from downtown
Koror. They even bring breakfast to your private bungalow each
morning from a simple yet well put together menu at a time of
your choosing. Staying here also entitles you to use of the
amenities of the beautiful Palau Pacific Resort which is an
easy 20 minute walk. TripAdvisor: In-room safe. Own bungalow.
Best views in upper bungalows at top of hill. No restaurant.
Romance! Free airport shuttle. Local transport for a fee
- Penthouse Hotel was cheap, clean and safe in
"downtown" Palau. Recommended by book. House
restaurant offers delicious local dishes. TripAdvisor:
wireless not very strong, and PCs Internet access is very
slow. Another agreed that it was slow, but said that wireless
was reliable. Airport service can be arranged ($10/person).
Tours pick you up from the lobby. Loved the restaurant. Local
hangout. Convenient, cheap, but loud. Free wireless Internet.
- The Landmark Marina Hotel right next door [to Fish ‘n
Fins] is very convenient and met all of our needs. Barbara was
concerned because it's near the "old dump" which
is a downside since sitting outside can be smelly. Scubaboard:
confirms that smell is noticeable and suggests Sea Passion
instead. Amazing views of Rock Islands. In-house restaurant is
a Brazilian BBQ (churrascaria) and serves delicious dishes.
Nice bar. Considered by Barbara. Both the hotel and the views
look beautiful in the pictures. TripAdvisor: Good airport
service. Free shuttles to downtown but only 5-10 minute walk.
Smell bad one day out of 7. Others didn’t mention it.
Get room on the lagoon; rooms on the other side face Fish
& Fins with their loud air compressors. Free wireless
- Coming from the US, we arrived on Sunday at 2am. We checked
into the Sea Passion Hotel which is across the street
from Neco Marine (where Aggressor and Tropic Dancer are based)
and had a restful sleep. Mentioned several times in
Scubaboard. Sam’s and Sea Passion a popular combo.
Caters to Japanese. Avoid sushi in Japanese restaurant.
International restaurant. Thai massage great, but brutal.
$200. Travel Advisory: airport shuttle, was able to use the
lobby facilities after checking out while waiting for night
flight. Get lagoon or ocean view, 5th floor (503, 505 &
507). Stiff pillows. Bad coffee. Showers big enough to rinse
and store diving gear. 10 minute walk to restaurants and bars.
Wireless Internet. Newest, built in 2008.
- The Rose Garden (considered by Barbara). Rooms simple
but clean and offer amazing views of Rock Islands and Koror
Lagoon. Nothing really within walking. Driver will drive you
to PPR. Quiet and relaxing. Most folks just eat at the
restaurant. Some communication issues. $130.
- West Plaza Desekel favored by
right in town but slightly off of the Main Drag and its
- The Palasia (Barbara said it was fine and was within
walking distance of the restaurants). Downtown. Tallest
building. Great views of northern Rock Islands. TripAdvisor:
Sea-side rooms nicer. Good airport transfers. Short stay. PPR
a better value! Geared for Asians. Free wireless Internet.
- North Beach Cottages are located at the northern tip.
There are only four cottages, so it’s a private retreat.
In-house restaurant serves local seafood, fruits, and
vegetables. TripAdvisor: Hammocks. Long beautiful beach. Very
secluded. Hour drive. Not sure if there is a taxi or shuttle
to take you there. Food not spectacular. Water shallow and
full of algae. Sometimes too shallow to even go kayaking.
- West Plaza Malakal (considered by Barbara). Two
star (like everything but the PPR) by Lee Root. Scubaboard
suggestion over Landmark. Folks like the “deluxe”
larger rooms on the ground floor--same price if you tip
airport driver? 3.5
- Personal business cards.
- Three swim suits and clothespins to dry stuff out.
- Clean, long-sleeve T-shirt for after shower, evening,
- Lycra socks (inside booties) to keep toes from going raw and
maybe even lycra skin.
- Ear drops.
- Once you get here, prices are better than the states
- Immodium/rehydration salts, insect repellent, antibiotic
ointment, antifungal creme, sunscreen.
- Plastic bags to protect electronics from humidity
According to the
it doesn’t appear that Palau has had recent cases, nor is
it listed as a location at risk. There have been a couple of
recent cases in the Marshall Islands, so we should avoid flying
through there if convenient.
Symptoms of dengue include:
- severe headache
- pain behind the eyes
- joint and muscle pain
- hemorrhagic (bleeding) manifestations
Usually dengue fever causes a mild illness, but it can be
severe and lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), which can be
fatal if not treated. People who have previously been infected
with dengue fever are more at risk of getting severe dengue.
No vaccine is available to prevent dengue, and there is no
specific medicine to cure illness caused by dengue. Those who
become ill with dengue fever can be given medicine to reduce
fever, such as acetaminophen, and may need oral rehydration or
intravenous fluids and, in severe cases, treatment to support
their blood pressure. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid),
aspirin-containing drugs, and other nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen) should be avoided
because of the possibility of bleeding. Early recognition and
treatment of severe dengue (e.g., signs and symptoms consistent
with impending blood pressure failure) can reduce the risk of
If you return from a trip abroad and get sick with a fever, you
should seek medical care right away. Be sure to tell the doctor
or other health care provider about your recent travel.
- USD, English, 120 V, 60 Hz., drive on right.
- No visa required; passport must not expire for six
- Time: GMT + 9.
- Telephone code: +680, 011-1-# to dial states.
- Airport taxes on exit: $35
- Crime rate is low.
- Koror State, where most tourist facilities are located,
enforces a curfew between 2:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., Monday
through Thursday, and between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., Friday
to Sunday, and on national holidays.
state department info
health info. Flying-insect spray to help clear rooms of
mosquitoes. The product should contain a pyrethroid
insecticide; these insecticides quickly kill flying insects,
including mosquitoes. Immunizations: TD, Hep A/B,
typhoid, polio. Don’t drink the water. Watch the food.
Local fruitstands OK and recommended. Need to check within 3
months for specific immunizations.
for U.S. citizens to enter Palau
of the Republic of Palau
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and Palau by Ben Cook, Lorry Marvin, Chad Lathe, Megan
McCrea, Christy Lejkowski, Rick Lejkowsk, and Michael