Friday, June 4, 2010

Destination of the Week...

Most people have never heard of the small Micronesian nation of Palau, but its name has been heard more and more since the reality TV show SURVIVOR went there on location to film in 2008. Don’t let that turn you off though; who doesn’t want to find out what’s at “The Rainbow’s End,” which is one nickname for this young nation. With dream-like tropical beauty and gardens of untouched coral reefs, forests, natural wonders of evolution, like giant clams that weigh a quarter of a ton, waterfalls, mysterious monoliths, caves and tunnels, the nickname certainly seems fitting. The Republic of Palau has hundreds of islands of the purest beauty, with white powdery beaches, and some of the world’s highest rated diving and snorkeling, offering the most amazing array of marine life and rare sea creatures that one could ever imagine, and even some underwater wreckage from WWII. It’s obvious why most visitors to Palau spend nearly all of their time underwater, but whether you want to float with “sting less” jellyfish in crystal-clear lakes, paddle a canoe through placid lagoons and coves, swim with dolphins, enjoy a jungle river boat cruise, view exotic birds, crocodiles, and fauna bursting with orchids, or learn about the ancient and violent history of the islands, Palau offers it all. From lively towns like Koror, to the remote South-West Islands, from resorts to budget-friendly bungalows, Palau has something for any visitor, and the natural beauty and friendly, welcoming locals make it difficult to leave. The name Palau is an acronym that perfectly sums up this real-life paradise: “Palau’s Archipelago: Lovely and Unique.”

Being some 500 miles (800 km) east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles (3,200 km) south of Tokyo, there are several options for getting to Palau, including daily flights from Guam, with connections from Tokyo, the USA, and other major cities around the world. Biweekly flights from Manila and Brisbane, and charter flights from South Korea and various cities in Japan. Palau uses the US Dollar, and is therefore slightly more expensive than other islands in this region, but if you’re island hopping in the Pacific, Palau is well worth the few extra dollars. Plus, if you’re a member of, and similar organizations, perhaps you can find some free accommodation!

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