While Micronesia is made up of some 600 islands, the highlight has to be Palau: a true divers’ paradise with a wealth of spectacular coral reefs and fascinating wreck sites dotted around a maze of lush green islets in the western Pacific Ocean.
Palau is an archipelago within Micronesia, boasting over 300 limestone and volcanic islands, commonly dubbed ‘the underwater Serengeti’ for its incredible seascape. Thick emerald forests, waterfalls and mysterious lakes filled with stingless jellyfish only add to its magnetic appeal. The islands were inhabited a few thousand years ago by waves of Malays from Indonesia, Melanesians from New Guinea, Philippine natives, and some Polynesians from outlying Polynesian islands in Micronesia, resulting in a diverse population.
ABOVE THE WAVES
Palau’s major populated islands include Koror, Malakal, Arakabesan, and Peleliu, while the sparsely populated range from Kayangel Islands to the north of Babelthuap and the raised coral islands of Angaur, Sonsorol, Pulo Anna and Tobi.
On land, brackish lakes give way to lagoons through subterranean channels, and plant growth is thick with flora such as the beach morning glory, Polynesian ironwood tree, pandanus, and various palm and fern varieties. Bird in Palau are abundant and colourful, and there are fascinating species of reptiles and amphibians to be found.
BENEATH THE WAVES
Out here over 500 miles from the Philippines, clear seas and year-round warm temperatures make this remote island chain, protected by a huge barrier reef, one of the most biodiverse marine environments on earth. Underwater topography is astounding, with steep drop offs, caverns and wreck dives giving a glimpse of the region’s impressive 1,500 species of fish and 700 species of coral.
Also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site with a 600,000 square kilometre designated shark sanctuary, this is an amazing region to seek out species such as white tip, black tip, grey reef, tigers, lemon, leopard, silky, even oceanic white tip and even whale sharks.
The temperature in Micronesia is fairly consistent year round. The climate is tropical and humid and temperatures sit at an average of mid to high twenties. The best time for diving is typically between November and May.
The main airport in Palau is Koror Babeldoab. Koror is typically accessed with international flights through Tokyo, Manila or Guam.