In the evening we arrived to the Airai Hotel located conveniently near Palau’s international airport. The Airai hotel staff was welcoming and our hotel room that overlooked the coastline from a distance and the hotel waterpark below us was a spacious and comfortable midrange option. At the restaurant we sampled tasty white snapper pesto served over a bed of vegetables and steamed rice. In the morning we boarded the free hotel shuttle that shuffles guests between the hotel grounds and the center of Koror town.
When we were dropped off at IMPAC Tours, the general sales manger named Bodo greeted us and explained our itinerary for the day. We would depart at 9:15am to visit a couple of islands and pristine snorkeling spots before being dropped off at Carp Island Resort where we would spend two nights. Bodo informed us that IMPAC Tours specializes in tours to the northern islands of Palau; they offer both day and overnight tours set up with the sixty villagers that inhabit the northern island. IMPAC has been diversifying its demographic to service customers from the United States and Russia and have in place the infrastructure to service high end corporate and retail clients that require the utmost comfort during their travels.
Shortly after 9:00am, we parted the blue and turquoise seas until we arrived to Clam City, a snorkeling spot with giant clams. Unfortunately, a snorkeling guide with another company molested the clams to impress clients, a practice looked down upon since the numbers of giant clams have been dwindling down due to improperly trained staff that poke and prod the clams. During our visit, we spotted a large barracuda that swam closely by us while we observed massive clams.After a short interval, we soared by “Whale Island” and “Homer Simpson Island” while we traversed the waters toward our primary snorkeling spot, “The Big Drop Off.” At this locale, we entered the water as a group. We swam in unison across pretty soft and hard corals and saw a variety of darting tropical fish. We did not spot any big game on this day. However, turtles and reef sharks are commonly seen in this vicinity.
The group was next transported to Carp Island Resort. We left the others behind to check into our room, a spacious seaside suite with ocean views from our large patio. We walked along the fine white sand beach that lines both sides of the rustic yet comfortable resort. Later that afternoon we snorkeled directly off the resort. Coral reef was absent. Plentiful sea grass was just offshore where we spied pipefish, starfish and ubiquitous tropical fish seen around Micronesia.
After a buffet dinner that consisted of fish, chicken, beef, vegetables, salads and dessert, we slumbered until late the following morning, missing the 7:00am bell to join the others for breakfast. When we entered the dining area at 10:00am, our hosts had saved breakfast for us that we consumed before heading off to kayak and snorkel. As suggested, we entered our two-person kayak and paddled toward Turtle Cove where we would snorkel with turtles. After we beached our kayak, we entered the water and contently noticed abundant coral reef rather than sea grass. The coral was mainly hard, yet colorful, and surrounded by tropical fish including several large triggerfish. I attempted to view turtles until we came across a sizable black-tip reef shark in the shallows; even though I knew we were not in danger, the shark was somewhat intimidating, so we slowly turned around and swam for shore to relax and have lunch. After consuming our sandwiches and fruit, we paddled back to Carp Island Resort while viewing Rock Islands that were surrounded by transparent light green waters.The Rock Islands are truly a paradise and the Carp Island Resort is one of the few resorts that are actually within the Rock Islands, located close to all of the famous dive sites including the “Big Drop Off,” “Blue Corner” and “Turtle Cove.”
The romantic sunset dinner set up on the beach included wine, sushi, fresh fish, fried chicken, corn & crab soup served with salad and fruit. Music flowed from main dining room while evening colors danced upon the water. Amidst the Rock Islands, it is truly at the edge of paradise…
WSGT would like to extend a special thank you to Marvin and the Palau Visitors Authority for our stay at Carp Island Resort and Impact Tours. Alli! Alii!
cool! i’ve never been to palau. excluding the airfare, would you say it’s budget friendly?
Steve – yes the airfare is the killer. But once you are there you can certainly travel cheaply – doing homestay in the remote part of the country, Kayangel (cheapest I found was between $10 and $20/person per night). Palau is certainly not as cheap as most SE Asia Destinations – but as far as comparing to Micronesia or the South Pacific in general, its fairly inexpensive.