Tuesday & Wednesday, October 21 & 22, 2014: U.S. / Palau
Depart on your independent flight on Tuesday. Cross the International Date Line and “lose” a day, arriving in Palau Wednesday evening. Transfer to our beachside resort, which will be your home for the duration of the trip. Palau Pacific Resort
Thursday, October 23: Nikko Bay
A secluded tunnel entrance, old growth coral gardens and hidden marine caves await at Nikko Bay for your first snorkel of the week. After lunch, snorkel among the multi-colored basket corals at Lettuce Coral Wall. Visit forgotten sites from World War II, including abandoned aircraft and bunkers, before returning to the resort for a welcome dinner and orientation to the week that lies ahead. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Friday, October 24: Ulong Island
A morning snorkel takes you to an exquisite inner lagoon known as “The Fish Bowl,” where precious damsels dart in and out of foliose and bottlebrush corals. Continue on to Ulong Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island hides a 3,200 year-old village that continues to serve as an active study site for international archaeologists. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
The afternoon’s snorkel will be a drift swim through the world famous Ulong Channel. Grey reef sharks surf the updraft currents at the mouth of the channel while schools of barracuda hover in wait for an easy meal. The channel includes the largest collection of golden cabbage corals in the world. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Saturday, October 25: Turtle and Ngchus Coves
The vertical walls of Barnum’s Wall and Turtle Cove are covered in hard and soft corals and are inhabited by a staggering number of tropical reef fish. During a morning snorkel, look for such rarities as palette surgeonfish and clown triggerfish, plus whitetip reef sharks and hawksbill and green marine turtles. The afternoon’s activities include a visit to Ngchus Cove for swims over a World War II Japanese Zero fighter plane and a secret haulout to look for the banded sea krait. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Sunday, October 26: Jellyfish Lake
Some of the best snorkeling of the trip happens today. A boat ride and a short hike brings you to Jellyfish Lake for one of the most other-worldly experiences of your lifetime! The lake is an unusual ecosystem, in that it’s an isolated marine lake inhabited by millions of harmless jellyfish that have no natural predators. Dip into the bath-like water for a gentle, yet ethereal swim.
Later, swim at Giant Clam Beach, where 500-pound bivalves bathe themselves in in the shallow waters of Ngchelobelech Island. After lunch on the beach we'll move north for a tour of the glowing opaque waters of the Milky Way. Much like glacial till, the calcium rich waters within this secluded bay remain trapped in solution creating a "milk bowl" appearance. Our final snorkel of the day will take us to the outflow of a mile-long salt water lake full of vibrantly colorful reefs of Einstein's Coral Gardens, Newton's Corner and Darwin's Wall. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Monday, October 27: Risong and Kingfisher Bays
The stunning azure waters of Risong hide a suite of hidden lagoons, lakes and inlets accessible only by shallow draft kayaks. Cruise over the stunningly diverse corals, explore a nursery for baby blacktip reef sharks and snorkel the reefs in search of young damsel fish, butterfly fish, pajama cardinal fish and the Mandarin goby.
Explore the WWII history in Kingfisher Bay, where windproof walls protect bizarre plant life, including the carnivorous pitcher plant. Learn more about WWII in the Pacific during a late afternoon lecture. Dinner tonight is on your own at the hotel's several restaurants or in town, which is a short taxi ride away. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,)
Tuesday, October 28: Peleliu Island
Take an hour-long boat ride to the island of Peleliu. Snorkel the outer reef, watching sharks, eagle rays and turtles glide effortlessly along vertical drop-offs. Spot wild spinner dolphins playfully riding the bow wake of passing boats.
Between snorkels, tour some of the Pacific's most historic battle fields. Tanks, cannons and bunkers still lie hidden in the over grown forest, a testament to the ferocity of one of the Pacific's most fiercely contested battles. Guests will have the evening at leisure, including dinner on your own. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L)
Wednesday, October 29: Babeldaob
The first stop on the island of Babeldaob will be a visit to the Palau National Capitol in Melekeok, where you'll learn about the unique politics that led to the creation of this monument to "big government." Continue on to a traditional men's house, or bai, where chiefs still gather to decide on village matters.
Continuing north, visit the remote state of Ngardmau. See Palau's largest free-standing waterfall, which plummets more than 70 feet through a thick rain forest canopy. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Thursday, October 30: Patch Reefs
Today's expected half-moon tides will produce an almost non-existent tidal exchange, perfect for exploring patch reefs. Stunning sunlit reefs hold a bewildering diversity of corals, including more than 70 species from the genus Acropora alone, and host fish species such as long nose filefish, keyhole angels and regal angels. The "reef fish apartment house" at Honeymoon Reef creates a perfect habitat for the retiring lion fish.
Rainbow Reef will be the final aquatic attraction of the day, with its stunning hard and soft coral diversity. Golden gorgonian sea fans add color to a reef already packed with filter feeding crinoids, sponges and sea squirts. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Friday, October 31: Ngemelis
Off the shores of Ngemelis Island is an underwater Serengeti. The shallow coral rich plateaus give way to vertical drop-offs that disappear into a 3,000-foot abyss. Giant golden sea fans and purple soft corals adorn the majestic walls and provide habitat for the teaming fusiliers, damselfish and anthias. Blacktip reef sharks casually patrol the shallows with their dorsal fins protruding from the surface. Enormous titan triggerfish pulverize mollusks and crustaceans while opportunistic wrasses maneuver for scraps. Clown triggers and yellow mask angels add even more color to this bewildering underwater grandeur. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Saturday, November 1: Ngemelis
Continue exploring the waters around Ngemelis Island before a visit to the Fair Land Coral Gardens for one last look at the jewels of Palau’s reefs. Dinner tonight is on your own. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L)
Sunday, November 2: Koror
On the final day in Palau, tour the city center with visits to the National Museum, International Aquarium and gift stores. One of the most prized handicrafts of Micronesia are intricately carved storyboards that pictographically depict the 4,000-year-old legends of Palau. Enjoy a traditional lunch at the Belau National Museum in the shadows of the Belau men’s house and an ancient sailing canoe.
This evening gather for a festive farewell dinner, a Palauan version of a shabu-shabu dinner at the resort. Some guests will depart for the airport late this evening for flights home. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Monday, November 3: Depart
Guests who didn't depart last evening will go to the airport today for flights back to the United States. (B)