The Pleasures of Palau

Exploring the South Pacific’s lesser-known treasure

By: By Monica Poling

The Details

Sam’s Tours and Fish ‘n’ Fins are full-service tour operators and professionally licensed dive operators and both operate oceanfront restaurants. They offer commissionable programs to travel agents and also work with a variety of U.S.-based tour operators to create commissionable packages.

Fish ‘n’ Fins

Sam’s Tours

Where to Stay

Palau Pacific Resort

Located on the western shore of Arakebesang Island, the Palau Pacific Resort is one Koror’s two premium resort properties. The resort — named Asia’s Leading Dive Resort in 2007 by the World Travel Awards — is comprised of more than 64 acres of lush tropical gardens and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean. The 160-room resort boasts pristine white-sand beaches and a large line-up of leisure activities and facilities. Rates begin at $280 per night.

Commission: 10 percent

Palau Royal Resort

Palau Royal Resort, located on the east coast of Malakal Island (about 24 minutes from the Palau International Airport) is a five-star resort hotel developed and owned by Royal Hotel Group and operated by Nikko Hotels International. The resort, the first of its class in Palau, is best known for its diving and amazing ecosystem of marine life. The 157 luxurious guestrooms overlook Palau’s pristine oceanscape, and the neighboring Rock Islands. Rates begin at $230 per night.

Commission: 10 percent


Belau National Museum

Dolphin’s Pacific Adventure

Elilai Restaurant Palau

Palau International Coral Reef Center

Palau Visitors Authority


Web Exclusive

Click here to read about Online Editor Monica Poling’s Fave Five locations for snorkeling in Palau.

Scroll down for detailed information about Palau’s hotels and attractions.

Tell clients they should visit Palau, and you’ll likely be met with a blank stare. You could clarify that it’s part of Micronesia, but that probably won’t help them conjure up an image.

The tiny island nation did garner some attention in 2005, when the 10th season of “Survivor” was filmed there. But generally, travel agents booking Palau find themselves talking to avid divers and snorkelers who are familiar with the country’s spectacular coral reefs. Otherwise, with approximately 20,000 residents, Palau doesn’t necessarily find itself on the “bucket” lists of many American travelers.


A traditional Palau meeting hall is located on the Belau National Museum grounds. // © 2009 CT Snow

However, despite its lack of cache in the U.S., there are few reasons not to visit. Although its official language is Palauan, English is frequently and fluently spoken. Continental Airlines provides service to the island and, because travelers from Asia love this Pacific gem, several top-quality hotels have opened their doors there.

Koror, once Palau’s capital, is the nation’s commercial center, housing some 70 percent of its population. Koror is also the heart of Palau’s tourism industry, although most visitors will venture beyond for snorkeling and other opportunities for sightseeing.

Day Tripping
Visitors will soon learn that many Palauans are gifted storytellers. Their legends are frequently recounted in storyboard wood carvings, many of which are on display in Palau’s two museums. The Etpison Museum focuses more on the cultural aspects of island life, while the Belau National Museum tends to focus more on Palau’s history and its role in international politics. Here, a traditional bai (a meeting house for men) is on display. Visitors will learn that, although only men are allowed in the bai, the society is a matriarchal one, whereby women make the ultimate decision of which men are chosen to lead.

Because Palau’s economy is so reliant upon its coral reefs, the Palau International Coral Reef Center is another attraction well worth visiting. Part aquarium, part educational facility, the center offers insight into the fragility of the world’s coral reefs. The popular Outer Reef exhibit, one of the largest of its kind in the world, includes a 5,500-gallon tank with a miniature version of Palau’s own Outer Reef.

Families traveling with children should probably also visit the Dolphins Pacific Adventure. There, clients can don wetsuits and swim with dolphins. The facility is dedicated to education, so visitors shouldn’t expect to find dolphins performing acrobatic tricks. However, they should be prepared to fall in love with the facility’s playful residents.

Dishing It Out
As your clients start investigating their dining options, they will not want to miss Elilai Restaurant, a Koror standout. After a day of island sightseeing, this glitzy restaurant may cause some culture shock. The lounge feels like it fell from the pages of Las Vegas Magazine. The 360-degree view from the New York-chic dining patio alone is worth a visit, but the innovative pan-Asian cuisine is what impresses guests most.

As for local favorites, Palm Bay Bistro, serves Pacific Rim specialties and is the in-house restaurant of Palau’s only brewery, Rooster Beer. Koror’s two major tour outfitters both have excellent waterfront eateries. Bottom Time Bar & Grill (Sam’s Tours) and Barracuda Bar & Grill (Fish ‘N’ Fins) both serve up delectable cuisine with a heavy emphasis on local seafood.

Getting to Palau on Continental Airlines requires two stops from Los Angeles — one in Honolulu and one in Guam — making it an exotic add-on option for clients already planning a familiar visit to the Hawaiian Islands.