Views from Palau
The cradle of Palau.
As creation myths go, Palau has a good one….Once upon a time there was an island called Ngeaur, it was the only island and it rose steeply from the vast ocean. One day a baby girl was born and her mother called her Chuab.
The baby was hungry as all babies are and grew day by day, however she grew far faster than any normal baby. Her demand for food grew too and after only a short while, she was as enormous as her appetite. Her mother could not feed her on her own so enlisted friends and other villagers to help. Everyone gathered food to feed Chuab, but by now she had grown so big that he could not fit in a house and towered above the island with her head in the clouds. The islanders were starving, and with no food left after Chuab’s colossal demands, something had to be done. One day they decided that enough was enough and set a fire around Chuab who was toppled like a vast tower. Her body came crashing down into the ocean north of Anguar and there it lay, slowly turning into the islands that are Palau today.
Given that sort of a start, I was keen to get down there and see what the island has to offer. There are two main ways to visit. One is the state boat, which at this writing makes the hour 45 minute speed boat journey from Koror three times a week. Want some incredible aerial scenery on your way? A Cessna run by Pacific Mission Aviation (+680 587 4567) has regular flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Either way, you will be greeted by a visually pleasing sight. The island has a small population but is well kept and as soon as you get there you want to start taking pictures. Everywhere you look seems like a postcard.
It is beautifully quiet and you can get around by bike or car easily. Check in advance with Palau Visitors Authority for details (+680 488 2793).
The coastal road is a highlight with beautiful deserted beaches and clifflines that make you want to stop and take it all in. The road makes its way gently through pine trees whistling in the wind as the waves crash against the cliffs or roll up the large beaches. Surfing is popular here, so bring your board.
The undisturbed woodland and jungle provide plenty of places for birdwatchers to seek Palau’s endemic avian species and migratory wanderers. If you’re a history buff, a local guide can show you relics from the WW II battle site here. There are memorials to the fallen on both sides and a variety of aircraft hidden in the jungle but accessible from the road.
For those avid SCUBA divers, Angaur offers some incredible and almost untouched dive sites. The USS Perry, the only U.S shipwreck in Palau, lies just off-shore in (Trimix/DEEP Air) water and there are loads of great reefs and corners to explore.
Ironically, given how beautiful this island is and how easy it is to get to, hardly any tourists make the trip. This may be partially due to the limited available accommodations. Pinetrees Bungalows was the only option given by Anguar State Office and restaurants are limited. Booking can be done through the State Office (+680 488 5282) or talking with the Palau Visitors Authority (and it’s well worth the effort if while in Palau, you want to get away from the crowds in Koror and sample some breathtaking and thoroughly relaxing island life). Likewise if you are seeking some adrenaline, alternative tech diving or surfing is the way to go.
Great change looms on the horizon for Angaur in the form of a U.S. military Radar installation which has been slated to take up over 65 acres of the island. This means that it’s highly likely this beautiful, peaceful, untouched, undeveloped, unvisited island may soon be transformed forever into who knows what and just like the unexpected rise of Chuab, tourism.