Palau, a tiny Micronesian country that is suffering from serious environmental destruction as a result of an increase in the number of inbound tourist…
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This Micronesian paradise calls scuba divers back again and again with incredible drift dives, wall dives and more.
For divers who’ve been lucky enough to blow bubbles in the underwater wonderland that’s Palau (many of our readers, apparently!), one trip is never enough. And for those who’ve seen the remote Micronesian archipelago only in classic photos of tropical islands and massive sharks, we can promise you this: Palau delivers even beyond the hype, both above the surface and below. Wall dives teeming with big animals, macro life galore, impressive wrecks — it’s all waiting within one of the largest marine protected areas on the planet.
1 ) MILES OF PROTECTION
Passed in 2015, the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act made the archipelago the sixth-largest fully protected marine reserve in the world. Eighty percent (193,000 square miles) of Palau’s maritime territory is a no-take zone, with fishing open to locals only — no foreign boats allowed — in just 20 percent of the country’s waters.
2 ) THE TRADITION OF BUL
Source: 25 Reasons to Scuba Dive Palau
Our guide to the world’s best beach vacations
You don’t have to be a beach bum to enjoy some of the world’s most fantastic shorelines. In fact, we think there’s a coast out there for every traveler. And we’re sure you have your own favorite beaches, too. Send them to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Beaches,” and we’ll post them online. But, in the meantime, use this guide to find the perfect stretch of sand for your clients.
For the Adventurous Spirit: Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, Palau, Micronesia
From above, Palau’s Rock Islands may seem like nothing more than a smattering of green mushroom-shaped dots in an otherwise vast expanse of cerulean. But this grouping of nearly 450 volcanic islands is much more than a few dots on a map — it’s an adventure lover’s playground.
Romantic beaches, heritage and culture, world-class diving and natural wonders – whatever your preference, there’s a South Pacific island for you.
01 Fiji & Palau
If you love… Beqa Lagoon
Renowned as the ‘soft coral capital of the world’, this Fijian island boasts some of the best scuba diving in the country. Surrounded by more than 300km of spectacular coral – making it one of the largest barrier reefs on earth – its lagoon consists of clear, warm water with visibility of more than 30 metres. Many dive spots (there are more than 100 in total) are only a short boat ride from the shore. While there’s an array of marine life, the resident shark population is undoubtedly at the top of most divers’ to-see lists. At least eight different species of sharks, including tiger, nurse and bull, call the lagoon home.
Then try… Palau
Never thought of visiting Palau? Well, you might be soon. In our Breakout Role series, we take a look at places that have seen huge increases in tourism in the last few years, and try to figure out what’s causing all the hype.
In Palau, tourists are counted by the thousands. To the small Pacific nation, which has barely more than 20,000 residents itself, a fluctuation in visitors that might appear unsubstantial to a larger country can seem enormous.
It’s for this exact reason that 2015 was such an important year for Palauan tourism. After the availability of new charter flights made the Micronesian country a newly-popular destination for Chinese tourists, Palau’s number of international visitors peaked at 162,000, a significant and almost instantaneous jump from 140,000 in 2014.
The UNESCO world heritage list comprises more than 1,000 spots — 20 percent of them natural — designated as the legacy of all mankind. These 13 spots represent an even more precious slice: they can be fully appreciated only by divers.
From the Taj Mahal to the Grand Canyon, the most spectacular cultural and natural places in the world find a spot on the storied UNESCO World Heritage List — an international cooperation created during a 1972 United Nations conference to protect the world’s most wondrous locales. And while divers know there are seemingly limitless places to explore with a tank strapped to their backs, only a select few of the world’s dive destinations meet the World Heritage criterion. When you dive one of these sites, you’re submerging someplace deemed to have “outstanding universal value” that’s worth protecting at all costs. In our world, that’s a dive for the books.