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Palau

- Tyler

Over Thanksgiving break, my family and I went on an amazing trip to the island paradise of Palau, which is part of Micronesia near Papa New Guinea. After 21 hours of flight time, we finally arrived in Koror (Palau’s capital city) at 1am in the morning and went straight to the Palau Royal Resort with the rest of our Kids Sea Camp group. We went too Palau to go scuba diving and see the beautiful underwater wonders there. Palau is home to some of the most world’s most unique coral reefs and other underwater habitats, as well as almost any marine animal you can think of. It is also home to hundreds of small coral islands that literally look like broccoli coming out of the water, with their undercut basses and steep domed tops.

On our first day we didn’t go scuba diving, but instead went on a tour to one of Palau’s greatest wonders and did some snorkeling around one of its 300 islands. One stop was to a place called the Milky Way, because of its milky blue water and white clay found at the bottom. When we got there, we all jumped off the boat and swam to the bottom to get hands full of the white clay (said by locals to have healing abilities) and rubbed it all over our faces and bodies. Although this was really amazing, the highlight of the day was Jellyfish Lake, which as the name suggests has jellyfish swimming everywhere. Since these particular jellyfish do not have any predators (caused by thousands of years of evolution) they do not have stingers, so we could snorkel right through them — and there were literally thousands of them!

The next day, we did the first out of 10 dives in Palau (two a day) and got to start enjoying the underwater marvels of Palau. Me and my younger brother Stefan were on the “teen boat” with all the other certified Jr. Open Water Divers, while our parents went diving separately. With our dives there was never a dull moment, the visibility was great and we saw things everywhere we looked. We did all types of dives, including reef dives (diving on a coral reef), wall dives (diving at a drop off), hook dives (when you hook onto a dead piece of coral with a line attached to your BC and just watch the fish), and wreck dives (diving on a plane or ship wreck).

A few of Palau’s best dive sites that we went to were German Channel, Big Drop Off, and the most famous, Blue Corner. At German Channel we got to see huge schools of fish (damsels, barracuda, trevallies, parrotfish, wrasses and grouper) and manta rays all coming to feed on plankton. We also went to a sea plane wreck as well as the wreck of a Japanese sub hunter/ battle ship which we got to dive around. It had tons of guns, depth charges, and navigation equipment. Blue corner and the other reef dives had tons of tropical fish, sea turtles, and oh yeah, lots of sharks – not Great Whites, just white tip, black tip and grey reef sharks! We also had a chance to dive with sea turtles, which was totally cool.

On the last day we could not dive (you cannot dive for at least 24 hours before flying), so instead we went kayaking and snorkeling with a local naturalist who took us around the rock islands and the lakes of Palau. After the amazing experiences of diving in Palau we left the hotel and departed back to our normal life in New York but we will remember Palau forever. In my next post, I’ll tell you more about Kids Sea Camp, the tour company that made this trip possible.

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