Paddling the Island on the Day After
From Honolulu, catch Continental Micronesia's seven-hour flight to Guam. Continue another three hours southwest to Palau, with a brief stopover on Yap. Alternately, fly direct to Palau from Manila. You'll arrive exhausted and jet lagged, but as soon as you see the gorgeous blue water and emerald green land, you're ready to go.
Palau's only town is Koror, with about 10,000 people, nearly all of whom speak English. They use American money, having only in 1994 become independent under a "Compact of Free Association." Palauan postage stamps are colorfully collectable. Letters take a week to ten days to reach North America.
January through April is the dry season and the best but busiest time to visit. You will need reservations during those months. It is also possible to camp out in the Rock Islands.
Hotel and restaurant prices are a little bit lower than back home. The best, reasonably priced hotel on the water is the Marina. Most mid-priced hotels are in busy Koror and convenient to shopping, eating, and bars. These are clean and modern, but lack views, and range in price from $40 to $75 for a double. Asian and American restaurants serve dinners in the $5 to $15 range. For fancy accommodations, try the Airai View, or the Palau Pacific Resort, where John F. Kennedy, Jr. entertained Darryl Hannah. If you have to ask, you can't afford it. Add 10 percent tax to all room prices.
Groceries and most products cost a bit more than back home. Shops are well stocked with popular brands from both sides of the Pacific. Medical care is reasonably priced and fine, although serious accidents or illness may require going to Guam. There is no malaria here, but check with your doctor about suggested vaccinations. Passports are required, and 30-day visas are available on arrival.
It's hot and humid, day and night, but most buildings are air conditioned. Bring high SPF sunscreens. Hiking sandals, cool cotton clothing, sun glasses, and hats are mandatory outdoors. Light colors reflect more sun. Nylon shorts dry fast and are ideal for kayaking. Short shorts are unacceptable in town.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication