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When you arrive at Peleliu Island a tiny island that belongs to Palau in the south pacific ocean, will it seem like just arrived at one of the most laid-back places you have ever been to once you get here, and it will feel like you got the whole Island for yourself.
Peleliu Today is home to only about 700 people and one village, Klouklubed. Sometimes it can take hours between each local person you see here, and days between each tourist you see, it literally seems like there´s nothing to do here except relax, read a book and enjoy a cold drink.
But Peleliu has a dark secret if you look closer, it was home to one of the bloodiest battles in WW2, and the scars and the US and Japanese war relics are scattered all over the tiny Island.
But if you look closer, will you find WW2 relics and scars scattered all over the Island, some which are easily visible while some relics are hard to find since these days is nature taking over and you will walk right past some of the relics without ever noticing them.
But some of the historical war relics are “already” rusting away and will not be around for much longer.
Nature is removing the scars from WW2 all over the Island. And the vegetation is so thick and lush some places it´s like your in the middle of the Jungle, but in fact, are you on the highway.
You will also be able to visit one of the many hundred caves mostly around Bloody Nose Ridge that the Japanese dog it by hand in the hills around Peleliu, the biggest man-made cave here was home to a few thousand soldiers, and still are old sake bottles and personal bowls laying around in the cave, old remains from the battle of Peleliu
So it´s recommended to have a local guide to point them out for you and be sure to not walk to far off the trail since there’s still unexploded mines and bombs laying here but also to find some of the more hidden war relics.
Even to this day is new caves discovered around Bloody Nose Ridge and only back in 2018 was a cave with the remains of 6 Japanse soldiers discovered
Peleliu was really hell on earth when the Japanse Imperial Army fought against the USA Marines here during World War 2.
What Happened On Peleliu?
The American Major General in charge of the battle, William H. Rupertus Commander of the 1st Marine Division, predicted that the Island would be secured within four days during Operation Stalemate 2; he couldn’t be more wrong.
Although Peleliye is only 13sq km so did the Island claimed more than 13 000 lives and 8400 wounded during the 2 months, 1 week and 5 days in battle here in 1944, 15th September to 27th November the battle of Peleliu lasted.
Even to this day, is the battle of Peleliu is considered to be one of the “the bitterest and bloodiest battle of the war for the USA Marines.
On the early morning of 15 September in 1944 did the 1st Marine Division landed on the southwest corner of Peleliu, more precisely on Orange Beach but only after U.S navy had bombed the hell out of Peleliu for 10 full days with airstrikes, followed by two days of Naval bombardments.
But then the third day was cancelled as the Navy declared they had already killed all the Japanese forces on the Pelielue.
So the Navy decided it was time to invade Peleliu with the same tactic which had proven to be successful in previous battles against the Japanese forces around the Pacific ocean.
The American troops would arrive on shore in waves, gathering on an island’s beaches until they had sufficient numbers to push inland.
These methods had worked in earlier landings for the US Navy and were expected to work again on Peleliu.
Which was a huge mistake by the U.S Navy since the Japanese Imperial forces had learned from past attacks, however, and they took a new strategy instead of fighting the Americans had the Japanse army honeycombed the hills on Peleliu with hundreds if not thousands of caves, tunnels, sniper nets and hideouts.
And with most of the vegetation burned down all over the Island after the heavy U.S bombardment. There were nowhere to hide and nowhere to take cover for the advancing American troops.
The new strategy allowed the Japanese to hunker down and hide and emerge mostly unscathed from the 13day long American bombardment of Peleliu.
The Japanse forced held out for four days before U.S. forces were even able to secure the southwest area of Peleliu, including the largest Japanese airstrip in the pacific.
But it wasn´t before the U.S forces turned north towards the small Ridge which runs through the middle of Peleliu, locally known as the Umurbrogol Mountain 91m/300feet but the U.S Marines dubbed “Bloody Nose Ridge.” Over the next eight days, U.S. troops sustained about 50 per cent casualties.
And it wasn´t before the U.S Navy bought in flamethrowers mounted on their Sherman tanks and started to burn out the Japanese from their caves that the Americans got the advantage since normal artillery didn’t do much damage to the caves. In the end, the Japanese fought to the very end. Of the almost 11,000 Japanese troops that fought here, only 202 Survived.
In a stunning twist, a group of 35 Japanese soldiers survived within the caves of Peleliu, hiding out for an incredible 18 months after the war ended before finally surrendering in April 1947.
The Aftermath Of The battle.
The Battle of Peleliu resulted in the highest casualty rate of any amphibious assault in American military history: Of the approximately 28,000 Marines and infantry troops involved, an insane 40 per cent of the Marines and soldiers that fought for the Island died or were wounded, for a total of some 9,800 men (1,800 killed in action and 8,000 wounded).
The high cost of the battle was later blamed on several factors, a typical U.S Navy overconfidence in the efficacy of the pre-landing naval bombardment, a poor understanding of Peleliu’s unique terrain, and overconfidence on the part of Marine commanders, who refused to admit their need for support.
Postwar statisticians calculated that it took US forces over 1500 rounds of ammunition to kill each Japanese solider and that during the battle.
The Americans used 13.32 million rounds of 30-calibre, 1.52 million rounds of 45-calibre,
693,657 rounds of 50-calibre bullets, 118,262 hand grenades and approximately 150,000 mortar shells.
This is additional to the 10days pre bombardment with airstrikes and 2 days of Naval Bombardment.
Bloody Nose Ridge Today.
Bloody Nose Ridge was the most of the battle happened, with the Japanese soldiers hiding inside one of the 400 caves they had dug out by hand here., these days there are also a few hiking trails you can do around the Ridge, but be sure to keep on the marked trail, since there can still be unexploded bombs lying around. While there are still a few caves you can still visit, so are the main cave to visit here the command post used by Kunio Nakagawa commander of Japanese forces here on Peleliu. At the end of the battle Nakagawa on the evening of 24 November, after the battle was lost, he performed seppuku (ritual suicide) in the tradition of Japanese samurai warriors.
1000 Man Cave.
The most famous cave which is not on Bloody Nose Ridge is the 1000 man cave which is located close to the harbour.
This cave is by far the largest man-made cave on Peleliu.
The 1000 man cave holds an impressive 284meter (933feet) of tunnels, containing 34 rooms, including a small hospital and a Shrine. The cave was home to 1000 Japanese solider that´s the name.
The 1000 Japanese soldiers hiding in this cat refused to surrender. The US Marines – they resorted to blocking up the exits, leaving only two open, and using flame-throwers and explosive charges to force the remaining Japanese out. While walking around the cave can you see that the roof inside the cave is still black after the flame throwers.
War Relics That You can see around Peleliu.
Japanese Full Storage Building, now the WW2 Museum in Palau the museums holds photographs and war artefacts, including weapons, and uniforms.
Japanse Mitsubishi Zero Fighter Plane.
The remains of a Japanese Mitsubishi Zero Fighter yet, located just of the main road but is easy to miss it if you don’t know where to look.
A Japanese tank that was used to protect the airfield.
In the middle of the Jungle is a two-storey building which was the Japanese headquarter here during WWII. It was important in their efforts to control Peleliu and was very fiercely defended, but the Americans managed to bomb it in 1944.
With stairs going nowhere, threes growing through ceilings, and exposed wires and girders forming uncanny shadows on the green.
Northwest of the airstrip, are two old rusty American tanks parked up, Both are LVTs – Landing Vehicle Tractors – that were used to carry US Marines from ship to shore when the US invasion forces landed on Pelilue, One of them have a 75mm gun. There are a few grenades laying around here.
Japanse Tank and Anti Aircraft Gun.
In a small man-made cave is the last of 4 Original Japanese 200mm coastal defence gun still bristles from a cave.
Such caves allowed the Japanese to safely pick off Marines exposed on Orange Beach. The 3 other coastal defence guns were dismantled by Americans. There´s an LVT A1 just outside the cave.
Knocked Over American Tank.
Memorials and Shrines on Peleliu.
With so many Soldiers dying here during both Americans and Japanese so are a few memorials and shrines to remember the fallen here.
On the far southern tip of Peleliu is the Peleliu Peace Memorial Park, a park the Japanese government built-in 1985 for those who died here during WW2. It’s from here that you can see across to Angaur island.
At the base of Bloody Nose Ridge is this small shrine commemorating the Japanese soldiers who died in the WWII Battle of Peleliu.
US Marine Corps Monument.
Just across the Japanese shrine on the base of Bloody Nose Ridge is the US Marine Corps Monument dedicated to the US Navy and Marine Corps troops who died here in 1944.
The Monument is an important monument for the American Soldiers who fought here, and during my visit here was one of the last surviving American Soldiers here to pay respect here.
One the highest point on Peleliu is the US Army 323rd Infantry Monument & Lookout. There some 100steps to get to the lookout from where you can see a 360* view of the Island.
Other Things To Do On Peleliu?
Obviously so is the relics from WW2; the main reason foreigners will visit Peleliu,
but there´a few other things to do on the Island.
But remember everything requires a permit (entrance ticket) similar to on Koror and the Rock Islands.
Some of the best Scuba diving in Palau is just a few minutes boat ride from Peleliu, while the same dive sites take more than an hour to reach from Koror.
Snorkelling is also a great activity to do on Peleliu with snorkelling sites being more accessible here than around Koror.
There are surprisingly few good beaches around the Island, but the good ones are great, but be aware that´s no facility on any of the beaches, so you will have to carry any snack or drinks you will need.
And be aware that´s no shops outside Klouklubed so stock up before heading to the beach.
If you want a beach with history so are Orange and White beach to good beaches, but the best beach on Peleliu is on the way to the Japanese Memorial on the Southern tip of the Island.
This beach is located inside a calm lagoon, and the water is always calm here, making it a great place for swimming, other parts of Peleliu has strong current and big waves.
Palau is becoming a popular destination for birdwatcher from all over the world, and from a study done by the Palau Conservation Society. Is it the Island of Peleliu witch have the highest bird population in Palau.
The waters around Peleliu are popular with tourist wanting to go deep-sea fishing and trolling, or if you want to go spearfishing.
Remember you will have to go with a licensed boat. There´s also popular to go looking and hunting for crabs around the mangroves or for coconut crabs.
Visiting Angaur Island:
Angaur island is another inhabited island in Palau and the only Island in the south pacific Island with Monkeys. Anguar was also home to a WW2 battle between Japan and the US. But far from as bloody as on Peleliu.
Angaur is located only about 5miles/8Km south of Peleliu. You can see Anguar from the southern tip of Peleliu. But so close but still so far away.
I tried to get to Angaur for days, but the waters around Angaur is notorious for extremely strong currents and waves, so no boatmen wanted to take me there. I asked all over the Island, and it seemed impossible.
Even the local travel agency which offers day trips there refused.
So the only way to reach Anguar is with a small local flight either on one of the twice a week scheduled flight or on a chartered one.
Accommodation on Peleliu Island.
These days accommodation options on Peleliu are pretty limited, according to online research, so should it be four different accommodations options on the Island, but when I arrived was 2 of them completely shutdown.
And when I asked the locals on Peleliu if there was a temporary shutdown or a permanent one, they had no idea.
So by early 2020 is there two options for accommodation on Peleliu.
High-End Accomamdation Peleliu.
Dolphin Bay Resort & Peleliu Divers, the high-end option on Peleliu and home to the only dive centre, has private bungalows which are equipped with ceiling fan and A/C and private bathroom, fridge and mini-bar and private balcony.
They have 2 type of rooms(queen bedroom and twin bedroom) Both of room charge is U.S$185.00 include10% tax/ per night. And the package rate including meals is U.S$210.00 for single occupancy and U.S$250.00 for double occupancy.
Have a great sundeck and one of only two bars on the Island, even if you are not staying here so is the sundeck a great place to go for a cold beer and to watch the sunset.
The budget accommodation Peleliu
The Adventure Inn, which is the only travel agency on the Peleliu also has a guesthouse and a hostel with shared bathroom and a shared kitchen and common area, but you will get your own room with Aircon, for 40USD night. I stayed here during my stay, and I will recommend it.
Where To Eat on Peleliu.
Like everything, so are everything very limited on Peleliu. There are a few smalls shops which sell everything you will need for daily use along the main street. The only restaurant recommended in Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor etc., the “Yellow Wall Restaurant” is permanently closed, and have been for years.
If you are staying at the hostel in the Adventure Inn so will you have a common kitchen where you can cook yourself.
There are three restaurants on the Peleliu island, one at Dolphin Bay Resort which is also the most expensive; there´s one Chinese restaurant next to the most well-stocked bar next to the largest supermarket on Peleliu.
Adventure Inn also has a small restaurant which a set menu each evening.
Getting Around Peleliu.
There´s no public transportation around Peleliu. So you are stuck with self-driving, bike cycling around the Island or making a day trip for around 40USD with a guide which I recommend since some of the WW2 relics are almost impossible to find on your own.
You can rent a bike for 20USD from Adventure inn.
While the Island is almost completely flat, except around Bloody Nose Ridge so is there very little shade, and nowhere to buy anything to drink around the relics so be sure to bring enough water.
How to Get To Peleliu Island With Public Ferry.
There are two government ferries between Koror and Peleliu, a fast one the Odesangel Dill and a slow one the Nippon Maru II.
Both ferries are very basic, on the slow ferry are you recommended to bring your own chair! And be sure to bring snacks/drinks for the journey, there´s nothing for sale onboard.
But the public ferry schedule changes every month.
The Public ferry takes about takes approximately 2 to and a half hour to 3 and a half hours depending on the weather and wind and which route it has to take around the rock islands.
When it´s windy is it a very uncomfortable and wet trip (waves splashes over the whole boat), I had it back to from Peleliu.
The price is 20USD for the slow boat, and the fast boat takes 1.5hour and coast 40USD. Each boat charges a 1 USD fee for each bag.
How to Get To Peleliu Island With Flight.
The only airline doing scheduled inter-island flights in Palau are Pacific Mission Aviation which also does the scenic flight over the rock islands (which I will highly recommend)
They have scheduled flights on Tuesday and Saturdays from Koror to Angaur and Peleliu. There are only small single propeller flights available for 5 and 9 passengers.
Tuesday: 9 am Departure at Palau International Airport. 945 am Departure from Angaur/Peleliu. Flight time one way is 30min.
Saturday: 9 am Departure at Palau International Airport. 1130 am Departure from Angaur/Peleliu. Flight time one way is 30min.
If this doesn’t fit your schedule so are your only option to charter the flight for 400USD for up to 5 people.
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