Last Updated on
In the tiny nation of Palau is there a one of a kind lake. A lake filled with millions of harmless and sting-free Jellyfish, Swimming around with millions of Jellyfish in “Jellyfish Lake” is a must-do if in Palau even how crazy it might sound.
Swimming in the Palau JellyFish Lake will give you a once in a lifetime experience, there’s nothing like it in this world, not even close.
I even had come back for a second visit to the JellyFish Lake during my ten-day trip to Palau.
And it was definitely worth it since my second visit here was completely different from the first visit.
The Jellyfish lake finally reopened in early 2019 after it had been closed for visitors since 2016.
The lake closed down in 2016 to protect the lake and Jellyfish and let the lake fully recovery from a drastic decline in 2016.
Back in 2016, there was a drought in Palau which was caused by El Nino, but another problem resulting in the decline of jellyfishes was a result of the skin and hair products tourist had on them when they entered the lake.
The same natural disaster happened back in 1998, but the Jellyfish recovered soon back to a healthy jellyfish populations back then.
All this had made the numbers of Jellyfish left in the lake was critical low. According to my guide was there also a problem back then that tourist was taking Jellyfish out of the lake as souvenirs.
While the numbers back in 2005 are believed to have been around 30million, was the numbers in 2016 as low as a few hundred thousand.
So the Palau government had to do something, which was closing down the lake and starting to monitoring it by the Coral Reef Research Foundation (CRRF).
There´s now a floating platform in the middle of the lake which is continuously measuring the water temperature, oxygen level plus more, making sure the numbers of Jellyfishes won´t decline agian.
There´s now a security guard at the entrance that will check that you have your permit and that you are there with a licensed guide.
There´s a 10min walk from the Pier where you arrive at with the boat to the lake itself. The walk is steep and on sharp rocks, so be sure to bring your either your flipflops or some other kind of light footwear for the walk.
When you first jump into the lake and start swimming out into it will you only encounter a few single jellyfish swimming around, but don´t get disappointed and waste your camera battery and memory space taking photos of the single Jellyfish.
You will get plenty of photo opportunities later, and you will hate it if your camera runs out of battery or memory.
It´s first when you get into the middle of the lake when you will get blown away but the unbelievable numbers of Jellyfish you will see and swim around.
None of the photos in this post is edited in photoshop, the light in Jellyfish lake is incredible, but often it was difficult to get my underwater camera to focus correctly.
Where is the JellyFish lake located?
The JellyFish lake is located in the small nation of Palau in the south Pacific.
Jellyfish lake is hidden away on a small island called Eil Malk Island, also known as Mecherchar which are part of group islands called the Rock Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Locally the lake is named Ongeim`l Tketau, meaning the Fifth Lake.
The Rock Islands is made up from around 300 islands in an area of 47 square kilometres (18 sq mi). Jellyfish Lake is the only one of 50 Marine lakes in Palau that are open to the public.
Can I visit Jellyfish Lake on my own?
No, you can not, the lake is located about 45min speed boat ride from downtown Koror, in the middle of the Rock Island.
And there is no way you can get there without a boat and a knowledgeable boat driver and guide.
You will also need a permit and guide to get through the checkpoint which is located at the entrance to the lake.
How To Visit Jellyfish Lake?
Assuming you are already in Palau (click here to read a complete travel guide to Palau) so are the only way to reach JellyFish lake with a local travel company.
This is both for transportation and that you are required a licenced guide for you to be allowed to enter the lake. About every travel company in Palau offer trips to JellyFish Lake.
I used two different ones, and both where good.
RITCPALAU Japanese run tour company with an awesome English speaking stuff, super-efficient, can highly recommend then. I made two-day trips with them.
Fish N Fins one of the oldest companies in Palau, mainly a PADI Dive centre (5*) but also offer day trips to rock islands/jellyfish lake and bring snorkelers along on scuba diving trips, but also offer ATV trips through the Jungle in Palau.
I made a one day trip with. I can highly recommend them.
SamTours highly recommend dive centre.
Palau Impac Offers a lot of different day trips, some only offered by them. It was recommended by my hotel in Koror.
NecoMarine Dive centre which offers various day trips
Paddling Palau offers kayaking trips from day trips to longer trips with camping on remote islands.
Palau 7th Wonder, Dive company also doing land tours.
Is It safe to swim in Jellyfish Lake?
Yes to swim in the lake is entirely safe, but you have to be able to swim around 400meters/1300ft minimum.
You will enter the lake on the opposite side of where the Jellyfish usually are located, and you will have to swim across the lake to be able to see them.
For safety are visitors required to use a life jacket when entering the lake, but after some discussion with the guard where I’m able to swim around the lake without the life jacket.
You guide will be in a kayak close to while you are in the lake to make sure you are safe and comfortable. You can also ask for a floating board to hold onto if you are not a good swimmer.
Is it really true that the Jellyfish don´t sting you?
Actually, the jellyfish hare does sting but you but in general are the stings not powerful enough to cause pain to humans, except around your month where it might get itchy. But the Sting´s are completely harmless.
What Type of Jellyfish is in the lake?
There are two species of Jellyfish living in Jellyfish Lake, the moon jellyfish (Aurelia) and The golden Jellyfish( Mastigias Papua Etpisoni) .is the one who make the lake famous and that you will swim all around.
The golden jellyfish( Mastigias Papua Etpisoni) is only found in this lake in the entire world.
The Moon Jellyfish will often be the first Jellyfish you will see when entering the lake, but there´s few of them around compared to the golden jellyfish. And the Moon jellyfish swims typically lower than the Golden jellyfish.
JellyFish Migration in the lake.
Everday the Jellyfish in the lake will move across the lake, following the sun. So depending on what time of the day, the Jellyfish will be in a different spot, during my first visit to the lake the jellyfish was all around the centre of the lake, but on my second visit they where all to the western edge of the lake.
From early morning to about 0930 – The jellyfish move from the centre to the western basin to the eastern basin.
From early afternoon to about 1530 – The jellyfish move from the eastern basin to near the western end of the lake.
As the sun sets – The jellyfish move briefly eastward from the western end to the western basin where they remain through the night.
What´s The Price To Visit Jellyfish Lake?
You are required to get a permit to enter lake coasting 100USD and are valid for 10days.
The permit is always additional to the tour price.
The permit covered the whole Rock Island area, and you can visit JellyFish as many times as you want during those 10days.
The permit has to be obtained in Koror state before you head to the lake, the easiest way to do it is through the travel company you are making the day trip with.
But you can also go to the Palau tourist office and obtain the permit by yourself.
It´s not possible to get the permit at the checkpoint before entering the lake.
If you try to enter JellyFish lake without a permit is there a 700USD fine.
And there´s only one way in, and that´s past the checkpoint.
How big is JellyFish lake?
As you can see from the photo below, so is it not a huge lake, the lake is 460m/1510ft long and 160m/520ft wide.
With an average depth of 430m/100ft. Making the total volume of the lake to be 1.71 million m3 (60 million cu ft).
Can I Go Scuba Diving in JellyFish lake?
No, you are not allowed to Scuba dive in the Jellyfish lake, only snorkelling is possible, and you will have to be careful with your kicking, so you don’t hit the Jellyfish.
The reason can not go scuba diving in Jellyfish lake are, the bubbles from the scuba tank can harm and kill the Jellyfishes.
Around 15m/49feet down in the late are an anoxic layer with high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide which can be absorbed through your skin which can lead to death, So it´s highly recommended not to free-dive to deep into the lake.
Is there anything else in the lake?
The only thing except for Jellyfish in the lake is the floating platform in the middle of the lake, and a few small fish which swim around the Pier where you will enter the lake.
What to bring to JellyFish Lake.
Obviously, will you have to bring snorkel gear, your permit and camera equipment. The Snorkel gear will the travel company you go with, arrange for you. The day trip to the lake will also typically include one snorkelling stop outside the lake and a stop to both long beach and the Milkyway another must to if you are in Palau.
Be aware that Palau banned regular suncream in early 2020 and you can get finned up to 1000USD with bringing and wearing banned suncream.
So a rashguard or a t-shirt is recommended to wear while snorkelling around since the sun in Palau is strong.
I looked like a boiled lobster after my snorkelling trip to Jellyfish Lake.
How Did the Jellyfish lake get created?
The lake is believed to be around 12000 years old and created when the last ice from the last ice age was melting and made the seawater level rise enough to fill the basin with water and when the water level dropped some jellyfish got trapped in what was now a lake. This isolation allowed the Jellyfishes in the lake to develop on their own, and the golden Jellyfish( Mastigias Papua etpisoni) can now only be found here in this lake.
Like It? Share it! Pin It!