The Rock Islands in Palau is one of the most beautiful natural sites in the world and the only site in the world, which is just as beautiful above water as under the surface.
Which is why Palau is considered to be one of the very best, if not the best scuba destination in the world, the waters around Palau are home to more than 1500 different spices of fish and 700 spices of corals.
Manta rays, dolphins, turtles, dugongs and sharks, and legendary dive sites like the German Channel and the Blue Corner which is considered to be one of the 5 best dive sites in the world.
The World´s first Shark Sanctuary was created in Palau back in 2009.
The Rock Islands is a group of more than 250 limestone islands scattered across a 42 km stretch in some of the clearest water in the world, just south of Koror the largest city in Palau.
But be aware that visiting the Rock Islands require you to go on a day trip with a local company and to pay a 50 USD for a permit (an additional 50 USD to visit the Jellyfish lake) and are valid for 10 days.
Most day trips will let you visit 2 or 3 of the sites around the Rock Islands so if you want to visit all the sites will you have to do more then only 1-day trip to the Rock Islands.
The Rock Islands was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012.
Top Things To Do In The Rock Islands In Palau.
Take A Natural Mud Bath At MilkyWay
The MilkyWay is the closest site to Koror and one of few sites in the Rock Islands, which is not about the marine life or crystal clear water.
This turquoise cove is famous for its water and mud, which is an emulsion of white limestone sand is it´s believed to be therapeutic, rejuvenating and healthy for your skin and body.
The locals claim swimming and covering your body in the mud here will make you look younger.
When arriving at the MilkyWay and anchored up will your guide dive down to about 2/3meters depth and feel a couple of buckets with the mud that he will bring back to the boat and the guest will then cover their whole body in the mud.
After you have covered your whole body and waited for about 10-15min will the mud have dried up and started to crack up, jump into the water and rinse it off before moving to your next stop in the Rock Islands.
The Mud from the MilkyWay is one of the most popular souvenirs to bring back from Palau to your friends and family.
Small jars with the mud from the Milkyway are sold in all souvenirs shops around Palau and at the departure at the airport.
Probably the most famous place to visit in the Rock Islands for non-scuba divers.
Swimming around a lake with millions of jellyfish is a one of a kind experience; there´s nothing like it anywhere in the world.
The lake finally reopened in 2019 after it had been closed for 3 years, after years of a drastic decline in the Jellyfish in the lake.
To get to the lake, you will have to do a short but steep hike through the jungle.
The golden Jellyfish found in this lake is only found in this one lake in the world.
Be aware that to be able to swim around the lake will you be able to swim around 400meters/1300ft minimum.
Enjoy Long Beach.
Long Beach is most likely the most beautiful beach in Palau together with Kayangel in the northern part of the country.
This paradise beach is only available when the tide is low, with perfect conditions so can you enjoy and swim along this 800m piece of paradise.
Long Beach is normally the last stop on your day trip around the Rock Islands in Palau, but if you are unlucky and the tide is high is this beach not possible to visit.
If you are not a scuba diver so are snorkelling almost as good, at least here in Palau, home to some of the most pristine waters in the world, the only other place in the world I’ve experienced water and marine life like this in Bora Bora and Fakarava in French Polynesia.
During my 3 snorkelling trip in the waters of Palau, did I see 4 turtles and 5 blacktip reef sharks. Unfortunately, I was to slow to take a photo of them.
You normally stop for one snorkelling spot during your day trip around the Rock Islands, but there are also special snorkelling day trips which stop on 4/5 snorkelling spots.
Diving The German Channel and the Blue Corner.
More than 80% of all tourist visiting Palau is here for scuba diving and for a good reason, Palau´s pristine water has “everything” caves, wrecks, sharks, manta rays etc.
And the two most famous dive sites in Palau are “The German Channel” and the “Blue Corner” both considered to be two of the best dives sites in the world.
The German Channel is a Manta ray cleaning station, and you are almost guaranteed to see the giants here during the mating season, between December and March.
Wondering about Scuba diving in Palau so is this the perfect guide.
Kayak or Longboard
One of the more relaxing things you can do around the Rock Islands is to discover some of the small untouched islands with either a kayak or longboard, there also possible to arrange a trip where you will sleep on a small island and continue discovering new islands the next day.
It can be difficult to take in the pure beauty of the rock islands from just being in a boat, to get the full overview over this unique place will you have to a 40min scenic flight over the place to understand really how lucky you are visiting this beautiful place.
All the photos in this post which show the rock islands from above is taken during my scenic flight, and to be honest the flight and swimming around the Jellyfish lake would be my two favourite things I did during my visit in Palau.
Stay overnight on an island.
None of the islands around the Rock Islands is inhabited, so your options about staying on one of the many islands are with arranging it with one of the many companies or fishermen in Palau, they can drop you off on one of the islands and pick you up the next the, you will definitely feel like Robinson Crusoe stranded on a deserted paradise island.
There´s possible to rent hammocks or tents from local travel companies, just be sure that you bring enough food and water with you since there are obviously no shops on the Rock Islands.
A few of the local travel companies have “their own” islands, the place where you normally stop for lunch during your day trip, here the companies have put up a few benches and clean outdoor toilets, making it an ideal option for camping if you still want to have access to a proper toilet during your night out under the open sky.
If camping on an island is not really your thing so is there also another option, there’s one hotel located on an island just south of the Rock Islands.
It´s not inside the Rock Islands, but this is as close as it gets.
On an island named Carp Island, one of the first island just south of the Rock Island. This is the only hotel with a private island in Palau.
The Carp Island is also located in the middle of the most famous dive sites in Palau, so instead of doing a 45 min boat journey from Koror each day to get to the dive sites, so are Caro island only 5 to 10min away from most dive sites in the country, making it a perfect place to stay during your visit to Palau.